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Which Toys Do Gifted Children Need?
by Hanna Vock
Again and again I am asked by parents and kindergarten teachers:
Which game material would you recommend?
Simple question, difficult answer.
Most kindergartens have a well thought-out pool of proven play material and select new ones according to proven criteria.
In order to enrich this pool with play material that appeals to gifted children and takes them further, a few additional considerations make sense.
Experience has shown that gifted children love games that other children of their age find (still) too difficult.
Is there enough difficult play material available in the kindergarten for the children of extraordinary ability and for the gifted children?
For example, board games offered for children from the age of eight are often interesting for gifted children as young as four or five – and should be in stock, even if the not gifted six-year-olds are not yet interested in them or have nothing to do with it yet.
A list of interesting game materials, which is constantly updated, can be found here: Interesting Games (German version).
Please also note the list Picture books, Non-Fiction and Stories (German version).
Is it guaranteed, for example, that a three-year-old child, who is gifted, has easy and natural access to the play material that is „actually“ intended for the elderly?
Prerequisite: It proves that it handles the material carefully.
From the almost conspicuous abundance of games and materials on the market, not too little for the gifted children, but also not too much to choose – to achieve this, you have to be „close to the child“, know what it is dealing with emotionally and mentally, which helps it (in its current stage of development) to understand the world better now.
Also the high talents of the children are different. Some have developed special interests, some deal incredibly intensively with abstract patterns, structures, strategies, others want to explore the environment in concrete terms, others experiment with language, with stories and role play.
It goes without saying that they need different materials.
Here, too, it is best to talk to the children about things that interest and fascinate them. Then the ideas (which also take into account the individual preferences of the children for certain play activities and learning paths) come of their own accord.
In addition to a well-thought-out pool of difficult game materials, difficult game material should be made available according to the situation – in accordance with the themes and projects in the kindergarten.
Often the things that appeal and satisfy gifted children are easy and cheap to obtain. There are often also „things from the adult world“, such as calendars, measuring instruments, old household appliances…
Also, existing, simple games can be adapted by newly devised more difficult rules of the game.
With all the care that the provision of game material requires:
The most important thing for gifted children is the teacher’s interest (mother, father, granny…) in the child’s thoughts, feelings, questions.
The most important play and learning material for many gifted preschool children is constant conversation with clever, supportive older children (or even peers or younger children) as well as doing things together in which „one can experience/learn something new“, „can copy something new“ (original sound of gifted preschool children).
Date of publication in German: 2010, July
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see imprint.