I think my 2 1/2 year old can read, what now? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 02:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, I'm new to this forum and not sure if this is the right place to ask, but I thought it might be.

Tonight my almost 2 1/2 year old ds read something to me. I have suspected before that he can read, but this was the clearest evidence so far. He brought a sticker over that said, "I am speed." there were no visual cues about the words, we've never read the sticker before and I'm not sure that we've ever seen that phrase written before. I am convinced the only way he could have said those words is to have read them.

So, my question is: what do I do now?! I'm pretty blown away at what I saw. We read all the time and he loves his books. But really, what do you do with a toddler who you think can read?

He's not in any sort of daycare/preschool. I'm considering starting him in a Montessori school because I worry/sense sometimes that he might be bored at home with me.

What advice do you have? What would be best to do for him? Thanks!
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#2 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 03:01 AM
 
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I don't know if there's anything specific to do next but keep reading.

We have liked Montessori a lot, but not as much as I thought.
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#3 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 03:05 AM
 
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It can be amazingly hard to tell when they are reading at this age. At 2 1/2 yo, I bought DS a set of Bob Books. They were just the right length for him and not too scary or upsetting.

He also started Montessori at 2 1/2 yo. He's been very happy with it. He was very bored at home, and expressed a great ddesire to go to preschool after we visited an open house at one.

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#4 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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Honestly, I don't think that there is anything major that needs to be done with a child of that age other than what any other AP parent would do: follow his cues as to what he needs and wants to do with his time so he is happy. We found that the only modifications needed for a gifted baby/toddler/preschooler were those related to dd's intensity. She needed an atypical amount of attention due to tantrums, sensitivity, and inability to process the intense emotions she had at that age. Dd#2 didn't seem to require that same amount of assistance with navigating her emotions, though.

The point where I started to do something different than I would for any other child in terms of academics was when school became a problem due to the differences in the way or speed at which they learned. I'd say that you've got a few years before you need to worry too much about how his academic abilities are impacting his emotional wellbeing. Like you said, though, if he is expressing an interest in more mental stimulation than he is getting at home now, you can either do more with him (mommy & me classes, library events, etc.) or you can give a try with the Montessori preschool and see how he likes it.

Good luck .
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#5 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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Welcome! Sounds like you're on the right track with him! Starting to look around at preschools now is a great idea. See if there are any nearby that fit your lifestyle, budget and child's needs.

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#6 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
He's not in any sort of daycare/preschool. I'm considering starting him in a Montessori school because I worry/sense sometimes that he might be bored at home with me.

What advice do you have? What would be best to do for him? Thanks!
My advice is to enjoy it! Take him to the library and have fun letting him pick out books he likes. Don't forget that he will still want you to read to him. Don't worry if he goes through a stage of not wanting to read. You may find that what he wants to read is dependent on things like font style and size more than subject matter.

I don't think you necessarily need preschool. In fact, it can be a little tough for a very bright preschooler to fit in. It is hard for them to understand when the other kids aren't into the same things they are. Our daughter did Montessori at that age and mostly hung around the teachers. She enjoyed it until she had finished all the work in the room. Then she became somewhat depressed. It worked for awhile, and in a different school might have worked out for longer. Just don't assume it will be 'the' answer.

I'd start checking out library story times, younger kid classes at the library and local museums. Mom's groups can sometimes be a good source for finding friends. You may find that a few playdates and outside activities fulfill his needs. If not, then you might check out the local Montessori or creative play based preschools.
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#7 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 01:11 PM
 
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One thing I wouldn't do is enroll him in preschool for the purpose of academics or assume that he needs it because he is gifted. If you do want him to be in preschool, go for it, but look for one that is play-based rather than academic.

Otherwise, just keep playing. As your post demonstrates, these kids teach themselves. Take him to the library and let him pick out some books. And try not to make a big deal out the fact that he can read.
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#8 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 02:12 PM
 
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One thing I wouldn't do is enroll him in preschool for the purpose of academics or assume that he needs it because he is gifted. If you do want him to be in preschool, go for it, but look for one that is play-based rather than academic.

Otherwise, just keep playing. As your post demonstrates, these kids teach themselves. Take him to the library and let him pick out some books. And try not to make a big deal out the fact that he can read.


Particularly the bolded.

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#9 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 02:21 PM
 
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I would just offer him play opportunities. My brother taught himself to read and write and my mom was really laid back about it. She gave him little activity books. And of course birthdays and christmas were filled with presents such as notebooks, books he wanted and fun pens and pencils.

When my sister after him did the same thing, my mom thought maybe she should start schooling her, but backed off quickly b/c it seemed to stress her out and dampen things. There's something really different between a toddler discovering on his own versus sitting in a chair doing flashcards, learning phonics, filling out worksheets, etc. Unschooling really helps give them the most without squashing the love of it.

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#10 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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Subbing. My 2.5 year old surprised me by "reading" something a little while ago. Then when he was bored on a bus ride, he started pointing out (correctly) letters on the bus window.

At this point he definitely recognizes about 8 letters, and is pretty close on another five or so. We also practice baby sign, and have been finger-spelling the alphabet when we sing it ever since birth. He's now starting to finger-spell as well as sing.

My MIL bought some Sesame Street alphabet flash cards. I do NOT use them as a quiz or drill, he doesn't need that. Mostly we just let him play with them, answer questions, say the letter/word if he holds it out for me. But when he's in the mood, that's one way we can tell what letters he knows.

DH and I were both early readers, but I don't think we were this early. DH was at a Montessori preschool. My father drilled me on reading when I was 4. (How I learned to enjoy reading seems a miracle ) I prefer the Montessori method, and plan to keep on following his cues.

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#11 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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My daughter read a couple of things when she was that age and I just ignored it until she was 3.5. At that point we started doing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy lessons. She already knew the letter sounds from Starfall.com so this was fun for her, every day she'd ask to do the "teaching book". She sped through the first 70 and then didn't want to do them anymore, so we stopped. Again, I just left it at that.

She turned 4 in December and has started to read all sorts of random items, signs, wrappers, mail and of course books. Essentially I just went with what she was interested in and dropped it when she got bored. I didn't want to push her at any time.

So basically I agree with what everyone else said, you don't really need to do anything at this age, just wait and see what he makes of it.
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#12 of 35 Old 02-16-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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Just enjoy it and be sensitive to his cues. He doesn't suddenly need "school" and special programs. He can learn so much with you.

My youngest recognized his own name at 2.5 (without any prompting from us--he just looked it one day and said "Hey! That spells Biruk! That's me!". He pretty much had the alphabet and letter sounds figured out at age 2. He loooooved Starfall for a long time, but then got bored with it. Mostly what I do for him is give him lots of access to books, letter games, alphabet puzzles, and pbs. He's so happy. When we go out he always, always excitedly points out letters and we talk about the words they make (stop-signs are a good place to start, building word recognition and practicing sounding a word out). Every once in a while, when he's interested, I will sit at the table with him, and a piece of paper, and we'll go over the words he knows, and maybe add one more. Today we did that and the word he wanted to learn was "box"--he likes to box.
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#13 of 35 Old 02-17-2010, 12:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all your responses! I felt like I was sort of over-reacting- I know not to push him and I really haven't tried to teach him letters or reading, he just seems to get it without much intervention by me! For his second birthday, I thought he might enjoy an alphabet puzzle, Melissa & Doug, upper and lower case. Within a month or so, he knew all the letters and would make a distinction between the "super tall" letters and the "teeny tiny" letters. I really didn't think much of it, it came so easily and naturally, without any "drill" on my part. I just follow his lead.

The funny thing, I guess, is that I used to teach 2nd grade and then was a reading specialist, so I know how to teach someone to read, just not someone so little. And I'm not exactly thinking I should teach him to read, I know that generally, it will happen fairly naturally. I think mainly, I just don't want him to feel bored(which I suspect he has lately), and I want him to have the right amount of input/stimulation without feeling pressure to perform.

I am highly drawn towards unschooling and have pretty much planned on homeschooling, but want to make sure I am equipped to provide a challenging enough environment to nurture the love of learning that he has. IOW, I don't want to push too hard, nor push/provide too little because I wasn't ready for where he was.

It just sort of threw me off realizing that he can read, however much it is, and I wanted some input as to what I should be doing! Thank you all and keep the ideas coming!
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#14 of 35 Old 02-17-2010, 03:24 AM
 
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I am highly drawn towards unschooling and have pretty much planned on homeschooling, but want to make sure I am equipped to provide a challenging enough environment to nurture the love of learning that he has.
It's not just about challenge level. I pretty sure I provide more complex intellectual stimulation for DS at home. We play with his abacus; I read books about the solar system, anatomy, cells, chemistry to him; he reads thing to me or his stuffed bunny; we go to museums, zoos, nature centers, historical reenactments; etc, etc. But all that just isn't enough for him. It's more about the extra volume of intellectual stimulation school provides than about it being higher quality than what I provide.

Just to day we had a very stimulating day off from school (winter break.) After we got up, we got Grandpa from his house. We then all took the bus into the city with DS narrating the entire journey. When we got to the bus station we discussed the difference between a bus terminal and a bus stop. Then DS looked for the pigeons that live in the bus station that he remember from last time we were there. Then we took the subway down town, this involved looking at the subway map insisting that he really wanted to take a (C) train instead of a (B) train, transferring trains and reading all the warnings about not leaning on doors and such. Once we made it to the Natural History museum we visited 5 or 6 galleries only stopping briefly to eat. We then took the subway back up town. Then there was much chasing of pigeons around the bus station while we waited for our bus. He read Hop On Pop on the way home. After walking home from the bus stop through deep snow, he rearranged the refridgeratore magnets and showed grandpa (who was completely exhausted) one of his new toys and had a bite to eat. We then took grandpa to his house and picked up DH from his therapist. Once we were home again DS got to finish a toy train he made from a kit (we needed to borrow a mallet from grandpa) and played with it for a while. After eating dinner you'd think he'd collapse from exhaustion, wouldn't you, but no. He got on the computer and pulled up Nick Jr's website.

Even on days he goes to school I usually take him some where after school. In nice weather we'll go to a playground or a nature center or the local zoo. In bad weather we'll go to Ikea, the library or something. Sometimes on fridays when the Met is open late we go there after school. I have just as many museum and zoo memberships as homeschoolers do, and DS is also signed up for additional classes/activities usually like right now he takes a gymnastics class before school on fridays and he goes to occupational therapy on mondays before school. It very much like I homeschool him and he goes to school.

Frankly DS school is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to his thirst for interaction, stimulation, activity, etc.

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#15 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 01:59 AM
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Enjoy it! I know how you feel; it's like, you want to provide stimulation but it's a bit odd to be thinking of that KIND of "academic" stimulation for a BABY. DD is in the same boat. One thing that's helped has been, in addition to reading all the books she wants, LONG picture books, chapter books, baby books, whatever-- we got some good easy readers from the library, like Seuss and Mo Willems, with a bunch of words she can read, sitting there in big font often on their own. She likes being able to read just some of them, or read together with me. Sometimes she just wants me to read the whole thing, but wants to be able to follow along visually. In the past she'd get ticked when she couldn't tell which word was saying something and this helped her take it a bit at time. It's also fun to each take a character in the Elephant and Piggie books to read aloud
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#16 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 02:10 AM
 
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I don't want to worry you in anyway shape or form but hyperlexia is something to look at. There are different types of people with this, and some are completely typical so it doesn't mean you should automatically worry. Plus its probably nothing, but I wanted to give you a heads up rather than ignore the possible implications.

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#17 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 02:20 AM
 
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I don't want to worry you in anyway shape or form but hyperlexia is something to look at. There are different types of people with this, and some are completely typical so it doesn't mean you should automatically worry. Plus its probably nothing, but I wanted to give you a heads up rather than ignore the possible implications.
Eh now you have me worried! DD can identify some words and has been trying to spell words out lately. She is 15 months and has only just now started talking coherently in 2-3 words batches like "want agua" or "go play now."



I know my parents always have kept an eye on my little brother b/c he stims when he is stressed out and often gets overwhelmed trying to communicate emotions. No other real "difficulties" that would point to ASD, but he is definitely what someone would call "intense."

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#18 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 02:34 AM
 
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I don't want to worry you in anyway shape or form but hyperlexia is something to look at. There are different types of people with this, and some are completely typical so it doesn't mean you should automatically worry. Plus its probably nothing, but I wanted to give you a heads up rather than ignore the possible implications.
Now you have me worried! I have a brother with Asperger's, and DH has a cousin, so ASD's are a possibility. But he's so affectionate with us.

At 29 months his speech is... interesting. He seems to comprehend a LOT, he babbles all the time, and he sings, but it's usually the combination of words, signs, and (with singing) the rhythm that clue me into the meaning.

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#19 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 06:55 AM
 
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Sounds like you are doing great with your toddler.

My daughter is about the same age as your son and is also reading some. She has known the alphabet in phonetics ("a" rather than "A") since she was 18 months and since she shows and interest in reading we have shown her how to sound out words. Today she read "o" "p" "o" "s" "i" "t" "e" "s" and somehow came out with "opposites" though she may remember what the book was called. The other thing I do with my daughter is read a story to her and let her fill in the blanks sometimes if I know she knows the word. We just never make her do anything she doesn't want to do as far as reading goes (she still has to brush her teeth and sit at the table and come inside and go to bed even when she doesn't want to)

I also look for books she may be able to read (level 1 readers) and hand them over and then watch her try to read them - sometimes she reads the words, and sometimes she just points to the pictures and tells her own story. If she asks for help, I help her.

Just go with your gut and do what interests your child and don't worry about it.
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#20 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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I don't want to worry you in anyway shape or form but hyperlexia is something to look at. There are different types of people with this, and some are completely typical so it doesn't mean you should automatically worry. Plus its probably nothing, but I wanted to give you a heads up rather than ignore the possible implications.
I want to clarify that children with hyperlexia are not "typical." Hyperlexia is a syndrome in which children have both early reading and significant delays. I don't think it is worth even thinking about unless the reading is developmentally inappropriate (i.e., the child is able to read more than he or she can speak and/or comprehend). It certainly does not apply to a gifted child who displays normal, but early, reading ability commensurate with his or her other language skills.
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#21 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 02:19 PM
 
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I want to clarify that children with hyperlexia are not "typical." Hyperlexia is a syndrome in which children have both early reading and significant delays. I don't think it is worth even thinking about unless the reading is developmentally inappropriate (i.e., the child is able to read more than he or she can speak and/or comprehend). It certainly does not apply to a gifted child who displays normal, but early, reading ability commensurate with his or her other language skills.
http://www.nldline.com/hyperlexia.htm
At this point, two forms of hyperlexia have been identified. Both exhibit superior visual memory. The first is more of a language disorder. These children have problems with expressive language because they cannot understand the overall meaning of words. At first, their reading comprehension may appear good because it has been masked by excellent memorization skills (1997). They tend to have a lower verbal IQ, making more phonetic errors when reading compared to the second form of hyperlexia (1997). These children with hyperlexia that show a language disorder highly resembling an autistic child, but this similarity diminishes over time secondary to language therapy. These children are mostly typical over time, comparable to children with dyslexia. For some intervention is needed, but not for others. Verbal IQ, is not total IQ and does not mark a long term issue. Also this is a language disorder and may not be coupled with significant delays in any other area.

The second form of hyperlexia is a visual-spatial learning disorder. These children seem to have normal language, but have difficulty cognitively interpreting the language and expressions as they see or hear them. Therefore, they exhibit deficits in visual motor integration skills, visual spacial orientation skills, and spatial memory skills (1997). These are coupled with other diagnoses, such as autism.

Personally I think anything atypical is worth just checking in with, like me for example, I had a very high verbal IQ and was a great reader (in 3rd grade) but couldn't spell very well. They looked and found I had dyslexia. Didn't change anything other than they stopped worrying about my spelling and handwriting. Plus, if there is something wrong the sooner help is given the better the prognosis over time.

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#22 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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Both these groups of children show significant deficits at the time of diagnosis. I am certainly not suggesting that parents who suspect a problem ignore it. I am only suggesting that early reading alone, without any other issue, is not a matter of concern.
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#23 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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I'm sorry to disagree with you. I have seen children without significant delays have aspergers. Initially the only clue may be hyperlexia and as the child ages more may come out. I guess maybe there can be debate on the definition of significant delay. Especially when your talking about a child that young. Some kids are clearly delayed, others will only be noticed by professionals, such as how a child reasons, even if the answer is the same as typical peers.

I don't mean to push, but developmental psychology is my primary field. specifically early childhood development and its relation to autism spectrum disorder. I have seen many children who others think are typical, but have signs that only get larger with age, and if caught early than it can make a world of difference.

It very well could be that these children are going to be typical, or not. I have seen far to many people, including pediatricians say, "they seem close enough to typical wait a while and see what happens." On one hand they may out grow it, on the other the may not other things may crop and then you've lost the time it took to decide to do something.

Early reading alone may not be an issue, but you need to be aware of what else to look for in order to spot if there are in fact other issues.

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#24 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 06:51 PM
 
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The bottom line is that all the definitions I've ever seen of hyperlexia, including the one you quoted, require a significant delay. The idea that early readers need to see specialists because they may have significant delays that their parents are incapable of noticing strikes me as totally ridiculous. And if they do not have significant delays they are simply early readers.

I think it's great that you want to educate the parents of early readers about hyperlexia and I'd love to see a post, or perhaps a new thread, in which you identify the specific signs parents ought to look for. What I don't think is helpful is to throw out the term and imply that early reading alone ought to be enough to cause concern. Early reading is common enough (especially on this board) that it should be clear that in most cases there is absolutely no associated problem (unless you want to call giftedness a problem).
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#25 of 35 Old 02-18-2010, 07:59 PM
 
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I'm sorry to disagree with you. I have seen children without significant delays have aspergers. Initially the only clue may be hyperlexia and as the child ages more may come out. I guess maybe there can be debate on the definition of significant delay. Especially when your talking about a child that young. Some kids are clearly delayed, others will only be noticed by professionals, such as how a child reasons, even if the answer is the same as typical peers.

I don't mean to push, but developmental psychology is my primary field. specifically early childhood development and its relation to autism spectrum disorder. I have seen many children who others think are typical, but have signs that only get larger with age, and if caught early than it can make a world of difference.

It very well could be that these children are going to be typical, or not. I have seen far to many people, including pediatricians say, "they seem close enough to typical wait a while and see what happens." On one hand they may out grow it, on the other the may not other things may crop and then you've lost the time it took to decide to do something.

Early reading alone may not be an issue, but you need to be aware of what else to look for in order to spot if there are in fact other issues.
If a child I knew was dx'd with aspegers and the only sign of it was early reading, I would be more likely to question the dx than to conclude that early reading was a very significant indicator of ASD. Honestly I think the dx is bandied about and handed out way too easily these days.

My nephew has aspegers. There were all kinds of signs that something was going on from toddlerhood on. He was actually a somewhat late reader in a family with a number of early readers. No, none of the early readers in the family have any ASD or LD. All of the family members with dx/likely ASD or LD were typical or late readers.

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Ditto to No5 and eepster. The last thing parents of gifted kids need is to have every sign of giftedness turned into some kind of disorder. I'm not disputing hyperlexia is a real disorder, but I will say I've heard it suggested again and again for gifted kids who simply do not have it. For obvious reasons therapists are often taught more about delays than about gifts so some assume if something is atypical it must be evidence of a disorder. Yes, some kids who read really early have excellent visual memories, that makes perfect sense. Kids don't all develop evenly some kids crack the code early and run with it. The one thing that didn't intuitively occur to me with early reading that is worth considering is that some kids who read really early turn out to be quite good at math. That ability to crack the code can be a kind of thinking that also works well in math too.

To the original poster - I would encourage you to keep it low key and just enjoy it. It is nice when kids figure stuff us and save us the work. I don't think this is a sure sign the child needs preschool. It can be fun but there are plenty of other alternatives to get out and about - playgroup, story time at the library, playdates, etc.
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#27 of 35 Old 02-19-2010, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here, thank you for the lively discussion, if a bit OT. I agree that another thread with info about what specifically to look for with hyperlexia could be useful, otherwise it begins to sound like any early reading qualifies. I did look online for some info/characteristics but actually found them a bit vague. And honestly, I don't think the info I saw applies to my child. His verbal expression and comprehension is quite good and I'm not seeing wild feats of reading here. Just enough that leads me to believe that he has the ability to read many words when he chooses to do so. He seems to have a way of not revealing the fullness of his skill all at once.

I suppose my main question was not so much about preschool/not preschool(I had already been considering it before this question arose), but how do I best support him? He has been expressing frustration with not being able to read- he'll pick up a book and say, "I can't read it." Mostly rather matter of factly but that coupled with him reading some things that I wouldn't expect makes me wonder if he's trying to ask me to teach him to read and wants more or if he's satisfied with his own learning. The last things I want to do, as I said above, are either encourage him to do something he's really not ready to do or not provide him with the support to do something he is ready to do. That's my real dilemma. I do follow his lead in most everything and try to give him lots of opportunities to exert control over his environment- I lean much more towards consensual living and unschooling than I ever realized(I didn't even know there was a term for it until I came here!). So I guess I'm just fretting out loud over not being responsive enough and not making something joyful into something boring, yk? Anyway, thanks for all the interesting and supportive responses. You just want to make all the right choices for your kids and ultimately, we can only do the best we can. So I come to you all for advice and to see if there's anything I can do better. Thank you!
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#28 of 35 Old 02-19-2010, 02:25 AM
 
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I suppose my main question was not so much about preschool/not preschool(I had already been considering it before this question arose), but how do I best support him? He has been expressing frustration with not being able to read- he'll pick up a book and say, "I can't read it." Mostly rather matter of factly but that coupled with him reading some things that I wouldn't expect makes me wonder if he's trying to ask me to teach him to read and wants more or if he's satisfied with his own learning. The last things I want to do, as I said above, are either encourage him to do something he's really not ready to do or not provide him with the support to do something he is ready to do. That's my real dilemma. I do follow his lead in most everything and try to give him lots of opportunities to exert control over his environment- I lean much more towards consensual living and unschooling than I ever realized(I didn't even know there was a term for it until I came here!). So I guess I'm just fretting out loud over not being responsive enough and not making something joyful into something boring, yk? Anyway, thanks for all the interesting and supportive responses. You just want to make all the right choices for your kids and ultimately, we can only do the best we can. So I come to you all for advice and to see if there's anything I can do better. Thank you!
Thats the great thing about getting a few early readers like bob books. They are fun easy and most of all not intimidating. You don't need to force them in any way, just provide them for him.

DS also just loved to play on starfall.com.

Timmy's Mommy WARNINGyslexic typing with help of preschooler, beware of typos
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#29 of 35 Old 02-19-2010, 11:33 AM
 
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He has been expressing frustration with not being able to read- he'll pick up a book and say, "I can't read it." Mostly rather matter of factly but that coupled with him reading some things that I wouldn't expect makes me wonder if he's trying to ask me to teach him to read and wants more or if he's satisfied with his own learning. The last things I want to do, as I said above, are either encourage him to do something he's really not ready to do or not provide him with the support to do something he is ready to do. That's my real dilemma.
It's probably even harder for you given that you teach reading, eh?

I had a few talking points when DD was just learning to read. We talked about how reading is a process--how you start off learning how to read just a little bit and then the more you learn the more you can read. I said that I have been reading for so long that I can now read almost anything written in English, but she has only been reading for a little while. We talked about how everyone learns differently (and it did help that DH is dyslexic and is obviously a less fluent reader than I am). We talked about how if DD wants to read a book I can always help her with words she gets stuck on. You might add that many people learn to read with lessons, and that if he ever wants a lesson you can give him one. (Personally, I wasn't really keen on that, and it wasn't long before it became clear that DD would never need a lesson, so I'm glad I never suggested it.)
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#30 of 35 Old 02-19-2010, 12:00 PM
 
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Thats the great thing about getting a few early readers like bob books. They are fun easy and most of all not intimidating. You don't need to force them in any way, just provide them for him.

DS also just loved to play on starfall.com.
I just have to put in another plug for bob books, we love them. DS is reading them before bed when he wants to. They're easy and make him smile!
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