Enrichment for Bright Toddler
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Q: I have never had my daughter evaluated
by anyone, but all of my friends comment on how smart my child is. She
is 18 months. She knows the alphabet completely and can count to 10
unassisted, sometimes she will go to 20. She sings certain songs that
she likes by herself. She has a vocabulary of probably 200 words and
puts 3-4 words together to make sentences. She is a very
attention-seeking child. She needs to be stimulated all the time. She
has tons of toys, but is very rarely interested in playing with them
She requires substantially more sleep than most babies her age.
8pm-8:30am on average, a 2-3 hour nap, then a 1 hour nap. My question
is: are these characteristics of a typical child or should I be
enrolling her in a program somewhere to enhance her learning abilities?
Thank you in advance.
From your description, your little one seems quite bright. The
characteristics are typical for a bright child; but there is a lot more
that can be done to enhance her learning. Most children at her age
require constant stimulation as they are in the exploratory stage.
As for sleep, the typical gifted child is often said to require less
sleep (as their brain is constantly working and it is sometimes hard to
shut down); however sleep issue cuts both ways - some highly advanced
children need a lot of sleep and some need much lesser. An 18 month old
on average sleeps eleven and a quarter hours at night and two and a
quarter hours during one midday/afternoon nap. At age two, sleep
requirements drop to eleven hours at night and two during the day. Over
the next year that average will drop to ten and a half hours at night
and one and a half during the day. I am not able to tell if she is
sleeping more than necessary - please check with your paediatrician.
At 18 months, your little one may be walking by now, but may still need
a helping hand (e.g., to climb the stairs). She is still exploring her
ability to walk and climb as well with her balance. Music is great – use
a lot of music for learning, as she appears to enjoy it. It will help
enhance her vocabulary. You could even jiggle with her.
Regardless of whether her characteristics are typical or not, at this
stage the best thing parents can do is to allow exploration and exposure
to various learning materials. If there is a programme that you would
like to enrol her in, by all means do it. Especially if she wants
someone to play with her at all times - it could be rather tiring for
you so allowing her to mingle with other children or adults in a
programme may be beneficial. How much she absorbs learning and the pace
will guide you to go on to more stimulating play. All you need to do is
expose her to new materials and allow her to learn at her own pace. If
she has mastered learning at one stage, move on to the next challenge.
At this stage, all parents should monitor children's learning progress
and allow learning accordingly. Allow her to learn by allowing her to
explore and discover as much as possible. She would need a good
foundation at this stage and most of the activities suitable for her age
group should be attempted and from there you will be able to see how she
progress and gradually increase the stimulation with acceleration of
activities that she finds meaningful and a variety of them.
All the best!