Gifted children in New Zealand are falling through the cracks and without the proper support these potential New Zealand leaders may use their intelligence for the worse as opposed to the better.
June 13 - 19 is National Gifted Awareness Week, a chance to celebrate those children in New Zealand who have shown or have the potential to show exceptional ability in their areas of talent. The week is also a chance to bring awareness to the on-going needs of our gifted and talented children.
Deb Clark, CEO of the Gifted Kids Programme, which supports schools in providing specialised gifted education particularly in lower socio-economic areas explains; “Often people see gifted kids as already being fortunate, but without the right guidance and nurturing of their abilities these kids can get lost in the system and in the worse cases go down the wrong track in life.”
“Gifted children have the potential to be the best in whatever field they take up as adults, but it’s tough for those in harsher areas of New Zealand. These kids will be the leaders and the visionaries of the future but we need to give them the right support and environment to develop and thrive,” continues Deb.
The Gifted Kids Programme (GKP) supports schools throughout NZ by providing a one-day-a-week programme for gifted children and professional development for their teachers. Started in 2004, GKP promotes talent development through a specialised curriculum that is designed to supplement their mainstream education.
The mother of Nikolai, from the Wellington GKP unit shares their story; “From a young age, Nikolai was different. He had such an inquiring mind that it was impossible for him to sit still or to stop asking questions.” His different learning style was not appreciated in many of his classes and some teachers were determined to find what was ‘wrong’ with him. It was a psychologist who finally identified Nikolai as a bright boy with some social underdevelopment typical of gifted children, and since joining GKP he has flourished.
Nikolai’s mother comments further that; “I think we are all like jigsaws. Our pieces can be different shapes and sizes...Nikolai was a very unusual jigsaw that seemed never to fit together right at his main school, and in some other social environments. Without our realising it, he had come to think there were ‘wrong’ pieces in his set. At GKP, he learned his jigsaw was OK. Different, but just as OK as anyone else.”
And Zak, 21-year-old alumni of the programme recently thanked GKP for putting him on the right path; “I lacked the maturity, patience and virtue to really heed your lessons way back then, but I can see now that you never gave-up on instilling a sense of honour and compassion in even a total brat like me. Thank you for re-shaping my view of the world and making a major impact on my moral development.”
With five in every 100 children estimated as being gifted, a big part of Gifted Awareness Week is about recognising there could be a lot of kids in New Zealand whose potential is not being realised and that the journey in identifying a gifted child is often long and difficult.
If you would like to find out more about Gifted Awareness Week and the Gifted Kids Programme visit www.giftedkids.co.nz and www.giftednz.org.nz
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