About gifted and talented learning
Gifted and talented children have different learning needs from other children the same age.
This is because they’re very curious, they learn quickly, and they like more complex ideas than other children their age. They don’t need to go over things as often as others do. And they’re often ready for activities, games, books and puzzles earlier than other children of the same age.
Learning is important to the wellbeing of gifted and talented children. When you support your child’s learning in the areas that interest her, you’re also supporting her overall wellbeing.
Derinsu is constantly asking me questions about things, so she’s driving her own learning as well. There’s just a strong interest within all of us for learning. We just follow that interest and we have a lot of fun doing it too.
– Mother of Derinsu (five years)
Supporting your gifted and talented child’s learning: ideas for 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 experiences that offer new learning opportunities. This doesn’t have to be expensive – there are lots of homemade toys and free activities that can extend your child’s play and learning.
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 a range of learning opportunities will keep your child stimulated. It might also lead to him developing talents. For example, playing outdoors can prompt imagination and problem-solving, develop physical skills, and provide opportunities to play with others. Watching birds, learning about trees or collecting autumn leaves could be the start of a scientific interest.
Reading books is a great way to answer your child’s questions, guide her learning and extend her interests. You can borrow books from your local library, or use the library’s online resources. You could also let family and friends know that books make great birthday presents for your child.
Everyday ideas for independent learning with your gifted and talented child
Independent learning skills are important for gifted children. You can encourage these skills as part of everyday activities with your child.
For example, if your child wants to know about something, search online for information together, go to a library, think about people you could ask, or start a little experiment.
In time, your child will build the skills to answer his own questions and do his own research.
We were having dinner one night and Derinsu wanted to know about fractions – how she even found out about fractions I don’t know. And I was able to teach her fractions on the back of her napkin and it took about 10 minutes, and then she understood it.
– Mother of Derinsu (five years)
Using educational websites and software with your gifted and talented child
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 is valuable. But a healthy family lifestyle includes both screen use and plenty of other activities that are good for your child’s development.
Part of family life is giving everyone in your family opportunities to learn and develop. There might be times when you decide to put more time or money into a learning opportunity for your gifted child. At other times your other children, your work or your budget might come first.
Supporting your child’s learning: ideas for structured opportunities
There are lots of formal, structured or planned ways to help your gifted child develop talents and explore 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 go to local parks, native bushland, museums, festivals, libraries and art galleries. Even a simple trip to the airport can fire up your child’s imagination.
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, or sporting programs, music lessons, drama and creative arts programs and more.
When your gifted child goes to child care, preschool or school, it’s a good idea to talk with teachers about how they can extend learning programs to support your child. You can also find out more about gifted and talented programs in your state or territory.