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Gifted Child in the Making

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My name is Rachael and I am mum to Jack who turned 4 this month. We noticed that Jack was forward for his age he had a fascination with lights at a few months old and would turn to stare at them.. which then progressed in a fascination for clocks which he would notice even when we was out in public at around 5mths. The Health Visitor said at the time that Jack was a very alert for his age. He would line up his cars perfectly all facing the same way at just over a year old. When we moved one to face the other way. He would notice even in a complete line of 15 toy cars. We knew then that Jack was a special little man.

At 15 months Jack was speaking in clear sentences and was able to sing Old McDonald, 22mths he could count up to 30.  Now at just 4 Jack is excelling at nursery, he is able to count to 110, count back from 25. Is able to read and spell simple some words write down the alphabet. Jack also knows the phonic alphabet.

Jack also loves puzzles, he can complete a 50 piece puzzle with ease and then he will do it upside down with the picture on the underside, with no picture to help! His nursery teachers are very impressed with him and said that he excelling in all areas of his development and is way ahead of his peers. They have also commented on how he gives them his full attention listening to every word "you can see the cogs working" they commented. He has very good wrist control that they would expect from a child a lot older and is able to write very well. He completes all of the activities set out for the class not just the one they expect.

He is also a very very loving child mostly towards his younger sister which he adores!! he doesn't leave her alone. But he can be a little intense and no matter how careful we tell him to be he still is heavy handed but he doesn't realise his own strength. Its like when he walks passed he has to stoke her or kiss her.

He is a sensitive and determined child that gets upset and frustrated at the slightest mistake and has to complete what he is doing before he moves onto other things. He would also try and reason his way, if he is being told off he will argue his point across, even if he was in the wrong he would diplomatically explain what he did and why he did it. Jack is very active and always on the go.. not hyper just full of energy, enthusiasm and is a little dare devil experimenting jumping and climbing on things i.e. back of sofa, low garden walls, tree branches etc.

He is sensitive to sounds... hand dryers, fireworks, helicopters, M aeroplanes and recently "footsteps" on laminated floors. He woke up crying and said that he was scared of daddy's footsteps downstairs because they were too loud. We now walk around in slippers.

Once again thank you for taking the time to read my message. We are hoping you can help us with our "special little man" and guide us in what we can do next to progress him. Looking forward to your response.

A: From your description, your son appears to be rather highly above average, milestones ahead of his peers. So you have a very, very special child and he has benefited from your awareness. So what can you do now to maintain and further develop his potential?
Firstly, you are certainly on the right track in observing, m/nitoring and providing him with all that he needs to flourish. He may not be fine in a regular program and he certainly needs a programme that caters for his level of intelligence. He would need constant stimulation and you will find that he would get bored quite easily with any routine task. He also needs to find his activities meaningful - there must be a reason to everything he does to feed his curiosity and interest. Having said that, do be very careful that he does not get bored or feel mentally tired with too much stimulation. Both extremes have consequences.

Parents of gifted children sometimes get overwhelmed and tend to provide too much stimulation but these children do get overwhelmed as well. Make sure the activities are varied. Keep talking (adult talk, that is, at the same time remember that this is a child - too much emotional talk may not be good as they may not be emotionally matured to handle certain things) and more importantly, keep stimulating their minds with questions. Try not to lie to him because they can be highly sensitive, have a high sense of morality and expect to be treated with respect even at a very young age.

Educational toys are fine but they would get bored quite quickly and it can be an expensive affair. What may be really interesting is for you to get him to make his own toys - gifted children work best when challenged. They love starting from scratch. Books are great so regular visits to the library or book stores are crucial. Whether he can read or not, books are the best source of information to feed his active imagination. Make sure he keeps having a variety of activities. Give his some autonomy in making decisions as well - e.g., ask his what he would like to do for the day, guide him if he's not sure. At the same time, don't forget to allow for some physical activity for him on a daily basis that would help him sleep better to rest his active and tired mind! Allow a lot of free play but make sure you observe and monitor his progress.

I would not really worry about him having a heavy hand; he is still a child. In fact, he has very good fine motor skills for his age. Just keep reminding him, he is a child, he doesn’t realise the strength of his little hands. Help him be more aware and I am sure he would be more careful.

There are many sites and books that you could read to help guide you. In addition, do go through the previous advice on this site. You have a rather tough job but take one thing at a time and keep up the good work. Last but not least, always remember that this is a special child and he may be cognitively very able but he is still a young child after all and more than anything else, he would need your love and understanding. At some point, he would realise that he may be a little different from his peers and this is when he would need his family the most.

Here's wishing you the very best for a beautiful journey.


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