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Skipping Preschool

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My son is now 2 1/2 years old and has been reading, writing, and saying his alphabet, numbers, and colors since before he was 18 months old. He has a huge vocabulary which includes spelling and writing big words like xylophone and elephant and has now started doing some simple addition like 2 1. He is also reading small books like Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. My question is, is he advanced and is it possible that kindergarten could be early skipping preschool in the process?

A: From the brief description, your little one has shown above-average development compared to his age mates. It is good that you have recorded his milestones and appear to be doing a great job in helping to nurture his abilities - which has proved fruitful looking at his progress. As to how advanced he is, it is hard to tell based on the brief description but he does appear cognitively more able than he peers.

I personally feel that preschool is very important for initial skills as most learning involve a lot of freeplay, exploring and discovering. It is also where kids first learn their social skills. Kindergarten would have more “formal” learning to prepare kids for Grade 1. I can understand your concern, perhaps you could discuss this with the preschool principal you plan to enroll your son in and they may be able to offer (of may even have) differentiated curriculum for advanced kids, yet in an unstructured manner. It has been found that in the long run, attempts to force academics skills (as in formal schooling) at an early age may depress intellectual development of young children.

Do read these articles/blogs for better ideas on preschools:

http://giftedexchange.blogspot.in/2009/03/importance-of-preschool.html

http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/starting-preschool/curriculum/why-preschool-matters/

http://thegiftedadvocate.com/preschool-and-gifted-toddlers/

http://www.examiner.com/article/find-the-right-preschool-for-your-gifted-child


At home, a good start would be to encourage your son to follow his interests, which you probably are doing already. In case you find that he is fascinated with something, do more of it and gradually increase its complexity. Having said that, more work of the same kind may sometimes bore kids who are advanced, so it is always important to vary 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). Then, drop the activity and allow him some free playtime.

Continue introducing him to more books. At then same time, vary his daily activities by offering lots of new experiences. Maybe when he is slightly older and more ready, you can introduce music lessons (which develop specific areas of the brain region) performance art, museum, nature outings, etc. What is important here is to find a good balance between his abilities and intensities. Best wishes to you!


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