By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My three year old son can read books on his own such as Stellaluna,
Frog and Toad are Friends and The Little House. He began spelling
words when he was two, with magnetic letters and can now spell several hundred
words such as elevator, umbrella and sighed. we have never "taught" him how to
read or spell, the reading just "happened one day" and spelling has always seemed
natural to him.
He can also count to 100 and do simple addition and subtraction. These academic
activities take up much of his time while, in comparison, his little sister is
outside playing in the sandbox. He loves to spell so much sometimes he runs to
the door at five o'clock and asks, "Daddy can we spell some new words!" He seems
so different from other children his age that we don't know if kindergarten is
appropriate and are now seeking alternatives. Thanks!.
Your son is indeed very ahead of his age. It is amazing to see such a high level
of interest and motivation in him at such a tender age.
It is hard to tell if kindergarten is appropriate for someone with his abilities.
A kindergarten that may not give too much emphasis on spelling and this may kill
his interest and perhaps form prejudices in other learning which may be essential.
Home schooling can be an alternative but I feel that at such a young age, especially
if he enjoys being on his own or only with other family members, he may develop
problems in mingling with others later.
What you may want to do is to look around for a reputable kindergarten and speak
with the Principal about your son's needs. Teachers with training in early
education will be able to understand the differential needs of a child with high
ability. You may want to request for a curriculum somewhat tailor-made for your
son, perhaps for a fee. However, if you feel that there are no such kindergartens
around and that he has no problems with mingling around with other kids, you may
want to consider home schooling to strengthen his foundation in reading and other
learning before Grade 1. Once in formal schooling, there may be certain
programs for children with higher abilities.