Parenting a potentially "gifted" child

So I have a not yet 2 year old (just turned 22 months) who seems to be pretty advanced. Some examples: he’s “reading” (knows a few dozen sight words and can “read” sentences; also starting to sound out words), knows through triple digit numbers in English and double digit in Spanish (you can ask him how many of something and he’ll tell you without counting out loud), knows right and left and most of his body parts, etc. His language is pretty on par for his age (maybe a bit advanced) and physically he’s always been ahead on milestones.

Now I recognize that he might level out and kids can catch up by the time grade school starts, but as of right now he’s meeting most of his kindergarten milestones before his 2nd birthday. It’s a little terrifying.

So since many of you had similarly advanced children, I’m just asking for anything that worked (or didn’t) for you when it came to raising them. My biggest fear is that he’ll just be so bored that he’ll check out. I also don’t want him labeled so he feels he has to live up to some label.

We 100% follow his lead. We don’t push him - he just kind of lets his know that he knows new things by showing us. I think most of the things he learns are from the kids music videos he watches.

He does do physical activities too. He swims and has his whole life. Once he finally gets vaccinated (COVID), we’ll be putting him in other activities too like tumbling.

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You don’t really need to do anything special, except continue reading to him and support his growth as a strong reader. Otherwise, the cart is was ahead of the horse. You can be too heavy handed, putting too much pressure on a child, and ending up with an unintended outcome.

Two important things that we did though were to not have a video game console in the house, and not allow an internet capable phone until college. He played all the video games he wanted at friends, and could text. He just couldn’t do mindless stuff when alone.

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ok, I’m just going to be the one that says it: having read your posts over the last several years I am not even remotely surprised that romanijr arrived with lights on & engines revving!

You will get so, so much advice, but you are already doing the best possible thing: follow your child. Keep doing that and he will be fine. Not saying there won’t be bumps- just saying that wiht you on his side, alert to his evolving needs, the inevitable bumps will be manageable.

He can only get bored if people put doors in his way, so get ready to start fighting to keep doors open (look hard at every single schooling option).

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I think the best thing you can do is to have a lot of books around and continuing to meet him where he is. You guys are already doing an amazing job with him!

Where I think it gets more difficult is in school. Our district’s answer to gifted education for K-2 was enrichment packets. It just felt like extra work to my D. The only place they met her where she was with in reading, but that was just letting her go to the library, and she read alone instead of with her peers. Thankfully her librarian was absolutely lovely and amazing and she had her until 5th grade.

Starting in 3rd, there was a formal “gifted program” and levels were added for math.
D hated that too because she was pulled out of class for the gifted program and she disliked being singled out.

In 6th, they finally started the equivalence of accelerated honors courses but socially it was really really rough. I don’t think she really felt comfortable, or was truly challenged and met where she was academically, until we moved her to a private school for high school.

Had we to do it over again, I would have found a Montessori type school.

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As I said, I have no interest in pressuring him.

He’s already got a tablet and unlimited screen time. I truly just do not care about limiting anything like that and it’s worked out in our favor. It’s how he knows Spanish, ASL, and left and right lol.

He has so many books it’s a little ridiculous lol. He makes himself book nests and just buries himself in them. And then when he gets bored with that, he’ll go find words around the house to read.

Our TAG program doesn’t start until 3rd grade here. I’d love to do a Montessori type school but they’re just so danged expensive.

Montessori was great for my girls when they were little. I never considered my daughters to be gifted, but my youngest knew her states and capitals at four and could point them out on a map, and my oldest, at five, learned the scientific names for the shapes of tree leaves ( ovate, lanceolate, palmate, etc.). These were things taught to all the kids.

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Hi Romani,

I don’t think you can tell a kid is gifted at age 2. In fact I once read that gifted kids often read later than others… (This was true of my son who later proved to be gifted.) I also read that premature reading can do more harm than good (sorry cannot cite, since I read this some years ago. But think about teaching a kid to ride a bike and how much easier it is when they are truly ready.)

For gifted kids my personal belief is that free play and free time are the most important. I raised my kids without screens, which may sound extreme, but I would minimize them. Kids learn by playing and this may be a kind of artificial learning for a 2 year old. Is he reading by rote or with full comprehension?

Interactions with parents are also key.

Does he own Duplos or Legos? Hands on work is better than learning from videos or other screens at that age. That’s my view anyway and it is supported by some experts.

Pick up a copy of Miseducation and some of the other books by David Elkind.

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from a teen who is often told that I was ahead of milestones growing up and tested into the Gifted and Talented program from kindergarten through senior year, I feel like I can (possibly?) help with a different POV. Ofc this can be taken with a grain of salt because I wouldn’t consider myself a super genius or anything haha.

I would say the things that helped me the most and probably gave me my love for learning and reading was just being challenged mentally and physically. Things like sports, reading, counting, motor skills, basic algebra are things that I have memories of from a really young age that I feel like helped me a lot (considering they stick out in my memories as something enjoyable lol)

I remember my mom reading to me and with me nightly as well as sight words, and I notice you mentioned a Montessori being too expensive, but you may want to look into talking to ones in your area, according to my mother we were able to get a big scholarship/financial help through a test/trial period which I assume was a lite version of a IQ/GT test. Just thought I’d mention it. The one I went to was Spanish/English and I learned a lot of Spanish in the two? years I went there.

I remember my grandparents giving me little “assignments” between visits like “memorize our address” or “memorize our phone number” but no one ever forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do.

Overall, encouragement, support, lots of stimulation (bored smart kids act out… I had quite a few behavioral issues k-3) and from a teen who ”breezed” through high school - when he grows up, make sure he knows he’s loved not for his mind but for himself, and that tell him you are proud of him no matter how expected or small a feat may seem for him, he may not say it, but it will not go unnoticed. Good grades do not always mean that mental health is good, check up on him, and don’t rule out any learning disabilities just because of good grades. It took 18 years for me to finally get tested for and diagnosed with ADHD because I was always told that I got all As so I couldn’t have any problems.

You sound like an amazing mother and you already seen like you are doing everything you can to support ur son, sorry this is so long, but much love to you and your son and I wish great things for both of you :two_hearts:

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I would continue to follow his lead and allow him to develop his interests. I would also enroll him in a toddler group (when you feel comfortable) where he can interact regularly with children his own age.

He appears to be intellectually gifted, but his other skills (ie play skills, social skills, motor skills, emotional, etc) may be exactly where they should be for his age…or …they can even be somewhat delayed (asynchronous). Of course some may be advanced as well.

Don’t be surprised if one minute he’s a three year old counting money, and suddenly he’s throwing a tantrum under the table because he doesn’t like his chicken …or refuses to put his coat on.

Don’t be alarmed if it’s hard for him to verbalize or handle frustration, despite high cognitive abilities and strong verbal skills. His development may or may not develop evenly. His cognitive might not match the emotional piece.

Kids like this can be perfectionists, which can be tricky to handle once they begin school. I would model (naturally) mistakes so as to teach that nobody is perfect, and that’s ok and good! You might also be on the lookout for sensory issues (socks don’t feel comfortable, tags bother him, smells, etc’. Many kids who are gifted (not all of course) tend to have heightened sensory awareness.

I would follow his lead and watch it unfold. G/T programs don’t typically begin until at least 3rd grade to let kids develop etc (at least here). It will be important to find a pre-K program and kindergarten that will allow him to continue to thrive and explore his interests.

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This is a wonderful incredibly wise post:

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@compmom that’s why I put “gifted” in quotes. I know you can’t test at this age (and even if you could, I’d have no interest in it).

He’s in daycare (well, he was until the omicron surge) and is doing just fine on his social development. His daycare provider also says he’s doing the preschool work the older kids are doing because he just wants to. Which tracks with what he does at home lol.

@twogirls he was actually speech delayed until it exploded a few months ago. We were about a month shy of getting him evaluated for EI speech. I definitely know that he’s frustrated because his comprehension is higher than his verbal ability (which, totally normal).

@Sophiaaalexa yes to everything you said. I was the “gifted” kid too but my parents didn’t have any tools to help me. It’s why I’m turning here.

Mental illness runs in my family… which is actually one of the reasons I made this post. My mom’s brother was extremely intelligent but bored out of his skull and eventually turned to drugs and died young because of it. It makes me anxious. (I also struggle with mental health but my parents have always been on top of it - which is probably the only reason I’m alive today.)

Very normal for receptive skills to be higher than expressive as they develop.

Sounds a lot like my great nephew. He was reading books on his own when he was 2. He loves geography and knows all the countries in the world and their capitals. Oh, he just turned 5 btw, but he’s been into geography for several years. He also likes space and the planets a lot. None of this was pushed by his parents.

I would consider homeschooling if you are able to or look for a charter school that can meet his needs. I would put him in Tumbling when he gets vaxed and some non-academic programs, maybe music groups, but academics with his age peers are going to be boring for him for a few years. I think he would probably enjoy the kids, but my not-so-gifted-just-averagely-bright daughter was bored in second grade when she was reading Harry Potter and the rest of the kids were still on Frog & Toad and simpler books and this is in a very high achieving school district. She did do AIG in 3rd grade, but 2nd grade was a little rough (we had her in a hippie private school prior to that).

If you hold off on public school until 3rd grade or older he may be able to go straight into a gifted program with his fellow smartypantses.

Or if you want to go ahead and put him in school, consider putting him in a Spanish immersion program if there are any in your area. My daughter’s school had a traditional track and a dual language track. Learning math concepts in Spanish or Mandarin or something might keep him a little more engaged.

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The Davidson Gifted Issue forums were the best source I found for navigating the process. There are many career professional dedicated to gifted children that post there regularly.
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ (I haven’t visited in several years - hopefully it’s still active)

Identification/assessment information can be found at Gifted Testing and Assessment for Children | Davidson Institute

Check with your school district to see if they have specific professionals identified for testing and assessment. It can be expensive and the relationship with our school district helped.

Fwiw, the Early SB-5 is tailored for testing starting at age 2.

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I really regret getting my oldest, now 23, an IPad at 13. She was a huge reader and being able to read ebooks was a plus, but I saw a drastic decrease in the amount of time she drew, sewed, wrote, essentially anything hands on she had enjoyed was deprioritized for playing really dumb games and other mindless nonsense. A few years later, she began taking up her interest in hands on activities again, but my younger daughter at twenty, has not.

There is very definitely advantages to have all the digital knowledge we have so readily accessible, but I do think that tech devices should be limited at certain ages and time for “old fashioned fun” or to encourage creativity should be set aside.

Neither of my girls can whistle. I remember spending hours trying to learn how to whistle by cupping my hands and blowing on leaves of grass. Playing jacks and marbles. Call me a boomer, but I think there should be a balance between tech and free play.

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For caring parents like you, the concept of being a “good enough” parent can be helpful. You provide the soil, keep it watered, but the growth happens naturally …

My kids are in their 30’s now. I am glad they did not do any academics early on but played. But that is an old-fashioned view. Elkind was my favorite expert and helped perspective on things.

My son went to a preschool for gifted kids, by mistake, because his best friend went there. The kids played chess and learned French at age 4 while my son played trash truck and ran out to watch the truck every Wed. They told me he might grow up to be a mechanic. He was gifted at play and turned out to be an extremely gifted kid, teen and adult. Honestly I didn’t do much, I just watered him every day :slight_smile:

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I think I should clarify the screen time stuff. Because he’s had screens since birth, it’s literally just another toy to him. He plays a TON with his books - even when the screen is an option, he’d usually rather be with books. Like so:

The screens always have kids music on and sometimes he’ll pay attention, sometimes he won’t. He rarely just sits and watches unless he’s very tired. He’s usually with books, puzzles, or his blocks and other stacking toys. Or his keyboard (music).

In the summer, we spend a ton of time outside. Unfortunately, as a COVID baby, his opportunities for a lot of free play things outside of the home is pretty limited. He’s never been in a store (for example) and doesn’t really do group activities.

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But some kids play by doing academics on their own. My great nephew sounds a lot like @romanigypsyeyes son. His parents did nothing more than “water” him by reading him bedtime stories. He taught himself to read books on his own at 2. They didn’t teach him. They had a globe in the house and he became fascinated with it and learned all the countries. He hasn’t been to any school yet. He knows more geography than most adults. Some kids are just insatiable like that.

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Self-generated is different. Our local school is doing workbooks for 4 year olds.

Reading aloud and stimulating environments are important for all kids and yeah, some will grab the book early and read etc. I don’t consider that “academics” in the sense that it happens naturally.

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