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Nurturing Gifted Toddler

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son now is 3 years old, he could speak 3 languages. When he is 1 years 9 months, he could speak phonics perfectly. At the age of 2 he could recite and write from A-Z. He is able to count to 0-100 and also counting backward. When he is 2 years 4 months he could speak One to Ten and type using a computer. Now he's using internet to search his ABC learning tool without and help from adult. And he got excellent memory by remember at which level of my relative and friends are staying. When we had vacation in Hong Kong for 1 week. He could tell you the color of the train station before arriving without making a mistake. He is now reading those little story book on his own. Presently my estimation is that he could read at least 250 words in 3 languages and spell 100 of them in English.

I not sure if he's a genius but I'm quite sure he's ahead of his peers.

I struggling in making decision if I should continue sending my son to
Nursery. because I just discover that the curriculum of the Nursery 2 seems too simple for my son. Now his peers are trying to learn to identify numbers and shape. My son is now able to do addition up to 20 and subtraction with 10. In fact he is starting to learn simpler multiplication now. We did not force him to learn those stuff, I just open his creativity box and he learn most of the stuff by himself. Sometime we also puzzle where he learn from.

The reason I sent him to school is to let him learn how to communicate with people and his leadership skill. But I so worry that the curriculum will kill his interest in learning. But the biggest worry I have is that he will be too proud of himself because he knows everything in class. That is why I been teaching him to humble himself down and to help others.

Please advise me if there are gifted child school of his age. I do not want him to join his senior because I want him to enjoy his childhood. Thank you!

A: Your son certainly demonstrates exceptional abilities for his age. Yes, he is an exceptional child and there is quite a bit to do to help him develop his full potential. It appears that so far you are on the right track in nurturing him, so carry on with the good work.

It is good for him to be at school to mingle with other kids which is also a form of learning (social skills). I am not sure which country you are referring to; most have gifted association which provide resources for parents of gifted children. This is an avenue for you to speak to other like-minded parents on good programs for your child. I can understand your concerns on academic curriculum these days. However, I find that at preschool level these days, the curriculum is not very academic and there is a lot of free play involved, which is crucial for development at this stage.

If you are not able to find a school that caters to his needs (this may happen once he is in primary school), there is an option of homeschooling him. Try to look for other parents where you live on homeschooling. This is indeed becoming an option for parents of gifted individuals in a number of developed countries. There are also various websites that provide guide on homeschooling.

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If this is not an option, there are a few things that can be done to help nurture his potential. The best would be if there is a pre-school for children of higher intellectual abilities. If this is not available where you live, you may want to look for a reputed pre-school and make sure you meet with the principal to address your concerns. Explain his abilities and your concerns so that they are aware. They may be able to help with perhaps some extra or more challenging work based on his pace and time for creative play. They may charge you a little more for the extra work, but it may be well worth it. Preschool teachers have a way with children, so you son may be able to learn better and perhaps even socialise with his peers. In this way, most of his needs can be catered to.

Again, if this is not an option for him, as long as you keep challenging him at home with learning activities that is fun and exploratory by nature, it is fine. Make sure that you maintain a friendly working relationship with his school. Additionally, there are various enrichment programs that he can join based on his interest areas after school which you may want to consider to feed his intellectual needs.

I can understand the reason you may not want him to join his seniors – grade skipping. For this, it is important that your son has the advanced social skills as well and not only in the cognitive area. It is also essential to consider his fine and gross motor skills. This may not be the case for younger children. You are right to want him to enjoy his childhood and not be bogged down with academic stuff. Childhood is for such a short period and it shapes a child through his lifespan. While not holding him back, there has to be a right balance for his development.

I hope you will be able to find a good school/teacher to help with his learning. At the same time continue with what you have been doing at home to enrich him as much as possible. Happy parenting!


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