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Nurturing a Potentially Gifted Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My son is 3.5yrs exactly. He has been reading very well since he was two. My husband and I have had him tested a few times to see if he was on the Autism Spectrum. They (Behavioral/language/Occupational Therapy professionals) told us he is not at all on the spectrum but that he may be a gifted and talented toddler.

I am trying to find out more information regarding my child (a 3yr old), so I guess my question is, should I be getting him an IQ test now (in terms of finding the right school for him to attend), and is it really normal or abnormal for a kid his age to read. I believe he has self-taught himself to read, and there are his other interests and behaviors that I have been told may point to a gifted and talented resolution. I have yet to see an actual gifted and talented 3yr old yet so I have no comparison at this time. Any information or feedback would be helpful. I just want him to be as normal and rounded as he is suppose to be I guess.

A: From your description, it appears that your son could be a potentially gifted child. Reading very well at the age of two is not at all typical - it is indeed highly advanced especially if self-taught.

I am not sure if he is at any learning/day-care centre. If he is, you may need to get some help from the centre itself. Speak to one of his teachers (who appears supportive and one whom he likes) to observe him and give him more challenging work.

Testing may be necessary if you strongly feel that could help him in school placement eventually. Evidence from a formal testing appears to help teachers be more supportive with extra enrichment activities for the child. However, refrain from too many testing - only when required.

At home, keep him stimulated most of the time. Look for learning materials that appear interesting and challenging to him. Give him projects to accomplish, e.g., when he has read a book; get him to review orally, say, on what he thought of the book and how he would change the story. They love such challenges and it gives them a sense of ownership of the story. Have a lot of outdoor activities; introduce him to the world of insects, plants, etc. Children usually get fascinated with such things so you can also get him to relate his experiences to his friends – it's two-way so chances are that his friends will be engaged as well and his social skills improve with increased mingling.

Do find out if there are other parents who may be facing a similar situation. You can team up with parents and meet on a monthly basis to discuss issues in raising a highly able child. Nothing can be more effective than support from other parents as personal experience is the best teacher. Check if there are any resources for gifted children in your country (e.g., National Association for Gifted Children, NAGC). These associations are a great support for parents.

Last but not least, keep yourself updated with the latest information on gifted education on the web. You may want join in as member and subscribe to newsletters from national associations for the gifted for a small fee. This would also enable you to hook up with other parents from different countries. Today there are many Facebook groups that support gifted & talented children. You may want to do a search and get some support.

You have a very special child and you would need to make an effort to help him in his journey. This is not going to be a breeze for both your son and you, but I assure you that it will be well worth it. All the best!


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