Supporting Early Giftedness Through Play

Dr. Julia Osborn, a psychologist specializing in gifted children and Kristen Pallonetti, the program director at Tribeca Community School, a Reggio philosophy preschool in Tribeca, presented their views on Supporting Early Giftedness Through Play at the February 28, 2012 P.A.L. Workshop Series in New York City.

Among some of the take-aways presented by Dr. Osborn were:
• Slow down and pay attention to our children and to their interests; provide opportunities for connections
• Don’t get caught up in the frantic, prep-your-kid-for-the-tests nonsense
• Take time to understand your child’s interests and talents so you can support them, regardless of what kind of a program they are in.
• Talk to your baby, even before she talks back, with open-ended questions to encourage a two-way conversation and exploration even before you think she might understand it.
• Children NEED to play… it’s how they learn about themselves and the world.
• Pre-k is overemphasizing academic work and putting less emphasis on play, but they NEED play and they need language.
• Parents, don’t freak out, imaginary companions are fine, and they will disappear in time. Until then, go with it.
• And most importantly, read, read, read with your kids, early and often.

Dr. Osborn also says to:

  • Talk with your child—kindly, frequently and about all kinds of topics.
  •  Answer your child’s questions: speculate and explore ideas.
  • Read daily for generous amounts of time. Aim for 25 minutes daily.  Select books that your child enjoys.  Re-reading books that a child enjoys is fine.
  • Provide varied play materials and unstructured playtime.  Children learn essential language, social and moral lessons through play.
  • Play music that you and your child can enjoy.
  • Provide art supplies, free time and a place to make a mess.
  • Display your child’s artwork with pleasure.
  • Postpone formal testing as long as practical.
  • Test results prior to age 7 or 8 are often unreliable; don’t over value them.
  • Limit academic pressure and academic demands in the early childhood years.

As for “Dr. Osborn’s Recommended Reading list” see below:

Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them, Marjorie Taylor  Oxford University Press  ISBN 0-19-514629-8

You Can’t Say You Can’t Play  Vivian Gussian Paley, Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-96589-2

Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children  Betty Hart & Rodd R. Risley, Paul H. Brooks Publishing  ISBN1-55766-197-9

Gifted Young Children. Perspectives on Gifted and Talented Education, Wendy Conklin Roedell, Nancy Ewald Jackson, Halbert B. Robinson, Teacher’s College Press; out of print

Gifted IQ: Early Development Aspects: The Fullerton Longitudinal Study, Allen  W. Gottfried, Adele Eskeles Gottfried, Kay Bathurst, Diana Wright Guerin, Plenum Publishing  ISBN 0-306-44683-9

Developing Talent in Young People, Benjamin S. Bloom, Ballantine Books  ISBN 0-345-31509-X

Finnish Lessons:  What can the world learn from educational change in Finland?  Pasi Sahlberg, Teachers College Press  ISBN 978-0-8077-5257-9

Welcome to Your Child’s Brain, Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D.  & Sam Wang, PhD., Bloomsbury  ISBN 978-1-59691-649-4

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