by Hanna Vock
Many children are described in the manual. Are they all highly gifted? I’m sure not.
However, they all belong (estimated) to the children of extraordinary ability; thus we call the children, who have an intelligence quotient of at least 115 points. The mean value for all children is 100.
For more information on the distribution of intelligence and the intelligence quotient, as well as the relationship between intelligence and talent, see:
Most of the children who appear in the articles I have written are highly talented and tested. Often their testing took place years after the described events and confirmed the assumption.
During my many years of working with gifted children, I was able to learn to assess whether giftedness is present. Gifted children catch my eye quite quickly; and I can also advise colleagues and parents unerringly if their child is clearly not highly gifted or is near to giftedness. Concrete observations (from myself, colleagues or parents) and/or direct interaction with the child are sufficient for this.
To obtain a numerical value (for example an IQ value), a test is of course necessary. But such a figure is as imprecise as a good estimate based on precise observations and great experience.
A value measured in the test, for example IQ 130, can just as well represent an actual IQ of 125 or 135 due to the measurement inaccuracy included in the test. The result 130 simply means that the real intelligence is probably close to 130. Tests have not yet been able to measure more accurately. Different tests have different measurement inaccuracies. The tester knows them, they are indicated in the test material and they should also be referred to in a report that the parents receive.
The examples from the manual contributions of the other authors describe both highly gifted children and children of extraordinary ability.
The selection of the children is made in this way:
After the first seminar phase in the two-year IHVO Certificate Course, all participants are given the task of selecting a child from their group / kindergarten for their first practical homework assignment. It should be a child who has already attracted attention through striking developmental advantages and / or conspicuously intelligent questions or ideas or through particularly intelligent playing behaviour that is unusual for the age group. In some cases, the selection could already be based on a test result.
In purely mathematical terms, not every kindergarten group can have a highly gifted child. (Statistically, there are two to three highly gifted children per 100 children.) However, the probability that the participant will find a highly gifted child in her group shifts due to two factors:
1) Most participants register on their own initiative (in the rarest cases, they are brought up to this by their employer). The motive for the registration is often mentioned: „We have a highly gifted child in our institution and would like to be able to support her/him better“ or: „Parents have already told us on admission that they consider their child to be highly gifted and we would like to be able to deal with it“… or something similar.
2) Some of the participants come from Integrative Focus Kindergartens for the Advancement of Gifted Children, in which several (suspected or tested) highly gifted children have already gathered over the course of time because the parents have chosen this kindergarten specifically for their child.
For these reasons, the number of highly gifted children who can be selected for practical tasks is increasing.
Nevertheless, not every participant finds a highly gifted child in her group – but everyone finds a child of extraordinary ability who can become her „observation child“ in the course and with whom she can make specific experiences in the advancement of the gifted. During the two years of the course she can – especially in exchange with the other course participants – develop an ever better feeling for the type and level of talents.
The pedagogical process, which takes place during the course, then revolves around the recognition – understanding – advancement of children’s giftedness. These three tasks intertwine in everyday pedagogical life and always take place simultaneously.
At the beginning I pay attention to indicators for special and high talents in the everyday life of the kindergarten.
When dealing with the child and when getting to know the child for the first time in the first few weeks, I (and colleagues with whom I exchange ideas) notice special developmental advances, astonishing statements and other indicators.
I communicate with the child at his or her observed level of development, thereby giving him or her the signal that I am aware of his or her strengths. It’s how I actively build trust. I offer her/him games and stories that I believe she/he can handle, but that also challenge her/him mentally.
In initial discussions with the parents (with the help of the Questionnaire for Parents) I collect further information and compare it with my own perception of the child. First trust between me and the parents (also on the topic of „special talent“) is built up.
The continuous perception of the child’s reactions (in conversation, to targeted play offers, to offers by the other children) provide further insight, for example about his/her intrinsic motivations, the interests, the ease of learning and the speed of learning. This allows me to discover further indicators of giftedness.
At this stage, evocative observations play an important role.
When the child has experienced a successful, confirming and challenging communication over a long period of time, she/he will open up and will actively shape its own learning process by asking more questions and making its own suggestions.
This phase is particularly satisfying for both sides (kindergarten teacher and child) and can last until school enrolment, provided that the working conditions in the kindergarten make this possible in the long term.
(See also: Improving Framework Conditions!)
Date of publication in German: 2017, July
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.