Early Childhood Gifted Education

Bellevue Discovery follows best practices in early childhood gifted education

The National Association for Gifted Children describes “an appropriate and responsive educational learning environment” for highly capable preschoolers as one that includes:

  • Experiences that range from concrete to abstract
  • Opportunities for social interaction with same-age peers as well as individuals with similar cognitive abilities and interests
  • Engagement in a variety of stimulating learning experiences (including hands-on opportunities, imaginative play, and problem-solving)
  • Caring and nurturing child-centered environments that support healthy risk-taking

Our primary curriculum guide at Bellevue Discovery is Early Childhood Gifted Education by Dr. Nancy Hertzog, Director of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the University of Washington. We are fortunate that Dr. Hertzog visited our preschool to see her research in practice.

With Dr. Hertzog’s model in mind, we follow these best practices:

  • We focus on the whole child: social, emotional, physical and cognitive
  • We support asynchronous development: each child has strengths and challenges in different domains (social, cognitive, etc.). For example a child may be: able to read, not able to recognize all the numbers from one to 10, still learning how to put on a coat, kind to friends, and lacking stamina for afternoon activities.
  • We understand that many gifted children have a different way of thinking: these children often need less repetition, often seem to know things without being taught, and love complexity; our preschoolers are capable of higher level thinking, reflection and metacognition
  • We recognize leapfrogging in which highly capable children sometimes skip over bits of learning and understand the big picture
  • We provide long-term, in-depth projects that support higher level thinking, moving from short-term teacher-guided problem-solving to long-term, in-depth, child-managed projects.
  • We focus on exploration and discovery, not acquisition of low level content and skills; however, we work closely with local independent gifted schools to ensure that our children moving on to kindergarten are fully prepared with their school readiness skills
  • We help children find patterns and make their own connections
  • We create an environment that allows highly capable children to work with peers who share their vocabulary, imagination and love for learning

“We never know what children are really learning. Our job is to surround them with possibilities, support their growth, and get out of their way.” ~ Bellevue Discovery teacher


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