Education Activities Programme is encouraging parents of quirky or deep-thinking children to consider having them assessed as part of the nationwide Gifted Awareness Week.
Central Otago Reap schools co-ordinator Steve Brown said about five in every 100 students could be classified as gifted, but many often went unidentified.
Traits such as super-sensitivity to surroundings, an exceptional memory and the ability to grasp ideas very quickly could indicate a child was gifted, he said.
The classification process begins with a questionnaire and leads to a formal assessment.
Children who are identified can then join the Students Thinking Achieving Reaching (Star) class, held one day a week in either Clyde or Wanaka, where they can learn alongside like-minded peers.
The classes cater for children aged 5 to 8, and help foster social and emotional skills as well as intellectual and creative ability. Mr Brown said the small class sizes and hands-on activities made for a more targeted approach to learning.
“It’s far better for individual attention. It adds a freedom to the learning .. That’s one of the things Reap focuses on: plugging gaps in regional education that smaller schools may struggle with.”
Gifted children might be lonely at school because their interests differed from their peers, he said, but the Star classes allowed children with similar characteristics to connect.
Another important message in the classes was accepting that failure was normal and an important part of the learning process, he said.
“Some of these kids really struggle with that. They put so much pressure on themselves.”
This term, children from the Wanaka and Clyde classes had a Meeting of the Minds day, where they learnt about the Japanese language and practised writing scripts, crafting origami and making sushi.
Each term had a different theme, Mr Brown said, and children also fundraised for their chosen cause each year.