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Nurturing an Above Average Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Our daughter is 19 months old now. From the information I gathered browsing the internet, I feel she is little ahead of her age. Below is the list of skills she accomplished at different stages. Since she is still 19 months, I guess it is too early for any kind of formal assessment. Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm looking for ways to develop her potential. Can you please let me know what my options are?

Another thing I'm concerned about is, she doesn't speak or understand much English since we do not speak English at home. Can we have her enrolled into a Montessori school?
We would appreciate if you can take some time & help us out. Thanks.

16 months – Identify and say all upper case letters
Say words beginning with all these letters (A for Apple, B for Ball ... till Z)

18 months – Recognize and say numbers 1 – 10
19 months – says 11 – 20 with some assistance

9 months – identify and say her first 2 colors (blue & green) as early as 9 months. 17 months – identify and say many colors (red, blue, green, pink, purple, yellow, orange, white, black, brown, gray)

14 months – identify and say her first 2 shapes (circle & triangle) as early as 14 months. 18 months – identify and say many shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, circle, oval, spiral, diamond, heart, crescent, flower, and hexagon) 19 months – learnt ‘cone' recently

Body Parts
12 months – Identify many body parts and say some of them (from head to toe including eye brow, eye lash, palm and elbow) 15 months – Say all the above body parts.

11 months – understand instructions well as early as 11 months 14 months – say and understand many words 16 months – Ability to form at least 2–3 word sentences
18 months – Ability to form at least 5–6 word sentences

18 months – Complete twinkle twinkle little star, and a couple of multi–line non–English rhymes with little assistance. 19 months – Complete the above with no help
19 months – Complete alphabet rhyme (ABCDEFG), ‘row row row your boat' with no help

12 months – identify and say at least 10 animals/birds
18 months – identify and say 25 animals/birds

Baby Animals
18 months – name at least 10 baby animals.

Animal sounds
12 months – recognize and make sounds of at least 5 animals.
19 months – recognize and make sounds of at least 15 animals.

18 months – Identify & say at least 8 fruits & 8 vegetables

Other Activities
interest in books. She makes me read the books all the time. memorize and recall fact - It just takes 3–4 readings for her to remember words/sentences from a book. when I read to her again, she completes the sentences. Same is the case with stories stack & nest a set of different-sized blocks in the correct order.
love music - likes to play in-built rhymes in her piano.
solve wooden blocks' puzzle (shape sorter), 3-piece card puzzle has her favorite colors, TV shows & stories

Thank you.

A: From your description, she does appear to be ahead of her peers. As for formal assessment, you are right about holding on a little until she is older (about five to six years of age). However, as parents, you are in the best position to determine if she has advanced abilities so if you feel that she is above average, she probably is – and your description confirms it.

There are many ways to help her develop her potential and keep her stimulated. It's good that she is interested in books. This is a great way to develop her learning. Expose her to a variety of books; make sure you gradually increase the level of difficulty. Younger children tend to enjoy colors, big bright pictures, pop ups, glitter and thicker pages (as their fine motor skills are still not fully developed). You can also expose her to educational VCD/DVDs that portray her favorite characters. The internet a great source of information as well an interesting way to learn. Remember that as long as there are a variety of activities, she would be stimulated.

She also enjoys music so expose her to more music. You can even coordinate this with dancing for some physical activity. Take note that at her age, she would need to be physically active as well, which I am sure she is. Traveling is a good way to expose her as well – it's amazing how much they remember about their travels! Occasionally, change her environment; take her to the museum, market, beach, playground, etc.

Her English should not be a concern at this stage. Children learn languages very fast if they are exposed to it. Watch more programs where English is spoken, sing English songs and perhaps read her stories in English, then translate it when explaining. It's a great way to expose her to the language.

For now, you may want to send her to a playschool, not necessarily a Montessori based one. Most reputed playschools these days allow a lot of free play with guidance and this is important for above average children. Creativity is also unleashed. It would be good to enroll her at this stage as the change would help her learn better and improve her social skills. Even three days a week would be sufficient. However, it is also important for parents to have a good relationship with the school to enable them to monitor the child's progress and take necessary steps to further enhance learning.

Please read the previous newsletters for a variety of other ways to help your child. At he same time, do not over whelm her with too much learning. Allow her to grow at her pace with some guidance from you. Here's wishing you all the best!


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