What are some emotional/discipline characteristics of a gifted toddler? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 12-19-2010, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know my dd is very bright but I'm not willing to say she is incredibly gifted at this point.  It's just early.  She is 2 and will be 2 1/2 at the beginning of Jan.  Her verbal skills are advanced and her daycare teachers seemed pretty surprised by her ability to communicate.  I guess she is way ahead of the other kids and even helping them a little with things like colors and numbers.

 

She has a very active imagination and has a pretty long attention span as far as reading books and listening to stories.  She loves to talk about the stories and modify them in her play.   She's not big into toys, which can be frustrating b/c I'm always searching for things for her to do... especially on her own for a few minutes.  She'll often play with whatever everyday things she finds in the room we are in (like spreading pine cones on the floor to feed the dinosaurs), but she is much more interested in interaction with us.  

 

I guess my question would be:

If she is speaking and understanding language more on a 3 year-old level, then what do I expect of her emotional development?  We are having a lot of issues with her tantrums and "will" at this point, but I keep hearing that the 3's are worse than the 2's.  

 

I guess I'm wondering if we are already in the 3's, if you know what I mean?  It may all just be personality, but I am just wondering about the experiences of others when dealing with these areas.  I don't know if it really makes much difference or not in deciding how to proceed with the discipline aspect, but knowing more about what is behind her behavior would be helpful to me.

 

Is it possible that some discipline issues could come from boredom?  I guess I need a list of things to do with her.  

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#2 of 15 Old 12-20-2010, 12:14 PM
 
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I have four gifted kids, though only one has been tested; she hovers around the highly-to-extremely gifted line. What you describe sounds very much like my kids in some respects (long attention span, lack of interest in toys) but we didn't have the precocious language ability (two of my kids were somewhat early, two were very late, with just a half dozen words at 2.5 years) and we didn't have the tantrums at all except in my eldest who had sensory issues. I would characterize all of my kids as emotionally fairly mature. Two are exceptionally emotionally sensitive, one is about average and one is exceptionally emotionally resilient. 

 

I think that while there may be some broad trends across populations of gifted kids, the individual variation based on temperament and personality is so much greater, and as a result you can't generalize those trends to your specific child. 

 

Discipline-wise I have chosen a democratic, non-punitive, "positive discipline" approach after realizing that a punitive approach not only felt wrong, but left me engaged in intractable control battles with my first very smart and exceedingly tenacious 2-year-old. We've all been very happy with this approach.

 

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#3 of 15 Old 12-20-2010, 12:42 PM
 
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You can't really try to determine a child's emotional level by where they are intellectually. Gifted kids are notorious for being many ages at once or asynchronous development. They may be 3 chonologically, speak like a 5-year-old and tantrum like a 2-year-old. You just have to treat her in a way she responds too.

 

My eldest was highly verbal but never had tantrums or behavioral issues. Any problems we had we just talked through. She was very independant and actually preffered to do things on her own than with others at that age. She would discuss life and death with such frankness and maturity then 2-seconds later break down sobbing because her craft project took a wrong turn. DS was very difficult at that age. He was later speaker but by your DD's age, he was quite advanced verbally. His need for interaction was intense. He was extremely stubborn and could get SOOO angry. Preschool helped a great deal. He went just before his 3rd birthday. Having all those kids and teachers to interact with 2 mornings a week really calmed him down at home plus gave myself (major introvert) a real break. Things didn't fully turn-a-round until age 5 when his doctor reccomended occupational therapy for his sensitivies and eating issues. WOW, that made a HUGE difference for us.

 

I guess my point is, you have to interact with her based on who she is at the moment. Don't worry about what the books say. They can offer ideas but all those guidelines broken down by age may be pretty useless.


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#4 of 15 Old 12-20-2010, 01:30 PM
 
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We have an almost 2,5 y old as well, and with him it goes in phases. He had some difficult weeks where he was having lots of tantrums and now he seems to be out of it, we're enjoying this helpful and sweet phase he is in now. We basically just sit it out, as his tantrums (when not hunger-related) are usually about him trying to figure something out that is too difficult still. He's trying to learn English (he's raised in German and Dutch) as we speak English in DH business. He got mad at me for speaking in English, instead of Dutch or German, so I explained that if he would listen to me talk in English more, he would eventually learn to speak it. He has now accepted that it will take time to learn English, watches dvds in English now and is feeling much better.

 

How we deal with tantrums, usually I try to avoid them, make sure he's not getting hungry and tired. A lot of playful parenting, as he is a two-year-old with a great sense of humor. For example, toothbrushes and wash cloths are little characters in our house that we need to feed from dirty faces and dirty teeth. It makes us go through the day-to-day-stuff without fighting. And I do "yes-days" when we fight too much. I basically say yes to anything, explaining that I don't like to fight with him anymore. It sometimes means he gets more dvd-time and sweets and other stuff we usually avoid, but it helps him to get out of this 'terrible two behaviour' and we can reconnect.

 

When we do have a tantrum, I hold him, cuddle with him and help him take deep breaths. And again playful parenting (there's a book about this, I can really recommend it). I let stuffed animals talk with him when he doesn't want to talk with me. I let stuffed animals do things we don't want DS to do (like whining), so we can talk about it when he's not angry. Redirecting works well for DS (not always). I have this mantra "he is two, I am the adult, breathe" when things get particularly rough. Even though he is advanced with a lot of things, he still is a nursing and co-sleeping two year old who needs mommy and daddy.

 

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#5 of 15 Old 12-20-2010, 10:43 PM
 
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DD will be 2.5 at the beginning of the new year, too.

 

She is also advanced verbally. Today, she saw twins for the first time ever and called them "double babies," told me it was "practically Christmas," and while shopping for DN she said, "We have to find a toy that is appropriate for a not yet two year old.  This is probably for a four year old."  All examples from today.

 

I will try to speak to her behavior as it pertains to discipline right now, and maybe her emotional characteristics some other time.  That would take awhile.

 

She does not and never has tantrumed.  She rarely cries and when she does it is never more than a minute.  She has never thrown herself on the floor, kicked, hit, or thrown things in anger.  (These things I am seeing in DN (22 month old) on a daily basis now.  We just moved out here.)     It seems a simple explanation would have worked with my DD, but you cannot reason with DN at all.  DN has a large vocabulary and puts together 3-4 words, but still does not speak in sentences or seem to be able to communicate her wants and needs as well as DD did at that age. 

 

And, DN hasn't even reached the defiant stage yet (that stage came and is just about gone for us now. It was basically the traditional "no" stage and then DD added three sentences outlining why she would not do something on to that.  She would explain why she did not want ice cream, and then a second later she would ask for ice cream.  Very irritating.)   

 

I guess our biggest issues right now is probably how DD responds to the behavior of her new playmate.  She is constantly telling her cousin what to do and what she is not allowed to do, and comes up to the adults in the room to demand that we scold DN and get her to stop misbehaving.

 

Wait, wait, wait.  Our biggest issue is getting her to do somehting that she doesn't want to do.  Whereas in the defiant stage she would refuse to do anything just to be defiant, now she is just exerting her will, defining her personality, being who she is...  And, the WORST is getting her to bed.  I am a big proponent of naps and routine, two things we have not had for the past 3 weeks, so I know it is all my fault, but this kid will not go to sleep at night.  She has been getting up at 8 and going to bed close to 11.  And we are go go go all day long, but she does have pleny of opportunity to fall asleep in the car and doesn't.  At bedtime, she will lie next to me sucking her thumb furiously, stroking her blanket with her fingers, with her eyes wide open for over an hour.  Then, she will just pop up and tell me something.  But there are also the things like, getting dressed, brushing hair, allowing me to put her in her car seat...she has NEVER liked doing these things.  But, we are still pretty cool about meeting her halfway on these issues.  We get really creative.  We are pretty permissive.  We try to make everyone happy.

 

We pretty much nipped cursing in the bud a few months back, but now name-calling is becoming more prevalent.  Things like 'stupid,' 'weirdo,' 'nut,' 'stinky...'

 

I, too sometimes wonder where DD's behavior fits developmentally.  I often think things we go through could not be too common among two year olds.  The excessive tattling is really driving me batty!

 

ETA:  Forgot to address toys.  Your DD's play sounds a lot like my DD's.  We have a very simple toy selection of mostly wood and natural toys, all open ended, all with large age-ranges.  Things like cups, blocks, large wooden trucks, wooden animal collection, wooden peg people, 2 baby dolls, and a play kitchen.  She has a ton of books.  She loves lining up her stuffed animals and organizing her rock/crystal/gemstone collection.   Everything has its place and is very organized, not overwhelming.  She can play by herself in her playroom for a very long time.  When she asks for interaction we read books, make puzzles, play board games, do a craft, or look up things on the internet.  Otherwise, she is deep in some imaginitive play or helping me out in th kitchen or whatever I am working on.  I have seen her play with more mainstream toys with less overall interest.  She would kind of push some buttons and move on.  Although, I have been told by a couple of moms that their toddlers would want nothing to do with DD's toys.

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#6 of 15 Old 12-21-2010, 08:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chipper26 View Post

I guess my question would be:

If she is speaking and understanding language more on a 3 year-old level, then what do I expect of her emotional development?  We are having a lot of issues with her tantrums and "will" at this point, but I keep hearing that the 3's are worse than the 2's.  

 

Is it possible that some discipline issues could come from boredom?  I guess I need a list of things to do with her.  



I have a very bright 25 month old who is talking, understanding, etc at a much more advanced level. She also tantrums and is very stubborn. Even though she is advanced, her emotions are very much of a 2 year old (asynchronous development). She also needs to be VERY busy! I do have an older dd and they play together but that only lasts for so long.

 

Here are some things she enjoys doing (all indoor stuff as it's winter and COLD right now):

 

-She likes pasting http://www.dltk-kids.com/

-I bought foam letters from Walmart and she likes sticking them to construction paper

-she likes using the Connect 4 game

-She enjoys watching Dora (when I need a break or am cooking or something)

-we do "snack/story time" - read stories while having a snack

-lots of reading

-she counts EVERYTHING, so I give her things to count

-all the "usual" stuff like puzzles, block building, play doh

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#7 of 15 Old 12-21-2010, 12:15 PM
 
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I agree with PPs.

 

Yes, unruly behaviour can be caused by boredom, but being able to entertain oneself is a great skill.  If you create a situation where you're constantly stimulating her in order to avoid tantrums, you're not doing either of you any favours.  Giving her lots of opportunities to explicitely make choices, along with coaching her in how to deal with her big emotions/feelings, will go a long way.  You're probably not going to be able to extinguish willfulness/tantrums/opposition, but you can proactively use this stage of her development to build intrapersonal skills and over time the frequency and intensity should wane.

 

I highly recommend the book Kids, Parents and Power Struggles.

 

Will is a good thing.  Kids are exploring and testing their world, and being willful is a great expression of emerging independence, or at least trying on being a little autonomous from mom.

 

DD has been willful since birth.  It's just who she is - extremely intense, emotional, sensitive, creative.  She is consistently engaged in a struggle to be self-directed and needing to be connected to me.  It's a lot of fun <sarcasm>.  She is both emotionally mature and attuned to herself and others, while also being overwhelmed by feelings on a regular basis.  It's complicated being her.  I parent her by trying to be respectful, connected and providing leadership.

 

DS was very mellow except for his over-the-top inventions/structures using any available materials from the time he could sit up.  Toys were only used when they could fit into whatever scheme he'd worked up.  He did a lot of hitting in the preschool years due to sensory issues, but other than this was really easy going.  So long as he had time and materials to invent, he was fine.  He was probably seven before I'd really apply the term willful to him, where he was explicitely going in a direction in opposition to me.


Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#8 of 15 Old 12-21-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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Yes, unruly behaviour can be caused by boredom, but being able to entertain oneself is a great skill.  


I very much agree with this. I would make a distinction between boredom in a stifling, controlled environment (where the child has next to no opportunity to find solutions to the boredom) and boredom in an environment of freedom and flexibility. The former is bad for kids, or at least very hard on them, and can easily result in misbehaviour. Think of a child who has to sit through a long meeting or church service, or endure 45 minutes of sit-down instruction about letter-sounds when he's already a fluent reader. I think misbehaviour in these circumstances is the understandable result of a stifling environment and inappropriate expectations. Solving this sort of boredom for kids is what any caring intelligent adult should try to do.The latter type of boredom, though, is good for kids. It's an opportunity for them to learn how to interest themselves, discover passions, self-start. Solving this sort of boredom for kids is, as joensally says, not doing them any favours. It's teaching them to be passive recipients of entertainment and direction from others, rather than to be creative and motivated, make choices and stimulate themselves. 

 

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#9 of 15 Old 12-21-2010, 03:43 PM
 
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DS was very mellow except for his over-the-top inventions/structures using any available materials from the time he could sit up.  Toys were only used when they could fit into whatever scheme he'd worked up.  



So very, very OT, but I have to just say that this just made me giggle!  I dropped off my dc's at my folks this morning, and by noon, my ds had made spaceships out of soda cans, straws, electrical & duct tape..... and was on some sort of adventure to add to his creation.   A broom was never a broom, it was a mast for a sailboat, etc, from the time he was very little.  There absolutely has to be an outlet for his creativity, or he goes ballistic.


Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#10 of 15 Old 12-22-2010, 07:35 AM
 
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My 22mo DS sounds kind of like your DD. I have to keep him constantly stimulated & engaged otherwise he loses it. On the one hand, this can be easy because he will sit and read long books with us for HOURS. But at some point I get tired of reading to him & then we are just at a complete loss. We spend a lot of time out of the house & try to go many many different places so he doesn't have a chance to get bored. It can be quite exhausting (for me, at least!) but it keeps him so much calmer & happier. I do worry that he's not learning to entertain himself & lately I have been kind of pushing the issue (as much out of my own need for it as for his!) and will try to read or something for 5 or 10 minutes while he plays, but usually it ends up with him screaming & me aborting mission. He simply can't seem to play on his own, at least not for any length of time (maybe once a day he'll play alone for 3-5 minutes and I'll be shocked -- but he is usually not playing with toys but "things" like some random gadget he found). We have to keep his toys very very organized -- he helps with this, he almost always puts his toys back when he's done with them, and we rarely end up with toys strewn all over the floor unless we have company! He will play with each toy for a minute or two, but generally only when DH or I is interacting with him as well. He has pretty good language skills (thousands of words & lots of sentences though he still communicates primarily by phrases & always calls himself "baby" -- "Baby wants yummy milk," or "Mommy loves baby. Mommy loves Daddy. Daddy loves Mommy," or "Green car broken. Daddy drive gray car.") I am guessing his sentence formation is fairly typical for a 22mo but I do think his vocabulary is more extensive than most -- he can say nearly any word once you tell it to him once, even things like "decoration" and "humidifier" and "comfortable". He rarely talks to people besides me or DH & is almost completely mute in most social settings. His 'tantrums' most often are related to wanting to nurse (for the 50th time in an hour) or loud noises (vacuum, blender, truck driving off in the distance...) or wanting me to carry him (24/7, not just when he's tired or something) so I'm really not sure what to do with that. If I keep him stimulated, he doesn't cry, if I let down my guard, disaster strikes. 


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#11 of 15 Old 12-22-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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Discipline-wise I have chosen a democratic, non-punitive, "positive discipline" approach after realizing that a punitive approach not only felt wrong, but left me engaged in intractable control battles with my first very smart and exceedingly tenacious 2-year-old. We've all been very happy with this approach.

 


Would love to hear more about your "positive discipline" approach. I'm experiencing those "intractable control battles" with my very determined 3 year-old.
 

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#12 of 15 Old 12-22-2010, 08:47 PM
 
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Would love to hear more about your "positive discipline" approach. I'm experiencing those "intractable control battles" with my very determined 3 year-old.
 

 

Basically it amounts to not grabbing "punishment" out of the discipline toolbox but instead looking for any other tool that might serve the purpose of preventing or interrupting a problematic behaviour: a cuddling "time in," the element of surprise, a "time out" for mom, not sweating the small stuff or the medium stuff either for that matter, a mutually agreeable compromise, distraction, humour, displacement, pre-empting and preventing, scaled-back expectations, environment adjustments, storytelling, exaggeration, physical activity, leaving the scene, food, whatever it takes for that situation. Positive discipline isn't a matter of substituting some other tool for punishment, like "here, use this club instead of that hammer," it's a matter of looking at each unique situation and finding some sort of creative idea that will create a happier, more empathic, less upset kid who will have more knowledge and motivation in the future to behave appropriately.  

 

The crux of it is believing that children really want to please their parents, to "be good," and that when they don't manage it's because something is getting in the way: an unmet need, a fear or insecurity, a misunderstanding, some pressing developmental homework, an inappropriate environment or expectations. When you believe that your child is doing her best given what she's got to work with, your mindset changes: you no longer want to hurt her or make her feel badly because she's not behaving well but instead want to help her get rid of the obstacles to goodness. 

 

My kids were recalling one memorable incident the other day. They reminded me of one occasion when they were maybe 6, 4 and 2 and were screaming and arguing in the back of the minivan while I was trying to drive horrid snowy roads. I was about to lose it. My 6-year-old had started it but the other two were giving back all they could. I had asked them over and over again to be quiet, I couldn't concentrate, the roads were bad, and they just kept yelling and shrieking. I gritted my teeth and finally found a place to pull over. I got out. I yanked the sliding door open and silently and quickly unstrapped all the kids, zipped up their snowsuits, checked their mittens and boots and hoods and then (gently) tossed them one by one out of the van into the snowbank. They were so shocked they stopped screaming. By the time I tossed the third kid they were giggling. Then I jumped in the snowbank myself. We giggled together for a bit and then we all lay there staring at the sky, letting the quiet of the night take hold of us. 
 

That was all we needed. The cycle of nasty behaviour was interrupted. They understood that they had caused me to do something weird and impulsive because I couldn't cope with their inappropriate behaviour. To this day they feel chastened as they recall this story. But it ended up with us laughing and feeling SO much better -- about ourselves and about each other. And the thing is that children who are happy and feel loved tend to behave very well, so when we got back in the van we drove home without incident, with some happy chatter instead.

 

My kids are older now, ranging in age from 7 to 16. These days positive discpline in our family consists of weekly or biweekly family meetings where we discuss any problems and ongoing issues of balance that we like to keep tabs on and problem-solve collaboratively. Most of the problems we talk about are things the kids raise, not the parents, though we have a standing agenda of basics like nutrition, sleep hygeine, scheduling activities, music and other learning that we always touch on just to make sure we're on track. For problems (and these are anyone's problems, not just parents' complaints about the kids) we brainstorm solutions and agree upon one or two new approaches to try for a week, then re-evaluate at the next meeting. No blame, no voting, everything done by consensus. If you think it's a lousy solution that's fine, a week will prove it, so you can go along for that long.

 

I really liked Jane Nelson's books on positive discipline, and Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting." You might find some help in the gentle discipline forum here too.

 

HTH!

 

Miranda


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#13 of 15 Old 12-24-2010, 05:31 AM
 
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Would love to hear more about your "positive discipline" approach. I'm experiencing those "intractable control battles" with my very determined 3 year-old.
 

 

Basically it amounts to not grabbing "punishment" out of the discipline toolbox but instead looking for any other tool that might serve the purpose of preventing or interrupting a problematic behaviour: a cuddling "time in," the element of surprise, a "time out" for mom, not sweating the small stuff or the medium stuff either for that matter, a mutually agreeable compromise, distraction, humour, displacement, pre-empting and preventing, scaled-back expectations, environment adjustments, storytelling, exaggeration, physical activity, leaving the scene, food, whatever it takes for that situation. Positive discipline isn't a matter of substituting some other tool for punishment, like "here, use this club instead of that hammer," it's a matter of looking at each unique situation and finding some sort of creative idea that will create a happier, more empathic, less upset kid who will have more knowledge and motivation in the future to behave appropriately.  

 

The crux of it is believing that children really want to please their parents, to "be good," and that when they don't manage it's because something is getting in the way: an unmet need, a fear or insecurity, a misunderstanding, some pressing developmental homework, an inappropriate environment or expectations. When you believe that your child is doing her best given what she's got to work with, your mindset changes: you no longer want to hurt her or make her feel badly because she's not behaving well but instead want to help her get rid of the obstacles to goodness.
 

Miranda,

Thanks for elaborating! Though I have seen some of these methods work first-hand, I do lose sight of these approaches at times. I think I will check out those books that you mentioned. I also have 4 children, btw; the oldest is 6, and the youngest are twins just under 1. It is so overwhelming at times - You really seem to have a handle on raising 4!! Hopefully we will have that harmonious dynamic some day...Right now, my 3 year-old is proving to be the biggest challenge...very determined, strong-willed, and, well, defiant lately...so I'm in need of some creative techniques! Hope I didn't derail this thread too much...

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#14 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 02:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of the thoughtful responses.  Lots to think about and try.  My dd is very challenging and constantly keeps me on my toes.  I am working on more patience and looking for ways to best cope with her willful ways. winky.gif  I just think that understanding more about what makes her tick can help me be more empathetic.  My goal is to read "Becoming hte parent you want to be" over my long holiday break.  I also want to access some of the websites I've seen listed in this particular forum.

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#15 of 15 Old 12-26-2010, 03:24 AM
 
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Things to do with her:

 

I'm not sure if she is reading or sounding out letters, but buy her some early readers. My dds (now 17 and 7) are gifted and started reading at 2, so your daughter might enjoy them too. They also enjoyed puzzles; Melissa and Doug make some very cute ones. Both of my daughter really loved puzzles when they were 2. Another thing she may enjoy are some music lessons. If she is close to 3, she could start Suzuki violin lessons soon. If she enjoys science, you may want to get her some fun science kits: a butterfly house/kit, an ant farm, and/or a frog learning kit. Trips to the science center, zoo, art museum, aquariums etc... were all favorites for my girls.  I'm not sure where you live, but there me a gifted preschool available for her. 

 

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