I am not sure I know/believe in the criteria for the 'gifted' child, but it is evident that my 2 and 10 months old girl is advanced verbally and socially. She speaks in complex sentences, makes complicated jokes, seeks mental connections actively, is bilingual and successfully initiates play child children as old as 11(!). In the city we live, preschool is a competitive, expensive nightmare. I worked my paperwork-hell ass off to find every loophole...for instance, she qualified for scholarship through the French government to go the the pricey bi-lingual school...but nothing came through. I am also very down to earth and feel that a coop would be great for us- we both need the community. But even those have a pricetag that is high for me as a grad student who got laid off- in part due to the chaos with her father (he ducked on childcare responsibilities with no notice, didnt help out at all, I went back to work teaching college SOOO sleep deprived and stressed out). How how how can I find quality resources for my kid? As she gets older, scholarships sure, but merit based scholarships for a 3 year old?! My heart is sinking thinking I may not be able to provide what would help her excel.
First of all, let me assure you that if you value education (and the fact that you are in grad school yourself tells me you do), a lack of money won't stop her from learning and excelling. I went to a crappy public school and I came out better than I should have because my parents instilled in me an enthusiasm for learning. That said, I think that you are probably doing everything you can to afford her every opportunity. And kudos to you mama, for that! I wish I had more practical advice, but I am not there yet, so I have no practical experience with that situation. Still, I thought I ought to give you some encouragement.
Money is most certainly not required to provide enriching learning experiences for a child. Museums, libraries, parks, zoos, festivals, even lessons like dance, art, or sports are not expensive. I went to a crappy public school, had disinterested/dysfunctional parents, and excelled at academics. Practically on the street at 15, I earned a full merit scholarship to a prestigious boarding school. You are smart, you will find a way to get whatever you want. Sounds like you have connections at the university. Our local university has free/low cost little museums and summer camps for school-age kids.