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Mathematically Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My sister's daughter now age of three years 5 months. She can calculate various type of digit. Divided, subtract, plus, minus. Last one month we are watching this things. Now she can add three line or four line four digit number. She just do it direct write the number on the answer giving place. She can also add side by side giving digit.

There is many more to explain of her every day activities. We also watching that she show her interest to solve the math. We need a perfect guidance to flourish her talent. Please give us a way.

A: Your niece is definitely mathematically gifted and is showing intense passion for the subject. It is amazing how a five year old is able to show such high ability in Math. I am glad you noticed this and are looking for ways to nurture her ability. Mathematically gifted children tend to perform better on spatial, nonverbal reasoning, speed, memory, and mechanical comprehension tests. You may want to check that out.

Parents have described the characteristics of pre-school children that include intensity in concentration and the ability to work independently for a sustained period on a particular task. The types of activities the parents observed in their children at an early age indicated an interest in things mathematical, and included building with construction blocks, creating symmetrical patterns, ordering objects, completing puzzles (in unconventional ways) and designing challenging games that involve numbers, problem solving, and operating on numbers. The children showed a relatively sound concept of number and in some cases an interest in large numbers and concepts such as time and space.

Researcher Straker (1983) suggests that parents look out for these characteristics: "a liking for numbers including use of them in stories and rhymes; an ability to argue, question and reason using logical connectives: if, then, so, because, either, or....; pattern-making revealing balance or symmetry; precision in positioning toys, e.g. cars set out in ordered rows, dolls arranged in order of size; use of sophisticated criteria for sorting and classification; pleasure in jig-saws and other constructional toys".

As she is five now, she will soon be entering the formal educational system. Here there is a need for early identification of mathematical. There should also be opportunities for input from parents and early childhood teachers (pre-school) regarding their early development and interests. This is important as potentially young mathematically gifted children can be left isolated, frustrated, and bored, and the gifts may remain suppressed.

There are many games on the internet that she may be interested in. You may want to check that out. (There are many in the link below).

Keep exposing her to her interest areas but at the same time, make sure she is also exposed to other non-mathematical subjects to develop other interest. At school, she would need to do other subjects as well; hence early exposure would be helpful. That means, expose her to a variety of materials but perhaps more of the learning can be mathematically inclined.

Please see the following link on mathematically gifted children to help you further in deciding how best to help her.

Good luck and I hope to see a mathematically gifted child in the making!


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