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I know this question has been asked before, but I'm
posting in the hopes that someone may have some new or
I have a child whose 1st words were at 8mos, knew colors
and shapes and numbers at 12 mos, could tell you at 16 mos
the names and sounds of all alphabet letters in both
cases, as well as words that started with them. He began
sightreading small words at 20mos, and by 2 he was
speaking in 13 word sentences w/dependent clauses, about
complex subjects, like electricity. He knew everything the
state standards require of kindergartners when he was 18
mos. He is Spanish-English bilingual, and now wants to
learn French, as well.
How does one find preschool for a child like this?
Everything I read says homeschooling works best for a
child at this level, but I am a single mother / only
income provider, no extended family involved. I have to
win the bread.
Nearly every preschool that I visit says they've never
seen a child like this. They are typically only play-based
at his age and not academic, and they also typically group
kids by chronological age, which doesn't work for him. His
mind is in another universe. The only places I've seen
which are highly academic thus far have been Montessori
based, and those have felt just too darn serious and
proper and not warm and affectionate enough for a child
this young. I need something in the middle, something with
mixed age groupings, and someplace where folks ''get it''
about ''giftedness,'' or at least, have some familiarity and
are willing to try to meet his needs. And, I need
something affordable. I'm finding places which charge
21,000/yr (?!?!?), and have zero or very limited, and
already designated, scholarship funds.
I'd love recommendations from other parents who have been
thru this, esp if you found something that worked for you.
I would go to the most play-based mixed-age preschool
possible -- I would look for one that calls itself
''constructivist'' or says it follows the children's
interests. Small children learn through play, and childhood
is so short -- the kinds of being with other children skills
that are learned through play are so important to gifted
children. Also, some of the activities in a pre-school like
blocks, waterplay and art provide the experiential basis for
much future learning -- in your son's case, you can talk to
him about what he's learning on a higher level than most
pre-school parents. You can also sign up for supplemental
learning through Lawrence Hall of Science, library programs,
and later ATDP. You sound like you are doing a terrific job
of helping your son follow his interests, so preschool can
give him the opportunity to enjoy and learn with other
children. One of the things I've noticed (and teachers have
noticed as well) is that my gifted child (and I think most
gifted children) takes what the class/group is learning to a
whole different level (i.e. read the collected works of
Shakespeare after attending Shakespeare camp in third
grade.) The biggest problem for us has been when teachers
have followed rigid curriculums that cover material too
slowly, and don't allow for extension projects (i.e.
worksheets versus projects/writing). So, I would look for a
school that has open-ended assignments, not just
acceleration. The challenge as a parent is to help your
gifted child follow his/her interests while giving them a
chance to be part of a community.
My son is not nearly gifted as yours, but we had similar
questions when he was about to enter preschool. We looked
into options for him included ''gifted'' schools that allowed
varied ages and seriously considered Montessori as well.
But in the end, here is what we decided: He didn't learn
everything he knew at some school and he will mostly
continue to learn on his own at whatever pace he had
established. We decided, after a lot of back and forth,
that he should just go to a play based preschool and just be
a kid. Sure, he was doing multiplication when most kids
didn't know there numbers, but he still liked to just play.
He's about to enter kindergarten now and obviously we have
similar concerns again, but are still focusing on the social
and emotional aspects of schooling rather than the academic.
I think as long as he doesn't become obnoxious about his
skills and knowledge to other kids or the teacher, and as
long as we can continue to just giggle when the teachers say
silly things like, ''he's really good at numbers'', we should
be fine. He'll have years and years to be gifted, but only a
few to be a kid. I'm not saying this approach is best for
you, but it's something to consider.
Mom of gifted son.
I am the mother of a child highly gifted in language. She will
be turning 3 next month and we are explorting options for
school for her next year. We would like to find a school that
is highly academic and will be able nurture her gifts. She
started identifying letters when she was one and she is on the
brink of reading. From the age of 6 months, she became
intensely interested in books and could sit attentively for
hours listening to me read. Her growing vocabulary now
includes such words
as ''absurd'', ''practically'', ''absolutely'', ''frustrated''...all
used in the correct context. Her grammar is complex. Her
father and I have debated whether to focus on these gifts or to
balance them out by sending her to a school that is more
sensorial and socially focused. We have decided to send her to
a play school this year and then on to something more
academically based next year. Any suggestions or insights
would be much appreciated
Your child sounds like many of the children I've encountered at
my son's preschool. It's amazing how advanced children are
these days compared to what standards used to be. I don't
think you need to go out of your way to find a preschool for
gifted children. I think a Montessori school with mixed age
classrooms would fit your needs perfectly. My son attends such
a school and it's hard to tell the 3 year olds from the 5 year
olds sometimes outside of their size difference. They all
learn the same skills regardless of age so many of the younger
children are reading and writing. Good luck!
I would recommend rounding out her interests, and realizing that
your daughter may be precocious but that others may catch up.
Our daughter sounds just like yours-hitting the same milestones
at the same time. She used to sound like a little professor.
However, now that she's 4, I've noticed that many children have
the same language interest/accomplishments as she does. I have
read that this often happens. I'm happy that ours is now
interested in science/building, art, and active outdoor play as
well, and gets along well with children of different
ages. ''Specializing'' (: at this age doesn't make much sense to
We have had our daughters at a small daycare/pre-school in
Oakland and have been involved there for 4 years. It is a gem, in
existence under the same leadership for 25 years. I think you
would find it both academic and play-oriented - kids have a lot
of choice about what they do within a structured day that
includes 2 circle times, lunch, nap.... The lead teacher/director
loves teaching kids to read and works with each child, depending
upon their strengths/interests. There are only 15 kids total,
ages 2.5-6 years. She usually has 4-6 kids who do their K-year at
the school and who then go into 1st grade. They are currently
full, and usually have a waiting list - but, it is worth calling.
Beatie Street - Judy Kahn Director, 835-0131
I recommend that you look in your local area for some montesori
schools. Most of them are able to help your child work at their
appropriate level. The well established Montesori schools (and
other pre-schools, too), have had gifted 3 year olds before, and
will be able to work well with your child
This is for the parent whose preschool-aged child was described
as ''gifted in language.'' Why not send her to Escuela Bilingue
Internacional, the new bilingual school in Rockridge? I believe
they still have one or two openings for this year--and your child
would be within the age cutoff. They start the kids off with 100%
Spanish immersion in the preschool years, adding one hour of
English instruction (up to 50/50) each year after that--and have
plans to expand to 8th grade introducing Mandarin in grade 3.
That should challenge her! And put her skills to good use, too...
Our 3-year-old twins just had their first day of school today and
I'm been thinking about preschools for my daughter, who will be 2
this fall (she'll be starting preschool next year, when she's
almost 3). Without putting much thought into it, I had sort of
assumed that we'd go with a ''play based'' program, because I
figure kids have plenty of years for structure and academics, so
they might as well play now. Lately, though, completely on her
own, my daughter has been learning to read, and has seemed eager
to push herself. I am not saying she's ''gifted,'' and I'm not
looking to have her called ''gifted,'', but I'm a little worried
that she might want a program that pushes her to do more
learning, and that she'll be bored with a play based school. Is
this a rational worry? We had been looking at Heart's Leap,
Temple Sinai, and Duck's Nest, but if there are other suggestions
I'll happily take them. If it matters, her temperment is not
shy, not ''spirited,'' more a follower than a leader, active and
extremely verbal. Thanks!
Go with play based! If your child is already beginning to read
before age two there will be nothing that an academic program has
to offer her that won't be ridiculously below her level. A
Montessori preschool, or some other one that follows the child
may be a good choice, but typical ''academic'' programs have daily
themes like, ''the letter A'' where 3-5-year-olds color the letter
A or shape it out of playdough. A rich play environment, like
that described in The Ooey Gooey Handbook will provide excellent
experiential learning for your child. http://www.ooeygooey.com/
Good luck and have fun with your special child!
Your description of your child reminds me of my daughter who
just finished 2.5 years at Mulberry School (off of Tunnel Rd in
Berkeley). It is a play based, developmental program. It
worked out wonderfully for her. It is definitely not academic,
but they will have enough time for that. They focus on social
and emotional development, and I think it serves the kids really
well and leads to a really lovely environment where the kids get
along remarkably well. They still have activities which could
be classified as ''academic''. They do reading every day, have
french and spanish one day a week, and have some activities
related to science. The staff is wonderful and loving, and
there's a really good staff to kid ratio. Our experience has
been that we have been able to follow our daughter's lead in her
curiosity and love of learning, and to keep feeding it. School
was able to provide things that we can't as easily--playing with
lots of other kids, a large group environment, and the overall
richness of their program. There are several comments about
Mulberry in the BPN archives. Check it out.
I was worried about this for my son, too. But I think a play-based
program is terrific for these smart, verbal, eager kids. Their smarts and
drive won't wither and dry up in a play-based program. In a good one,
they'll find all sorts of outlets for it--and will keep learning outside of
school, too. But in a play-based program, the child can grow into him or
herself in a social environment, which is what they need in these early
years. It's great if your child can read before she enters kindergarten.
But the skills that will really help her on the play ground and in the class
room are cooperation, being able to be in a group, taking turns, listening
to a teacher and to fellow students, that kind of stuff. Avoid schools that
actively discourage intellectual learning (at one preschool open house, I
heard a teacher brag that they stopped a child from learning the
alphabet!!), and look for one that will meet your daughter as an
individual and help her be her own glorious self in a group of glorious
I'm starting to think that our daughter may be unusually
verbal, and I wanted to see if parents who've dealt with gifted
children could provide their perspectives. I was highly gifted
as a child, skipped grades and entered college at 13, so I'm
probably thinking about this a little earlier than most parents
might. Our daughter is 23 months and has a vocabulary of
several hundred words, including things like ukelele,
accordion, violin, rhinoceros, ostrich, delicious, beautiful,
boring, episode, jaguar. She's been putting together complex
sentences for several months. She memorized the abc song and
other songs, colors, and can count to 15. She's also
exceptionally empathic and gets upset not only when other
people are upset but even if a character in a book is sad. Does
this sound unusual?
My next question is about preschools, since I'm worried she's
starting to get bored at her daycare, although she seemed to
enjoy it initially. It's a great place, but it's very focused
on a play-based approach, even for the older pre-schoolers, and
the teachers have told me she has mastered everything for her
age group. They'd move her up, but don't have a space yet. She
is so happy to leave when I pick her up, and she makes it clear
she'd rather stay with me. When I was a kid we lived in a
hippie commune in the wilds of Montana, so my mom was able to
stay home with us, but financially it would be difficult for me
to stay home full-time. Any thoughts from anyone on what sorts
of preschools work well for gifted kids, or any advice in
general on parenting gifted kids?
Despite how verbally talented your daughter might be, I have never
heard of a child that didn't like to play! Preschool should really be
about letting your child be around other children and play. It's
great that your child is so advanced, but don't forget that learning
things early is also just a range of development.
For example, the child who learns to walk at seven months isn't
necesarily going to be an olympic athlete.
And Einstein, as we all know, didn't speak until quite late.
So what I am really trying to say is that despite your daughters
verbal talent's don't forget to let your daughter be a child. There is
so much to explore at that age.
To spice things up for her you can always put her in preschool in
My children are all trilingual. There are some great preschools out
there that immerse the little sponges in other languages. That would
be a great gift to give your verbal kid.
My son is also unusually verbal and has been since well before he was
a year old. Besides a large vocabulary, he also is very emotional,
empathetic, and regualrly wrestles with concepts that many adults shy
away from. Many people, even his preschool teacher, think he may be
gifted. However, I have decided not to have him tested at this point.
Later in his school career it may be important, but right now I don't
think such a label would cause me to treat him any differently. The
people I've talked to generally say that the preschool years are for
socialization--learning to be friends. There is a lot that can be
learned from kids who are not as bright and verbal. There is a lot to
learn about being a part of a community that has little to do with IQ.
I've also noticed that my son's interest in matters of the mind waxes
and wanes. For instance, a few months ago he wanted to know how every
word he could say was spelled. Now he shruggs off these prereading
games while he's learning to master the monkey bars. I find that the
teachers at my son's preschool are very impressed with his
intelligence, and help to draw it out. At the same time, they are
just great at helping him round out his personality, his abilities,
and his social confidence. You might look for a preschool--not a day
care center--for your daughter, one that can cherish her intelligence
as part of a whole being, and help her get ready for the learning
environments where her intelligence can really take off. We are lucky
in the East Bay; there are lots of excellent preschools.
sounds a lot like my daughter, who just turned 5. She's been at
Berkeley Montessori in Nancy's class and it has been wonderful--
she has all the headroom in the world to explore and push
herself as far as she wants. She's very doing basic reading,
spelling, great number work, has learned lots of geography,
science... it is truly inspiring. All in a very nuturing and no
pressure way. I couldn't recommend it highly enough for a child
who could get bored in a more play based environment.
Yes, that does sound like a gifted child. However, if you
daughter really likes her daycare center don't move her. If
she starts to get bored you might want to think about
swiching her to a more ''advanced'' preschool. And at home
you can start to teach her reading and high counting. Also,
think about private schools for the future.
Regarding gifted children, some internet resources I have found
www.hoagiesgifted.org (Hoagies' Gifted Education Page)
www.tagfam.org (Families of the Talented and Gifted)
www.gifteddevelopment.com (Gifted Development Center in Denver)
A local resource is Dr. Annemarie Roeper (mentioned in the
archives) in El Cerrito. (Tel. 510-235-3173,
www.roeperconsultation.com). She is in her eighties and is very
knowledgeable about gifted children. Dr. Roeper runs a monthly
support group for parents of gifted children.
Regarding your daughter's extraordinary empathy, it sounds
typical of gifted children. See ''Emotional Sensitivity in
Gifted Children'' on the Hoagies website.
Your child definitely sounds gifted. We wish we had formally
identified our ''highly'' gifted children earlier on as it would
have helped us better understand their many idiosyncracies, which
were considered unusual for ''normal'' kids, but typical for the
HG+,who are statistically about 1:1000. There are many blessings
AND challenges in raising a [truly] gifted child, one of which is
finding an accommodating school environment which recognizes and
supports the gifted child. The gifted child is often overlooked
in California public schools, including Berkeley Unified. You
will find the answer to many of your questions at:
Signed, Learning to Expect the Unexpected
I have an 18-month-old who knows her alphabet. She can recite it and
idetify all the letters, both upper and lowercase. She also knows the
phonics of them. She can count up to 20 and recognizes numbers up to
10. She is a wiz at puzzles and she LOVES to read and have me read to
her. Books are her favorite thing.
At the same time she enjoys the story times and play groups I take her
to. She goes right up front to listen to the storys, if they keep her
attention. When they sing songs she dances and does all the actions.
She pops bubbles, steals kids toys and is a very normal, happy, social
I got worried when a mom who saw my daughter pointing at numbers
and saying what they are, told me that my daughter could have
Hyperlexia. I looked it up on the internet and it said the early warning
signs are extremem fascination with numbers and letters and knowing
the alphabet and reading at an abormaly young age. It said that at 18
months, children with hyperlexia start to demonstrate anti-social
behavior and have trouble putting words together. They said that even if
they have a large vocabulary, they have just memorized the words and
don't understand how to make a sentence out of them. It is a mild form of
So my husband and I are scared, but at the same time she is already
starting to put sentences together. She says ''yummy green beans,'' and
says bye bye to people when they leave. She bables in the car and tries
to sing to her Barney CD. So I don't know what to think. Is she gifted?
Does she just have a really good memory and is like every other kid, or
does she have some weird autism. My dr. said he had never heard of
hyperlexia and I had to tell him to look it up on the internet. This is all
quite confusing. Her fast learning went from something we were proud
of to something we are scared of.
My reading of the research literature and my experience with a
similar child (who is now 7) suggest that you have ABSOLUTELY
nothing to worry about. Retrospective studies of autistic
children and children with other pervasive disorders sometimes
show early signs of hyperlexia, but they also showed many, many
other signs of abnormal attachment and abnormal social
interactions from an early age. Your child sounds like a
normal, verbal, bright toddler.
I'm sure you know by now that friends say all kinds of things
when a child is a little above or below the curve on some
behavior, only some of them being informed statements.
By the way, although our DD knew all numbers, sounds and
letters by 17 months, this did not accelerate her ability to
learn to read. I have read that early identification of
letters is more of a naming and memory feat than a conceptual
feat - more typically, they do not have the higher
comprehension of letters as sounds that can be joined to form
words. Of course, we didn't make any special effort to teach
her to read at an early age, but that was because I didn't feel
she was ready...and DD learned how to read along with her
friends in Kindergarten.
Hoping to reassure
I don't think you should worry at all. She just sounds extremely
bright. It sounds like she knows what the words mean, from your
description, and she enjoys learning. I have a 2-year-old who is
also very bright, knows his letters and numbers, absolutely loves
books, etc... and he's a healthy little boy. He just happens to
see us reading and enjoying books, and wants to do it too.
Your daughter sounds exactly like my son (who is now 5). Don't
worry at all! My son started his obsession w/the alphabet also
at 18mos and was reading by age 2 1/2. It also freaked other
people out but no one ever said anything that ridiculous. I am a
teacher so I knew already that some kids learn to read quickly
and early. Early doesn't neccessarily mean ''gifted'', just...
Many people assumed (because I'm a teacher) that I taught him to
read and write but I didn't.I just supported his interests. My
advice to you is to relax and enjoy your daughter and this
exciting stage. Encourage and support her interest in letters
and numbers, but don't feel like you have to supplement or sign
her up for classes. Don't pressure her to practice or make
her ''perform'' for others; she will do just fine learning what
she needs on her own.
My son is in Kindergarten and he is the only reader in the class.
They are busy with alphabet activities at the moment and it
doesn't concern me a bit. He loves learning so much that he will
find many ways to challenge his brain throughout his many years
Don't worry. Your daughter will be fine.
In my humble opinion, the mom who told you about
''hyperlexia'' was being cruel and thoughtless. If your
daughter is engaged and happy, please don't go looking for
problems, and please refuse to listen to those who would
make you paranoid.
If you encounter problems as your child grows older, you will
have plenty of time to worry, then. For now your job is to
Perhaps those of you with gifted children might not want to take advice from me,
because my children are decidedly NOT gifted. They are most assuredly average. But
nonetheless, I'm going to make a suggestion. Rather than tie yourself in knots
about whether your child is ''gifted'' or hyperlexic, just take a breath or two and
My oldest daughter was speaking in long, complicated sentences at 18 months,
knew her letters and numbers, and is an intelligent, normal child. Not gifted. One
only needs to hear her practice her violin to hear how limited her gifts are. And as
for those who worry that their gifted children's lives are not enriched enough - full
with sufficient stimulation, I think the best gift you can give a gifted child is
boredom. Let them be bored. Let them work to fill those hours creatively. Let them
read and play and learn to use their imaginations. Long days full of planned and
structured activities -- Score and Kuman, etc. -- might make your kids ERB results
go up, they might satisfy you that your child is as gifted as you want him to be, but
in the end they won't teach your child to make use of her ''gifts'' in any meaningful
But, then, I'm really just the parent of a bunch of average kids. So take what I say
with a few grains of salt.
I am sure that you will get dozens of replies in support of
you and your child, but your posting just made me so sad
that I had to reply. I hope that the mother who told you about
''hyperlexia'' meant well, but her words were misguided and
even cruel. Unless your child is showing signs of distress
and discomfort, or is, in fact, acting socially inappropriately,
please, just enjoy her. Enjoy her gifts and support her when
she needs you to, and please, don't worry.
Don't worry at all. Your daughter sounds like a highly intelligent little
girl whom I am sure you will be very proud of. Nuture her love for books
and learning, and perhaps enter her in an 'advanced' preschool, and
most likely a private elementery school when she gets to that stage.
As for being autistic, I highly doubt it. If you want to help things to be
extra sure, help her to make sure she understands words she is saying,
which it sounds like she does. And the fact that she babbles is a positive
sign that she still has a little babyish part of he so she can fullydefelop
those cruial skills little ones need to learn.
If I were you, I'd ignore the well-intentioned pop diagnoses and
enjoy your daughter's passions. We are, IMHO, way too inclined
to pathologize our children, and label their differences as
abnormalities to stew or crow about. My older son was a lot
like your daughter: riveted by letters and numbers. Like your
daughter, he knew the alphabet at 18 months, and was doing
unbelievable math at age three. He would make us lift him to
point to street sign letters, and even memorized car logos.
(''D'ats a Volvo; d'ats a Beemer.'') When he started to speak,
his vocabulary was enormous, and he was funny and smart as hell,
if socially clueless. Well intentioned folks have had all kinds
of opinions about this (and our second) kid over the years, some
of which scared us to death. (Hyperlexia is a new one,
though.) And yes, he is different, and a challenge at times.
But he is a great kid. His early extreme interests were a sign
of things to come -- serial passions, some more fun than
others. But passion is good. He now is devoted to chess (at
which he excels), which is far better, I think, than the studied
boredom of his peers. My advice is to avoid comparing children,
trust your instincts about your child, and don't worry about
anything until you think things are a problem. And even if they
are a problem, deal with them but always believe in your kid,
don't label her.
Mom of Eccentric Kids
Hyperlexia? I think the other mother was just jealous of your
daughter's abilities. Anyway, my son could read all the letters
and numbers before he turned two, and (at three and a bit) he is
still intelligent and verbal and is not antisocial. I'm sure
plenty of other parents will write in with similar anecdotes.
Mother of a verbal kid
Blessing! My four-year-old nephew has autism and his behaviors
sound very different from your daughter's. He has trouble
interacting with people and won't make eye contact much less
say bye-bye. Your daughter sounds absolutely terrific. Don't
let one person (who may not be well informed) throw off what
you know to be true: she is outgoing and social as well as very
Our 18-month-old seems quite advanced for his age and we are
wondering if he is a "gifted" child. Has anyone on this list had this
kind of experience? How early can one spot the signs of giftedness?
Is it helpful or is it counterproductive to think of one's child as
different in this way? Any recommendations for local schools,
programs, or support groups for such children and their families?
I too have a "gifted" toddler. Usually, when people talk about
giftedness at this age, they really mean precociousness. I am a math
teacher and I come from a family of precocious children and here's my
opinion and advice: support your child's interests, provide him with
opportunities to stay engaged in learning (school is often boring for
those of us who learn to read when we're 3 or 4), don't become too
grandiose about his talents, or forget his emotional needs. I say
the last bit because precocious children are often very sensitive and
observant about what goes on around them. They can express
themselves in ways that make them sound mature but their emotional
development may be more like their peers. As a parent, you need to
be aware of that and make sure your expectations are fair and
As for the grandiosity caveat: Parents who get too caught up in the
greatness of their children often do so at the child's expense,
pushing them into academic classes that the child may be
intellectually ready for but not socially or emotionally. You set
your child up for tremendous disappointment if you make his
precociousness a way of seeing himself as smarter than others around
him. I remember the panic of a 7th grader in my geometry class as he
realized that the subject was going to be hard for him and he would
have to learn along with his classmates. He felt lost not being the
"smartest" in the class and started having psychosomatic symptoms
that led him to withdraw. I have heard similar stories of high
school valedictorians dropping out of MIT or Stanford because they so
depend on being the smartest. Remember, precociousness is just one
way of being smart. Other children whose development looks more
average may possess gifts that your child can learn from and
In sum: You need to nurture your child intellectually and emotionally,
advocate for his needs when he gets to school, and not make his
talents the sum of his identity or your reason for loving him all the
same time. Best of luck!
Is my 2-year-old gifted?
My two year-old is gifted, I think. From 18 months old, he
has been memorizing passages from books we read him and reciting
them to us or himself all day long. Now he has moved to
memorizing songs -- not easy ones, but "Morning Has Broken,"
"Do, A Deer," "Let's Go Fly a Kite," etc., and he gets them
almost word-perfect. Then this week he started imitating
James Cagney's tap-dancing routines in the movie about George
M. Cohan, "Yankee Doodle Dandy." SO: am I just an over-eager mom,
or is this kid out of the ordinary? How can I encourage that
amazing memory and love of learning without making him self-conscious
or learning a bore? I would appreciate specific resources as well
as general advice. Francis
I urge you to check out the Montessori philosophy of early
education. It is really quite different from what most of us
think of as pre-school. For the gifted child, it is the only
education structure that can fully develop your child's
potential and natural love of learning. Public school and/or
typical preschool, no matter how good, just don't meet the
gifted child's abilities.
My son, (mathematically precocious) started Montessori at
aged three (you can start them younger) and is now in second
grade-- still Montessori-- and I could not be happier with how
he is developing both intellectually and socially.
The best way to encourage your toddler is to follow his
interests. You appear to be doing this right now. If he
is fascinated with something, do more of it, then find ways
to vary it, make it more complex, last longer, whatever.
As soon as he seems to lose interest, drop it and see what
he's on to now.
Very young children show startling competencies and, also,
major deficits. This is normal development because nobody
progresses on all fronts at once. Whether or not you later
find he is "gifted" is not as important as truly loving him
for what he is right now.
If you are thinking of enrolling him in some kind of program,
young children do very well in programs that allow long periods
of free play with other children their age. Attempts to
encourage academics at an early age tend, in the long run, to
depress intellectual development.
I have an almost 3 year-old who is very intelligent and has been
very verbal (also, very intense) since at least 18 mths old. In
fact, from the age of about 18 mths, most people thought he was
at least 3. He has the most astounding memory and is extremely
observant. I don't know if he is gifted and am not as concerned
about that as I am about channeling his skills into appropriate
activities, classes etc. Of course, if he is not interested in
any of the classes/activities, I'll stop - I just don't want to
miss something to introduce to him that he could really enjoy.
All that said, is there someone/some organization out there
which does evaluation/assessment of skills or aptitudes? Right
now, I don't have him in any classes and haven't for the last
year but am looking to try something out. Any advice?
I am sure that you are very proud of your child, however what ou
are describing is very much like a Nonverbal Learning Disorder
(NLD). NLD is a developmental disability which all too often
goes undiagnosed. These children are often bright, sometimes
incredibly so. As young children they may actually be targeted
as gifted, due to their mature vocabulary, rote memory skills,
and apparent reading ability.However, parents likely realize
early on that something is amiss. As preschoolers, these
youngsters probably have difficulty interacting with other
children, with acquiring self-help skills, are not physically
adept, are not adaptable, and present with a host of other
troublesome problems that are of concern, but not alarming.
In all likelihood, the children bump along (figuratively and
literally) through their early elementary years, handling the
academic demands fairly well, except when their fine motor
difficulties get in the way, or they fail to attend to a math
symbol calling for addition or subtraction, or some other subtle
symptom of their disorder derails them. As these children enter
the upper elementary grades or begin middle school, they are
left to handle more tasks on their own. Things rapidly begin to
deteriorate. They get lost, forget to do homework, seem
unprepared for class, have difficulty following directions,
struggle with math, can't read their social studies textbook,
can't write an essay, continually misunderstand both their
teachers and their peers, and are often anxious in public and
angry at home. They are accused of being lazy, rude,
uncooperative, and worse. Nothing could be farther from the
truth! They are hardworking, persistent, goal-oriented, and
incredibly honest. They have NLD.
More info can be found at: http://www.nldontheweb.org/
I have read the past few messages about ''gifted'' kids with interest
because I was there once, too. I remember an activities teacher telling
me my daughter was ''autistic'' because she was very shy, very intense,
and very smart! But a few words of experience:
* we let her persue all her interests that we could afford or tolerate.
Violin, dance, after school art classes -she ate them up and asked for
* public school worked wonderfully for us. She was accellerated a
grade, and took all the Honors and AP classes offered in middle and
high school. It allowed us to afford all those other extras, and we never
felt she was ignored or treated poorly. It also gave her a wonderful
empathy and understanding of kids who were not like her.
* She is now a highly successful high school junior wth enough good
friends to feel socially comfortable in a HUGE urban high school. She
works hard and plays hard. Interestingly enough, she is seriously
considering taking a year off after high school (after getting into a highly
competitive college) so she won't be the sixteen-year-old college
I think she has been able to find balance with her abilities and
intensities. It's important to look at the big picture - not just what their
needs are now, or even what will happen when they are sixteen or
twenty - but how they will find their way at every stage of their
development. I know how freaked out I was when she was in pre-school
and everyone was telling me how precocious she was or how I felt when
her teachers wanted her moved up a year, but I love seeing her now as
a normal kid, with some special skills but a very happy place in her
Hope this helps.
Can anyone recommend a preschool and/or elementary school for my 3 year old
son, who was recently assessed by a child psychologist as having the cognitive
level of a 7 year old? He is bright, but his social skills are skill those
of a 3 year old. I do not want to put him in a classroom with much older
children just to keep him stimulated. If anyone else has a similiar
I would really appreciate hearing what your experience has been and if you have
found a school/program that your child is thriving in. I barely even know
to begin looking, so any advice would be a help
For the mother looking for advice about the gifted 3-year-old:
Actually, I think the most valuable thing you can do for your child with
respect to school is to avoid, at all costs, "academic" preschools and
kindergartens. Nothing is as deadly for an extremely gifted child as
sitting through lessons about the alphabet and phonics and "the numbers
1-10." Instead, find a place where he can be social and creative (lots of
art and music!), and let him find his own academic way, with your help, at
home. Later you will agonize over elementary school, but again, watch out
for schools that claim to be really academic. A school program that is "a
year ahead" will most likely be useless to your son academically, and might
be more rigid about accommodating his needs than another, less (officially)
academic program. There are wonderful materials available for learning at
home, by the way, so I'm sure you will find ways to keep his brain fed.
Good luck, don't panic, and enjoy your son!
Check out the Montessori philosophy of education. I think it is by far
the best approach for super bright kids. It allows the child to work at
his or her own level and speed and fosters independence of thought, self
reliance, and respect for oneself, others and the environment. My son
attends The Renaissance School, (formerly a Child's World Montessori
School), in Oakland, and they have a few kids there who are in the super
bright category and are thriving. The school has both a tremendous
breath as well as depth in the curriculum. Also, I would suggest you
read some of Maria Montessori's books to understand the philosophy and
how it translates into the classroom in order to understand what the
education is all about. Unfortunately, most journalists who write about
it only repeat standard clichis and are woefully uninformed. Good luck
in your search.
Assessing a Gifted 4-year-old
My daughter will be five in January...so she will be the oldest in
her class when she starts kindergarten. I am afraid she will be
bored. She is already starting to read and can add numbers and write
her letters. She is extermely verbal with a sophisticated vocabulary.
While I don't see my daughter as a child prodigy, she seems to shows
some signs of giftedness. Is this something that can be assessed at
an early age? It's hard to be objective when looking at your own
children. I don't want to push my daughter but I want to look out for
her best interests so that she is sufficiently academically
stimulated. Any advice?
Anne Marie Roeper is an older woman who has worked with issues around
gifted children for many years. It is her specialty. In the past, I
have heard positive feedback. Telephone is 763-3173.
this page was last updated: Dec 28, 2010
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