by Hanna Vock
The kindergarten is a good place to learn…
… and for the advancement of gifted children.
The reasons for this are:
1. the structures of the kindergarten are favourable (compared to school). The kindergarten – and here especially the all-day kindergarten – offers undivided periods of time that can be used for projects of any duration and intensity. There is no pause bell, no subject borders, children and kindergarten teacher can illuminate a topic or an object from all sides practically and theoretically.
2. the children have free space in the form of free play. They can freely choose their activity, their material and their playmates in large contiguous periods and pursue their own goals.
3. the committed kindergarten teacher sees herself as an observer and supporter of children’s learning processes, but gives suggestions to the group through thematic offers. The kindergarten is open to a wide range of play and work materials.
4. the kindergarten teacher can work again and again, even spontaneously, with a small group composed according to abilities and needs. She does not have to keep the whole group in mind, as she has a second pedagogue in the group on many days.
5. it is relatively easy and spontaneous to get out of kindergarten and into the wider environment for the purpose of exploratory learning in kindergarten.
6. the parents are often present in the kindergarten; conversations „on the doorstep“, where kindergarten teachers and parents can exchange their impressions and ideas, are in principle possible on a daily basis.
The kindergarten thus has opportunities that teachers in many schools first have to struggle for.
It is also important that kindergarten pedagogy (elementary pedagogy) in Germany basically postulates that it focuses on the needs and thus also on the learning needs of children.
Holistic learning, learning in life contexts, perception of the individual child in the group are therefore a matter of course for committed kindergarten teachers.
Characteristics of an appropriate play and learning environment in the kindergarten
In order for these good structural prerequisites of the kindergarten to be converted into effective support for gifted children, further conditions must be fulfilled:
- Research-based learning must play an important role.
- Instead of age norms, the level of development of the individual child must decide on the cognitive level of what is offered to the child.
- Children’s intellectual abilities and activities must be valued and supported.
- Children must not be urged into activities for which they do not feel an inner willingness on the grounds of dealing with the deficit.
- Spiritual activity is to be regarded as activity. An observing and thinking child should not be pushed into other activities („Play something!“).
- It is important to actively look for playmates who can exchange ideas on a similar intellectual level.
- Within the framework of small group work, it must be possible to form small groups with similarly gifted children not only, but also time and again.
- The formation of integrative groups with several gifted children must be tackled.
- Kindergarten teachers must have specific knowledge on the subject of giftedness and have opportunities for professional exchange so that they can also fulfil the educational mission of the kindergarten vis-à-vis the gifted children.
- Cooperation with the host primary schools must be qualified on both sides in order to promote the transition of gifted children to school and to reduce stress for the families. (See also ch. 6: Making Transition to School.)
- The standards for the design of kindergartens (staffing, group sizes, space available, size of the outdoor area, material equipment) must not be worsened but should be further improved, as otherwise the task of promoting the gifted children cannot be performed satisfactorily.
See also: What Can We Do in Kindergarten?
Improving Framework Conditions! (German version)
Date of publication in German: 1.12.09
Translation from German: Hanna Vock
(Sorry, there is no money for a professional translator. If you discover any gross errors, please let me know. email@example.com)
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.