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Advanced Abilities of a Young Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter is almost 3.5 year old and I think she is above average for her age by the things she does, but not sure she is gifted as such?

She could speak clearly by 10 months old, sentences by 18 months and now has full conversations, on the telephone with people and at home. She has an exceptional memory, remembering small things from well over a year ago. For instance, if I put some clothes onto her baby sister, she can recognize what used to be hers from when being 18 months old. She can remember going places, watching things and gifts given to her and by whom.

She asks all the why, when, what questions, past tenses, using time expressions and also explaining things to me. She rarely makes up fantasy stories she is extremely realistic. She tends to play games that are real life situations rather than fantasy, but she does still believe Snow White is a real lady! She knows her address and can remember routes to home and other locations, often directing me. She picks things up with little encouragement.

She can now clearly write her own name, with no encouragement or tracing. She can recognize the alphabet and use it in every day language, matching letters from her name to words she sees, constantly practicing to write letters onto paper.

She has amazing concentration; she can sit for long periods in an activity such as drawing, puzzles and watching films. She prefers to watch films with real people in and plots aimed at older children, rather than cartoons. She can use the computer with no help at all, type her own name and navigate around it with hardly any training (i.e. just from watching myself).

She has recently started to draw pictures of houses, with windows, curtains and a door. A relative it was pointed out that normally children draw the windows attached to the lines on the walls, her first house picture had windows in the middle, with curtains!

She is a perfectionist, often refusing to do things if she feels she cannot do them properly, getting irritated and frustrated when things do not look the way she wants. She wants to learn to read but is refusing to count out of stubbornness, although I know she can do this. She knows all the colors you can get in a big box of crayons, she knows all her shapes and can draw a very good square shape, and has attempted triangles. She pays exceptional detail to people drawings, hats, ears, colored clothing and especially the right colored hair. She copies my writing in small marks in long lines.

She is very loving and concerned child, worries about things a lot and can easily sense emotions and become upset by sadness or anger, wondering if its her fault in some way. I feel she is emotionally advanced. She can understand all instructions given to her although she might not carry them out. She is extremely popular, helping and guiding even older children and adults, gravitating to them and not younger children.

She has just started nursery school. I would appreciate any comments you have so that I can build on her abilities and guide her. Many thanks

A: Your description does indicate most of the advanced abilities for children of her age. It looks like she is developing well and you must be doing the right thing to encourage her development, so I donít think there is much to comment here.

Be as encouraging as you can and make sure you pay attention to her questions and try to answer them all. Children may get very frustrated if they are not able to find answers, especially when they ask the adults but are ignored. If this happens often, it may lead them to suppress any question they may have. Make sure you have the appropriate educational materials for her to learn. Materials should always be challenging as children have a tendency to get bored with less stimulating materials.

It is a good time to encourage her with reading as she has started writing. Reading will help her discover the world of knowledge, which will help her further to self-develop. It would be good if you get her to choose her own learning material, say, a book from the bookstore or library, of course, with your guidance.

Most importantly, as she does display sensitivity, she needs to be shown a lot of care and concern and love. Being very young, she may not be able to understand the emotional happening around her and may get very concerned and perhaps, overly worried. This is when adults have to step in and keep reassuring the child. She may also need to do something to lessen her emotional concern. For example, if she feels bad about a world disaster, you may want to help her address her feelings, and perhaps do something that will make her feel as if she has contributed in one way or other (e.g., write a card to the victims, donate some clothing, etc.).

Apart from that, enjoy her development and keep encouraging her as best as you can. She needs to know that she is loved and cared for. A child learns and develops best in a loving environment.


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