I an in-home child care center and

I selected the article “Preschool gifted education: Perceived
challenges associated with program development” (Kettler, Oveross, &
Salman, 2017). Although the United States has made high quality early childhood
education a priority for all, it is clear from the review of literature that most
preschool centers are unequipped and unresponsive to the needs of gifted
children. The purpose of this study was to identify and define current preschool
center procedures and practices to support recognition and development of
gifted children. The exact research questions used were “Do preschool center
directors establish programs and services to recognize and develop gifted
children?” (Kettler et al., 2017, p. 118) and “How do preschool directors
describe the challenges associated with establishing programs and services for
gifted children in preschool centers?” (Kettler et al., 2017, p. 118).

            Participants included 254 directors from privately owned early
childhood centers in Texas (Kettler et al., 2017).  Directors were asked to classify their
preschool center as either a general child care center, a prekindergarten education
program, an in-home child care center, an accredited Montessori school, or
other. The majority of participants classified their program as a general child
care center (40%) or a prekindergarten education program (33%). Six percent of
directors classified their center as an in-home child care center and six percent
selected Accredited Montessori Schools. The remaining 15% chose “other” to
classify their preschool center. Participants also described the socioeconomic
status of the families attending their preschool based on household income and
educational levels. From the participant pool, 49% of directors categorized the
socioeconomics of their preschool as average, 29% as above average, and 22% as below
average (Kettler et al., 2017).

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            The researchers created The Preschool Gifted Education
Survey as an instrument to collect data on the challenges, obstacles, and
benefits of providing gifted education services for three to five year olds (Kettler
et al., 2017). The survey asked for information on policies and staff
professional development associated with gifted education. An open ended
response question was also provided on the survey that allowed participants to write
a detailed narrative explaining the biggest barriers to providing gifted
education programming in preschool centers. The detailed narratives were then
analyzed by themes to generate twenty-four codes that represented the
challenges of gifted preschool education. Researchers then grouped these codes into
seven theoretical themes that described the challenges to executing gifted
education in preschool centers.

            Results showed that 68% of participants indicated their
preschool had no policies or practices in place for gifted education (Kettler
et al., 2017). Only 5% had documented policies and consistent practices for
identifying and supporting gifted children, and 27% had informal policies and
practices for identifying and supporting gifted children. The majority of
participants (86%) indicated their preschool had not provided any specialized
gifted education training for staff. Only 4% of participants indicated their
center had provided multiple specialized gifted education trainings for staff. Most
participants (70%) indicated they were not familiar at all with the National
Association for Gifted Children’s (NAGC) position on identifying and supporting
giftedness in early childhood. Participants indicated mixed results as to
whether they would like to improve their preschool center’s approach to identifying
and supporting gifted children; 39% of participants indicated they would agree
to improve and 31% indicated they were undecided (Kettler et al., 2017).  

            Results from the detailed narrative and the seven
theoretical themes describing the challenges to gifted preschool education
showed teacher retention to be a significant challenge. Quality teachers that
are trained in gifted education will often work in the public K-12 schools due
to the higher salary. Most directors indicated lack of time and money as a
barrier, including lack of time for staff training and differentiation in the
classroom. Identifying giftedness in preschool children was also a concern, including
whether testing was developmentally appropriate and accurate. Participants also
expressed that their center had difficulty meeting best practices already due
to high child-teacher ratios, and therefore feared that adding gifted services would
be a challenge. Directors indicated that they did not know where to find
information or resources for gifted preschool services. The results from this
article indicate that more research needs to be done on gifted education in
preschool centers. The results indicated an overall lack of knowledge and
misunderstanding from directors of preschool centers on early childhood gifted
education.

            There were a number of limitations to this study that
should not be overlooked. Firstly, the participants were all preschool center
directors in the state of Texas. Texas is not recognized for strong policies in
early childhood education, and therefore, collecting data from states with
stronger early childhood policies and funding may produce different results. Another
limitation would be the small response rate (11%) due to the email survey sampling
method. Out of 2,976 recruiting emails only 334 respondents expressed interest
in participating. Although there were limitation to the study, the study
produced significant findings that are valuable to educators and policymakers.

            This article is important for all students and professors
working with gifted learners. The results indicated that preschool directors anticipate
many challenges related to gifted education programming. Firstly, education and
training in giftedness, identifying gifted children, and supporting gifted
children seem necessary. I was concerned with the data indicating that the
majority of participants were unfamiliar with NAGC policies because these participants
were preschool directors, who as leaders in education should have an
understanding of NAGC’s recommendations and policies. Having a lack of
knowledge and understanding of gifted children does not come as a surprise to
me. During my undergraduate studies in Elementary Education my program did not
offer one course pertaining to giftedness. There was a course on special
education, but it focused on supporting lower achieving students. I am now
almost to the end of my graduate program focusing on early childhood education,
and this is my first course on giftedness. This is also not a required course
for my program; however, I chose to take it as an elective because of my lack
of awareness in gifted education. It is clear from my own experiences and the
data from this article that gifted education for young children (birth through
5) is overlooked.

            The information from this article is beneficial for
professors and preschool educators to understand the myths of preschool
giftedness and educational gaps. University professors should begin to prioritize
courses pertaining to giftedness, especially for students studying early
childhood education. This article could be a starting point for policymakers
and preschool directors to begin a plan for program development in preschool
gifted education. The findings indicate the lack of funding for early childhood
education; this article could encourage educators and policymakers to advocate
for early childhood education. The review of literature was extensive in
describing the importance of inclusive quality early childhood education for
all and it described the challenges in providing it. The benefits to differentiated
programming for gifted preschool students is also reviewed, which include
increased chances of future achievement and “reduced future social, behavioral,
emotional, and educational problems” (Kettler et al., 2017, p. 120).  This is significant for gifted children who
often have unique social and emotional needs.

            This article was important in my own profession as a
preschool teacher. I work at an independent school that does not currently have
a policy for preschool gifted students. It is encouraging and discouraging at
the same time to know that we are not behind on program development. We have a
reading specialist that works with students starting in Kindergarten on
extending their learning, and I have questioned our administrative team on what
extension could become available to our pre-k students. I have been encouraged
by the article “Preschool gifted education: Perceived challenges associated
with program development” to explore NAGC and start conversations at my school
regarding giftedness in the preschool classrooms.

           

 

References

Kettler, T., Oveross, M.
E., & Salman, R. C. (2017). Preschool gifted education: Perceived challenges associated with program
development. Gifted Child Quarterly, 61(2), 117-    132. doi:10.1177/0016986217690228

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