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Support for Very Early Giftedness

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have a very bright 20 month old daughter, but I am not sure if she would fit into the gifted category. I am not sure if she is so advanced because I work with her at home, or if she is just naturally intelligent. She is my only child and I do not have any friends with children around her same age who work with their children. This makes it hard for me to have someone to compare her development to. Let me tell you some of the things she can do and at what age she mastered it.

  1. Recognizes all letters and sounds out of order (15 months)

  2. decodes CVC words ex. hot, pop, mom (19 months)

  3. Recognizes and names shapes in environment square, circle, rectangle, star, heart, oval, hexagon etc... (18 months)

  4. Knows and can say colors (red, blue, green, black, white, pink, gray, orange, purple, yellow) she can spell a couple too! (17 months)

  5. If you ask her the color of things without a visual she can tell you the color. For example, What color is grass?

  6. She can create simple a B patters

  7. Spell her name and recognize it (Gabrielle)(19 months) She can count objects up to twenty.

  8. She can tell you the opposite of things ex. full/empty (19 months)

  9. She can sort objects by colors

  10. She knows her double facts up to twenty ex. 6 6=12 (I don't believe she understands the concept. I think she has just memorized) (20 months)

  11. She does not always, but can speak in complete sentences ex. (I don't know and I want to eat oatmeal) 17 months

  12. she can follow multi-step directions. ex. (Get daddy the red bean bag and mommy the yellow bing bag out of the bucket)13 months

  13. she enjoys playing educational games on her v-tech computer 20 months

  14. She knows how to manipulate

  15. She can identify things that are the same and different and circle them on a worksheet (If she does not want to go to bed, she will eat extra slow to avoid it)

  16. She recognizes President Obama and former President Bush

  17. She is very sweet and gets along well with other children

I am sure there are things that I am forgetting and I know this is extremely long, but I am very worried because If she is able to do all of this a 20 months, what will happen to her when she goes to kindergarten? This is something that has been a constant worry of mine. Please help!

A: Your child does indeed demonstrate traits of a gifted child and I’m glad you are aware of her advanced abilities. It is a natural concern for parents of gifted children when it comes to meeting their educational needs. In fact, the concern is more pronounced when it comes to formal schooling rather than preschools.

For a start, you may need to look around for a preschool that has flexible programs to suit individual needs. In fact, you could start enrolling her at a play school/group a few times a week to expose her. Make sure that the play school has more free play rather than structured activities. Activities that are rigidly structured should be avoided as gifted children need stimulating activities to feed their cognitive abilities. When it comes to preschool, these days there are some preschools that cater for children with different abilities and allow individualized learning. Look for such preschool; the “regular” preschool may not work for a gifted child who has a good grasp of the skills required at this level. Speak to the principal and find out what can be offered to suit her needs. It is crucial that you also speak to her teachers so that they are aware of what your daughter can or cannot do. Perhaps, they may be able to give similar work with a higher level of difficulty to stimulate her.

At home, you need to be flexible in allowing your child to enjoy a variety of activities – as she may lose interest after some time with the same materials. Take her out to meet other kids so that she learns social skills at an early age. Exposure and play is crucial for her learning at this stage. You may also want to introduce her to the world of books. Visit the library, museum, galleries, book shops, etc. Remember, just going around would heighten her curiosity and challenge her.

On the other hand, as a parent, you need to work hard as well. Expose yourself to the variety of material that is available in the internet on the subject of gifted children. With awareness, you will be better prepared to make sound decisions. There are hundreds of websites that offer valuable information and resources to the parents. As a starting point, make sure you visit Hoagies' Gifted Education site for link for parents and you will find a wealth of information, including email lists for parents of gifted children and various gifted organizations.

Best of luck in your wonderful journey!


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