As a parent or caregiver, you want to support your gifted child. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you on your journey.
How do I know if my child is gifted?
Once you've had a look at our discussion of giftedness here, trust your own instincts. For starters, it’s worth knowing that parents are pretty good at spotting when their child is gifted. The Gifted Development Center in the US has found that 85% of parents are right about their child’s giftedness.
In New Zealand, especially in a Māori or Pacific context, we might be more worried about being boastful - but your gut feel is probably right.
If you are after a formal confirmation, there are a number of psychologists or other professionals around New Zealand who do assessments.
You can find a list of psychologists or other professionals with a special interest and experience in working with gifted children on the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children website. You don't have to have a formal assessment for your child to join MindPlus.
Why do gifted learners need and deserve support?
Every student has the right to develop and grow as a learner. Our gifted kids should be no exception.
About a third of them go undiscovered, their potential hidden by learning challenges or cultural differences.
Another third are cruising, left to their own devices by teachers who are understandably focused on those who are struggling. But if they are not challenged, gifted kids are at significant risk of underachieving.
As a society, we need them to build their muscles for tackling tough problems that their diverse brains uniquely position them to solve. Tamariki, whānau and the wider community all win when these kids are supported to reach their potential.
Having supportive teachers and peers also contributes to a healthy sense of self and emotional safety for gifted children.
What is our approach to providing support?
The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education offers a number of services to support gifted children and their parents, educators and others who connect with young gifted New Zealanders.
All of our programmes have a high teacher to student ratio, so that we can treat each individual and group of individuals as unique. We are always ready to discuss and try to understand the perspectives of the children’s whānau, and to go beyond test scores when it comes to appreciating their gifts.
An important time when we might be able to provide additional support is during times of transition: to primary school, intermediate and secondary school. It can be challenging for tamariki or rangatahi to go through personal changes or changes in their social network - and gifted children can often be especially sensitive to these challenges.
What would one day a week at MindPlus be like for my child?
Every day at MindPlus is different. MindPlus provides one day per week of schooling for gifted learners, so that enrichment takes place during school hours rather than cutting into time with family or special activities.
The Ministry of Education has provided a fantastic resource for meeting the needs of gifted students at school here.
It can be daunting to implement these guidelines within the classroom. NZCGE assists teachers to do so, and in addition we have developed our own specialist curriculum for MindPlus that complements the Ministry guidance with other local and international expertise on gifted learning.
A day with MindPlus
Each class programme will include thinking warm-ups, hands on tasks, abstract thinking, creative problem-solving, and individual talent development. Example learning experiences include:
Philosophy for children discussions,
Researching aspects of our conceptual study, generating big ideas about the concept and then finding evidence to prove or refute the ideas,
Exploring ideas about giftedness,
Role playing strategies to manage introversion in a social situation,
Developing own questions using a questioning framework,
Creative thinking games, and
Individualised activities to develop students’ strengths and talents
“MindPlus has played a huge part in re-igniting my son’s curiosity and passion for learning. It has given him a deeper understanding of himself and allowed him to collaborate with like minds. It has been of huge value to our family as the opportunities and experiences he’s had there have had a positive impact far beyond the walls of the MindPlus classroom.”
“As a family we feel that MindPlus has been a lifeline for our daughter on both an emotional and educational level. Before MindPlus we could see her losing confidence in herself because she was getting old enough to realise that she was different to her peers but couldn’t understand why. As parents, we felt quite helpless. MindPlus provides the supportive environment that our daughter needs to meet like minded children; a place where she can be herself and extend her learning beyond what a standard school classroom environment can provide; a place where other children accept her and the staff ‘get her’.
Some kids have learning challenges as well as learning gifts. How do you manage that in the classroom?
Giftedness can co-exist with a range of other challenges. Our specialist educators are able to recognise and understand many of these challenges and shape the learning programme so that these challenges are ‘worked around’ or minimised in the MindPlus day. Examples of this might include - giving a range of options to respond to learning activities rather than just writing; facilitating movement as needed; having designated spaces for individual work as needed; use of assistive technologies as needed. We are a strengths-based programme, so will work with students to make best use of their strengths.
It’s also really important that the children complement each other and are able to learn well as a group. To work out the best fit for each student, our entry process gathers information from home and school and students are also invited to participate in a three hour workshop. We watch how the students interact, and find out more about their intellectual, creative, social and cultural ways of working.