Serving Pre-K-2 Gifted Learners

 

 

winter 2007 Serving PreK to 2 Gifted Learners

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Many—probably most—public school programs for gifted learners do not start serving the children until they reach 3rd or 4th grade. Two primary reasons are typically given:
• It is too difficult to accurately identify young students.
• Funds are too limited to cover the entire span of grades.

 

A further argument often cited is that at this age, parents and teachers ought to focus on the socialization of children rather than intellectual activity. This issue of Gifted Education Communicator explores relevant concerns regarding service to young gifted learners during the years four-to-seven. Nancy Robinson starts us out with her article, “Early Bloom/Early Rot: Putting an End to an Old Myth.”

 

She discusses the reality of what it means to be gifted at a young age, ways to identify young learners, and the harm that can result from doing too little at an early age. Elizabeth Fogarty and Sally Reis address the topic of reading and young gifted children, an issue high on the list of concerns of both parents and teachers. In their article, “When ‘Mrs. Wishy Washy’ is Wrung Out: Challenging Young Readers,” they note that “Developmentally appropriate practice…is situational and must be redefined for young, talented readers.” They include many suggestions for support of and challenge to these young readers.  Two articles focus especially on classroom activities for young gifted learners. In her article, “Arts Alive: Higher Level Learning for Young Gifted Learners,” Joan Franklin Smutny points out that visual and performing arts enhancesthe cognitive learning of children, especially through nurturing creativity. She includes recommendations for creating a learning environment as well as applying the arts to learning goals that can build on the individual strengths of learners.

 

Fred Estes shares a lively description of the method he and his teaching partner have developed in “Inquiry Science for Young Gifted Students: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out.” His description of letting the kids lead in the design of science units is noteworthy; the children were escorted on a walk in the woods while teachers observed what most captured the interest of the children. Two of their most noteworthy results were units on banana slugs and the formation of slime.  Of special interest is the method used for creating a science unit including several phases:

• design and create
• modularizing
• compacting
• independent studies
• teaching great lessons
Estes reports that, “Children always have more questions and the world provides science with a everending supply of new puzzles to solve.” You are encouraged to try your hand at supplying the puzzles. Nancy Hertzog and Laura Belchenko focus on the critical role of home environment in supporting young learners as well as best practices in early gifted education. These are spelled out in their article, “Contexts for Early Childhood Gifted.”

 

As always, our regular columnists have much for you to ponder as well. I would like to draw your attention to three of them. In “The Inner Game: Psychological Preparedness,” Maureen Neihart has been examining a number of physiological impacts on ability for high achievement, including the significance of protein in brain mood management and the impact of caffeine on achievement. This time she discusses the role of sleep. She notes that “…there seems to be a direct connection between sleep and structural changes in our brains.” She follows with specific recommendations to assist in ensuring sufficient sleep for high achievement. In the “Student Voices” department, you will find the story of a remarkable young woman who accomplished the extraordinary feat of turning a rejection of admission to her chosen school, the University of Southern California, into acceptance and personal

fulfillment of a long-held dream.

 

In the “Hands-on Curriculum” department, Ann MacDonald and Jim Riley present us with an intriguing lesson on the concept of zero in an article entitled, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Among

other activities, they demonstrate how to “visualize nothing.” The volunteer editors of Gifted Education Communicator hope your holidays were very pleasant and that the new year brings you
increased opportunities and satisfaction in your efforts to support gifted learners.  We will be back in the spring with a groundbreaking issue focused on “Understanding and Applying Brain Research in
Gifted Education. Dr. Barbara Clark, our advising editor, will be guest editor, and the issue promises to be one of significance in our field.
—Margaret Gosfield, Editor