Annelise (5) and William Scharpf (8) use a complex building
toy in their Dunedin home. Photo by Linda Robertson.
What do naughtiness, dinosaurs and gifted children have
Gifted and talented children and their special needs are in
the spotlight today with the start of national Gifted
George Street Normal School principal Rod Galloway says the
presence of academically gifted children, who have
exceptional abilities and qualities, can sometimes be masked
by "a bit of naughtiness" or signs of boredom, if they are
not being sufficiently stimulated by their surroundings.
"These children have strengths that sometimes are hidden."
Schools are required to identify academically gifted children
and respond to their needs.
But advocates for gifted children say resources for them in
the education system are too limited.
Mr Galloway emphasises the need to read the behavioural
clues, to identify children's individual strengths and foster
them by providing an environment where they are "stimulated
and given the opportunity to grow in their giftedness".
Mr Galloway is a member of a steering committee helping
develop a Dunedin Gifted Kids Centre, which will begin
running early next year, to meet some of the special needs of
A parents' representative on the committee, Susan Scharpf,
says intensity of interest can be another sign of a gifted
"If they love dinosaurs, boy, do they love dinosaurs!"Parents
found engaging with them "very rewarding" and "very
challenging" and it could also be very tiring, Mrs Scharpf
"They ask questions nonstop."
Parents who want more information or help with their gifted
children can contact Sarah Hjertquist, the secretary of the
Otago Association for the Gifted and Talented (OAGAT), at
via the internet.
Creatability@OSM is a club linked with the OAGAT for gifted
and talented children aged about 4 to 12, and their parents.
It organises activities at the Otago Settlers Museum on
Gifted children are a diverse group, coming from all social
and economic backgrounds.
A key problem for many parents was "affording resources for
their kids", including specialised tutors, music lessons,
advanced text books and art supplies.