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AN EXPERIENCE WITH GIFTED AND TALENTED CHILDREN


Children come from elite families, not all go to school, but each one of them is gifted in his or her way. They belong to the suburban slums of Mumbai, and are active participants of an evening programme run by an NGO. Every year during the festive season, these children participate in a weeklong preparation for their stall items. Each one in his own way. They paint beautiful diyas / earthern lamps, make paper bags, wrapping papers, draw and paint cards, stitch cloth and silk bags and do the packaging themselves too. All this is done with just a little guidance and an opportunity to prove themselves.

The selling of each thing made by them, gives them a sense of achievement, immense joy and satisfaction of having done something on their own, as well as getting recognition for the work done. These children come to us with an eagerness to do something and get a chance to do something and to use their skills in some way.
Another experience is also related with the same NGO that runs another programme for the street children, focusing mainly on providing non-formal education to them.

During their classes, which are held in the evenings, an effort is made to integrate dance, body movements, songs, reading, writing, art and craft and games, help in making the learning a fun filled experience for them. Some of them are extremely imaginative and show an eagerness to learn something.

Ramesh a 14 year old boy is very good in finer motor skills, is neat with repair work such as umbrellas, bags and other mechanical work. He does repairing work in the daytime and comes to the class in the evening. He also has a good sense of humour and the ability to make others laugh. He can crack jokes at almost anything said or done. He has good physical intelligence as well as interpersonal intelligence.

Dilip another boy 12 years of age is very good at grasping words and showed an interest in learning new things. During a word building game, he and Suresh contributed new words whenever possible. Dilip is good at language / verbal intelligence.

These children definitely have gifts inspite of limited exposure and opportunity available considering their background.


Creativity Enhancement Programme (CEP)
Inspired by this whole concept of letting children use their hidden potentials to their best, instead of forced abilities to prove in school and otherwise, CEP was created in May 1997 and since then many children have benefited from this programme. This programme has been designed to tap the hidden strengths of children aged 8-15 years and nurture those talents through specifically designed activities.

CEP is an ongoing programme wherein children who have continued on the programme for more than a year, have shown a greater difference in their self, attitude, habits, building relationships, leadership qualities and thinking more creatively (problem solving and decision making) than those who have been in the programme only for a short while. The changes become more evident over a longer period of time.

CEP is designed such that it is able to tap language, musical, logical, reasoning, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal and physical intelligence in young children.

The programme consists of the following components :

a)

Creative thinking : Helping them to use their imagination, problem solving and decision making skills. E.g.: They are given a problem and asked to reason out the possibilities. "If there was no Oxygen how would we survive" or " What if you go somewhere without telling someone?"

b) 

Social development : Focusing on acceptance and tolerance of other peers and individuals in a group. E.g. In order to make children accept other children with differences, there was a first hand experience wherein one group of children had a special child in their group who was accepted beautifully by the others and who enjoyed the activities with everybody.

Besides the incident mentioned above, discussions and sharing experiences on social issues as well as working with mixed ages and gender also helps them in their social development.

c)   

Music and movement : Using visualization and soft music, children were asked to follow instructions using their body such as swinging their arms, hands and legs, becoming a tall tree and with their hands up reaching the sky, touching the clouds and then falling down as rain. Variations in instructions change according to the group.

d)  

Drama / Role-play : Children are given day-to-day situations to enact, where they are face to face with conflicts with friends, family or school. e.g.: Your friend is in trouble and you want to help her, although you are not talking to each other, as you have a misunderstanding.

e) 

Creative expressions through art and craft : Based on a project or story built up by the group or the theme of the programme, the art work or creative activities are done. e.g.: if the theme is theatre, the group was taught paper mache puppets and asked to make a skit and enact it in small groups.

f) 

Project work : Children are given different projects related to environment, relationships, interests, people of the world etc. It involves sometimes doing fieldwork too, like in one such programme, the children visited the people in the area nearby and interviewed them to get information about the work they did and at the end of which they did a report presentation. They enjoyed it a lot and were proud at their achievement.

g)  

Fun games : The most exciting of all are the fun games that are designed such that the children get a chance to not only move around, run and play but also be mentally alert and active all the time. The games are based on teamwork, numerical, language and logical skills too.

At the end of approximately 12 sessions, keen observations done during that time, are put forth to parents during a face-to-face interaction. Children also share their views and experiences during the programme and sometimes even do presentations.