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Programme For Gifted Pre-Schoolers Goes Nationwide

The Gifted Education Centre
To Go Beyond the Known

5 September 2008

Programme For Gifted Pre-Schoolers Goes Nationwide

A programme designed for gifted pre-schoolers which has already met with success in Auckland is set to be rolled out to other locations by The Gifted Education Centre, after it recently received a funding boost from the Sovereign Sunshine programme.

The Gifted Education Centre Director, Kathy Williams, said the charity had established its Small Poppies programme over a year ago to meet the needs of gifted preschoolers.

“We were getting a lot of inquiries from parents wanting to find out if there was anything available for children under the age of five. We’d been offering support and education for school-aged gifted children, their parents and teachers but had nothing in place for pre-schoolers.”

The Small Poppies programme was established and is currently run by Sue Breen who has over 30 years teaching experience.

The pre-schoolers are taught by New Zealand registered teachers who have also been trained in dealing with gifted children. The programme runs in 10 week sessions and involves attending a weekly half day session at The Gifted Education Centre.

Kathy said teachers at the Centre use an investigative play teaching method for Small Poppies.

“This involves pre-schoolers taking a ‘hands on’ approach to things by using experimental learning. For example, this could involve getting the children to play with bubbles and teaching them why they pop and why they are come in different sizes and colours.”

Kathy said the programme had met with huge success in the Auckland region.

“The funding from Sovereign Sunshine will now enable us to offer the programme to over 50 other families across New Zealand.

“As the programme gains in momentum, I expect more gifted children and their parents will be able to access the support of the Centre.”

The Centre also helps parents and teachers to understand the behaviour and learning needs of gifted children.

“We provide open forum parent evenings, workshops and professional development courses for teachers.”

Auckland mother Leanne Mete has had five of her children attend Small Poppies. Her four year old daughter is currently attending the programme.

“I heard about Small Poppies through the kindy that my eldest son was attending. He was always different - he would get fixated about things like tow bars, memorise street names and number plates. When he was about 2 and a half years old I bought a ‘sing and learn timetable book’ and he sat there listening and singing day after day until he’d learnt them all. His kindergarten teachers recognised that he learnt differently and told me to try Small Poppies. Since then all of my kids have attended the programme.

“Each child is different and their interest in the themes explored at Small Poppies changes each week. My daughter always looks forward to attending classes and learning in a relaxed environment with other gifted children.

“I would recommend Small Poppies to other parents – there is support for parents with gifted children and you also get to meet others who are going through similar things at home with their children.”

There are currently 480 students throughout the country registered with the Centre. Depending on their age, they attend a range of 10 week junior, middle or senior One Day School programmes.

The Sovereign Sunshine scheme which is backed by Kiwi actress and mother of two, Greer Robson, helps under-resourced children’s charities by providing them with funding.

Each month the initiative focuses on a different charity group, with members of the public deciding via online voting which charity gets the funding. Sovereign staff also play their part by helping to raise funds for the different charities.

Sovereign Head of Marketing and Product Management, Vera Crawley, said all 800 staff had got involved in supporting the latest round of fundraising.

“Each business unit participated in a mini Olympics with departments picking a different country and decorating their office spaces accordingly. Staff also competed in running and cycling events at the local gym and raised $3,000 of the total $15,000 that was donated to the Centre.”

To find out more about the programme or to vote for a charity go to

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