My DD is 4, turning 5 in Nov. Right now she is at a Montessori school, and would be starting K next fall.
We've known from fairly early on that DD is a smart kid, and never really worried about distinctions between being bright vs gifted. However, we are now at the time of year where magnet and charter schools have open houses, with the lotteries happening in December & January. We are looking at a few options: 1. Keep her in Montessori, where she is thriving (but is very $$$); 2. Our home public school, which separates out gifted kids starting in 2nd grade; 3. Charter school with similar methodologies to Montessori, gifted and special needs kids are integrated into a regular classroom; 4. A Gifted Magnet school, kids need to test in the 98th percentile on the WIAT II, and/or (not sure?) have an IQ above 145.
ETA: The absolute main reason I am asking, is because no matter what we choose, I want to make sure DD is an an environment that will not squash her love for learning, and make school a 'chore', or 'boring' for her. And we would not consider skipping a grade, she is a tiny, petite thing, and kids her own age already tower over her!
We have never considered testing her, thinking she's only 4!!!, but the gifted magnet school actually gets rave reviews, and I'm starting to wonder if we should consider that as a possibility, and have her tested.
So my question is, based on my observations below, does it sound as if DD might be gifted? I don't really want to put her through testing unless I have a fairly good idea that she might truly be gifted. I also understand that you fellow mama's aren't psychologists.
- She taught herself to read over the summer. When she was 2 and 3 we worked on phonics, and read a lot with her. In May, she was reading books like Biscuit (the most basic Early Readers). Yesterday, she read a Magic Treehouse book, struggling with approximately 4 words per page. I was told by her teacher she progressed about two grade levels in reading over the summer. We did not 'help' her read over the summer: she picked all of her own books at the library, and would sit and read them independently over the summer. Her comprehension lies somewhere in the middle, she does not comprehend as much when she reads a chapter book vs when I read it aloud to her. She can spell most CVC words, as well as things like friend, meet, hello, etc.
- Her memory is AMAZING. For example, for her 3rd birthday she received a family treasury storybook, with an accompanying CD. It is almost 300 pages, including stories such as Curious George and the Firefighters, Tacky The Penguin, Martha Speaks, etc. She listened to the CD practically non-stop, turning the pages at the appropriate time. After one month, she had the whole book memorized. The entire thing, word for word, and could sit there and 'read' the whole thing to me. It was right after this that she started reading CVC words.
- She loves to sing, and I'd say she knows at least 200 kid's songs by heart, and quite a few pop songs as well.
- She started piano lessons (her request) in June, her teacher says she is progressing through the first piano book about twice as fast as normal. She does not practice a ton at home, maybe 10 minutes every other day, plus whenever she feels like it.
- At 1 1/2 she was doing 24 piece puzzles, at 3 she was doing 60-80pc puzzles, and 100 pc puzzles by her 4th bday. Lately, we have been working on 300 piece puzzles together.
- Math skills: Counting to 100 at 3, she has also mastered one-to-one correspondence to fairly high numbers, and skip counting by 5's and 10's (she decided today she now wants to learn to skip count by 2's). She is proficient at basic addition with manipulatives, but can not look at an equation (ex. 5+4=9) and know the answer off the top of her head. When she becomes motivated in math, it often only takes 2-3 practice attempts before she begins to figure it out.
- She retains many things after one or two lessons at preschool, particularly science/nature/animal related. When they did the solar system last year, she learned the planets, in correct order, very quickly. After being told once, she could tell me which planets are gas planets, and which are terrestrial. She actually loved the fact that she could recite them backwards faster than me. She spouts science facts all the time that I am assuming she learned at preschool, in appropriate contexts. For example, last night, when a candle was blown out, she said "That is smoke. Fire makes smoke, and hot water makes steam. And when water is really cold, it turns into ice."
- Fine motor skills: I always thought she was behind in this area, recently I am realizing it might just be that she is so far ahead in all other areas. She loves to write, but struggles with some letters. They are recognizable when she writes, and I can usually decipher a sentence she has copied from somewhere else.
- Geography: She can read most of the names of the US states, and knew all the continents around her 4th birthday. Our latest game is to pull out a state from our US puzzle, and then she has to guess which one is missing. She knows many major landmarks (Eiffel Tower is in France, pyramids are in Egypt, Great Wall is in China, etc). She remembers facts that she learned in a Magic Treehouse book months after reading, and remembers which book she learned that fact (Today we were looking at her Nature Encyclopedia, and she said, "Lions hunt prey, and live in the grasslands. I read that in Lions at Lunchtime." We read that book together in May).
- Inferring things: I have noticed this recently, she is becoming quite good about making (correct) inferences while listening to adult conversation.
- Personality wise, she is quite shy, especially around adults, and very sensitive. The only time she has ever thrown a huge tantrum has been when something she has worked on accidentally gets destroyed (as a toddler, this was usually when a cat would knock over a tower she was building). She no longer throws tantrums, but still becomes extremely distraught if someone comes along and breaks her concentration, or disrupts her work in some other way. She is also very empathetic, and becomes very upset when two people are arguing (ahem, that would be DH and I).
- SHe is also very creative and imaginative, but not artistic (if that makes sense). My DH says she has the creativity of a scientist or engineer. She likes to do experiments, not paint pictures. She also spends a lot of time in imaginative play. Her teachers have always praised her for being an excellent listener, and she also learns very well by observing.
- Don't know if this is related, but I'll throw it in. She doesn't really play with toys. We don't have a ton to begin with. There are a few favorites: play food, dress up clothes, her doll and baby. When she is not engaging with imaginative play, or playing outside, she is usually doing one of a few things: reading, doing puzzles, reading to the cats, writing 'books', making bead bracelets, reading to me, looking at I Spy books. Cutting and taping things together.
There are certain things that she does not pick up quickly. For example, DH is a doctor, and we have a book of body parts/systems geared towards older kids. She loves to look at this, but has not yet mastered the basic organs of the body (she knows heart, lungs, brain, but always forget the others like liver, intestine, etc).
So, bright? Possibly gifted? What is your opinion? I don't even know what's normal for a 4 year old, other than what I see from other kids in the neighborhood and at her school!