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Nurturing a Gifted 5 Year Old

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I am a mother of a 5 year old son from Philippines. I and a lot of people suspect that my child is intellectually gifted. We wanted to bring him to a specialist for IQ test to confirm but we are having problem where and who to go to and my son refuses to do so. Here are a list of his milestones, I hope you can help me figure out if he is indeed gifted.

  • Upon birth, he was the only infant at the nursery room who was so uneasy and looks like he wanted to get up.

  • At 5 months old, he was able to utter MAMA very clearly.

  • At 10 months old he learned to hold a pen properly and cud already write some unidentified shapes and lines.

  • At 1 year old and 6 months, he can identify colors, shapes, alphabets, numbers.

  • At age 2 he knew the alphabet and numbers from 1-10 and cud already write his name and can sing the alphabet in 3 different tunes.

  • At age 3, his memory was so sharp he was able to memorize a deck of NBA cards of about 26 NBA players with their names, name of team, jersey number, and jersey color. Such names were tough to pronounce but he can say it so clearly even if we turn the card UP SIDE DOWN.

  • At age 4, he can read both in our dialect and English, also talks in English with correct grammar, knows addition and subtraction, names and types of clouds.

  • Has memorized the prayer Angel of God overnight, also Our Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, holy Mary, Glory Be without so much repetition, I simply record it in my recorder he listened before sleeping, and he wakes up with a new prayer to recite.

  • Talks so much about supernova, photosynthesis, black hole, galaxy, gravity, figures of speech, and topics that other children his age would never be interested about.

  • He can explain why we have night and day, why there are different shapes of moon, can explain how we human gets to live because of oxygen and vice versa.

  • He got a hundred of books but never torn any, he knows the content and stories of each book.

  • Prefers bookstore not toy stores. Never got hooked with toys and games other kids usually enjoy. He just want to study and learn.

  • At age 3 he was a COMPUTER WIZARD. Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, paint. Can program his own game, changes background and does something with our laptop that even us adults can never think of. Teaches kids older than him on how to use a computer. He's not afraid to explore. He can troubleshoot.

  • Plays chess, and machinarium in a computer.

  • At age 2 he realized he wants to be a teacher. At age 4 he always put us adults into a room where he plays the teacher and really teaches us correct lessons.

  • Perfectionist, on time, too focused when doing something and has sharp indescribable memory, energetic.

  • He has sensitive senses. Visual-hates bright light and excels in ABSTRACT reasoning. AUDIO-hates noise and loud sounds. TASTE-picky eater, he smell the food before eating.

  • Socially isolated, prefers to watch educational dvd's, read write, draw, explore his microscope than go out with other kids.

  • Gets bored so easily that sometimes lead to tantrums.

  • Has a very good study habits and enjoy watching NEWS and GAME SHOWS for adults.

  • Impulsive.

There are a lot more he can do that other kids older than him cannot. He went to school at age 4 for Kinder1 and got a little bored because he knew the lessons. His classmates were still learning the alphabet then but he can read already. He was rank 1 out of 26 students who went through nursery and were no longer first timers, but my son was a first timer. He was awarded Best in Academic Performance in all subjects, and was most behaved. His teacher always told me that he can pick up lessons so quickly. He always get a perfect score in their exams and quizzes. A lot of people are extremely amazed with my son's abilities but I am not sure if he is indeed gifted this is why we enrolled him at Montessori to address his crave for learning.

I hope you can help me. Thank you so much.

A: From your observation, there is reason to believe that he is definitely milestones ahead of his peers and may be potentially gifted. Parents are the best judges to determine giftedness in their children and it appears that you are aware of his gifts, which is an excellent start to help nurture his potential. An IQ test can perhaps wait for a couple of years when he is more stable.

As a parent, you have indeed taken the first step to ensure good education by observing him and being aware of his progress. Home schooling is an excellent way to raise an above average child, especially if there are limited educational choices in your area. In fact, by allowing him a few hours a week at Kindergarten is an excellent way to balance his social life. Schools are important for children to learn social skills and interact with other children. This is where they are able to learn to appreciate human differences among individuals.

For now, a good way to raise your child is to hook up with other parents who have potentially gifted children and share the experiences. It is amazing how much you can find out from parents through experience; something no book can help! Joining a gifted association in your area is a great idea; there is an association for gifted children in Philippines. I believe you will find the association extremely useful.

Gifted children also need other children of similar ability to learn at a certain pace, so getting to know other parents of gifted children and organizing, say, weekly activity may be a great way to help your child. On guiding him, you seem to be doing a wonderful job just by observing him and monitoring his progress, so keep it up.

Try not to pressure him at this stage, allow a lot of free play, observe his interests and give him more stimulating and challenging work at every stage. With puzzles, working with a timer indicates someone who enjoys challenges - but the other side of it indicates perfectionism which you may want to be careful about. Allow him to make mistakes and help him realize that it is perfectly fine. Schools that offer learning based on a lot of exploration and free play with minimum structure would be mist helpful. I believe the Montessori program is doing him good. You may want to speak to his teachers to see if they could provide him with more advanced work.

Having said all that, all work and no play may burn out a potentially gifted child, so let him be a kid and enjoy childhood. He need not only indulge in educational activities, get him involved in other activities (sports, games, etc) as well. All kids need to enjoy their childhood; something that is not happening much these days due to parental and school pressure, so you may want to strike a balance here.

So here's wishing you all the best in your journey of parenting this wonderful child. Best of luck!.


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