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New here! Gifted preschooler problems

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all! 

  My name is Melanie and I have an almost 3 year old boy named Sullivan and an almost 1 year old girl named Hazel. My concerns lie with Sullivan.  He is most likely quite gifted.  I've been doing some research lately and it seems that academically he is about at a mid-kindergarten level.  He hasn't been formally tested and I don't really feel the need for that just yet.

So here is my issue.  I enrolled him in preschool, which started in September.  I knew that academically, it wouldn't be a challenge and was just hoping to get him some fun social time without mommy and little sister right there.  Well, it is backfiring. Big time.  The communication and cognitive barrier has proved to be something he is aware of. He will only talk to his teachers.  He just goes off and does his own this the entire 2.5 hours he is there.  He participates in the little group activities, but that is about as far as he gets with socializing. I've mentioned in passing that I think he'd do better in the 3-4 year old room. Though honestly, he'd probably even prefer the 4-5 year Pre-K room.  They just brush off his aloofness as being his personality, saying he's a loner and just likes to do his own thing. Well, I've seen him many times strike up conversations and initiate play with complete strangers. But he usually seeks out kids a few years older. I've asked him why he doesn't talk to his classmates or play with them and he responded with "they just don't like to play my games, mommy. So I just like to play by myself." Money well spent...NOT.  

Anyway, my question is how can I approach this situation a little more directly without seeming like some sort of pushy parent? This whole experience has me very discouraged and is really making me thing homeschooling is the only option with Sullivan. 

I appreciate your input and advice.  This isn't really something I can talk to my local friends about without sounding uppity. KWIM?

Thank you!

post #2 of 11

I tend not to take the mainline view on social stuff with gifted kids.  The thinking generally goes that the cognitive abilities are generally better met socially with older kids.  Well, yes, sometimes.  However, it is an important set of skills to know how to play with other kids, and when a kid tends to avoid all the kids in a group -- not just a few, or even just interact with 1 or 2, but all the kids -- then as a parent, I interpret this as a skill my child is lacking.


I would open a discussion with the preschool teachers along these lines as a result:  "I'm seeing a reluctance to join in and interact with other children.  What do you observe in my child with regards to his social skills?  What can you do to work on these weaknesses?"


Preschool isn't a place for academics.  It's a place to learn how to interact with other kids.  If this learning isn't being guided, it's time to step in and request that it be.  If they are trying to guide him and he's not making progress, then it's time to seek out an evaluation or take a closer look to see if the school's teachers have the appropriate early educational background and experience, and seek out a school that does. 

post #3 of 11



I teach 3 yr old preschool so maybe I have some insight for you. A few questions:


What format is the preschool? Some preschool settings/curriculums facilitate social skills more than others. 

Has he been exposed to other kids his age often? If so, how did that  go?

How often does he attend preschool? There is a difference is he is going 2x a week vs 5 days a week.

What is the age range? Being oldest in a 2-3s room is different than youngest in a room of 3-4s.


I will say, that by nature 2-3 yr old often still parallel play (by by peers instead of with) but will interact with adults. Adults are predictable, often 'play' the way the child asks, and are positive overall in responses. Other 2-3 year olds--- not so much! Kiddos that are around other age-similar peers often are more comfortable with peers-- eldest or only children often take awhile to adjust to interactions with peers. Many 2-3 yr olds will play by themselves do their own thing at the same location (two kids at water table but doing different things). IF there are young 2s in the room, they may not even have the conversational skills your son seeks- some 2s are still speaking in short phrases.


That said--- any preschool teacher worth their salt will take your concerns seriously. Preschool is and should be about social learning for the most part- especially preschool for 2,3s, and young 4s. She/He should also have some ideas or techniques to help your son start play conversations at school and/or give you some ideas to use at home to practice at school.90% of what I teach at preschool is prosocial play skills (how to ask to play, what to do if someone is playing with something you want, how to wait your turn, how to listen to a story/a question, how to read emotions of peers,  etc) If they  dont, you need a new preschool teacher.


Ask if he can be moved to the 3s room. If he is almost 3, he is likely to do well both socially and academically with peers slightly older.


Also, maybe look for a muti-age preschool. That often is a great solution for kiddos of one age that do well with older kids/role models and also do well with mixed age play settings.


Just some thoughts!

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

I feel like maybe I'm missing something, too.  We are military, so we move around a lot and don't have a ton of friends his age for me to let him play with in this fairly new town. So, maybe his inability to relate is partially on me and our lifestyle. Maybe I should reach out to some of the moms in his class and set up playdates?

What kind of answers do you think would be satisfactory?  Like I mentioned, I've only brought it up in passing so far.  They've just determined it to be his personality.  Maybe I should bring it up to the director instead of his teachers. Would that seem as though I'm going behind their backs?

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

To KCMichigan:  
   I appreciate your professional input!  Lots of great perspective.  Most other preschools in our area don't take children until they turn 3, so maybe after his birthday next month, I'll start looking for some more options.  The only multi-age preschool is the local Montessori and we just can't afford that.  He goes to a preschool that is through a church. 


I really do think he would fair very well in the 3-4 year old room.  He's not the oldest of the 2-3s, but there are only 3 kids older than him and the rest are turning 3 in the spring.



My mind is rambling.  

Party of me thinks I'm crazy for worrying about this. It's just PRESCHOOL!  Maybe I just need to pull him and wait for him to be old enough for kindergarten and see how that goes. 

post #6 of 11

I always go to the teachers first.  Always.

Anytime I go to the director (my kids are school age, so principal), I give the teacher a heads up.  I always cast it as "I'm wondering if there's something else to be brought to this issue, so I mentioned it to the principal, just thought I'd give you a heads up."  I always act in such a way as to maintain a positive relationship with the teacher, one based on mutual trust and respect.   To go further, I've started to have to have discussions with the superintendent and the director of intervention services.  I *always* alert the principal of my communications, always in a positive manner, and as I go up the chain, I'm always clear to report on what I think is going right as well.

Answers that you're looking for are ones that (1) are based in what's developmentally appropriate, (2) show that the teacher is aware of your child's strengths and weaknesses (though might not be what you've observed or have been told by your child - they are different at home, and kids are not reliable reporters), and (3) cast the child's abilities in context of what's developmentally appropriate. 


Playdates always help.  So does giving your child a script or set of things he can say in certain situations.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

I will heed your advice and approach the teachers with a little more seriousness.  Like you said, I don't want to tick them off and then have them take it out on my son.  That would be pretty low of them, but you never know what people are going to do.  

There is one mom that I think I'd like to hang out with and do playdates with, but her dh is military and they move at the end of the month.  I haven't really talked to any of the other moms yet. Drop off and pick up are usually pretty chaotic. Geez...maybe it is just his personality. I'm not exactly Miss Socialbutterfly :-P

I love the idea of a script! I'll work on that with him this evening! I'll let my little one be his guinea pig :)

I love this!  I'm so happy to be getting all these great ideas. 

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

UPDATE!  The script idea worked GREAT!!!  He was playing dozers and dump trucks with a classmate when I got there :) My heart was singing!

He also uncovered the 3/4 year old worksheets at some point in the day and completed them successfully (name at the top and all) so they said they'll leave them out for him in case he wants to do them.  This was the best day he's ever had there. I was beginning to doubt things, but this really turned things around.  


Thanks everyone!  Now hopefully this trend continues.

post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by melrose09 View Post

UPDATE!  The script idea worked GREAT!!!  He was playing dozers and dump trucks with a classmate when I got there :) My heart was singing!

He also uncovered the 3/4 year old worksheets at some point in the day and completed them successfully (name at the top and all) so they said they'll leave them out for him in case he wants to do them.  This was the best day he's ever had there. I was beginning to doubt things, but this really turned things around.  


Thanks everyone!  Now hopefully this trend continues.

I am so glad that he had an awesome day!!


Look up social stories, if you need more ideas on scripts. There is a lot you can do with scripted/books to help promote social skills. 



My only concern would be that there are worksheets of any kind- worksheets should not be part of a 3/4 year old program and are frowned-up by most, if not all, programs geared toward better educational programming for preschoolers.  Here is a great link by the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) http://oldweb.naeyc.org/ece/1996/01.asp on the top 10 characteristics of a good preschool program. It is an older link, but if you look at the NAEYC website, the same thing is stated,just not as succinctly. 

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

They are just little trace the letter sheets. They set them up at the tables with some markers for the kids to experiment with during drop off time.  The 2s usually have something like clay or peg boards. (he HATES the clay, though :-P) His school doesn't really do sit down lessons as far as I know. Maybe they do in the Kindergarten room, but I'm not sure about that and not too worried since we will move before he gets there. He LOVED it, though.  He asked her if he could do more, but she didn't have any more ready in that room. 

I do have some concerns that they are pretty old school there, though. I can't really put my finger on it.  I guess it's just a general vibe I get.  It may just be our area. All the preschools I looked into seemed very similar (aside from the Montessori)...Run by sweet little old ladies with nothing but the best of intentions.  I'm really hoping that our next duty station will have better opportunities than this one. For school age kids, there are very limited options.  Aside from the public schools there are 2 very good but very expensive private schools and a tiny charter school.  

post #11 of 11
I think worksheets are fine as long as they aren't forced on anyone. My kids both completed 'trace the letter/number' worksheets from time to time at 3 and 4 years old.
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