We suspect my almost 2 year old is gifted. It runs in the family, so we weren't really all that surprised when she started showing signs.
Our family is concerned that we are pushing academics on her, but is that even possible if she wants to learn it? She has always been obsessed with letters (her favorite letter is Q), colors, shapes, numbers, and books. I didn't set out to teach her the alphabet by the time she was 1 1/2, it just happened. One day she just started pointing out all the letters she saw around her. Then came the colors and shapes. I didn't try and teach her to spell her name, she just picked up on it after I wrote her name a couple times on her coloring book pages. She now hands me a crayon and says the letters in her name for me to write.
I know people think we do drill & kill with her and have pushed her into learning the alphabet, colors, numbers, shapes, and now spelling her name. It all just happened. I've always been against the whole "Baby Can Read" program, and more into creative play, but she just loves letters, numbers, etc. Should I just run with it and continue exposing her to new words (she is asking me to write down other words too), or is that pushing it too much?
I don't think it's pushing if you just follow your child's lead. Nor do I think it's pushing if you expose you child to things that are generally for older kids if you are doing so because you think your child would be interested. I can't imagine anyone would suggest you hold back an athletically gifted child from things they were ready to do just because most kids didn't learn that skill until they were older.
I just follow DDs lead. It's lead us to her learning all the planets and lots of facts about them before she was 2. But I'm am cognizant that if DD continues learning the primary school curriculum it's going to create additional problems later on, compounding her ability to learn things really quickly. So I try/aim to exposure her to things that are more extra curricular. Although I really have very little control over or ability to predict her next interest. I think that with kids that are so keen to learn you really can't stop them from learning these academic things without being an unresponsive parent or patronizing them. And as gifted kids are often very sensitive I think that's a recipe for disaster.
I think that people are going to presume you hothouse no matter what you do. So just focus on your particular child and trust your instincts.
No, it's not pushing if they are pulling. Many people will assume that your child learned the alphabet at 18 months, or to read at 3.5, through explicit parent-led instruction, and if that were true they'd be right to be concerned about the pressure. But if you're just answering questions and strewing occasional resources, you can be quietly confident that you're doing okay.
Having said that, I have seen parents who, when their child is banging pots and pans, or running around practicing jumping off stuff, or playing with Duplo, or asking questions about cars, are fairly disinterested and busy with their own tasks, and then the moment the child asks "what letter dis?" they drop everything and come over to excitedly engage with the child, pulling out books and manipulatives and all sorts of creativity and enthusiasm. Kids are very perceptive and will quickly gets the message that learning letters are the magic ticket to parental attention. Sure, the child is enthusiastic about letters, but not because she has a burning desire to learn to crack the literacy code, rather because questions about letters enable her to get quality attention and approval from her parents. So make sure you're not falling into the trap of giving a special quality of attention to your child only when she's doing those nifty pre-academic things. It's easy to do, because we're programmed to do all we can to encourage school-readiness skills.
The other issue is that of asynchrony. Many gifted kids can end up very lop-sided in their learning, because they get very focused on mastery of one particular narrow area of learning. I think that as parents we can play a healthy role in nurturing well-rounded development. We can put extra attention and energy and creativity towards promoting things like physical play, social development, imaginative creativity, things that fall outside the realm of the academic-intellectual learning that is pretty much looking after itself. "We've been coming here for weeks and look at that: she's never gone to the top of the slide before! Those younger girls have been doing it all along, but today she finally followed them." The bonus is that when other parents see parents of intellectually precocious kids focusing on those other areas, they're reassured that the parents are seeing the big picture.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Thanks for the replies! :)
Moominmamma,You make a really good point about paying attention to how I am responding to her when she acts interested in traditional academic skills vs other things. I will definitely try and make sure that I am showing equal enthusiasm for all of her interests!
I graduated high school a few years early. I was bored through most of my academic career and socially awkward as a child and teenager because all I did was read and learn things none of my peers were interested in. My parents didn't have to push it because that was just who I was. I don't want that for my child! Not that I don't want her to be gifted, but I would love for her to have a more balanced life than I had. It was frustrating to graduate college at nineteen with two degrees and have nobody take me seriously on the job because of my age and lack of social skills. If she is going to be gifted, I definitely want to encourage other skills as well.
My newly 2 year old sounds just like yours! I have always been all about free play as the most important way to learn... not a fan of early academics at all and would never go out of my way to introduce certain things at such an early age! Yet here I am with this little guy, who by 18months could identify all colors, count items, recognizes the alphabet, reads a handful or so of sight words, draws shapes and writes some letters... He is a sponge and has picked all of this just from his daily (book rich, so that has contributed I'm sure) environment. He is also extremely precocious physically, so it's clear he's well rounded and not being put into a box of doing just one kind of thing.
Learning everything IS what he likes, though. This IS his play. So I just go with it. it's no different than cheering him on when he wants to go to the playground and climb all of the equipment, or kick a ball around, or sit down and do a puzzle, or whatever!
I've received some comments that seemed pretty snarky, though... Like just because most kids his age aren't doing these things means I must be pushing him! :( That is so far from the truth and goes sooooo against my own personal ideals. I mean, my oldest wasn't reading until 8! So clearly I have NO issues with following a child's own pace! Which is what I am doing with my little one. It just so happens that his personal pace is a bit accelerated!
I find myself not even talking about his achievements with anyone outside of my inner circle of people who are just as thrilled as we are. I don't like feeling like I have to defend myself because my kid is doing more than the norm, you know?
Anyway, bottom like- Follow your kid's lead and if they're enjoying themselves, awesome! Forgot what others think!
Liz Lovin' DH DS (12) and forever missing DD (12/02/07)
From the withered tree, a flower blooms~ He's here!!! So crazy in love with my boy!!! 12/14/11