School-based opportunities for gifted students

As with most students, those who are gifted experience a sense of wellbeing and engagement when they have supportive and appropriately challenging learning environments as well as opportunities that respond to their strengths and interests. This involves a personalised learning approach. 

Personalised learning

Personalised learning is good teaching practice for all students regardless of their level of ability, including if they are gifted. It is important that you as a parent of a gifted child, discuss with their teacher the extent to which your child is being provided with: 

  • daily challenge in their areas of ability or interest 
  • learning experiences that reflect a range of learning styles 
  • opportunities to socialise and learn with peers of like-ability as well as work independently on areas of interest 
  • connections to people and opportunities beyond the school that support their particular passions and talents while connecting to the curriculum (Rogers, 2007).

It is also important for you to discuss with your child’s school how your child’s individual learning profile can best be supported. This may include at times providing a tailored curriculum to ensure your child is stimulated and challenged in their areas of strength, and other times having your child working with the rest of their class.

Learning opportunities will depend on what is needed at an individual level and how best the opportunities can be implemented at a class or school level. For instance, a child who is advanced in their reading skill might be offered advanced reading material within their usual class or there might be the opportunity to join older children who are reading at the same level.

Adapting the curriculum

Adapting the curriculum to meet different learning needs is known as differentiation. A differentiated curriculum offers a variety of entry points for learners who differ in abilities, knowledge and skills to their classmates. This allows them to study at a level that matches their learning. As with all students, gifted students need learning opportunities that match their learning characteristics.

For gifted students three important characteristics underscore the rationale for curriculum differentiation (Van Tassel-Baska, 1988). These are the capacity to: 

  • learn at faster rates 
  • find, solve and act on problems more readily 
  • manipulate abstract ideas and make connections.

This usually means gifted students can work through the curriculum at a faster pace and require less time on basics and revision.

In a differentiated curriculum teachers offer different approaches to what students learn (content), how students learn (process) and how students demonstrate what they have learned (product) (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000).

Specialised programs and schools

Victoria has a range of specialised schools and settings that cater for the diverse learning needs of students. As a parent of a gifted child, you may consider these options for your child to ensure they are engaged in challenging and appropriate learning experiences.

Accelerated learning options

Acceleration is another learning option that as a parent of a gifted or high-ability child you may wish to discuss with your child’s school.

The importance of partnering with schools

As with all children and young people the partnership between the parents of a gifted child and the school is important to ensure that individual social, emotional and learning outcomes are met.

This includes talking to teachers about ways in which gifted students can best be supported in the classroom, and how teaching can be differentiated to meet their needs.

For more information on partnering with your child's school, see Partnering with schools.