Introducing the “BISTRIC” Center for Gifted Child Development in Zagreb, Croatia

Interview with Jasna Cvetkovic-Lay

http://www.bistric.info/index.php/home

The “BISTRIC” Center was established in 1995 with the aim of supporting the special needs of 4-10 year-old children with advanced abilities and standing by their parents and teachers.  It was founded by Jasna Cvetkovic-Lay, a psychologist, an ECHA specialist and now the program coordinator of the Center.

“Bistric” is an NGO that provides workshops and extra-curricular enrichment for gifted children, in-service teacher trainings in gifted education and counselling for parents, thus creating a direct professional help to adults and professionals around children in the educational system. They offer playgroups for 4-7 year-old children and activity-oriented workshops for primary school children (7-10 years) and they also provide activities for twice exceptional students based on the principles of project work, deepness, enrichment and raising interest. In the past years in addition to workshops and trainings the Centre was involved in several applied activities and projects supported by national and local educational institutions, they organized an international conference about national networks for gifted children in 2000. In 2016 the Center was officially registered as a European Talent Point and became part of the European Talent Support Network.

In a typical school year the staff of the Center (2 leaders and 4 mentors) carries out about a hundred workshops for 25-30 gifted children , and teacher training courses for about 50-80 participants.

They have published several handbooks and booklets with topics including how to conduct and create enrichment programs for gifted children aged between 4-10, and how to support them in a family and an educational setting.

 

  • Why did you found this institution more than 20 years ago? What were your personal reasons?

 

All of us are personally motivated to initiate something significant in our own lives or in our fields. It is the situation with me, too: I come from a creative family, with a mother who was a self-taught artist and a “natural talent”, and with an engineer-innovator father, and now I am married to a very creative and talented man, who is well-known in Croatia as a person who has changed and improved the whole domain of informatics and ICT education significantly (https://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branimir_Makanec). So, from the very beginning, I was sensitized to the field of creativity and talent, especially the one that manifests itself in concrete products. In addition, I work in a public preschool institution with very specifically educated and talented educators and preschool teachers, who recognize and encourage talent in children through various domain-specific programs.  At this point, Croatian schools are not sufficiently adapted to the special needs of gifted students so it is important to offer them quality extracurricular programs and continuously educate teachers in the field of gifted education.

 

  • What does its name “Bistric” mean?

 

It means a very smart (clever) young child (of preschool and early school age). On Croatian word “bistar” means smart/clever and “Bistrić” is diminutive targeting the young population.

 

  • Why is this age group so important in your opinion?

 

The preschool and early school years are very sensitive because of the neurological indicators of brain development and the flexibility of the child’s brain, as well as of the latency period when the child is free from the influence of hormones that significantly influence development and intellectual processes in the later years. Children of this age, especially gifted ones, are very receptive, enthusiastic, quick and easy learners, and develop quickly in the intellectual domains. In short, it is a pleasure to work with them.

  • What kind of workshops do you offer for children? How do you plan the topics and methodology?

 

We offer extracurricular enrichment programs aimed at encouraging creative, logical and scientific thinking and digital skills.  They consist of wide-ranging types of activities with specialized didactics and equipment included. Methodically, games and activities take place in small groups (up to 5 participants), with mentoring and working in pairs. Many activities focus on team cooperation aimed to develop social skills of the gifted, in addition to challenges in the field of the expressed abilities. Activities are planned in accordance with the principles of enrichment, deepening and encouragement of the most prominent abilities and talents and socializing with children of similar abilities and interests.

 

  • If there are more applicants than you can accept, how do you choose the participant children?

 

Many schools and kindergartens in Croatia have undergone some form of education in cooperation with our Center, so educators and teachers may offer this opportunity to children nominated as potentially gifted, but parents themselves can also submit backed with their own observations. All nominated children pass through an admission and reception process that includes written observations through checklists, psychological testing, as well as observation in enriched environment.

 

  • What are your biggest challenges nowadays?

 

Unfortunately, the economic crisis has also hit Croatia, which means that we have lots of gifted children whose parents are unemployed or have little income and can’t provide them with additional high-quality programs. Therefore, the Center launched a humanitarian project through which we find donors to enable such children to attend the program at our Center. Some of the donors are especially sensitive because once they themselves were gifted children and now are successful business people – most often in abroad.

 

  • You also wrote and edited several handbooks about the practical aspect of gifted education. Why do you think it is important to write about practice?

 

People who work in practice (preschool and elementary school teachers, educators) need a set of specific tips and procedures how to work with the gifted, and need to be familiar with a wide range of games and activities, with specialized methods and goals of application as well. Part of our in-service trainings for practitioners is carried out in a way that they work directly with gifted students in the workshops in our Center and then receive practical guidelines in brochures. Handbooks and brochures are part of our educational materials for in-service trainings.

 

  • If you look over past years’ experiences, do you recognize any tendencies, negative or positive changes in the field of gifted education in your city and in your country?

 

The changes on a state level are much slower than the experts in the field of gifted education would like them to be, but they are happening. For example, the public preschool institution and kindergarten in which I work, in January 2018 was officially appointed by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education as an Expert Developmental Center for the gifted, after 30 years of my intensive work in the field! As I say, it is very slow but at least happened. Also, several public educational institutions and non-governmental organizations in Croatia have become part of the ETSN, and an official document at the state level has been drafted that should regulate work with gifted students. But it is still ahead of us to get the appropriate conditions for its application in educational practice.

 

  • How do you see the following years? What are your plans for the near future?

 

I see the future optimistically. When I started working with gifted pre-school children in 1993, at the First Experimental program of that kind in Croatia with the permission of our Ministry, I was an exception and very lonely. Now, a lot of colleagues are dealing with this topic, and many of them say that I have inspired them. Some are educated as ECHA Specialists also, while I have been the only one in Croatia since 2000.  What I plan in the future is to acquire a PhD in the field of Early Identification of Creative-productive giftedness, under the mentorship of dr. Mojca Juriševič from CRSN in Ljubljana.

 

 

  • What are the benefits of networking within the country (network of preschool experts) and internationally, and belonging to organizations like the ETSN?

 

These benefits are huge from exchanging experience and good practice to a greater impact on slow state institutions. As Csilla Fuszek and Peter Csermely constantly emphasize, this power of horizontal networking is much larger than we would expect. I am very pleased that our Center is part of this network.

 

 

 

 

Looking back at the EGIFT Summer School in Ljubljana

Thoughts by the Hungarian participants

“The presentations let me expand my knowledge and rethink the components of my talent support work integrated in some kind of a system, a framework. I found the lectures on the identification of and talent support to multiply extraordinary children the most useful…

At the workshops, I got acquainted with work going on at Ljubljana University, and I was glad to see that I could adapt several of the many novelties to my college work. I am thinking of creative cooking that we’ll try with the children during the Arany János Dormatory weekends. It was most interesting to see technological novelties that we’ll hopefully be able to test also at the college (e.g. 3D printer).

…it was most useful that the workshops provided us an image of talent nurturing practice in various countries, and we had an opportunity to discuss our experience… Thanks to the Ljubljana training, our college established contacts with two institutions and we expect long-term cooperation with them. One institution is Hamburg-based Nelson Mandela Schule; we’ll try to cooperate with them primarily in the field of talent support to disadvantaged children, the other is Anton Ukmar Primary School in Koper, we would like to exchange experience concerning environmental protection and to familiarise with the projects, best practices there. We have invited the representatives of both institutions to our college to get acquainted and do some professional work together and, later on, we would also welcome student groups from both institutions.

… it was nice to see that talent support is given a priority role also in other countries of Europe, and they apply the same holistic approach as our institution.” (Teacher Tímea Pap, Kodály Zoltán Kollégium, Pécs)

“…I expected the EGIFT training to confirm that our school was on the right track in the field of talent support, and I wanted to learn about new guidelines and, if possible, establish contacts with educational institutions of other nations. Most participants of the further training course were primary school teachers, and church schools were only represented by myself and a colleague, so my last wish was not fulfilled. …

I found most surprising the workshop where we were introduced to a training kitchen and had to make a dish that would figure on the menu of one of our national kitchens based on the given basic ingredients in 40 minutes. The wish to fulfil the task at hand as best we could soon overcame our surprise.  … I have a new class from September, and I have assessed already during freshers’ week that a significant part of my pupils, boys included, loved to bake and cook. Thinking further based on this information and supplementing it with some elements I saw in cooking contests on TV, I will announce a multi-round cooking competition to my class that will rely on their creativity and previous experience. Also, I make no secret of my intention to strengthen the class community, so children will have to work in groups. I hope that the program will bring to the foreground also students whose study results are not so strong, and it will turn out who in the class are suitable for leader, manager, organiser roles.” (Dorottya Farsang, Deputy School Director, Baár-Madas Reformed High School, Budapest)

 

 “…The lectures made us think, they relayed known and also new pieces of information. The workshops demonstrated how far we can go with students who are talented in a discipline and also motivated.

…I had many conversations with colleagues I got acquainted with there on how they treated their students. Of the workshops, I could really identify with the drama session and the literature lesson, with music and in particular rap music being an emphatic element in the latter.” (Éva Győrfi, teacher, Reformed Primary School, Berettyóújfalú)

“…For me, the most interesting aspect of the course was that talent support and various learning and other difficulties were continuously spoken about in parallel, since the groups concerned often overlap. It was instructive to compare the experience of participants from other countries with the Hungarian practice and the practice of my own school. …

… I found particularly interesting and progressive the presentation of Dr. Gregor Torkar on the natural science projects, and although I am in humanities myself, I found the report of Bostjan Kuzman on the camps organised for mathematics talents most exciting. As practicing teacher, I am most enthralled by the practical ideas, the best practices I can “steal”; nevertheless, I listened to the theoretical lectures of Dr. Mojca Jurisevic with great interest and I also found the recommended technical literature useful.

I liked the diversity and optional nature of the workshops. I would like to underline the workshop of Mojca Cepic showing a project on testing severely disadvantaged children in a very practice-oriented and down-to-earth way. I think this presentation impressed me most during the whole training course.” …

…it is important for me that I feel we at Lauder School are not in arrears in the field of talent support, we have many forward-pointing initiatives – the training course confirmed that we are on the right track. I managed to establish contacts with nice Hungarian and foreign colleagues, hopefully, we’ll proceed to technical cooperation.” (Kinga Máhr, Lauder Javne School, Budapest)

 

 

 

Working with Gifted Students in the 21st Century – ECHA conference in Dublin, Ireland from 8th August to 11th August

European Council for High Ability (ECHA) held its 16th biennial conference in Dublin this year. Well-known and recognized talent experts and professionals gathered from 42 different   countries   to discuss the topic of talent development in the 21th century.

Unlike previous practices the venue of the conference was at Croke Park in the stadium of GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) this year. The unusual location of the venue was symbolic reminding the visitors of significant events in Irish history. The home of Gaelic Games, Croke Park Stadium is the third largest stadium in Europe which has hosted many special events such as the Special Olympics in 2003 or the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in 2012. The Organization Committee led by Dr. Colm O’Reilly, director of the Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI) at DCU (Dublin City University) and the Scientific Committee chaired by Prof. Albert Ziegler were responsible for the preparation of ECHA 2018.

The conference opened with a keynote from Professor Francoys Gagne, followed by a reception in Croke Park’s Museum, where guests had a chance to experience Ireland’s national sports and culture. The Canadian professor, who has become a world-famous talent expert with his Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT), started his speech with a brief theoretical summary then went on speaking about the results of his researches and practical aspects of talent development. Continue reading “Working with Gifted Students in the 21st Century – ECHA conference in Dublin, Ireland from 8th August to 11th August”

Biennial Conference of the International Association for Talent Development and Excellence in TaiPei

The next Biennial Conference of the International Association for Talent Development and Excellence (IRATDE) will take place from 12 to 16 April 2019 in Taipei. The conference offers a world-class venue and world-class research on talent development and gifted education. The IRATDE warmly invites researchers from around the globe to submit abstracts for short talks and poster presentations. Submission deadline is 31 October 2018. See the conference website for details: www.iratdetaipei.org

3rd European Potential Conference

2-4 October in Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK

Together with Potential Plus UK, we invite you to join us at the 3rd European Potential Conference, a professional retreat for those working in organisations set up to help and support HLP children with high learning potential to enable them to have a happier childhood and to thrive.

Support for children of high learning potential

Continue reading “3rd European Potential Conference”

XXVIII Summer Course in Huerta Del Rey Center Valladolid, Spain (July, 2-13th, 2018)

XXVIII  SUMMER  COURSE
IN  HUERTA  DEL  REY  CENTER
VALLADOLID, SPAIN (July, 2-13th, 2018)

 

The “Huerta del Rey” Center presents the XXVIII International Summer Course for gifted children. During 12 days the students will have an experience full of knowledge, fun, effort and adventures.

Who can participate?
Boys and girls from 6 to 18 years old. For the children and teenagers that come for the first time, they must send a copy of the Diagnosis Report to the “Huerta del Rey” Center, where the student’s condition of gifted student is proved, by post and a phone number, and the address of the sender.

What do we do in the Summer Course?
The course offers classes in the mornings and afternoons. They will learn a lot of things: from robotics to orienteering, 3D printing, corporal expression, arts… There are also some activities outside like games, swimming pool and two trips. The parents have two Seminars inside the Parents School. Getting together with families who are going through giftedness is enriching. In the 12 days we compress all the activities that we do in the “Huerta del Rey” Center during the year. Children come to the Course to learn, work, think and create. But also to have fun and live together with other children with the same concerns and passions.

When is the Summer Course?
The “Huerta del Rey” Center, member of the European Talent Centre in Spain, is a Center specialized in the identification, follow-up, training and research, being authors of 23 books and psychopedagogical material for gifted students. The fact that we work, for 29 years in the different levels previously mentioned -and linked between them- allow us to have a wider view of the current situation of giftedness. Because of this, at the same time, we get a better knowledge in order to optimize the development of the child or teen both from a cognitive and social-affective perspective.
The uniqueness of the “Huerta del Rey” Center and its working methods, made it a Center of Resources for parents, youth, proffesionals from Education, Psicology and other related sciences. Center of Research with Psycology Doctorates, Education Sciences and Medicine, with agreements with national and international Universities and several Ministries.

Para mayor información:
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/en/classes/
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/cursos/
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/clases/

SENSITIZATION  AND  AWARENESS


We send you a series of videos in order to sensitize and raise awareness of the educational, social and emotional needs of children with giftedness through case study

https://youtu.be/ddpKOC0x2bE?list=PLjpSZWTImF1v7MyxDPo_U02HxIhF1KIfM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rKQDoJIEBM&index=5&list=PLjpSZWTImF1v7MyxDPo_U02HxIhF1KIfM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3owD9Ha_2v0&index=9&list=PLjpSZWTImF1v7MyxDPo_U02HxIhF1KIfM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btg2Hmir1zA&list=PLjpSZWTImF1v7MyxDPo_U02HxIhF1KIfM&index=10
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/presencia-en-medios/

We recommend you:
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/evaluacion-y-diagnostico/
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/publicaciones/
https://www.centrohuertadelrey.com/equipo/

https://www.facebook.com/CentroHuertadelRey/

Meeting of European Talent Centre representatives 8-9 February 2018 – Budapest

Representatives of the centres of ETSN, the European Talent Support Network, met for the third time on 8-9 February 2018 in Budapest. The first occasion was the September 2015 Brussels inaugural meeting of representatives of the 14 Talent Centres founding the Network, outlining the main development guidelines and the first common tasks. Many of the activities/plans concerned have been implemented in the meantime; members of the Network applied for developing EGIFT online training materials (MOOC) with success (http://www.talentcentrebudapest.eu/content/egift-transnational-meeting-budapest). Following three calls for prospective European Talent Points, the Network has become more and more widespread: by January 2018, around 350 Talent Points of 42 countries had registered to the Network, and the number of European Talent Centres rose from 14 to 23, including 20 European and 3 non-European ones (located in the United Arab Emirates, in India and in Peru, respectively), over the 2.5 years since the first meeting.

The second meeting of representatives of 16 of the 19 ETSN centres took place in October 2016. The so-called Network Council (http://etsn.eu/council-members/), in charge of Network strategy for two years, became operational there.

The recent, third, official meeting has been attended by a particularly high number of representatives, 35 persons from 19 countries, that is, many have brought colleagues to involve as many as possible from each Centre in the common tasks of the European Talent Centre Network, to familiarise them with the Network and let them contribute to its development. All but one member countries were represented, and it was a special pleasure that the three non-European so-called “Associated Talent Centres” have also sent their delegates.

It is almost a tradition that such meetings first of all summarise the activities of the ECHA Qualification Committee, then give an opportunity for new Talent Centre members to introduce themselves. The first presentation was held by Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen, head of the ECHA Qualification Committee, on the outcome of the tender in 2017. After that, together with Prof. Péter Csermely, President of ECHA and Prof. Albert Ziegler, President of ETSN, she handed over the certificate symbolising ETSN membership to the new European Talent Centres.

Prof. Albert Ziegler, Dr. Alberto Rocha, Dr. Lianne Hoogeveen, Dr. Yolanda Benito, Dr. Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Dr. Stijn Smeets, Prof. Csermely Péter

 

As for the introductions, first the new Leuven Talent Center for Flanders was presented by Dr. Stijn Smeets, then Dr. Khalifa Al Suwaidi from the Arab Emirate spoke of Dubai-based Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Giftedness and Creativity, and Helena Fonseca filled in the audience on the activities of the National Association for the Study and Intervention in Giftedness in Portugal. Finally, Dr. Yolanda Benito, head of the Spanish Huerta del Rey Talent Centre described their work.

The heads of three more Talent Centres qualified earlier reported on key events at their sites: Zvono Bednarcik from Slovakia, Prof. Sheyla Blumen from Peru and Dr. Narayan Desai from India.

 

The most important events of the past 16 months at ETSN were summarised by Prof. Albert Ziegler. Significant achievements in the past 1.5 year included the finalisation of the ETSN website http://etsn.eu/, the release of the first newsletter, http://etsn.eu/talentweb-newsletter/, and the completion of the bylaws of the organisation.

After the lunch break, Lukáš Kyzlík and Ármin Fábián reported on events at the Youth Platform gathering the youth of the Network; then Dr. Colm O’Reilly reviewed the EGIFT project and Orla Dunne outlined preparations for the 2018 ECHA Conference. Antonios Apostolou supplemented the presentation by Prof. Albert Ziegler by a description of the Network’s Talentweb Newsletter: http://etsn.eu/talentweb-newsletter/.

Later on Talent Centre heads split into groups to exchange ideas on the key tasks ahead the Network. They discussed how to strengthen connections between Talent Points and Talent Centres, the scope of responsibilities of Talent Centres, the role of Associated Talent Centres within the Network, and ways and means to enhance intra-Network contacts. Group work was followed by a plenary session and dinner.