Focus on giftedness

Parents or teachers with an inkling their child or pupil might fit into the difficult-to-define ''gifted'' group are being encouraged to attend next month's annual National Association for Gifted Children conference in Queenstown.

The conference, on March 16, will feature talks on the intellectual, social and emotional needs of gifted children, and student workshops including robotics, marine science, maths, origami, poetry and the spoken word. Jilly O'Brien, of Hawea Flat, teaches programmes for the gifted at Mount Aspiring College in Wanaka and Cromwell College. She said as well as psychological tests for high intellectual ability, there was a range of other methods used in New Zealand to identify gifted children.

''You can be identified by an educational psychologist, by parents, by teachers, by your friends, by your iwi.

''It's really, really broad in New Zealand.''

It meant the term ''gifted'' did not just apply in an intellectual sense, but extended to children who were emotionally, culturally or creatively gifted, Mrs O'Brien said.

''If teachers are seeing it, parents are seeing it and the community of the kid sees it, then it's more likely to be accurate.

''You try and get as much information from as many sources as possible,'' she said.

A common approach was ''identification through provision'', in which teachers set tasks that challenged conceptual thinking.

Mrs O'Brien said statistics showed 80% of parents were correct in identifying their own child as gifted. Official identification of giftedness was not necessary for parents to attend the Queenstown conference.

''If parents are unsure or want to find out more about the whole gifted thing, then they are most welcome. They will meet like minds, make contacts and get a great deal of helpful information.''

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz