Wanaka woman Kim Nicol says her son Caleb (16), who was
identified as being gifted at the age of 4, loves taking
things apart to see how they work, which he does regularly
in his after-school job at Wanaka Auto Repairs. Photo by
Having a gifted son was a daunting prospect for Wanaka
woman Kim Nicol.
''What the hell do I do with a gifted child? I'm normal,''
was her initial reaction.
More than a decade later, Mrs Nicol says educational
programmes specifically tailored for children like Caleb
(16), now in year 12 at Mount Aspiring College, have been a
''At preschool, I thought that I had a very naughty, highly
However, Caleb's teachers urged Mrs Nicol to have her then
4-year-old son tested for giftedness, which confirmed what
they had suspected. He subsequently joined Wanaka Primary
School's One Day School - now known as the Star Programme -
for gifted children, before entering the Rutherford Programme
at the college.
''[Gifted education] was great for him because he felt more
comfortable and I got my head around why I had a left-brained
child in a right-brained world, which was pretty much how it
''He went through a long period of kind of feeling different
and not wanting to be different so he had to get his head
around it, too, about why he did things the way he did.''
Caleb, who indulges his interest in mechanics with an
after-school job at Wanaka Auto Repairs, agreed the
programmes had been ''awesome'' and had taught him how to
manage his differences.
Mrs Nicol had also been given useful coping strategies and
had learned to appreciate her son's quirks.
''He is the funniest, most interesting child, which so long
as you don't want anything taken to pieces to see how it
works, then it's all good.
''He adds a whole different dimension to my life.''