I was thinking about starting a new thread in Parenting Issues, another spin-off, if you will. Then it occured to me that it might not be appropriate... so I was hoping to get some opinions on it here, first.
What are we *supposed* to do? (re: gifted infants/toddlers/children)
There have been some threads here discussing giftedness in very young children. Forgetting, for a moment, the highly charged nature of the word "gifted" and the problem of identification, what is the parent of a child who shows remarkable/exceptional abilities at a very young age supposed to do, in your own ideal world? I'll start with an example of a (hypothetical) child:
Child L: Despite her complicated, medicated birth, CL was awake and alert from her earlist moments. At two weeks of age, she rolled from her back to her belly and proceeded to wriggle to the edge of her mother's bed; she would have fallen off if her mother had not been paying attention. This was not an accident, and CL continued to roll over and wriggle about, mastering the army crawl ("creeping") by two months of age and finally crawling on hands and knees at four months.
Around the same time, CL uttered her first meaningful word-- her own name. She quickly followed with other important words ("nurzh," "poopy," "baby," etc) which were occasionally slurred but were still easily understandable, not only by her parents but by perfect strangers. By six months, she was stringing two and three words together; she shocked several people in a grocery store by hollering, "L nurzh NOW!"
At nine months, CL was constantly pulling up on furniture to walk around ("cruising") but refused to let go unless she was distracted by something interesting. Everything seemed fascinating, and she could often be found standing next to her toy box examining an object with particular interest. She could look at a picture book for 45 minutes, turning pages, tracing the giant letters, and chatting happily with the pictures. When her mother came in to tell her that it was time for dinner, she would often have a complete meltdown as the book or toy was taken away from her. In a matter of seconds she would change from a calm, relaxed, happy child into a screaming, flailing mass of arms and legs.
On her first birthday, she was walking well and easily, was able to blow out her candle on the first try, and applauded as she exclaimed, "Happy birthday, L!" She talked to her parents and grandparents and sang the alphabet song to them. When she finished opening her presents, she took the wrapping paper to the trash on her own and put it in. Then she played with her new toys and books, one at a time, for the rest of the afternoon, with only a minor meltdown when she was asked if she was ready to be changed and eat dinner.
By 15 months, CL was trying desperately to read but was unable to make the connections. Whenever her mother would sit down to read a book, CL would fly into her face, point to letters and words and demand, "What's this? Read it to me!" With any book at all, if her mother was not reading out loud CL would insist upon it. At 18 months, she asked her mother if the letter "b" always made the same sound in a word; after being told that it generally did, she went through all of her books one at a time pointing out the letter "b" wherever it appeared in words and asking her mother, "What's this one say?" When her mother became tired of this game after two hours, CL had a complete meltdown. Her mother guiltily gave her a dose of tylenol, changed her diaper and nursed her to sleep.
Still, CL learned quickly and easily the sounds that all of the letters made, and was reading phonetically regular words easily and fluently as well as many "sight words" at 22 months. By this time, she was also talking a blue streak to anyone who would stop to listen. By her second birthday, she was able to use the VCR and DVD player on her own. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she was unable to choose between a princess theme and a space theme. Her parents ended up having a small, Princesses in Space party, which she loved.
I'll stop here because the question that I'm asking pertains to young/very young children and infants. What is CL's mother supposed to do? How should she have handled things differently? Would it be totally irrational or unnecessary in your mind to label this child as "gifted?" Perhaps she's just precocious, and her mother "coerced" her into reading so early just by having a lot of books in the house?
Do you really think that it would be fair to CL or her mother to say something like, "Don't worry, by the time she's 8 years old, she'll have evened out and she'll be just like everyone else?" Do you honestly believe that's true?
I chose to use a hypothetical highly/profoundly gifted child to illustrate my point, but I could just as easily have done it with BeanBean or BooBah or myself or a family member; would that be better, or worse? I honestly do want opinions on this, I'm just not sure how to ask.