Gifted children will benefit from the young scholars program that is coming to some schools in the fall for kindergarteners, and first and second graders. The enrichment program will be unusual as the focus on gifted children has oftne not been on students this young.
In each of the 21 elementary schools in the Puyallup School district, the program will be put in place for first and second grades in the fall.
The change in Pierce County’s second-largest school district comes at a time when other districts, including Tacoma, are also revamping their programs for gifted children. Most districts, however, are focusing on older elementary kids.
The Young Scholars program in Puyallup will initially include first- and second-graders. Later in the fall semester, kindergartners will participate as well.
Mark Vetter, the district’s director of instructional leadership, describes Young Scholars as a mixture of “enrichment and extensions.”
He said content of the twice-a-week pullout program will be designed over the summer. But he described one potential example: A small group of Young Scholars might gather for their first half-hour session of the week to read and discuss a classic book such as “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” Their second gathering might then focus on weather and the science of meteorology.
The lessons will include take-home information for parents that suggest ways for them to feed their children’s developing interests.
“It has the potential to be very exciting,” Vetter said.
He noted that there are few models around the nation where school systems target lessons to very young gifted students. He said Puyallup will look at programs in Texas and North Carolina for guidance.
One major impetus for the move to include early-grade kids comes from a new state law. It requires all school districts to provide services for identified highly capable students from kindergarten through grade 12.
Other districts across the state are also reworking their gifted education programs.