by Hanna Vock
Since the year 2000 I have been on a quest to contribute to the improvement of the situation of gifted pre-school children in Germany. To this end I have founded the IHVO, developed concepts, trained kindergarten teachers, counselled parents and certified kindergartens as
“Integrative Focus Kindergartens for the Advancement of Gifted Children”.
It comes as no surprise that along the way I have developed a vision.
My vision is:
The entire country (more humbly: one federal state) is covered by a network of integrative focus kindergartens.
The Demand is Being Met
Some 50.000 residents share such a facility. Of the 50.000 about 2.500 are ages 3 to 6 years. Of these about 75 will be gifted.
Since not all children are recognised gifted right away and not all parents desire to send their children to such a facility or are logistically not able to do so, one may assume a demand of some 25 children (surely with an upward trend as soon as these “beacon”-kindergartens have been enlightening the land for a while). Then the number of focus kindergartens will slowly be raised to meet the rising demand.
From a pedagogue’s view a maximum of 30 per cent gifted children along with 70 per cent non-gifted children make for a good mix in a kindergarten group.
… in a nutshell …
Integrative focus kindergartens for the advancement of gifted children are of great value for children and parents alike. Unfortunately there are as of yet too few such facilities.
In order to achieve sufficient accommodation one integrative focus kindergarten per 50.000 residents would be necessary.
It will be interesting to see which federal state will get there first – and when that will be. The IHVO provides the well-proven concept and the experts to further train the kindergarten teachers.
Any family has this kind of kindergarten within reach; even if there is a kindergarten closer by, many will go the long way because their child will be happier and more balanced – let alone the enhanced advancement.
Admission without Obstacles
Giftedness does not have to be proven by formal testing. When the child reaches the age of five it is recommended to the parents that they have the child tested. This enables the kindergarten to verify their assessments and to determine the exact percentage of gifted children presently registered.
By Public Relations Efforts Those Parents Will Be Addressed…
- who have noticed, that their child’s developmental state is significantly ahead of that of its peers.
- who have been given pertinent hints (for example by a paediatrist or an acquaintance who is familiar with the phenomenon).
- who already have a gifted sibling to the child in the family or who are gifted themselves, which doesn’t make giftedness unlikely for the child.
- who have found indicators for the possible giftedness of their child.
All public relations efforts make it a point to emphasise that all children at this kindergarten will receive adequate support, the ones who take more time learning none the less.
There also won’t be any “separating” the children, neither will they be publically identified as gifted or assumed gifted.
It is therefore no problem if observations which originally seemed to hint to possible giftedness cannot be verified later on.
By careful observation throughout the entire time at kindergarten the trained staff are able to recognise and respond adequately to the playing and learning needs of the child at any time. In the process of accompanying the child in its development individual interests, talents and skills will emerge more and more.
The Advantages for the Children A Significant:
The child will meet other gifted children in this kindergarten with whom it can share its more complex thoughts and playing ideas. It can exchange knowledge with them, join them in projects and contribute to their successful outcome.
The child meets kindergarten teachers who do not underestimate it but are understanding, who communicate on an appropriate level and are able to support them actively in their learning processes (as they are knowledgeable of gifted children’s learning needs and learning tempo).
Here the child also disposes of playing materials that provide sufficient challenge.
The Advantages for Parents Cannot Be Valued Highly Enough:
The parents find competent advisors at the focus kindergarten. They can speak openly about their observations, assumptions and worries without having to fear rejection, lack of understanding or even the allegation that they be overly ambitious.
They receive valuable advice on the advancement of their child.
Parents, who originally thought their child might be gifted while this couldn’t be confirmed in kindergarten, will still receive valuable pedagogic assistance.
The Advantages for the Primary School Are Self-Evident:
The primary school is informed about the child’s extraordinary talents and gifts right upon registration (the parents’ approval provided). The trained staff of the focus kindergarten are able to report on the state of the accelerated and expanded learning development, so that the primary school can gear its measures of individualised teaching in accordance with the actual developmental state of the child at the time.
This makes misunderstandings between the gifted child and the prospective teachers less likely.
We Also Like The Advantages for the IHVO:
The expertise of the IHVO becomes effective on a much larger scale. The experiences of 15 IHVO-Certificate-Courses completed (as of 2010) are implemented as part of official educational policy.
The thoroughly tested and refined concept of or courses is widely put to use. All talented children benefit from the methodology of advancement of the gifted in the realm of pre-school education, which our courses are based on and which has so far only rudimentarily been laid down in writing in our online manual.
The Advantages for the State are Overwhelming:
The state has a very valuable offer to make to families. This amounts to nothing less than a competitive advantage with regard to skilled labour and an advantageous public image with regard to educational policy.
In addition the state is raising a generation of gifted people, who can be spared the hardships of educational and psychological problems and who can thereby confidently grow up to represent a pool of intelligent, cooperative and creative high performers.
The Costs Are Manageable:
Since the certification of a sufficient number of kindergartens requires the qualification of 3-4 kindergarten teachers for every 50.000 residents the minimum cost lies around 7.200 to 9.000 Euros for these 50.000 residents.
Get More Information Here:
You can find a list of facilities with staff members holding the IHVO-Certificate here. The already existing integrative focus kindergartens are marked in this list.
Further information on the concept of “Integrative Focus Kindergartens for the Advancement of Gifted Children” can be found here.
Notes on the quality of the courses can be found here.
The entire pedagogic contents of the courses are presented at length by this online manual.
The quality criteria for advancement of the gifted at kindergarten can be found here.
The criteria for the evaluation of the practical assignments accompanying our courses – which represent a vital part of the requirements for attaining the certificate – can be found here.
In the following you see the letter of a mother (name removed) pointing out just how urgent the realisation of this vision appears to be. It is representative of the many letters reaching us from all parts of Germany.
<<Reference: Advancement of the gifted
Dear Madam, Dear Sir
We are faced with the giftedness of our 5 years old son. Alright, we did notice he wasn’t exactly a dimwit.
My problem is, honestly speaking I am rather at a loss…
When he is not being challenged enough he gets incredibly “wild” and he is hard to be calmed down. His thoughts seem to be on a constant “roller coaster ride”. He keeps being haunted by events from the past or present or just general deliberations (it goes from “I’m missing my pacifier” to the question what people do who are blind or deaf and whether this can be helped by surgery and goes on to such considerations as the question why God allows it that people die).
He does like going to kindergarten, yet, just like any other facility ours is not excluded from austerity measures. Targeted measures of advancement are hardly possible. Beginning this August he will be in a group with 6 children under age 3, 6 children age 3, 4 children age 4 plus 4 children in their last year before school. There are presently 2 kindergarten teachers and one intern attending to the children, the intern will leave in August.
Could you recommend some games for 5-year-olds (I bought him “Camelot” by Smart Games last week, but were almost through with this one)? Could you also give me some further hints with regard to advancement measures? We are situated in a rural area and I just don’t know who to turn to for assistance.
I thank you in advance for your effort.
Date of publication in German: May 19 th
Translated by Arno Zucknick
2010 Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Imprint.
Petra Cohnen, Herzogenrath, and Sonja Pastors, Cologne.