Helping a Potentially Gifted Toddler Learn
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Q: I was wondering if my 19 month old is
gifted. Her doctor has suggested I get her evaluated. By the time she
was 12 months old she knew all her letters sounds. Now at 19 months she
knows all her letters (capital and lower case), shapes; square, circle,
star, diamond, triangle, square, rectangle, octagon, pentagon and heart.
She can count into her twenties...pick up objects and count them. She
recognizes numbers into the thirties. She knows all basic colors; red,
pink, orange, blue, purple, yellow, black, white, grey and even navy
blue. I can't tell you how many words she knows cause she repeats
everything and speaks in sentences. Every day it's something new. She
even takes my iPod touch and picks out the games she wants to play
without any help. I want to make sure I get her the help she will need.
Thanks so much!
Based on the developmental milestone of a child, your daughter would fit
in the gifted range with her advanced development. Though, at this
stage, rather than determining how gifted she may be, it is of utmost
importance that she be given the right nurturing to help her develop
It is not indicated how you may be helping her but I'm sure you are
doing the right thing. My advice is to continue nurturing her as best as
you can. For this, you need to be aware of her needs as she grows which
may be different from her age group. She will surely develop faster and
each of her ability would need attention and nurturance.
Try to watch her play and carefully observe her likes and dislikes. If
you find that she enjoys number, introduce her to a variety of numbering
activities (e.g., counting, measuring, etc). If you find that she enjoys
books very much, she should be exposed to them. If she likes music,
expose her to songs, music, etc (it doesn't have to be in one language -
a variety of languages can be more exciting for 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 her with books, look for different activities that
involves reading in a variety of environment. For example, take her to
the library, read the newspaper with her (by showing headlines, pictures
or ads), reading her books, reading related games, etc.
You may do the same with her other interests. Variety is the key here as
gifted children tend to absorb too quickly and may eventually get bored
with the same activity, even if they had once enjoyed it very much. If
you find that she 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 her using various
approaches and activities to instill interest. Remember, the activities
they do need to have meaning to them. If it is not meaningful, they will
not sustain interest.
As parents, you would need a lot of energy and patience. 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.
Hope you have a wonderful journey of parenting a potentially gifted