This conference is for parents and educators of young children (0-8 years) with advanced development/giftedness. It is a unique opportunity to hear from Australasian researchers about giftedness in early childhood. There will also be opportunities for questions, and discussion about the implications of their research for parenting and teaching.


Giftedness in Ealy Childhood: Insights for Research and Practice Flyer

Friday 11 October, 2013
9.00 am-4.00 pm (registrations from 8.30 am)

Deakin University, City Campus Level 3, 550 Bourke St, Melbourne. This venue is just west of the William St intersection with Bourke St and is convenient to v/line trains, to metropolitan trains, and to the tram networks. City parking is very expensive and public transport is recommended.

For information regarding registration:
Please contact Lisa Angelini, Coordinator Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation (CREFI) Deakin University or phone (03) 9251 7147.

For information regarding the program:
Please contact Anne Grant or phone (03) 9877 1463


Abstracts for the conference:


Title of presentation: GTK - A creative approach to gifted education in Kindergarten.

Abstract: Young gifted children can find the transition to school a difficult process and a time of disillusionment. This most frequently occurs when opportunities for play and creativity, deep thinking and abstract questions are replaced by didactic approaches, repetitive tasks and busy work that are not responsive to the child’s strengths and interests. In this presentation Cathie will share her involvement in the development and implementation of GTK- or Gifted and Talented Kindergarten.  GTK is an approach to identification and curriculum planning for children in the first years of school developed and now being implemented in public schools in NSW. Cathie will share some of the results of the project which indicate that GTK has had a positive impact on young gifted children, and their teachers and families.

Biography: Dr Cathie Harrison is currently Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood
Education at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. She is the author of the
books Giftedness in Early Childhood and Young Gifted Children - Their Search for
Complexity and Connection and co-author of Rethinking Learning in Early Childhood
Education. Cathie has a diverse range of experience within early childhood education as an academic, teacher, advisor to the ABC television program - Play School, and consultant to a number of educational, museum and community projects. Her work has been strongly influenced by the early childhood education experience in Reggio Emilia Italy, and Scandinavia.



Title of presentation: Assessment for learning: The challenge of identifying where challenge is needed in the early years.

Abstract: This presentation shares approaches to assessment of young gifted by teachers, parents and family members across a number of studies. Studies of precious readers (Margrain, 2005), gifted children transitioning to school (Margrain, 2004) and teacher practice (Margrain, 2011; Margrain & Farquhar, 2012) indicate that teachers are uncertain how to assess young gifted children. Compared with teachers, parents were more responsive, more open to diverse assessment approaches, and more able to recognise characteristics of giftedness (Margrain, 2010).

The presentation includes authentic research examples, highlighting recommended and achievable assessment and pedagogical practice for teachers. Collaborative approaches between teachers, families and community are advocated in order to affirm and effectively support all children in the early years.

Biography: Dr Valerie Margrain is a Senior Lecturer in early childhood education at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. Valerie’s research platform is “strength based assessment in the early years”, within which she has a particular passion for the advocacy of young gifted children and their families. Valerie has previously worked as a teacher in primary schools, in early childhood teacher education, in higher education in New Zealand, and as Senior Advisor: Assessment for the NZ Ministry of Education.



Title of presentation: Recognising and understanding gifted children in early childhood.

Abstract: With an understanding of what giftedness is thought to be and how young children show that they are gifted, we can better respond to the developmental and educational needs of these unusual children and also comply with national and state policies. The widely-adopted Gagné model of giftedness and talent will be presented, along with the evidence-based characteristics of giftedness that form the basis of educators’ and parents’ identification of giftedness in early childhood. While for some children there is no doubt about their abilities, for others there may be masking factors—in the child, the family and the educational setting—that can interfere with recognition of outstanding strengths or potential. This presentation will draw on two research studies: (a) a longitudinal study of 14 young children from their preschool years into the early years of school, incorporating the perspectives of parents, teachers and the children themselves as well as the results of norm-referenced assessment, and (b) findings from a survey of 80 preschool and childcare educators in NSW about their beliefs and experiences regarding children they viewed as gifted.

Biography: Dr Kerry Hodge is an Honorary Associate in the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University and a member of the Children and Families Research Centre. Her research has focused on identifying giftedness in young children and on teachers’ perspectives on gifted children in preschool and childcare settings. Kerry has been a teacher and consultant in preschools and has lectured at undergraduate and postgraduate level on early gifted education. She is the Research and Development Manager of the STaR Association, a charity supporting children with special learning needs, their parents and teachers and leads its gifted program. Kerry was awarded the 2009 Nancy Fairfax Churchill Fellowship to investigate overseas programs for gifted preschoolers and teacher training in early gifted education.



Title of presentation: Who am I? — Case studies of young gifted children developing a new sense-of-self in an early childhood education program

Abstract: Young gifted children have been found to often have a well-established understanding of who they are and how they learn about their world, but potentially this can result in a different sense-of-self to that of their age peers. Early childhood educators (in both preschool and beginning-grades of school) recognise that children must adjust their sense-of-self as they settle into a new learning program and this is crucial to each child’s long term learning. How well early childhood educators support young gifted children to reorientate their sense-of-self, when this is potentially different to that of age-typical peers, will depend on their level of professional information about young gifted children. This presentation aims to provide evidence-based information about how some young gifted children adjusted their sense-of-self in new learning programs at preschool and in a beginning-school class. It will draw on case studies of young gifted children in transition into a new learning environment and discuss the research findings about the children’s emerging awareness of ‘who am I’ now? This study revealed that these young gifted children gained a positive sense-of-self in the new environment when there were intellectually satisfying learning opportunities as well as affirming relationships. Yet the characteristics of these aspects of their experience often involved behaviours different to those of age-typical children, and different to educator expectations. Some of these out-of-the-ordinary behaviours helped the young gifted children reorientate their sense of self and some hindered. Implications of these findings for interpreting the Early Years Learning Framework will be discussed.

Biography: Dr Anne Grant has recently completed research on how very young, gifted children adjust to the new learning environment of a preschool and beginning school class. This has furthered her interest in how early childhood educators may work more effectively in engaging young gifted children in the learning environment as well as supporting their developing sense of identity and feelings of wellbeing. Anne has taught in the early childhood field for many years, working with children who have a range of abilities from those identified as gifted through to children with severe developmental delay. She is currently involved in preservice teacher education and writing.



Parenting a gifted child through preschool and early years of school.
What it is like to parent a gifted child?
At what age do parents identify their child as gifted?
Can parents make their child gifted?
What do parents of these children expect of educators?
What aspects of the relationship between parents and educators are supportive for parents of a gifted child, and vice versa what contribution from parents do educators find supportive?

These are some of the questions that educators and parents typically ask when they become awareness of giftedness as a possible explanation for differences in behaviour and development in a very young child. Giftedness, that is an indication that a child may be developmentally advanced, can be challenging for parents and educators alike. While no two young gifted children are alike, there are similarities in the issues that families face in navigating their gifted child’s adjustment to a learning program outside the home – at preschool or school. This presentation will describe the journey taken by one gifted child and his parents, alongside evidence from research with families about parenting a gifted child.



Title of presentation: Extending young gifted children through higher order questioning techniques.

Abstract: This presentation reports on an innovative research study conducted in an Australian early childhood centre, examining the use of William’s teaching strategies with young children in order to stimulate higher order thinking. This study found that not only were young children capable of answering higher ordering thinking questions, but their quality of response improved when challenged to do so – providing an evidence base for what many of us know intuitively. Participants will be guided through the development of the questioning techniques and learn how to evaluate their own questioning in order to more fully challenge the children in their care.

Biography: Rosalind Walsh holds a MEd from UNSW specialising in gifted education. She was the manager of the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC) at the University of New South Wales for 10 years. Rosalind has worked with teachers around Australia at both primary and secondary levels, as well as teaching in UNSW’s preservice teacher training in gifted education for over 10 years. In 2011 and 2012 Rosalind worked in a preschool enrichment program for young gifted children in North-West Sydney through the STaR Association. Rosalind is currently undertaking PhD study at Macquarie University researching successful interventions for gifted children in prior to school settings.



Title of presentation: Giftedness in the first two years: A study of infants and toddlers in play.
Abstract: This presentation will consider some findings from a study on the early development of gifted children. The research looked at infants and toddlers in play with their mothers, and the children were later assessed on an IQ measure at five years of age. The study found that higher IQ at five was linked to faster learning in children, and more challenging and stimulating interactions with mothers. The findings raise interesting implications about gifted development in the first two years, and important questions about how families and childcare professionals identify and respond to advanced development in infants and toddlers. It also suggests that play can be a useful context for observing and supporting advanced development in young children.

Biography: Anne-Marie Morrissey works as a lecturer and course coordinator in early childhood education at Deakin University. She also has extensive experience as an early childhood teacher and centre director in preschools, childcare centres and schools in Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as involvement in national quality assurance processes through 11 years’ experience as a moderator with the former National Childcare Accreditation Council. Anne-Marie has also conducted research and published in the areas of mentoring, teacher leadership, learning and development through play, natural outdoor spaces in early childhood settings, infant/toddler practicum for pre-service teachers, and giftedness in young children. She is currently leading research projects on greening childcare spaces and outcomes of International Baccalaureate Early Years programmes. She has a particular expertise in researching play as a context for learning and development, including gifted development.

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