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Above Average Toddler

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Is it normal for my one and only child who is 2 1/2 yo to demonstrate the following? Is he considered gifted?

  • To read all the alphabet (CAPITAL) letters randomly? And at times, when focused he can identify them randomly in 2 minutes. He would read letters of street signs, restaurants, stores, etc. And even if the letter is reversed, he can still easily identify it. Now, he is starting to learn and read the small letters of the alphabet.

  • Likes to play with computer. I would put it in MS Word, and he likes typing letters and numbers and identifies them.

  • Identifies numbers 1-10 randomly, can read them backwards. Can read them when reversed. Can count 1-20 if he's interested.

  • Identifies a lot of shapes from circle to octagon.

  • Knows all the primary colors and some of the secondary colors.

  • Likes to doodle with crayons. Able to scribble an "o" and "c" and tells you what it is (although it's not perfectly written).

  • Has special interest in music. Likes to listen, drums and dance with almost any type of music (not necessarily children's music), even if they are just beats.

  • Started dancing when propped up on his elbows as soon as he hears a music he likes, that was when he was around 5 months old.

  • Has very long attention span when watching cartoons that he really likes and would like to watch it over and over. However, he gets really affected easily, cries and gets mad if there is a scene such as where the character is in need of a help or need to be saved from being trapped from the trees.

  • Can build 20 blocks or sometimes higher.

  • Can imitate animal sounds.

  • Can identify all his body parts as early as 2.

  • Has excellent memory. Able to remember things i taught few months ago.

  • He can identify and tell names of guests (in the photo) we had over after that he has not seen for over a wk or so.

  • Likes to organize the toys he's interested to play with. Example cars, he likes to arrange them neatly & in a specific order. Or with shapes or colors, he knows how to sort or group similar ones.

  • He has good problem solving strategies. I noticed it even when he was less than a yr old. Example, if he is in his crib, and there's a toy by outside the crib that he wants to get, he can mange ways to get them with his hands. (or if it's vice versa - it's the toy inside the crib and he's outside), and does not give up easily until he gets it. (He is not able to climb into/out from crib on his own).

  • However, his verbal skills does not seem very advanced. He can speak 1-2 word sentences. We see him trying his best, but learns easily when corrected.

  • He gets frustrated easily. Like if he builds blocks and they fell apart, he cries and gets mad, but gets over it easily. He's very sensitive, but when mad or frustrated he usually gets over it as quickly 30 sec.

  • He does not seem to pay attention sometimes when i tell him something, but recalls it when asked about it at a later time.

I would really appreciate your time answering my questions. Thank you.

A: From your description, it appears that he is certainly developing at a faster speed for his age. We try not to label at this age but he certainly is very advanced; milestones ahead of his peers, which means that if he develops cognitively at this pace, he may be potentially gifted.

Whether gifted or not, he certainly has learning needs that must be catered for. It does appear that you are exposing him to a variety of materials, which is what he requires at this point, so keep up the good work. There are quite a few things that can be done to further nurture his gifts. For this, you need to be aware of his needs as he grows which may be different from his age group. At the rate he is going, he would surely develop faster and each of his ability would need attention and nurturance.

Try to observe his likes and dislikes. If you find that he enjoys books very much, he should be exposed to them. Bear in mind that for advanced children, mere exposure may burn them out quite quickly. They need guidance and lots of variety in their interest areas. Apart from providing him with books, look for different activities that involves reading in a variety of environment. For example, take him to the library, read the newspaper with him (by showing headlines, pictures or commercials), reading him books, reading related games, etc.

On reading, read books at naptime, bedtime, in the bath, or whenever you need to cut down on some action! A good way is to point out words and letters while you're out and about as he is already doing it (“Look - the sign says S-T-O-P, STOP. Now the cars have to stop so we can cross”). Do the same with numbers, build upon his interests by playing counting games (“There are one, two, three ladybirds on your dress”. It also helps with the bonding.

You may do the same with his other interests (e.g., music, as he appears to be very fond of music). Variety is the key here as gifted children tend to absorb too quickly and eventually may get bored with the same activity, even if they had once enjoyed it very much. If you find that he may not display abilities (or shows difficulties) in a certain area or perhaps dislikes certain subject matter especially if it is important (e.g. numbers, writing, drawing, etc.) you may want to slow down a little there and look for ways to excite him using various approaches and activities to instill interest. It is not going to be an easy task for parents and a lot of energy and patience is required. Try reading up as much as you can on gifted toddlers (there is a lot of information from internet resources), hook up with parents of other highly able children (join gifted association in your area); subscribe to gifted newsletters to keep track of the latest on giftedness, etc.

On his speech development, it is too early to tell if it is delays as different children talk at different stages. Converse with him as much as you can - e.g., about routine activities (“Mummy's going out to the supermarket to get some groceries - can you help mummy make a list?) emphasizing what might be new words as you say them. Don't forget the verbs; they are just as important as the nouns. Try not to baby talk - even if he is nit speaking yet he is absorbing everything you say. However, if it is a concern, it would be a good idea to consult a pediatrician for advice based on normal speech development.

Make sure his enrichment is not limited to verbal and literary - physical development is very important. Ensure that he has toys that will improve his eye-hand coordination and problem solving (blocks, beads, puzzles - he appears to have good skills here). Remember a balance of sufficient enrichment and guidance is important, not to the extent of pushing him. At this stage, the most important tool are plenty of love and security - this helps development of a sound and happy mind.

Read the following article for a better understanding on his development.

http://talentigniter.com/ruf-estimates

Here's wishing you all the best in your journey of parenting an above average child.


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