by Susanne Höfl


I work in different groups in our kindergarten and for my Certificate Course I have chosen Florian to be the child I will be observing. He is now 6;1 years old.

The way I experienced Florian at first and what I was told about him, you can read here:

First Attempts to Approach a Difficult Child. (In German)

In order to get to know Florian better the questionnaire we had been introduced to in our IHVO-Certificate Course (“Interessenfragebogen für Kindergarten und 1.(2.) Klasse” [Questionnaire on Child’s Interests to be used in Kindergarten and 1st(2nd) Form] by J. Huser/U.Stednitz -published in Huser) came in really handy. It was to become the basis of my 2nd Practical Assignment and served as a guideline for the interview with Florian.

… in a nutshell …

The author conducted the interview on the basis of the Questionnaire on Child’s Interests for Kindergarten with several children and describes how Florian responds differently from the way other children do.

During the interview I could once more observe Florian’s learning speed beside his already evolved reading skills: he immediately took a pen and began reading the questions.
His answers were then articulate and to the point, he never had to ask about the meaning of a question. His ‘professional’ approach to this interview and his eloquence made me curious to see how other children of comparable age in our kindergarten would respond to the interview and then compare this to his performance.

Comment Hanna Vock:

With regard to our further training this was an interesting and enlightening. The results once more show that the questionnaire has been designed especially for bright and gifted children and that it is an appropriate tool to use when working with them.

Florian’s ability to ponder thinking itself keeps amazing me.

Florian’s answers are different from those of other children

The ways in which the other children tend to answer the questions seem to be similar, while Florian distinguishes himself clearly by his knowledge and his mode of going about the interview.

He shows a strong interest in the specific activity ‘interview’ as such, the other children are interested in doing something together with me. I read out the questions, Florian reads along/ reads himself, he immediately understands the questions, he shows ‘structured knowledge, a comprehensive system’ – with the other children I have to read out he question really slowly and then give them some time to fully grasp the content of the question.

I could clearly feel his strong inner craving for knowledge (he kept wanting to set the pace, kept wanting to work faster and wanted more all the time …). The other children would wait to see what I do, they would content themselves with the pace I set and entirely relied on the inputs the adult gave them.

Florian shows a kind of ‘perfectionism’. He tries to express precise, complete knowledge in his answers, the other children answer with caution as I am used to with children of that age.

How we have come to understand Florian better

It emerged from the talks with Florian that he disposes of a highly developed moral sense and that he is quite aware of his outstanding ability and intelligence.
His great sensitivity leads to considerable complications in everyday life in kindergarten and at the same time it causes him grave inner conflicts. For example, he often couldn’t seem to get it right with the clothes he was wearing: if he got too hot, he would take his sweater off, forgot where he left it and then couldn’t stand it, when he couldn’t find it again. He got really angry, felt offended, said it was all our fault and kept voicing this throughout the rest of the day.

When playing board or parlour games he would manoeuvre himself into an awkward situation: he had his eye on the interactions in the group, wanted to participate in all conversations around the table and still win the game. Having to manage all this ‘perfectly’ put him in a difficult position.

Unfortunately, before our training course I did not know what to make of all this …, yet, Florian began to feel much better as soon as he was ‘identified’. His problems ceased when his regular kindergarten teacher Sandra was around. He felt taken seriously and often asked me if I wanted to play a game with him (mostly games from the after-school care club).

In our conversations we frequently hit upon philosophical questions, and he loved discussing philosophy with the teacher from the after-school care club and with Sandra, too. I, in turn, was in constant exchange with my colleagues on the topic of his possible giftedness and the appropriate measures of advancement.

Today I am aware that Florian had had a very high sensitivity from his early childhood days on. Dabrowski explained this intensity by his concept of ‘over-excitabilities’ (OE), which constitute an enhanced perception and hence intensified reactivity to stimuli of all kinds.

(Dabrowski’s concept is described in the article: Gifted Children and Exceptional Emotional Sensitivity.)

Today I see that Florian had shown an intellectual over-excitability as early as in his third year: he asked investigative and critical questions, he exhibited great ability in intellectual pursuits (with extended periods of concentration and perseverance), he reflected on thinking itself. Such thoughts he could only share with his friend Eileen (5;3 years then). Later he found himself an even more potent counterpart: his regular kindergarten teacher Sandra.

Even the parents answer the questions in the questionnaire … and respond

Florian’s father came all the way from Berlin to our kindergarten in Cologne, where we had our last parent consultation before the family was going to move to Berlin. For a broader basis of our discussion I first asked them the same questions I had asked Florian in the interview.

We carried on our conversation in a very pleasant atmosphere and I came to know that Florian had shown strong interest in the PC at age 2;5, that he had begun teaching himself how to read at the age of 3, that he can grasp abstract ideas quickly, likes speaking about technical topics and that he got along with his younger sister very well.

To that day it had never occurred to the parents that Florian might be extraordinarily talented or even gifted, they had just been bewildered by his choice of friends – 8 and 11 years old.

After the consultation Florian’s parents found him a more adequate elementary school.

Published: January 2012
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Imprint
Translation: Arno Zucknick