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Early Signs of Higher Ability?

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son is 3 yrs old. Has been able to carry on a conversation since he was about a year and a half. He has known his ABC's, colors and been able to count to 10 since about 2 or before. He at one point referred to himself in the third person all the time. He is now rhyming words on his own. I am curious as to what his intelligence level is. He knows nursery rhymes, his phone number and what town/city he lives in. I have not come across any other children his age or older that know as much as he does. Can you give me any clue as to where he is at?

A: It is indeed an advanced skill to be able to hold conversations at about 1.5 years of age. The ability to rhyme words on his own is also an advanced skill at his age. You may want to use the checklist I prepared as a guide to observe the early signs of giftedness of the young.

If you want a formal assessment, you would need to see a psychologist who deals with IQ testing where scores usually indicate areas of strength which you may want to concentrate on. Since he appears to enjoy nursery rhymes and even able to try to rhyme words on his own, perhaps you may want to start him on some musical instrument, a toy for a start, to see if he is musically inclined. Expose him to more nursery rhymes (educational videos, CDs or books) and sing along with him. While singing, explain some new words to enhance his vocabulary. Make stories out of the songs and you will be amazed at how much he remembers and his elevated interest level.

Children of high ability need stimulating learning environment and material. It need not be expensive but parents need to put in some time and effort to be as creative as possible and come up with new things. If you are not able to put in so much time, sending him to a playschool or pre-nursery is a good way of learning. However, do your homework before sending him to any school; a reputable school by word of mouth is usually reliable. Make sure you have a good relationship with the teachers and keep in touch with them to check on your son's progress and see if you can provide him with further help. Good luck!


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