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Reading Skills for Kids

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have a question about my daughter. She is a 4 years old cute little one. 4 yrs and 9 months to be exact. She started talking at about 8-9 months, she used to play peek-a-boo when she was 3 months, if give a cloth, she was very fluent in language by 15 months, fully potty trained by 2 yrs both day and night. We are in US now, but originally from India, we had to stay in India for a couple of months when she was 3.

Since we did not have any good pre-school nearby, she was sent to a kindergarten thinking she might make some friends there, and within 2 months, she learned how to write ABC, 1-100 and was one of the top students in her class. We came back to US now, she now can count to 100, read words, spell 3-4 letter words without help, do addition and subtraction upto 20s in her mind using abacus.

She can read sentences, but she has problems comprehending them, like she can read words like" Smells", "like' and " trash', but if asked to read it as a sentence, smells like trash, she has to read the words all over again, as if she is reading those words for the first time even though she has read it a few seconds ago. Is this a learning disorder? Or is she too young to read? Do you think she is gifted? We stimulated her from birth using different things, so is it because of that she is like this? I mean we taught her ABCs and how to recognize them when she was just 2 and she could do it, same with numbers and now she is learning abacus, so is it because of the stimulation that she is intelligent or is she naturally gifted?

I do not want to label her gifted and cause unnecessary stress, but I would like to know. It would be great if you could give me your honest opinion. Thank you in advance.

A: Her development is a little advanced compared to her peers as she is close to five years. As for reading, it is advanced as well though not too much especially as she has had stimulation at a very young age. Generally, these days there are many devices that help children advanced at a faster pace which may resemble some gifted characteristics but hard to determine at such a young age.

Teaching a child to read at a very young age does help their ability but the child would still need to learn how to decode words from a printed page. Most children would eventually be able to comprehend what is read as the practice but would need help and guidance. As for your girl, at this stage I really don't see a learning disorder. At this stage, she is not really reading in the sense of identifying the words but rather in a “pretentious reading phase” as they are aware that the words have meaning.

For now, I think she is progressing very well and is doing fine in her reading. Just keep up the good work that you are doing without pushing; guidance is essential. I would advise against any kind of labelling at this stage. Gifted or not, what is important at this stage is the child knowing that s/he is loved and safe with the parents. A loved and happy child would develop very well with proper guidance. In any case, a gifted child does not really cause stress - its always parent who are not able to understand the child find it difficult to handle the child. So, it's best to be aware at an early stage to help support your child to the best of your abilities, regardless of whether the child is gifted.

My best wishes for to your wonderful parenting journey!


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