Pretty sure my toddler is gifted. What can I do to help her the best? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-25-2014, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Red face Pretty sure my toddler is gifted. What can I do to help her the best?

My daughter is 30 months. She has shown a lot of interest in numbers, letters, and books from the time she was a few months old. I am pretty sure that some of her qualities indicate that she may be gifted. It runs in our family... I was wondering what I can do to help her reach her full potential.

She knows her capital and lowercase letters, and can match them, and tell you what sound they make.

She knows the first 17 US Presidents and says their names in order, with or without looking at their pictures. She can also identify them when you just show her a picture. We started teaching her this about a week ago, only a few minutes at a time. She loves naming them in order and pointing to their pictures.

She could tell you the lifecycle of a caterpillar, how bees make honey, the parts of a flower (root, stem, seed, leaf, flower, petal) and the eight planets. She also illustrates them all correctly. As for the planets, the Sun is huge, Jupiter has a red spot and is the largest planet, Saturn has rings. She also draws faces with eyes, pupils, eye lashes, eye brows, freckles, noses, nostrils, ears, hair, and a mouth.

She knows the days of the week and lines them up in order Sunday-Saturday with flashcards.

She recognizes the words dad, mom, her name, her brother's name, our dog's name, the days of the week, cow, pig, reads, eats, food, a, book, and pig. She can read simple 3-4 word sentences with those words, but gets upset if I put a period at the end.

She understands the concept of addition, and knows her 1s addition facts when I ask her.

She knows her shapes (circle, square, rectangle, diamond, parallelogram, heart, star, oval) and colors. She can pattern toys by color (red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, etc) and sorts things by shape.

She knows the locations and recognizes some states (California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Montana, Idah, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Maine, and Nevada). She also builds structures with her legos that she says are the states, and they actually look like the shape of the state.

I'm pretty sure she is gifted. Right now she can be doing anything she wants (free play), and she is practicing writing letters and has been saying the names and sounds of the letters using laminated sheets. Then if she can find something in the room that starts with that letter, she puts it on top of the card. She just had a pig sitting on the P card and spelled pig. And now she's singing the ABC song.

She lays awake in bed reading for about an hour some nights reading books.

Am I correct in thinking she may be gifted?? Like I said, it runs in our family. I graduated high school a few years early and was bored to tears most of the time. I went to college, but I felt out of place and it forced me to grow up a lot sooner than I should have. I don't want her to go through the same thing.

I don't know what to do exactly. We don't force this stuff on her. She just loves learning new things...
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#2 of 5 Old 07-25-2014, 09:45 AM
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Just keep letting her play and explore at her own pace.

Watch where her interests go, and follow her there, offering her quality tools and resources as she goes so that she can lead the way.

When my eldest child was that age, I stumbled upon Project-Based Homeschooling, which has been invaluable in terms of providing concrete ways that I can support my kid in her quest for acquiring knowledge and exploring the world. Let me very clear, PBH is not exclusive to homeschoolers, although we are homeschooling.

I had similar thoughts about my eldest being gifted when she was your child's age, but I set aside any label and accompanying expectations and headed in the direction of child-led learning, trusting that if she had the drive, she'd seek out what interested her most.

That's been true for us, and now at 5yo, she is most certainly gifted. We're debating testing, but I've learned that any results before age 6 are not that helpful when seeking resources, programs or supports (often gifted kids are asynchronous in their development, and have many quirks, like my dd).

I've spent the last couple of years being a facilitator for my daughter's interests, which have included bugs, pathogens, body science, and the like. Not subjects that I am passionate about, but ones that SHE is passionate about. As her 'facilitator', I've sought out dissection classes, pupated bugs, purchased petri dishes and a microscope, along with providing tools, supplies, endless reams of paper and glue and tape, all kept readily available and accessible to her so that she can work anytime that she wants. I also record any questions she has on the fly so that we can look up books at the library, or research her inquiries when we have the chance.

At 30 months, emphasize PLAY. Because gifted kids often get shafted on this one ... we see their intellectual potential, and we want to foster it, and they're hungry for it. But they still need to just be kids, and that means lots of time to PLAY. They will engage their brilliance at the same time.
PLAY is your child's work. And if you offer supplies and tools and space and enormous chunks of free time, she will do the rest. Stand back, and trust her process.

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#3 of 5 Old 07-25-2014, 10:12 AM
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I don't think you need to do anything special whether she's gifted or not. She's still a two-year-old.

Maybe it's because I'm Canadian lol but I have a hard time imagining a scenario where it would be developmentally meaningful and child-led for a two-year-old to be memorizing the names of the presidents in order. If I were you I would put my focus on other aspects of her development. Rather than providing day-of-the-week flashcards and lavishing attention on her memory feats, I'd be lavishing attention on mess-making, mud-puddling, hill-climbing, singing and rhythm-banging, finger-painting, stirring muffin batter, sweeping crumbs off the table, scribbling to blend colours, tearing up sticks and leaves to make "soup" in a bucket, word-play silliness, poking playdough with chopsticks and fingers, dancing, swinging, story-telling, bouncing, creating her own ideas through art or play, leading her own explorations. Maybe she's doing all these things too, but from you post it sounds like there's a disproportionate amount of parental energy that's going into supporting memory-related intellectual learning. Kids are very sensitive and want to please their parents, so if she sees that you put special energy and time into facilitating her memory-related achievements, she's likely to think that's what being a kid is supposed to be about. It's not! There's so much else that's more important when you're two.

I'm not a fan of the idea of "reaching one's full potential." I think it saddles parents and kids with a lot of responsibility and guilt that they did nothing to deserve. I have kids with incredible natural gifts in areas that they've chosen not to focus on, or to only pursue at a recreational level. Their teachers, former teachers and mentors mourn the loss to the world of their potential but I say "so what?" I happen to think that human beings, gifted or not, are full of unrealized potential and that's just fine. If we choose things to focus on that make us happy with appropriate amounts of challenge and success, and add goodness to the world, that's enough. Probably my 11-year-old could be doing calculus by now, but she's puttering along happily through trigonometry and that's fine, because she's playing the violin and swimming at the beach and trying to teach herself back walkovers and hanging out with friends, and the bonus is that it's actually easier for her to find challenge in areas she's not naturally so gifted at.

So I suppose my advice to you would be to revel in the things that are most precious and unique about being a 2-year-old, and not to look ahead towards that mythical "potential" or the next achievement benchmark.

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#4 of 5 Old 07-25-2014, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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What you both said makes a lot of sense, thank you!

She does have a lot of time for play, and somehow she always manages to bring her strange interests into it. Like lining up toys and naming them as the planets.... She does a lot of crafts and drawing too.

I will emphasize more play though.
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#5 of 5 Old 03-03-2015, 09:17 PM
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It must be both exhilarating and challenging to try keeping up with this remarkable youngster.

I attended Montessori school from age six to eleven, and I agree with the other posters (and Montessori's philosophy) that play is the work of children and the way their absorbent minds incorporate knowledge into their very being. On the other hand, as the parent of a potentially gifted toddler, I also recognize how these wonderful yet challenging children are sometimes the ones who initiate the effort to memorize facts they find intriguing. These children have a voracious hunger for knowledge and even if their parents don't push them, they often push themselves...and their parents. That's why you might have to "sell" her on just playing sometimes, putting away the books to run around outside and develop the bodily-kinesthetic part of her intelligence.

Our older daughter, whom we adopted as a teenager, is a gifted college student who tends toward sedentary pursuits (reading and exploring her interests on the Internet, as well as composing music). We've (not always successfully) tried to demonstrate how getting outside in nature and being physically active can actually enhance her learning. We introduced our little one to unstructured gross-motor activity from the time she could ride in her Ergo carrier on a hike--at nine days old. So far, she seems to have a balanced life, alternating between wanting to be read to, and studying her "reference materials" (she likes studying a neat book called The Encyclopedia of Space and identifying the moon, sun, and planets) and dragging us out to the park. I anticipate that there may come a time, though, when we need to boot her out of the house to go play in the yard--I know that was the case with me as a child!

Keep on enjoying your little learner!

Naturopathic physician, licensed acupuncturist, writer, avid commuting cyclist and community-theater performer; joyful mother of Kathryn (adopted summer 2011) lady.gifand Luthien (born 11.30.12babyf.gif), and guardian of seven feline ascended masterscat.gif!

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