Bub­bly book­worms

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Most chil­dren are cu­ri­ous, but si­b­lings Hirini and Mere­ana are an ex­treme ex­am­ple.

As preschool­ers, they con­stantly stumped their par­ents with ran­dom thoughts and ques­tions, mum Perya Short says.

An­other early clue that the kids were in­tel­lec­tu­ally gifted is their love of books – their kinder­garten teacher was as­ton­ished they had been read­ing since the age of one.

‘‘There’s al­ways been books around,’’ Ms Short says. ‘‘They’re both avid read­ers.’’ Once a week, 11-year-old Mere­ana can sat­isfy her thirst for knowl­edge at One Day School, a pro­gramme which brings gifted chil­dren to­gether at Rangikura School to dis­cuss and ex­plore ad­vanced top­ics like black holes, mythol­ogy and DNA.

To be el­i­gi­ble for the pro­gramme, chil­dren must score in the top 5 per cent of a cog­ni­tive test ad­min­is­tered by ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gists.

The lessons are not as rigid as reg­u­lar school, and al­low pupils to re­search as­pects of top­ics that in­ter­est them, Mere­ana says. ‘‘It’s a lot of fun, ac­tu­ally.’’ Four days a week she is at Pau­ata­hanui School, where she stud­ies with kids two years older and takes cor­re­spon­dence French. De­spite lean­ing to­wards arty and mu­sic sub­jects, Mere­ana wants to be a forensic sci­en­tist when she grows up.

‘‘I like mys­ter­ies,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s re­ally the logic and us­ing the bits of a puz­zle to put it all to­gether.’’

Aotea Col­lege stu­dent Hirini, 14, is a grad­u­ate of One Day School, which ad­mits stu­dents from year two to eight.

Friends he made at One Day School are still his clos­est mates, he says.

‘‘It’s such a small group you make re­ally strong bonds.’’

A lover of science, maths and en­gi­neer­ing, he is con­sid­er­ing ar­chae­ol­ogy as a ca­reer.

One Day School was es­tab­lished in 1996 to cater for the spe­cial needs of gifted chil­dren, and now has 34 classes na­tion­wide.

Gifted chil­dren are of­ten bored at school, and are of­ten mis­di­ag­nosed as trou­ble­some or dis­rup­tive. They are over-rep­re­sented in sui­cide and prison sta­tis­tics, ac­cord­ing to the Gifted Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre.

Ms Short says a lot of gifted kids suf­fer from so­cial un­ease, but ‘‘ not these ones’’ – her young­sters are bub­bly and con­fi­dent.

Word per­fect: Gifted si­b­lings Mere­ana and Hirini John­ston have been book­worms since kinder­garten.

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