About programs for gifted and talented children
Programs for gifted and talented children can take many forms. They won’t always be labelled as programs for gifted and talented children, but they will always offer stimulating learning experiences that support children’s individual learning needs. They might:
- include reading, sports or music programs at school, or special interest groups in your community
- operate through schools, private organisations or businesses, and other organisations like universities and museums
- run after school, on weekends or in school holidays
- be online or in person.
Costs depend on the type of program, the staffing and the materials. Some expensive programs might offer places at reduced fees.
What makes a good program for gifted and talented children?
Good programs for gifted and talented children have some things in common, including opportunities for children to:
- learn something new, especially in their areas of natural ability
- engage with complex information, abstract ideas or advanced skills
- learn at a fast pace with little repetition
- meet and learn with other gifted children
- come away with results that show they’ve gained new insights, information or skills.
These features are important in all programs for gifted and talented children, regardless of how old children are, what year they’re in at school, and what their areas of natural ability are.
Preschool and school gifted and talented programs
Preschools, primary schools and secondary schools meet the learning needs of gifted children in various ways. These include:
- allowing children early entry to preschool, primary school or secondary school
- moving children up to an older group or higher grade, either full time or for some subjects
- grouping children into multi-age classes – for example, a class with children in Years 2, 3 and 4 can give a gifted child in Year 2 the chance to learn at a higher level
- offering school children placement in special classes, selective schools or accelerated programs.
Teachers use many strategies to meet the needs of gifted children. They might add more complex experiences and information to the usual learning program – for example, by writing up an individual learning plan for your child. Or they might offer learning at the child’s ability level, rather than at the child’s age level. For example, a Year 2 student might stay in Year 2 but learn maths at a Year 5 level.
If your child is gifted and has a disability, your child will need support in both areas. That is, your child will need opportunities to learn that meet their advanced level of natural ability and support to manage their disability.
Practical considerations for gifted and talented programs
Some programs have entry requirements. You might need to provide your child’s IQ test and learning needs report, the results of school tests, or reports from teachers or coaches. Or you might need to provide other evidence of your child’s advanced skills – for example, a video of your child playing their instrument or sport, or a portfolio of their writing or drawing.
You’ll also need to consider the time and cost involved in the program.
When your child is starting a new activity led by paid or volunteer staff, it’s worthwhile finding out about the child safety policy of the organisation that employs the staff. If it’s not mentioned in the enrolment information and permission forms, it’s OK for you to ask.
Finding programs for gifted and talented children
When you’re looking into programs for your gifted and talented child, your state or territory education department or gifted and talented association is a good place to start. Or you can contact an appropriate community organisation to discuss your child’s interest or skill. For example, you could talk to a local ballet school about your child who is fascinated by ballet.
Programs in the community are usually very flexible about letting children learn at a level appropriate for their skill, as long as it’s emotionally and physically safe. For example, a musically gifted child might advance through music grades regardless of age, but some sporting codes keep children of similar age together for safety. You can talk to teachers or coaches about how programs might work for your child.
State and territory education department gifted and talented programs
Different states and territories offer different programs for gifted and talented children. For more information, you could contact your state or territory education department:
- ACT Education – Gifted and talented students
- NSW Department of Education – High potential and gifted students
- NT Government – Gifted and talented students
- Queensland Department of Education – Gifted and talented education
- SA Government – Student support programs: gifted and talented education
- Tasmanian Department of Education – Gifted and talented students
- Victorian Department of Education and Training – Student excellence program
- WA Department of Education – Gifted and talented.
Australian gifted and talented associations
Around Australia there are associations for gifted and talented children and their families. These can provide information and advice as you learn about your gifted child. Associations might also run programs, parent seminars, conferences and social events for families of gifted children.
- Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented
- Australian MENSA – Gifted children
- Kids Like Us – 2e
State and territory associations
- ACT Gifted Families Support Group (Facebook page)
- Gifted NSW (Facebook page)
- Queensland Association for Gifted and Talented Children
- Gifted and Talented Children’s Association of South Australia
- Tasmanian Association for the Gifted
- Victorian Association for Gifted and Talented Children
- Gifted and Talented Children’s Association of WA
Support groups for parents of gifted and talented children
Sometimes talking with other parents of gifted children can make all the difference. You can share experiences and ideas about supporting your gifted child. Parent support groups are one way to meet and talk with other parents.
Contact the association for gifted and talented children in your state or territory to find out about parent support groups in your area.