About gifted and talented learning
Gifted and talented children have different learning needs from other children the same age.
They’re very curious, and their learning is more complex and fast paced than other children their age. They don’t need to go over things as often as other children do.
Also, their advanced natural abilities and development can mean that gifted and talented children are ready for some activities, games, books and puzzles sooner than toddlers, preschoolers and children of the same age. For example, you might find that your 18-month-old child quickly solves puzzles designed for his age group and is ready for puzzles designed for children 1-2 years older.
Learning is important to the wellbeing of gifted and talented children. When you support your child’s learning, you’re also supporting her overall wellbeing.
– Mother of Derinsu (five years)
Supporting your child’s learning: everyday activities
Support for your gifted child’s learning starts with noticing his strengths and natural abilities.
When you know more about your child’s strengths and abilities, you can give her everyday play experiences that offer new learning opportunities. This doesn’t have to be expensive – there are lots of homemade toys and free activities that you can do with your child.
When you’re choosing toys for younger children, you can look for things that encourage your child to play using imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills – for example, blocks, balls, cardboard boxes, dress-ups and crafty bits and pieces like coloured paper, washable markers, crayons and stickers.
If you choose toys designed for older children, age recommendations are still important for safety – for example, some toys might contain small parts that toddlers could swallow. In these cases, it’s wise to follow the age recommendations, even when your child’s natural abilities are advanced beyond this age.
Offering your child a range of learning opportunities will keep your child stimulated. It might also lead to him developing talents in a range of areas. For example, playing outdoors lets your child explore the natural environment. He could watch the trees move and listen to the birds. Collecting autumn leaves might be the start of learning about why some trees lose leaves in autumn.
Reading books is a great way to answer your child’s questions, guide her learning and extend her interests. Why not borrow books from your local library and let family and friends know that books make great birthday presents for your child? If you need help finding the answers to your child’s questions, you can ask your local librarian for advice. Libraries often provide online resources as well as books.
Encouraging independent learning
You can encourage independent learning as part of everyday activities with your child.
For example, if your child wants to know about something, you might search online for information together, look in the dictionary, go to a library, think about people you could ask or start a little experiment.
In time, your child will come up with his own ideas for answering questions and doing research.
– Mother of Derinsu (five years)
Using educational websites and software
You might be interested in using educational apps, websites and software to support your child’s everyday learning at home.
To get ideas for appropriate apps, websites and software, you could:
- ask other parents of gifted children
- contact the gifted and talented association in your state or territory
- check out resources for parents at the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented.
The time your child spends using educational software and websites still counts as screen time. A healthy family lifestyle includes limits on daily screen time for everyone.
Supporting your child’s learning: structured opportunities
There are lots of more formal, structured or planned ways to help your gifted child develop talents and explore new interests and skills. Although they’re more structured, they’re not necessarily more expensive or complicated.
For example, you might visit neighbours, family or friends who have hobbies, live on farms, play musical instruments or have interesting jobs. Or you could go to local parks, native bushland, museums, festivals, libraries and art galleries. Even a simple trip to the airport can fire up a child’s imagination.
And like everyday activities, these more structured experiences can help your child develop talents in her areas of ability. For example, a child who has great physical coordination and goes to weekly gym classes might develop a talent for gymnastics.
As your gifted child gets older his learning needs will probably be more complex. You and your child can ask about opportunities at school – for example, mathematics competitions or music camps.
Other options are programs run by associations for gifted children, sporting programs, music lessons, drama and creative arts programs and more.