Nurturing an Advanced Toddler
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Q: My son is now 2yrs and 3 months and he can identify numbers up to 100. Spell
words, can write letters of the alphabet and numbers with dotted lines
and now he has started writing letters A,C,D,H, L on his own. Identify
parts of the body even complex one e.g. belly button, thanks to his
tablet. he learns many things from his tablet. I've never sat down to
teach him but informally join to facilitate him sometimes.
At 13 months, my son could spell his name, state alphabets A-Z, name
colours (white, green, blue, orange, brown, pink, purple, red, black),
identify and name shapes (square, triangle, rectangle, crescent,
circle), state numbers 0-20 with a little guidance up to 30), identify and
name about 10 models of cars at this age. Below is what he typed on the
PC without guidance at 13 months.
GOBINDRA DEV PRASAD
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
By age 2, he could spell a few the car models, memorise his father's
mobile no. and can even call him by dialling the number using my mobile
phone. I didn't want to teach him more mobile numbers, for fear, i may
do him more harm or confuse him. He favourite cartoon is Mickey Mouse
and never wants to miss the High 5 series. Other favourite programs when
he was less than a year is baby first TV CDs. He learnt most of his
vocabulary by watching this program.
Hope that your response will help me to take decide an the necessary
steps to be taken to enhance his ability. Thank you!
From your description of the characteristics mentioned, your son does
appear to have advanced abilities which place him as potentially gifted.
It is quite interesting to note his ability to type out his name and
numbers up to 30 at 13 months.
A good start in nurturing his 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. Visual stimuli often fascinate the gifted toddler, but his
exploration of his world will require an alert adult, to keep dangerous
items out of his reach. This is often when the child will show
remarkable ability in terms of learning to speak, identifying letters
and numbers and will get around the terrain with ease.
Some gifted toddlers will learn to read words well before the age of two
years. You mentioned spelling of words but is he interested in reading?
Do explore his interest in reading. If the parent frequently reads to
the child and identifies letters, reading capability may become apparent
amazingly early. You may want to read to your son often and provide a
wide variety of stimuli. Take him to the library, bookstore and
educational toy store to let him explore. Purchase toys that he becomes
absorbed in, realizing that he will tire of any item quickly and need to
go on to something more complex. One great idea is to team up with other
mothers for a toy exchange and circulate sturdy toys among the group to
save money on purchases.
To create interest in books, you may start with activities that includes
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 would need to involve 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 play time. It is good to hear that he
is playing with age appropriate toys. 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 possibly cause a laid back attitude in
future). The following are a few tips that you can use at this stage and
later to encourage him learning:
Help him 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 him to contribute.
You can also watch educational programs with him and ask
him the “whys” and “whats” - and then explain.
Look for similarities and differences and have him group
things that belong.
Create a scenario and ask him about what could happen in
You may also want to look out for play schools which may be a great
environment for him to also develop him initial social skills - he does
appear to be interested in interaction. However, there is a possibility
of him being viewed as bossy at some point in the later stages of
development - but it may be a leadership quality that he could be
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!