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By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My daughter is 5 years old this year. She could recognize all the 26 letters and numbers 1 - 10 before she turned 18 months old. I actually did not spend much time teaching her, only casually pointed out the letters on the book covers to her (we have a few hundred books at home).

When she was 2 years old, she was able to memorize my mobile phone number, and she can dial my number on her own without any assistance. She can also count up to 20.

She was able to do additions and subtractions by 3 years old, as well as count to 100. I did not drill her at all, probably taught her only 2 or 3 times a week.

When she was 3 years old 8 months old, I started to let her learn phonics. She attended a phonics class once a week. I practiced with her only 3 times a week, less than 15 minutes each time. When she completed the phonics course, she was able to read Dr Seuss's "Green eggs and ham" and "Cat in the hat". I started her on the Ladybird keyword series. She finished book 12 (highest level) before she turned 5 years old. She is now reading Charlotte's Web, she can read the book easily, there are only about 2 or 3 new words which she does not know on every page. She can remember new words easily using phonics techniques. She can spell words like "ambulance", "submarine" easily.

Besides learning English, she is also learning Chinese. She is able to read and write in simple Chinese words.

She loves to draw, and she draws with intricate details. Here's some of her drawings.

I have lots of paper and color pencils around and she can draw whenever she likes.

Every day I only make sure that she reads a page (about 200 words) which she can finish within 5 minutes. Then practice writing a few words. Total less than 20 minutes. She spends the rest of the day playing with her younger brother. She attends kindergarten for 4 hours a day. They don't study much, with lots of free time to play with her classmates.

I don't really know whether I am nurturing her in the right way. I really don't want to be stressing her too much. But I feel that I may not be developing her to her fullest potential.

Any advise from you is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

A: Your child has most of the distinct traits of a gifted child. Her drawings are very impressive especially the intricate details. I am not sure how much more you can do since you are definitely on the right track in terms of sticking a balance between challenging and stimulating versus difficult tasks. The fact that she is doing very well even in school is a very positive sign that you are doing very well as parent in guiding her.

Go on with what you have been doing since it is working well for your girl. Keep monitoring her interest levels and introduce her to a variety of activities, perhaps increasing the difficulty level gradually. However, the moment she shows signs of boredom or frustration, hold back a little. As long as she is enjoying herself, allow her to guide you instead. However, learning becomes very much more structured once she starts formal schooling, which may upset her. Hence, my advise here is to slowly and gradually introduce her to a little more structured learning to prepare her for school (of course unless you plan to home school her).

Do also pay attention to her all round abilities, for e.g., sports, music, social skills, etc to ensure a wholesome development. You may want to have a look at the previous issues for more suggestions in nurturing a gifted child. Congratulations for a job well done and here’s wishing you and your child all the success.


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