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Highly Advanced Development

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son is 4 years old. He is very close to his grandpa, with whom he spends most of his time. When he was a little over 2 years old, he started playing with bricks that were left over from our home renovation, supervised by my dad. When I came to see what he had been up to, I was astonished. He had built an entire colony of houses, with each one of them having a separate entrance and a lawn. He had built one everyone in my extended family. He used marbles to represent every member, small marbles for the children and large one for the adults. I was in awe when I discovered that he had placed all the elderly (including my parents) in rooms on the ground floor, children were placed on first floor. He even had made provision for my younger brother's family, who was single at that time. He had built this structure on the roof of our garage.

In the following months, he built an apartment building with same considerations for the elderly but this time with larger and thicker bricks. Next up he constructed a boat built out of similar bricks with two chairs in the center, a small one for himself and a larger one for my dad.

Six months ago, when he was 3 and a half years old. A friend of mine gifted a new tricycle to my son. Since he already had one we decided to keep it in the attic. So one day he asks his mom when will he get to ride his new bike. My wife told him he will get it when the old one is broken. So on a Sunday afternoon when everyone was asleep took the bike and a screwdriver and went to work. When we woke up we saw that every single piece of the bike has been disassembled and placed in an orderly manner, seat placed in the center in between the wheels , nuts and bolts placed in separate groups, washers and rubbers on either side of the seat. He had managed to dismantle it to its smallest parts without damaging a single piece. I called a cycle shop to have it rebuilt, but the owner refused to acknowledge that a three year old could have done it.

He spends his nights watching the night sky and admiring the stars. He can identify all the major constellations in the sky, all thanks to his grandfather. He also has the habit of carrying as screw driver in his pocket and loves to open up all his toys when he becomes bored with them (which happens quite frequently).

When he started school, he hated it and would continuously stare at the classroom gate and as soon as the teacher opened it, he would storm off, climb the fence and make a dash to the main gate. Eventually someone would get hold of him and bring him back and the cycle would continue. Now the tantrums in school have subsided but i am not sure how to proceed with his education.

I would like to know what we can do to help him in development of his mental abilities.

A: The description that you gave about your son is simply amazing. Doing what he did at such a young age indicate very high ability and he is gifted for sure. You need to now monitor his progress further and provide him with appropriate learning activities to cater for his curious mind.

It is great that he has such a strong bond with the grandfather as I truly believe that grandparents do play a great part in the development of a child, especially at such a young age. Parents are usually busy working with many responsibilities an somewhat less experienced compared to grandparents who may be able to give more quality time and devotion to grandchildren. Your dad must be doing some amazing stuff unknowingly to enable your boy to progress so much.

What I see here is a highly developed fine-motor and perceptual-motor skills which I think you may want to enhance further. Provide him with more opportunities to explore different materials that can help him develop and practice for example grasping, releasing, pushing, pulling, assembling, and disassembling. This would be good for him to reinforce computational and problem-solving skills as well as patterning, sequencing, size, and measurement. Categorising and sorting of materials helps in exercising his mathematical and logical thinking skills.

School would possibly be a problem for children as such as they may feel bored and unchallenged with schoolwork, which is quite typical of gifted children who do not see meaning and purpose in what they are doing. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that he disliked school. If he is doing what you had described, a regular school may be simply too unchallenging and not stimulating enough for him. It may lead him to have behavioural issues at school. He may need to be in a school that recognises his mental ability rather that just stereotyping children based on chronological age. If the school has not recognised his abilities, you may want to look out for non-mainstream schools that cater for children with such needs. Or, preschools that have enrichment programmes suited for learners with higher abilities. Depending on where you are located, this may be a challenge but I am sure you would be able to find something. Tantrums would subside when children learn that they may not have much of a choice. But, along the way, they may simply fit in the system and settle for much less that they are capable of; which I think would hold them back and is unjust for a gifted child.

You have not mentioned his reading ability. If he hasn't started already, you may want to introduce him to the world of books. Gifted children need to quench their thirst for knowledge and this is an excellent way. Go to the library, bookstore or have a book corner in your home and place a variety of books - even one that you may think would not interest him.

Remember two main things you would need to do is firstly; provide more challenging work, and next, place him in a more academically appropriate environment. I hope his grandfather keeps up with the excellent parenting and motivate and help him further. The love and bond with a significant adult would only help him progress better as I believe that this is one of the best ways for a young child to learn.

You have a very special child and I hope he will get all that he needs to fully develop his potential. Wishing you a wonderful parenting journey.


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