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Class Enrichment for a Gifted Kindergartner

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have a 5 year old boy in my kindergarten class who can read at an extremely high level (possibly a middle school or higher level). He can decode words very quickly. I read the list of characteristics of a gifted child and so far he meets just about every item on the list. We are a small private preschool and our highest grade is Kindergarten. His mother is afraid he will not be challenged in the class and I am thinking she is right. He does have some weak areas (fine motor, social skills, he loses his ability to stay focused during writing, circle time etc.

From what I have been reading this typical for gifted young children. I know I can keep him busy with work at home; it's in class I'm concerned with. I don't know how to keep him challenged in class while tending to my other typical kindergartners needs. Is there websites that can help me plan things for him? I appreciate any feedback. He has great interests in all animals (sea, rainforest etc..) Thanks.

A: I am very touched to read about teachers like you who would go that extra mile to help a child. From your description, this child is really special and as you have done some internet research on it, I believe that he is gifted.

It appears that there may not be provision for children with higher abilities at your school, hence you may need to put that extra effort to help him maximise his potential and this is the time to do it before he goes on to formal school. What he may need is an individualised programme that perhaps you may need to prepare. Bear in mind that the work he needs to do should be meaningful, challenging and has variety to maintain interest and stimulate his mind. There are a few challenges you would face here, namely:

  • How to occupy them when they have already mastered what you may be teaching (but others have not)?

  • How to keep them busy so that they don't get bored or disruptive?

  • How to keep them focused in the work that I have prepared specially for them?

These questions need to be answered with much planning and effort on the part of the teacher. The main thing you would need to do is give him a choice to move on from what is being done in class. Activities for a gifted child should not be close ended, rather open ended activities which allows the child to demonstrate their understanding. The following links may help you plan something more exciting for him:

The activities for gifted children suggested in the links would need to be modified according to his age and ability. Focus on his interests but also expose him to subjects that he is less interested in, taught in a different way. Just remember to make them challenging, purposeful and varied. Whatever you do, never give repetition or drill types of activities as it would lead to boredom and loss of interest. Make sure any activity given has an extension criterion for more challenging tasks that would work better on their strengths.

Very best of luck in your teaching journey!.


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