by Hanna Vock and Barbara Teeke
It is wise to recognize a child’s giftedness as early as possible in order to react accordingly to the individual needs of that child. That is how it is most likely that the child will develop its great potential. Foremost, however, is the preclusion of social and psychological problems which regularly occur when a gifted child goes unnoticed in its giftedness, especially those you can refer to under Specific Problems Gifted Children Face in Kindergarten.
An early diagnosis of giftedness and early support by the kindergarten are especially important for children from poor families and families of little educational background. Also children with a different native language may have increased problems communicating their playing and learning needs in kindergarten as well as at school. Especially for these children an attentive kindergarten sensitive to the phenomenon of giftedness may represent a great opportunity.
In order to guarantee good support activity a Diagnosis (IQ-test) can be very helpful; the necessity of such testing should be evaluated individually. As an initial hint towards possible giftedness one single observation of an extraordinary intellectual accomplishment is sufficient.
In kindergarten such an extraordinary accomplishment may be for example when a child repeatedly adds explanatory words (be they spelled correctly or not) to the pictures it has drawn. Such a striking and extraordinary accomplishment should prompt the kindergarten teacher to further close observation of that child – even if the child does not otherwise show unusual patterns of behavior. (Concealing Abilities and Interests).
For more detailed information on the child’s abilities further observations are necessary.
For a conclusive diagnosis of giftedness a thorough testing of the IQ and of abilities and skills must be performed. It is essential to not neglect the observations made during the testing procedure and to take into account the communication taking place with the child. These aspects make up an important part in the results of the testing. This, however, requires that the person conducting the test is knowledgable about the phenomenon of giftedness and experienced in dealing with gifted children.
Certainty in detecting giftedness comes only with specific training in the technique of observing giftedness.
Once a kindergarten teacher has been thoroughly trained in accurately recognizing the specific needs of gifted children and knows how to evaluate them, that teacher does not necessarily need a test result to base his/her supporting activities on.
It is not the aim to prematurely label children in kindergarten as gifted or even to forecast later achievement and success. The aim is much more to recognize and answer to the specific developmental needs of a child, which often differ considerably from those of peers with average potential.
If a kindergarten teacher manages to accommodate the learning processes of the child in accordance with its individual abilities, if encouragement and challenges are adequately presented and the development and motivation are attentively observed and if that teacher intervenes adequately at all times, the child may be sufficiently supported without test results.
In a number of cases, however, it may be helpful for pedagogues as well as for parents to have the child tested at an early stage.
Date of publication in German: May 5 th , 2007.
Translated by Arno Zucknick
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Imprint.