Above Average Development
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
At 18 months my daughter was assessed by a group of medical
professionals (Pediatrician, Psychologist, Nurse and Occupational
therapist). She was able to speak in 3 and 4 word sentences, follow
complex directions without difficulty. She would pay attention to small
details, able to problem solve and sit and listen for an extended time
frame (10 to 15 minutes). I was told she was highly advanced in
cognitive abilities and motor skills. They told me that in order for her
to have gifted potential that I would need to maintain stimulus.
She is now 2.5 years old. I have enrolled her into swimming, skating,
gymnastics and mommy time. She loves singing, reciting the ABC's,
counting up to 20. Able to recognize patterns and 5 letters with sounds
and enjoys being read to. She spends hours playing with dolls and teddy
bears and spends time with pretend play.
I am looking for other stimuli, I am not sure if I need to place her in
an early preschool program. I would like to have further direction as I
want to give her the ability to reach her full potential.
If you could help me out that would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Your daughter's development is rather advanced and she is doing a lot
for a 2.5 year old child. I would say that she is potentially gifted. As
long as she is enjoying learning and is able to take on all the
activities, I believe her needs are being met. You are one busy mummy!
Today, it is much harder to determine giftedness since many children are
exposed to various activities by parents; these activities actually make
them learn faster regardless of ability. All children are like sponges
and absorb learning quite rapidly, and enthusiastic parents certainly
help in their development. For example, a gifted toddler may learn to
read at three, and so will a bright toddler. The earlier one reads, the
faster learning will take place. However, a gifted child would need much
more stimulation and any learning activity needs to match their
intellectual capabilities. If s/he does not, the child would lose
interest in learning and may become disillusioned and probably
disruptive. On the other hand, a bright child would does well in most
learning environments and would usually be toppers. They adapt to
learning quite easily and are viewed as “good, obedient children”.
Naturally, a bright child is easier to nurture compared to a gifted
A good start in nurturing her potential would be to encourage her to
follow her interests at this point. In case you find that she is
fascinated with something, do more of it and gradually increase its
complexity. Having said that, more work of the same kind may sometimes
bore above average children, so it is always important to try to have
variations of the same activity. This involves creativity on your side.
You must also know when to stop - a good cue is to observe when she
starts to lose interest (irritable, distracted). If this happens, drop
the activity and allow her some free play time. It is good to hear that
she is playing with age appropriate toys. Pretend play is crucial and
this is when they develop their brain and unleash their creativity.
Ensure that she remains challenged all the time so as not to have any
time to be idle (which may cause laziness in future). The following are
a few tips that you can use at this stage and later to encourage her
Help her determine differences; compare and contrast things/people:
Use measurement words often: little, more, many, half, quarter, etc.
as an introduction to early math.
Instead of reading stories from books all the time, create your own
and try to get her to contribute.
You can also watch educational programs with her and ask her the
“whys” and “whats” - and then explain.
Look for similarities and differences and have her group things that
Create a scenario and ask her about what could happen in certain
You may also want to look out for play schools which may be a great
environment for her to also develop her initial social skills.
Hope the tips are helpful and have a great learning journey with your
little one. Keep monitoring her progress and encourage her to learn
positively. All the best!