Early (20.5 month DD) but looking for suggestions/advice - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 07-03-2012, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all. It was recommended by a fellow MDC-er that I post here about my DD for any advice/suggestions you may have.

 

So, DP and I have been recognizing for awhile now that our daughter Cady is ahead, developmentally, w/r/t a lot of her communication, reasoning, and fine motor skills as compared to other kids her age. We are trying to encourage her but not push her, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions of anything "special" I should/could be doing with her? Flashcards and the like seem contrived, but she really does have a love of letters, words, and numbers. I want to foster her interest without being pushy, ya know? Any books you'd recommend (for me/my partner)?

 

Here's what's been up with her:

 

  • signing "milk," "more," and "all done" between 4-6 months, first word (Ra, our cat) at 9 months.
  • ~a dozen words at 12 months, 300+ words at 18 months, and... well, I don't know anymore (at ~21 months). She's speaking in short sentences, has begun conjugating/pluralizing, uses adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns.
  • Can count to 13 with no prompting (has been missing 4 and 5 for the last week or so for some reason)
  • Recognizes most of the upper case letters, and most of the sounds they  make (confuses the sounds for similar letters, e.g. 'S' and 'C.'
  • Recognizes her own name and "mama" spelled out in front of her. Can spell her name as you write it/say each letter (she says the next) (obviously rote; I don't THINK she can spell/read).
  • Shape/letter associations, e.g., she asks me to write an 'O' and says, "O! Circle! O!" or an 'A' and says, "A! A triangle!"
  • Finishes the ends of phrases in her favorite books (up to 4 or 5 words).
  • Understands quantities of 1, 2, and 3, and that two things - both, etc. If she has three of something in her hand and I ask her how many, she quickly responds "three" (w/ out counting) Has started to apply this to her mommy and me, and says, "Mama! Mommy!... both mamas! Two mommies!" (I proceed to melt...)  :-)
  • EXCELLENT memory. Better than me, sometimes.
  • Knows all the kids in her daycare by name, all the "key" adults, too (can pick them out in photographs, even old ones).
  • Builds towers of 12+ wooden blocks (and has started making wider bases for extra stability!)
  • Eats with a fork and spoon, wipes mouth with napkin (when she's feeling it, lol)
  • Can follow complex instructions, e.g., "please put your crayons in the box, put them on your table, and go get your water. Be sure to use a coaster!" and "go get your shoes, please. Be sure to bring both (brings a matched pair) and sit in mama's lap so I can put them on you."


I could go on, but just wanted to share some background. Am I being a total nut thinking she may be exhibiting early signs of "giftedness?" I thought this group would be a good to bounce these things off of talk with about this, and it's been tough having these conversations with other parents with kids similar in age to my daughter, because none of them are quite as ahead of these kinds of milestones as Cady. She is a bit more on target/slower with gross motor stuff (like, just learned to jump with both feet off the ground a few weeks ago, and is still mastering up and down stairs w/out "climbing/crawling/scooting." Feel free to bring me back down to earth. :-)blank.gif

Thanks for any advice/experiences you'd like to share. I really appreciate it! I was labeled a gifted kid, and honestly, I was also labeled a "bad" kid until about first grade or so when I finally got the support I needed. I don't want that to happen to my daughter if I can help it (if she does indeed end up continuing on this trajectory). Also, I'm starting to fret a little that she's not going to make her kindergarten cut-off because of her birthday, but I guess that does make me sound a little crazy since she's not yet two. Lol.

 

Oh, and she goes to "school" (Goddard School Daycare) three days a week. Not sure if that's relevant or not.


Part hippie-chick, part type-A career woman, all mama. Enjoying life as a wife to my partner of 11 years, and a mama to our smarty-pants toddler, Cadence.

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#2 of 12 Old 07-04-2012, 07:59 AM
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That's quite a list of skills and abilities! I hope someone posts to offer some advice. Sounds like you already know she needs to not experience what you did so you're on the right track. :)


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#3 of 12 Old 07-04-2012, 09:34 AM
 
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It's really hard to say.  She can continue to excel at this pase, or she can start evening out.
I've known a couple of little kids who sound like your daughter and they continued stay ahead of their peers.  I also know some kids who sound like you daughter and pretty soon their peers caught up (and or passed them).

I heard someone compare toddler/preschool academic knowledge to a growth spurt.  Some kids have a growth spurt at a young age and are the tallest of their peers for a couple of years and then their peers continue to catch/bypass them in height.  Some kids start out smaller than their peers and are the last to have their growth spurt and then catch up/bypass them in height.  Some kids have a growth spurt, continue growing and remain the tallest of their peers.  

Just continue meeting her needs and working with what she is interested in. 

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#4 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 05:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Any particular activities you'd recommend for an advanced toddler?  Open ended toys I should consider?? Thanks for the reply.

I know that she might even out, and I know it's too early to tell where this is headed, but she gets bored easily and can be quite intense. I just want to make sure I'm engaging her and providing her a bunch of opportunities to fill her crazy curious brain, ya know?  I don't want her to be the "bad" kid just because she's ahead (if only for now).


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#5 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 07:47 AM
 
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I don't think you need to do anything special or buy anything in particular, whether she's gifted or not. I think gifted kids become "bad" kids when subjected to rigid but inappropriate-for-them expectations for learning and behavior. All you need to do is avoid providing her with those kinds of environments and avoid rigidly directing her. Just respond to who she is and to her needs, letting her lead. It's just good parenting in general. 

 

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#6 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I think gifted kids become "bad" kids when subjected to rigid but inappropriate-for-them expectations for learning and behavior."

 

 

I dunno, I kind of disagree. My mom was a single, working parent and never did anything extra with me when I was little. I was "bad" because I started telling the other kids how do do things in daycare/kindergarten. I would show them the "right" way to write their letters or draw shapes or whatever. I would get bored so I would try to find alternate ways to play with toys and spend my time in class that the teachers either didn't approve of or couldn't supervise because they were with the rest of the class.

I think you're generalizing quite a bit. I guess I shouldn't have used the word "bad." Rather, she's intense.

I have a pretty good grasp of "good parenting in general" so I guess I'll just go with my instincts and provide her lots of opportunities to explore and foster her interests as she continues to reveal them to me. I wasn't asking for any "rigid" suggestions, just general guidance. This is a tough topic for me to get advice about in an open forum, and so I thought (and it was suggested) that here would be a good place for advice since a lot of you have probably had similar thoughts (and sometimes anxieties) about making sure you were "getting it right" for your special, precocious babies/toddlers. I was hoping some of you could remember what it was like for you, before you were "seasoned" in parenting a gifted child. Clearly there's things you do differently, or this forum wouldn't exist.

Thanks for the response.


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#7 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 08:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lyndzies View Post

I would get bored so I would try to find alternate ways to play with toys and spend my time in class that the teachers either didn't approve of or couldn't supervise because they were with the rest of the class.

 

This is what I mean by an inappropriate environment with rigid expectations. A classroom where toys were expected to be played with certain ways, where boredom was the norm for you because the teaching was focused around pre-literacy tasks and the like. I would guess that if you had been in an environment which encouraged and facilitated open-ended play, where your learning needs were responded to, where supervision was sufficient, you would not have ended up behaving and feeling like a "bad" kid.

 

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#8 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

This is what I mean by an inappropriate environment with rigid expectations. A classroom where toys were expected to be played with certain ways, where boredom was the norm for you because the teaching was focused around pre-literacy tasks and the like. I would guess that if you had been in an environment which encouraged and facilitated open-ended play, where your learning needs were responded to, where supervision was sufficient, you would not have ended up behaving and feeling like a "bad" kid.

 

Miranda


Ah, I see what you mean.

Well, in a perfect world, she'd be at a Montessori or similar full-time while we work (which is both our choice and a necessity, financially). But in a more "traditional" daycare setting three days a week, and with us the rest of the time (and MIL one day a week), I guess I'm still looking for ideas. :-)

Can you give me some more constructive ideas for open-ended play? She has blocks and a doll that she enjoys pretending with. She has a HABA wagon that she's found multiple uses for and a play kitchen that she likes to play pretend at. Can you give some more suggestions/ideas? She is obsessed with letters and numbers; how do I make that an open-ended activities while still fostering her intense desire to be able to "use" her letter tiles/magnets, etc?
 


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#9 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 08:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lyndzies View Post

 

I dunno, I kind of disagree. My mom was a single, working parent and never did anything extra with me when I was little. I was "bad" because I started telling the other kids how do do things in daycare/kindergarten. I would show them the "right" way to write their letters or draw shapes or whatever. I would get bored so I would try to find alternate ways to play with toys and spend my time in class that the teachers either didn't approve of or couldn't supervise because they were with the rest of the class.

 

 

I got what you were saying here.  Kids who are developmentally different can be labeled as "bad" because their caregivers don't know how to support their differences, and sometimes ascribe malicious rather than developmental motives to their "disobedience."  I also think this might (?) be what Miranda was saying - that some caregivers may have an unrealistic idea of how a gifted kid will operate in a learning setting.  They might not be aware of asynchronous development, and expect them to be ahead socially just because they are ahead intellectually - they might expect a gifted child to exhibit greater impulse control than their peers, etc - and this can go hand in hand with labeling behavior rather than working on skills.

 

It sounds like your daughter already won't have that issue with you because you are not going to penalize her for finding alternate ways to play with toys.  If she were to start telling kids how to do things in daycare, you have a couple of options - to advocate for her with her caregivers (about not labeling, etc), and also to work on teaching her the vital social skills she will need to get along in that environment ("Sometimes you might know something someone else doesn't, but they want to figure it out themselves, just like you do.  Sometimes they will ask for help and it's okay to give help when someone asks.  Let's brainstorm some ideas of what you can do when someone doesn't want your help." Or whatever.) in a way that is not judgmental but just skills oriented.  None of that is labeling her, or letting others label her.  It sounds like you are on the right track.  The general tone of this forum does seem to be toward very open ended child-led learning for children who are not yet at a school-going age. 

 

Lots of free play in a wooded area can be great because there is so much to discover there, so much to observe, and so much to figure out.    It was popular in my family to give kids broken household appliances and tools and let them go to town on them (but probably more appropriate to age 3 and up).  Big motor activities that she enjoys can be good because it will help her experience balance (literally and figuratively).  I don't know if my 3yo DD is gifted or not, and I'm actually skittish about caring (totally my issue), but she's highly verbal, coming from two highly verbal parents.  I was labeled highly gifted as a kid, DP was not, but I'm pretty sure he's "smarter" than I am.  His upbringing was more balanced than mine, with more focus on doing things he loved, playing, working hard but not valuing his academic performance as a measure of his worth as a person, and on getting out and getting fresh air and physical activity.  He's a much more balanced person than I am.  I pretty much feel like as long as we give DD space and tools, she'll find her own edges.  Her fine motor skills are pretty incredible and have been for a while, so I just give her stuff to play with (scissors, beading, lego) as she requests it.  I often  work side by side with her on my own projects, and only instruct when she requests it, and I make sure she has places and spaces to do large motor activities as well.

 

It sounds like a lot of your concerns stem from your own childhood experiences (I know mine do!) and I wonder if there might be a thread around here for discussing that.  I have found it so helpful to revisit those experiences because it helps me find clarity and confidence to know whether I am dealing with something that is my issue or hers.

 

edit:

With her letter tiles... if she loves them, having them in a spot where she can access them at will is probably a good thing.  You could maybe make sorting mats so she could sort the letters on to them (or muffin tins, with a letter glued inside).... also I was wondering if my DD would get into more free play when she was two.  Now that she is three, her imagination has really taken off.  They tend to still be more imitative at 2 (and 3 and 4, lol) so if you get her things that she can use to imitate you, she will find what she wants to do.

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#10 of 12 Old 07-05-2012, 12:38 PM
 
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 Can you give some more suggestions/ideas? She is obsessed with letters and numbers; how do I make that an open-ended activities while still fostering her intense desire to be able to "use" her letter tiles/magnets, etc?
 

 

If she loves her magnet letters, it probably won't be long before she's making up her own "words"  DS did this quite a bit just after two.  I helped him sound out the words he was making up(they weren't real words yet) and then we made up definitions for his words and rhymed them with real words.  Count the letters in the words she makes up.  It was all just in conversation while making dinner.  If she's good at ID'ing letters, you could take a walk outside to find things that look like letters - a swing set side is an A, a stick is a y or an F, a tire swing is an O. 

 

Play-doh has been a big hit for all sorts of creative word and letter making. Also, singing songs where we changed the first letter of every word to a letter DS chose was and is quite popular and amusing. ;) Bwinkle, Bwinkle, Bittle, Bar. . .   I guess I don't see any of these things as different activities than I would do with any other child, DS just enjoyed them earlier than some other kids do.


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#11 of 12 Old 07-09-2012, 01:50 PM
 
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I don't have any real advice...my advanced child (probably gifted, but never officially tested) as a child, just played very open ended.  Give her a stuffed animal and she'd find thing to "teach" the stuffed animal, give her blocks and she'd sort them into different groups, etc....she pretty much turned everything into a way she could learn or explan her knowledge (and still does at age 10).
Just continue meeting her interests.  If she loves building, buy blocks...if she likes puzzle, buy some that will challenge her...if she likes sorting and lacing buy her those things.

IMO--gifted children don't need anything different to grow and learn--they just like "average" children need their interested acknowledged and given ways to expand on those interests.  It'll be different for every child.

My advanced (gifted) child (and others that I know who are gifted), has never needed me to sit down and work with her, she just needed me to give her the resources to expand her interests (at age 2 it was puzzles, so we did puzzle after puzzle after puzzle-home made, store bought, etc...at age 3 it was games, so we spend the day playing board games or card games).  DD never "played"  in the typical sense.  She had no interest.  If it wasn't something that was challenging her inellectually or helping her learn, she had no interest (so no dolls, no electronic preschool toys, no balls, etc...it had to be very open ended or educational for her to be interested).

My more "average" child (I say "average" because he's not where my oldest was at this age, but definately more advanced than some of his peers), has needed me to help him learn how to think outside of the box with toys.  He gets bored with them easily and needs more guidance in playing with them.

My speech delayed child is more like my advanced child (and academically is very age appropriate, but not where his siblings were at this age).  He is happiest with open ended toys, puzzles and games.  Even in speech therapy, he learns better if it's something more educational or open ended.

My point--we have to meet each child where they are and give them the resources that keep their interest.   There isn't any group of toys/activites that are better for gifted versus non-gifted.  Each child has individual needs/interests

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#12 of 12 Old 07-10-2012, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much to everyone for the replies. It helps to read your experiences, and I do think that open ended play geared towards her interests, but with opportunities to diverge from "expected" behavior is key. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't "missing" anything important, and I guess I was starting to second-guess myself because so many other people have been commenting lately on how "different" (ahead) she is compared to other kids her age. It's making me a little twitchy.  :-)

 

Thanks again! 


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