Why is there a need to identify and acknowledge gifted children?

Gifted children find themselves out of step with their contemporaries. Some have no difficulty, but others find themselves isolated and rejected by their peers. They may withdraw into themselves and have only a few friends. They may be bored with their school work and become frustrated and discouraged. They may deliberately underachieve to make themselves unacceptable to their classmates. Unless carefully nurtured, some will drop out from society and may even turn their talents to delinquency and crime.

For parents, a gifted child at home will be too much to cope with and they often need guidance especially during the child’s pre-school years. The opportunity to share their concern with other parents in similar situations and to be able to call on expert advice and friendly support is a necessary and greatly appreciated service.

Are children born gifted or can they be nurtured?

Just as some children are born tall and some short, and some more chubby than others, all parents will notice that children are born with different types and levels of gifts and talents. Some children will have a greater aptitude for music while others will be more talented in art, reading, etc. Thus, while we believe that some children are born with a higher potential in certain fields, these gifts or talents cannot be fully developed without proper nurturing. In fact, most children barely achieve a fraction of their potential and they can all be helped with proper nurturing.

What is the population of gifted children in Malaysia?

The estimated population of Malaysians in 2008 between the ages 0-14 years is 8.9 million. If 2% of that figure are gifted (the standard common definition of intellectual giftedness is two standard deviations above average IQ, or 98th percentile, or top 2% of the population) – if 2% of 8.9 million children are gifted, then it would be about 178,000.

How can the educational sector help in addressing the needs of gifted children?

The needs of gifted children need to be addressed from the start, that is, from Primary 1. Material presented in classrooms must cater to diverse learning styles, gender needs and intellectual abilities, so that all pupils will benefit.

The educational sector can help by raising awareness of teachers to the identification & needs of the gifted, training opportunities for teachers to handle the gifted, enrichment/acceleration programs for the gifted i.e. varied programmes & not just academic — EQ, special talents, etc