Highly Advanced Toddler
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son is 26 months. At 17 months, we notice that he recognizes
alphabets, numbers, colors, shapes and animals. The next month he was
singing the alphabet and the one that symbolizes the letter for examples
a is for apple. After that he knows the numbers, shapes everything that
he knows even if you just write it on a paper, no picture just words he
can tell you what is it. Even the shapes that are not commonly known for
a 2year old child he knows it such as pentagon, decagon, nonagon...etc.
Recently, I downloaded an app called Solarwalk which shows solar
system..3 days of watching it but telling him only once what planet is
that, the next 3days shocked me. He already knows all the planets and
even recognize it even if its only written in words. He is watching
nursery rhymes singing countries of the world. I am shocked again that
he remember every country in the song. Even if I show him the words no
pictures he can answer me. I really wanted to know if he is really
gifted so I will know how to handle him. Thank you!
Based on your description, there is little doubt that your little boy
has a number of distinct characteristics of a highly advanced toddler.
If he is gifted, which is very likely based on your description (we try
not to label them at such a tender age), you would have a very
interesting journey with quite a lot of effort that needs to be put in
initially to be able to help him meet his mental needs. Gifted children
belong to a special group and are considered exceptional. With proper
care in terms of their educational and emotional needs, they will have
the ability to achieve a lot more than their average counterpart. This
means he will require extra attention and academic effort as he grows.
A few things to be noted if a toddler may be gifted:
Ability to self learn and apply
Early acquisition of language and concept (e.g., colours)
Demonstration of extreme advanced skills in areas such
as sorting and categorising stuff
Large vocabulary with good grammar
Unusually early understanding of cause and effect
Persistence in meaningful tasks - desire to learn more
and practice tasks it is mastered
A stronger preference for interacting with older, more
advanced children or adults
The quality of questions asked
Remember that he would need varied and stimulating activities that are
meaningful. Try out new things. As he is very young, you should just
keep exposing him to many new things and he will show interest in a few,
little interest in others and perhaps no interest in some. Allow him a
lot of free play under guidance but try not to interfere too much.
Cognitively advanced children learn best when they self explore and
As I have advised previously, a good start in nurturing an advanced
child's potential would be to encourage him to follow his interests at
this point. In case you find that he is fascinated with something, do
more of it and gradually increase its complexity. You can even get him
started to explore the world of books (e.g., activities that include
reading, story telling, looking at pictures, etc). Have different types
of reading materials in terms of texture - magazines, newspapers, books
with hard/soft covers, fabric types and so on. Gifted children are
sensitive to texture and this would enhance their sense of touch.
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 he starts to lose
interest (irritable, distracted). If this happens, drop the activity and
allow him some free playtime. Pretend play is crucial and this is when
they develop their brain and unleash their creativity.
Ensure that he remains challenged all the time so as not to have any
time to be idle which may cause such children to throw tantrums or be
disruptive especially at his age.
Make sure that 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 skills
(blocks, beads, puzzles, etc.). Remember a balance of sufficient
enrichment and guidance is important, not to the extent of pushing him.
At this stage, the most important tool is plenty of love and security -
this helps development of a sound and happy mind.
Hope the tips are helpful and have a great learning journey with your
little one. Keep monitoring his progress and encourage him to learn
positively. All the best!