Children as young as 5 years old will take lessons for the gifted next year under a pilot program approved last night by the Fairfax County School Board.

The board agreed to offer enrichment lessons to students in kindergarten through second grade at eight schools, two in each of the county's four geographic areas. The schools have not yet been selected.

Virginia law requires school districts to draw up plans by July to sponsor programs for gifted and talented students from kindergarten on up. Fairfax, which already offers programs for students considered gifted in grades three through 12, plans to phase in its program for younger students at all schools over three years.

Unlike programs for older students, the new program will be taught in regular classrooms, except for some second graders who will be pulled out of their regular classes for an hour once a week.

Unlike classes for older students, which select a few children for attention, the new program will give some help to all students in kindergarten, first and second grades.

The Fairfax program assumes that giftedness emerges over time, so children are continually assessed for talent and helped to develop it, said Beatrice Cameron, an assistant superintendent.

The program will cost $42,500 next year for materials and training, with state revenue expected to cover the expense.

The program was endorsed by speakers from the county's Association for the Gifted, and the county Advisory Committee for the Gifted and Talented.