About programs for gifted and talented children

Gifted and talented programs offer stimulating learning experiences for your child, as well as the chance to meet and learn with other gifted children. They can also be a way of supporting your child’s learning needs as he grows.

Gifted and talented programs are run through schools, private organisations or businesses, and other organisations like universities and museums.

Some programs run after school, on weekends or in school holidays. The cost depends on the type of program, the staffing and the materials. Some expensive programs might offer places at reduced fees to help you with the cost.

There are also many programs online.

What makes a good gifted and talented program?

Good gifted and talented programs 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
  • 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, she’ll need support in both areas. She’ll need opportunities to learn that meet her advanced level of natural ability and support to manage her disability.

Practical considerations for gifted and talented programs

Some gifted and talented 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 her playing her instrument or sport, or a portfolio of her 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 a gifted and talented program for your child

When you’re looking into gifted and talented programs for your 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 – for example, advancing through music grades regardless of age. You can talk to teachers or coaches about how the program 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:

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.

National associations

State and territory associations

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.