Hello all...this is my first post but I have been reading and learning a lot on this forum! This might be a bit long so I apologize in advance! My son has not been tested so I obviously cannot formally say he is "gifted" but he certainly does show many signs of giftedness. I'll list some of the things just so you get a feel for the type of kid he is:
-knew all letters and numbers to 10 by 16 months
-started reading just before 3
-just turned 5 a few weeks ago and is reading at about a Grade 1-Grade 2 level
-has an AMAZING memory and can recall details of things he read or saw in an almost eerie way
-seems to have a sense of humour that is older than his age level (e.g. doesn't laugh hysterically about things like poop or gas like other little boys but finds more humour in things like the misuse of a word for example..well ok - there are still days where he thinks poop is funny, but you get what I mean! LOL)
-he loves to read and spends a lot of time reading each day
-loves writing and writes short little stories with pictures
-loves word searches and can do them independently
-loves to draw - right now his big interest is drawing pictures of the characters from the "Mr. Men" series and making up different stories with them as characters
-has a really active imagination and can play with almost anything using his imagination to have fun
-has a great ear for music and can sing or hum along to songs with great accuracy after hearing a song only a couple of times
-loves learning new facts and learning/memorizing things in great detail...when he gets interested in a new thing he'll read about it, draw pictures, talk about it constantly for about a couple of weeks or so and then move on to the next thing- right now his big interests are the solar system, the continents/countries of the world and dinosaurs
My DS just finished Junior Kindergarten (we are in Canada and school starts at 4 here). He was placed in a mixed class that was largely all Senior Kindergarten children (10 SK vs. 3 JK) so I thought that would be great since he is closer in abilities with the children one year older than his JK peers. Although I wouldn't say that is the same when it comes to social abilities. I've spoken with his teacher quite a few times and she has no concerns with his social skills in the classroom. She said his social skills are very age appropriate. He does great with one on one with playdates - but I find in large group playdates/birthday parties he always seems like the odd man out. He just truly isn't interested in the things the other boys are interested in and will often end up playing alone. The boys in his class are all into playing X-box/Wii and we don't even have a gaming system in the house (not really interested in getting one either). So I do feel bad that he doesn't even know what they are talking about when they all talk about playing Skylanders, Minecraft or other games. We had a large playdate this week with all boys in the class (so my DS was the only 5 year old..all others were 6) and I found him often playing on his own while the boys played video games or rough-housed. During these times my son often found some other toys to play with and began using his imagination to play on his own. One time I heard one of the boys say "that's a baby toy...why are you playing with it?" and all the other boys laughed. My DS seemed unphased by this and continued to play on his own.
So I guess I'm wondering what to do here. I thought I should try and engage him with older children that he may have more in common with - but this doesn't seem to work because I don't find him to be socially on par with these children. At the same time I don't find kids his own age a fit either because of the things he is interested in. So what is the correct solution here? Do I need to find other children for him to play with? Other kids that seem to share his quirks and interests?? Just wondering how other have dealt with these social issues. Or do I try to encourage interests that are more similar to other kids? Of course as a parent I just want my child to be liked and included and it breaks my heart when I see him not being included already at age 5...has me worried for him as he gets older. Obviously I've always had my antenna out looking for signs of something more like Aspergers but I don't think that is what is going on. My DS does have a desire to be included because he talks to me about wanting different toys or games that other boys are talking about at school or wanting to have playdates with the other boys but I don't see it being a good fit with the boys in his class. I also partly feel at fault here because I feel like I should have made more of an effort to get my son into play groups or meeting other children since he did not go to daycare, is the oldest child and there are no children in our neighbourhood. He just never seemed to be missing out on that when we were home since he loved learning so we always filled our days by reading or playing outside/going for hikes. Any advice???
I actually wonder if it's more an issue of the particular group he's in. At 5 and 6, we didn't know many little boys who were big into video games yet. They were still pretty heavily regulated in that area by their parents. At that age, most of my kids friends were going to the library and visiting museums on the free days.
Interest-based friendships are the best. At school, you are often going to find that focus on gaming, TV and social media. Outside of school you'll find kids who have more diverse interests and through their activities, are willing to share it with other kids.
We have had this problem as well. Part of our problem it that it takes DS a while to warm up to people and he is perfectly content to play on his own. What really helped us was Cub Scouts. We have a Den of 7 boys, they meet weekly and all are working towards the same badges/tasks. At first he was still on his own a lot, but as the den did more things together and had more shared experiences, they have formed a great group. Our den will stay together throughout all of elementary school. We might gain or lose a boy each year, but the essential group will stay the same. This works very well for him. We also do a lot of shared leadership, so each set of parents and scout will take on a lesson and share it with the rest of the group, so every child has a turn at being the expert.
I would look for a similar group. For us it was about the long term, we knew they would all have more things in common as the year progressed. Some of us used it to plan summer activities together as well. They all went to Scout Camp together, put 2 of the other boys and DS are all going to Science Day camp next month, so they have built in friends at the camp.
I like the idea from both responses to find peers with similar interests. Now the question is where? Cubs is definitely an idea but knowing my son - I think we need a few different ideas up our sleeves because he doesn't always like what I think he will!!
My son found his best friends through theatre though at 12-14, they are all getting more into the tech than performing (lighting, sound, crew, stage management.) They were taking classes from about 3 or 4 and now they do the shows and such. A quality youth theatre can be a great place for smart and creative boys (emphasis on quality.) DS does sports as well but there have been no long term connections formed through it. Not even in Tae Kwon Do which he's been doing since he was 4. School band has been a real social outlet as well as science but that's mostly middle school aged stuff. My daughter's friends are all through theatre too.
I'd check out your local museum programs. The local zoo and libraries might have something. You usually find the same kids in them and there may be some kindred spirits in the bunch.