Gifted Preschoolers: Parent and Teacher Views on Identification, Early Admission, and Programming
Sankar-DeLeeuw, Naomi, Roeper Review
Editor's Note: This article has been modified from the original at the author's request.
The need for identification of and intervention with those who have special needs at an early age is critical to improving the chances for optimal development (Guralnick & Bennett, 1987). This is true for all exceptionalities, including the gifted and talented. Unfortunately, unlike the other areas of exceptionality, gifted education has not been perceived as an area of concern because of the belief that the gifted are able to work it out for themselves (Delisle, 1992). Yet, children within this exceptionality have unique needs and ignoring one or some developmental aspect can have deleterious effects.
This article documents issues investigated by surveys completed by parents and preschool/kindergarten teachers about the preschool gifted. The survey's findings were divided into two articles. The first, which reported characteristics of preschool gifted children, was presented at the 11 th WCGTC Conference in Hong Kong (Sankar-DeLeeuw, 1995) and later published in its proceedings (Sankar-DeLeeuw, 1997). This article discusses commonalities and differences in parent and teacher support for early identification, differentiated curriculum, and early entry. It also provides information about raising and teaching this population.
Literature Review of Preschool Gifted
The review of the literature provides a theoretical framework for this study. It includes a discussion of terminology (giftedness and preschooler), characteristics of gifted preschoolers and their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Research involving the parents and teachers of gifted children is also summarized.
Definitions of Giftedness and Preschooler
There are many competing conceptions of giftedness (Steinberg & Davidson, 1986) with definitions of giftedness ranging from a single intellectual dimension (Terman, 1925) to the recognition of multiple abilities and intelligences (Gardner, 1983; Guilford, 1956; Marland, 1972; Renzulli, 1978; Stemberg, 1981). Morelock and Feldman (1992) present the following definition of gifted children in their chapter on "The Assessment of Giftedness in Preschool Children":
Gifted children are those showing sustained evidence of advanced capability relative to their peers in general academic skills and/or in more specific domains (music, art, science, etc.) to the extent that they need differentiated educational programming. (p. 302)
The age designation for the term preschooler has been consistently defined in the literature. However, there have been inconsistent age references to the term "young gifted". Refer to Figure 1, which summarizes a number of studies. Collectively, the studies span birth to over 12 years. This is slightly different from Moss (1990) who states that the terms young and preschooler have been used to refer to a variety of age spans, or none at all. Caution is warranted in the interpretation of studies on the preschool gifted; information gleaned from a resource requires careful consideration of the definition of giftedness utilized by the author and the age designation given to preschooler. This study designates a preschooler as between the ages of 3 1/2 and 6 years.
Characteristics of Gifted Preschoolers
There is some similarity in descriptors used in characterizing the preschool gifted. Developmental unevenness, or asynchrony, has been noted by a number of researchers (Delisle, 1990; Hollingworth, 1942; Webb, Meckstroth, & Tolan, 1982). "The dissonance between the 10-year-old brain, the 7-year-old body, and the 6-year-old social response system ... is easily understood by children and adults alike and fraught with psychological pitfalls" (Genshaft, Bireley, & Hollinger, 1995, p. x).
The preschool gifted have been described by their …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Gifted Preschoolers: Parent and Teacher Views on Identification, Early Admission, and Programming. Contributors: Sankar-DeLeeuw, Naomi - Author. Journal title: Roeper Review. Volume: 24. Issue: 3 Publication date: Spring 2002. Page number: 172+. © 1999 The Roeper School. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.