Is Your Preschooler Gifted?
do you tell if your child is gifted or talented, and what should you do about
children are gifted, one way or another. We hate the idea that some parents
think their children are superior to others just because they seem smarter. We
all need to be bit more gifted in the humility department. Being smart is nice,
but it certainly isn't the only thing to be happy about in a child.
face it: there are kids who are truly gifted, and likely to wind up at the top
of their high school class as our future doctors, lawyers, business owners,
inventors and leaders, or going in to creative fields such as art, writing and
theatre. They have special needs just as much as kids with learning problems
do. It's best to start addressing those needs just as early as you can. And
that starts with knowing what you're dealing with. Is your child just cute? Or
Your 2- to
4-year-old may be gifted if he or she:
-- Has artistic ability or an
unusual ease for numbers. Is there a "wow!" factor?
developmental milestones well ahead of peers, say, a year or two ahead.
-- Has an extensive
vocabulary or speaks in sentences much earlier than other children his age.
-- Is curious, takes
risks, experiments with objects, and constantly asks questions.
-- Is unusually active,
enthusiastic about certain things, and stays absorbed on one task or playing
with one thing for a long time.
-- Has a vivid
imagination, "play-acts" a lot, and has imaginary friends.
-- Knows a lot of facts,
and memorizes lines from TV, movies, or books.
The key appears to be early
reading. Gifted kids don't always read before kindergarten, but often, that's a
bellringer sign. It is thought that the cognitive changes in the brain that
come with the ability to decode symbols (words on a page) give that child an
accelerated road to intellectual development. So emphasize books, reading,
language and interaction with your child, and you can nurture giftedness.
A lot of
interaction and attention with adults will naturally spur the bright child's
progress, so keep up the conversations, questioning, songs, games, "hanging
out," and especially reading to and with the small child. Take your child to
the public library once a week and let yourself be "caught" reading as much as
you possibly can. Go to museums, go to fairs, go to rodeos . . . get out there
and give your child a body of knowledge and experiences from which to draw. And
talk about it with him or her, a lot!
tons of interesting books on the market with learning activities that you could
do with the child and a friend, or pay a babysitter to do. Follow your child's
areas of passion. Always have a "busy box" full of creative supplies, junk,
oddities and whatever else your child might turn in to something else. Support
hobbies and interests. It's probably a good idea to limit TV, since that tends
to make children passive rather than active.
preschool, the gifted child will do best with a maximum of enrichment and
hands-on experiences with art, drama, storytelling, gardening and the like, and
a minimum of worksheets, TV, prefab toys and so forth. While rules and
structure are important, the creative child may chafe at some of the routines
that are designed for the average child, so beware.
consider homeschooling a gifted child through the early grades if he or she is
already reading in kindergarten. That's because teachers in even the best
public schools have to spend so much time remediating pupils who are struggling
that those who are ready for accelerated work often get short shrift.
But if you homeschool, watch out for
another problem later on: if you decide to enroll your youngster in school on
down the road, he or she is likely to be several grade levels ahead of his or
her age peers. You may not like the socioemotional aspects of skipping grades.
On the other hand, there are
negative socioemotional consequences of leaving a child with a mental age of 14
in a classroom of 8-year-olds. See? Rearing a gifted child is no piece of cake.
But then, no one ever told you it would be easy to be a parent, did they?
Homework: For more resources for parents of
gifted children, visit www.nagc.org