I'm not really sure that this forum is where I belong. The descriptions of these amazing gifted children and the various challenges and considerations sound fascinating, exciting, frustrating, fabulous and exhausting all at once.
I'm not convinced my 2 1/2 year old son is gifted. But I regularly find myself wondering where he fits- since he is distinctly different to his peers and the past 2 1/2 years have not been what I expected (he is our only child- so far)!
Sometimes I do wonder if he is gifted. Other times (like this week, with his absolute disinterest in potty training) I'm convinced he is wonderfully average, and other times I wonder if he is autistic.
When I read about gifted children, it seems they meet milestones early and are independent. My son didn't walk till he was 13mths, is still in nappies, and in many ways is a typical 2 1/2 year old who would rather continue to have mummy do everything for him. Not at all like many of the independent, advanced and capable souls described on this site.
But here is where he seems Ďdifferentí?
He has known his alphabet (both cases and in any font since he was 18mths). Likewise he has been able to count to 100. He can now also count and recite the alphabet backwards. He sounds out words phonetically and reads a lot. He has an absolute obsession with numbers and letters. Counting and reading, mathematical conceptsÖ addition, subtraction, patterns....
I feel like he has extraordinary patience and a concentration when it comes to puzzles and books. So long as it involves numbers or letters he can play with the same toy for half an hour or more (but he wants me to sit with him).
If I allowed it- he would play with my i-phone for hours- various toddler puzzles and Montessori APPs. I have never taught him to use or find these on my phone. Seems he was born with an I.T gene. He picks up the remote and turns on the DVD player, works his way through the menu functions, uses the MYSKY remote to locate and start recorded childrenís programmes. We have never taught him any other this. But he has obviously been a keen observer.
He has an extensive vocab. Knows all his shapes, colours, planets, animals, household objects, emotions, place names etc. Understands how to identify the difference between an octagon, hexagon and pentagon- counts the sides and corrects me when I am wrong- which is often!
Tells me to turn left or right at the lights. Seems to know the way to all our favourite parks. Knows his way home too.
He has a gorgeous sense of humour and a wonderful memory. Every night he and I sit in the dark and recap our day. Our experiences at the park, what we did, what we saw. He seems to have to incredible visuals in his head and tells me how many children were on the fort at the park, how many kites were in the sky, how many airplanes we saw etc. He thinks itís so funny when I add made up details that didnít happen, or change the facts. He seems to understand irony too?
He loves routine. Loves his bed. Is a wonderful sleeper!
He and I have never been able to spend much time with other children at playgroups and the like- since he has always been terrified of them. He is slowly becoming sociable- but prefers adult company and in small doses. He prefers to be outdoors in parks and playgrounds (is very fit but not at all hyper) and vehemently objects to going into shops, doctorís rooms and other peopleís houses. This has proven to be very difficult for me. I feel like our life is very insular. Itís just him and I 99% of the timeÖ. We are great mates, spending hours doing painting, reading, puzzles, chatting and running around parks, beaches and playgrounds together.
He is reluctant to try new foods. Has the same cereal/toast/fruit and yoghurt every morning. Same vegemite or almond butter sandwiches, and banana or raisons for lunch, and always a pasta/veg/meat combo for dinner. Very healthy. Very boring! Wonít touch icecream, sweets or treats of any kind.
He is very affectionate, cuddly and needy.
He is considerate, cautious and sensible. He puts toys away, likes things to be in order, and dislikes loosing or breaking things. I have never had to discipline him. I expected to be dealing with normal two year old naughtiness- but the only time he misbehaves is when he is refusing to enter someoneís house or a shop etc. And I never feel like he is being naughty as such- he seems genuinely upset and scared rather than defiant. So as frustrated as I am by his protests, I tend to console him at these times. Consequently we have made very little progress with going to new places.
Itís becoming a real concern to me that we are living in such a bubble. I wonder if both his intelligence and his shyness are purely because of how much 1-1 time he has with me?
I donít feel like he has any reason to feel insecure. His life is very stable, secure, happy and relatively privileged.
Iím nervous about Kindy and School and how he will cope. What I should be looking for when selecting a Kindy/School. How I can best nurture and support my dear wee manÖ He is the source of such joy, but I often find myself in tears wondering how I can help him integrate with other little kids (he is fine with a few little buddies and cousins that have frequented our home).
Thanks in anticipation of your advice!
Much of what you describe is the same as my DS was at 2.5 (now 7). He was assessed at 4.4 as HG and was accelerated a year at school. He's doing fine now but I went through an awful patch when he was 3.
Playcentre was wonderful for us. You can stay with your child as they start their ECE journey and when they get confident you can leave them for some of the time. I started this way and then added private kindergarten to the mix as it became necessary (basically he needed school but was not 5 therefore not school insurance didn't cover).
Check out Playcentre website and a Playcentre near you. Each centre is different so don't be put off if one doesn't seem your cup of tea. Also trying different days can help.
It's probably time to start socialising a bit more IMHO, would be good for both of you.
I did try a Playcentre about a year ago. I did two trial days but he was petrified! We never got inside the centre either time. We just hung out down the back of the section. On day two we made it to the sandpit! I felt like we were unsettling the other kids and that it was not fair to them.
Perhaps I should try again.... It's funny because everyone tells you that 'a lot of kids are shy' that people have 'seen it all before' and that I shouldnt be self conscious. But its clear to me when my son 'protests' that it's quite unusual- loud, physical, very emotional, hard to watch! I never get a chance to strike up conversation with any of the other mums or supervisors, so am unable to explain my situation! Perhaps persistance is necessary!
You will find that all of the children described on this site present differently.
They all have their strengths, their weaknesses, their 'foibles/quirks' and all of the parents will tell you that there are occasions when they really doubt the reality of giftedness ANYWHERE within/around their child.
There are many checklists around and the checklists will say the more 'ticks' the more likely that the child is, in fact, in the gifted range.
You have described a child who appears to be functioning well within the 'top 10% range' even if sometimes you doubt it.
A further comment - boys tend to be later in milestones such a toilet training.
Thanks Sue. I'm trying to remain relaxed about the toilet training and all the other little quirks- since I am very mindful that he is in tune with me. It sounds like perhaps the only thing I should be doing differently at this stage is trying to find ways for us to finally be more social. I see no way I could have him assessed anyway since we would not get in the door of the clinic- and if by some miracle we did the doctor would only observe sobs, thrashing and heartbreaking protests! I don't know what I would do with the diagnosis at this stage anyway. I need to chill out!!
I feel it would be really good if you would persist with Playcentre, even if he doesn't go inside the building. Perhaps you could visit the grounds off session or before the start. Do you think if he got used to the kids and started seeing the fun to be had, he might gradually come to enjoy it? I know you would benefit from having some other parents around that can help you with him (takes a village etc).
I wouldn't worry about him unsettling the other kids. Playcentre is highly inclusive so they will be learning to cope with all sorts of different 'personalities' and I think that's a wonderful advantage in an ECE setting.
Also could you ring the centre and talk to the supervisor or supervision team so they can assist and you're expected rather than going in cold and feeling uncomfortable.
I would also encourage you to have another go at Playcentre. All Playcentres are different and if there is an association office near you it would be worth talking to somebody there about which one would suit you best. That's assuming you have more than one to choose from. The beauty of Playcentre in your situation is that you can stay with your son and there are plenty of adults for your son to interact with once he gets to know them.
I don't think it matters at all if you spend the whole time outside or if your son doesn't want to mix with the children at first. My children taught me very early on that they have to do eveything in their own time. When they feel 'rushed' it is stressful for everybody and there have been times when they have reacted in a similar way to the way your son reacts when having to go into new buildings.
As for Kindy, I think you need to be researching which Early Childhood Centres near you have gifted programmes. On the other hand, if Playcentre works there's no reason why you couldn't go all the way through to school with it.
Your dear wee man sounds very much like my dear daughter (now 9).
In fact, I could have written exactly the same description of her at the same age ... and I mean EXACTLY the same.
She is now doing brilliantly at school (after an admittedly rocky transition), and even loves going to the doctor and hospital. The same child who would be distraught if set out somewhere but had to turn back because you had forgotten your purse, now loves travelling and new places. She even eats a reasonable range of food, although ice cream other intense things are still not welcome!
She was always lovely to be with and really no trouble when at home with us and with her routine. Like your boy, she was never naughty just upset and scared by changes to routine, machine noises (lawn mowers, leaf blowers, vaccuum cleaners etc).
Because she wasn't as independent and obviously precocious as her sister I also thought she wasn't as gifted, but recent testing has shown she is highly gifted.
She was diagnosed with Aspergers at 3 and had a clinical psychologist from Group Special Ed who helped with transition to kindy and school. You might want to google hyperlexia (which I think is really a splinter of Aspergers but really fitted her). Some people prefer not to go down the road of considering a diagnosis and on the edges of "Aspergers" you can argue it either way. Personally we found having a diagnosis really useful in terms of understanding (from kindy teachers, school etc) and she is actually happy with it (google "famous Aspgers" and most of her idols eg Issac Newton, Einstein are there). She's a total joy.
I would check out small poppies or a similar gifted program near you. I found the support of the other mums really important and knowing my child was not the only one with quirks.
I found playcentre a very difficult place to be, well mine anyway. We persisted for 2 years, from age 1, but the more advanced m got the more distant the parents got from us. Different doesn't usually bode well in groups of mums. You need to be able to withstand the clickyness and expectations of a playcentre. Though suggested above, playcentres can be different.
Don't get me wrong, I love playcentre and completely believe in its philosophy and wish it felt right at our local. But small poppies has given us what we needed. I friend of mine with two very quirky, gifted kids at another playcentre found it excellent and went all the way through to school.
On another note, it took us 1 year to potty train. I found the best bet was to just give up, had her in pants and when she was ready she would be ready. Again this did not bode well in playcentre and was humiliated many times by other mums.
I have just finished a really good book about gifted children called "Raising gifted Kids" by barbara klein. It was really quick to read and gives a really great overview.
In terms of socialization, step back, if he is a perfectionist, then it is something that maybe he can fail at. The harder we try, the more they will pull back. Start small, play dates are excellent. Small poppies group is small. If going to playcentre, there is usually a very quiet day, try going on that day. Montessori is great for kids that are quiet, if possible go for a visit there. Parks, just to be near noise and chaos. What are his passions? is there a group local to you? I drive 50 mins to go to a drama class, as M can be as outgoing as much as she wants and they are able to channel it. M cannot do large groups of children, she just disappears, but thrives with small groups.
Hi, Your description of your little boy sounds much like my child (now 7, identified as gifted but also suffering from anxiety, possibly ADHD, possibly dyslexia) when he was that age. We would attempt playgroups, music classes, etc., and never even make it in the door. At age 2 1/2, I finally managed to get him into a small, quiet, music group, after several WEEKS of standing in the hallway, watching through the window. That is just to let you know, you're not alone! I can say that the book that helped me the most in learning to understand and help my child to manage his own temperament is: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic. It's written by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. She helps you to realize that your child is not the only one, maintains a positive perspective throughout, and gives practical, helpful, advice for the real world. She is not focused specifically on gifted children, but on all children whose personality/temperament lies to the extreme ends on various traits (for example, extreme introvert/extreme extrovert, or extreme negative reaction to new situations).
Now as to the real world... From the description of your son's abilities, it sounds to me like you are in the right place. Gifted kids aren't all advanced in every way. That's a myth. My son didn't potty train until he was three, and with the dyslexia? (still not positively identified) didn't read until age 6, yet verbal ability is highest area of giftedness! I'd definitely advise checking out small poppies. You should get advice and support there, as well as an understanding environment for your child. If there's none in your area, still contact someone at NZAGC who can give you some advice.
Yes, I also agree about checking out Small Poppies and that Playcentre can be full of cliques, but at our Small Poppies almost all of what we do is inside the building. At least at Playcentre there is the option of being outside. I do find the parents at Small Poppies are pretty relaxed though. There's no problem if a child doesn't want to join in with something. There are always interesting puzzles and books to look at instead.
Oh- thank you all so much for your messages. It is so wonderful to read your stories and suggestions..... As a result I went to a Small Poppies Peeks session today. It was a SUCCESS- by our standards!
It was a little tricky because my son normally has a BIG afternoon sleep at that time, and here I was asking him to go inside a strange new place, stay inside and participate- which of course he objects to at the best of times.
I was so desperate for it to be a success for us both- so 3 days ago I started to paint a picture of the fun Poppies Playgroup we were going to. We walked through the school grounds on Sunday and I showed him the building we would visit. We talked a lot about how he and mummy were going to have a happy time and meet some lovely friends, and that he could have a little play with mummies phone if he was a really good boy.
We turned up early, and Sue bonded with him immediately with talk of number and letters that were waiting for him upstairs. We made it through most of the session, there were no tears, except of JOY (from me) as we drove home. Sue was amazing. Within 5 minutes she kind of understood my son, like no one else (other than me!!) does. She accepted that he was on the other side of the room playing with words and letters on the floor- basically doing his own thing for the entire session. She accepted that we didn't last the full 2 hours.
Meanwhile my son was given time to thaw, the group was small, none of the kids rushed at him- he was accepting of them. There was none of the usual madness and chaos that frightens him so terribly.
I am so proud of him.
I'm feeling very optimistic!
I'm going to try and attend the weekly sessions out in Pakuranga. We live in the city- but the Pakuranga sessions fit better with his afternoon sleep. I would drive to timbucktoo and back if I needed to. I just really want to find a social outlet for us both- perhaps this is it?
I'm googling years a long time after your post. So I am guessing your wee man is a few years older? I have to say whether this post is read or not, that my boy is mirrors much of the same attributes. I find myself in a pickle. Unfortunately I am faced with having to start work and I am looking for a centre that will be sensitive to my son's needs. He is also terrified of children in large groups and is academically gifted. If anyone is reading my late post, I would very much appreciate some advice as to whether anybody knows of a pre-school centre local to Birkenhead North Shoe, Auckland that will cater for his giftedness? The local Kindies are not appropriate as they only offer sessional care and we need part-time/full-time care.
I look forward to suggestions or advice as to where to go or what to do?
If he is scared of groups I have never been in a centre that would work for him. Childcare centres are generally noisy and busy. Have you tried home based care? It is entirely dependant on getting the right person so might take time - here finding any care takes time though.
Wow! The original post could have been written for my son! He is now 3.5 years old and we are just coming out the otherside. With a lotof nurturing, he is mostly happy with new places.
Sorry Carrie, we are central east Akl so I can't help with your side of town but I do agree with Puffin's suggestion of home awed care in your home or someone else's home where there is a maximum of 4 children.
Thank you Puffin. and BusyMumOfTwo. I will explore this option. I would like my son to be exposed to other children on a day to day basis, as I feel it is important to socialise children. I also need someone very special who understands his special needs, and wants. I am afraid that if I put him anywhere, with me working full-time, that he will feel too overwhelmed. My heart breaks :(
Kathryn has probably stopped reading these posts but in any case ... Just wanted to applaud her for her determination, sacrifices and tenderness towards her boy. I have a gifted son - he shared some traits similar to what Kathryrn described but differed in other ways at that age.
Being a first-time Mum is difficult under any circumstances but having a gifted child thrown into the mix can obviously make matters even trickier - particularly when people don't comprehend the extreme stress involved or think you're over-exaggerating your child's abilities. I often refrained from sharing things about my son for fear of being seen as boastful but finally around the age of 3 it became abundantly clear to pre-school teachers, family etc. that I wasn't a neurotic mother and knew my child well afterall!
Her boy is taking in so many sources of info others don't have to deal with that it is overwhelming ... The noises, smells, activities will be louder and therefore more intense and fearful. My experience working with training animals came in handy with our son as I had honed skills at de-sensitising them to things - particularly a poodle x who was sooo smart we had to literally spell words because his vocabulary was so extensive.
Routine builds security so for anyone reading what Kathyrn experienced I would suggest persisting with a small private day-care group (so Mum gets that much-needed break) no matter how your child behaves ... Begin exposure in small doses, watch for a teacher who bonds with your child and if able, enrol your child on the days that teacher is working so they build up trust with their new environment. Obviously a comfort toy from home is great, as is spending some time with your child before leaving so they are as settled as possible in their environment before your departure. Of course this sounds easy but took a great deal of courage on my behalf - I felt so guilty - but knew ultimately it would help with his socialisation. Also I would distract him with one focal point on arrival every time - like the pet budgie or a tree or something in the building so his inquisitive brain locked in on something of interest rather than the fear of another environment. In between those days I gradually built in other activities in groups that had big fenced in outdoor play areas - the outdoor part provided a space where he felt less overwhelmed by all the noises of confined interior spaces and he could play in the sand and on outdoor equipment
Hope this info proves helpful!!
Not sure if you have considered Birkenhead Point Montessori in Hinemoa Street?
I can't personally recommend it as our child did not attend it however I did A LOT of research into the Montessori approach and our child attended Tititoki Tots - pre-kindy Montessori sessions. We are based in the East Coast Bays and have often walked past that school on visits to cafes when over that way and thought it looked nice and homely.
Montessori schools are typically very quiet and they certainly should cater for academically-gifted children as their whole philosophy is based around the innate intelligence of children. They take learning very seriously and have very interesting resources all designed for small hands and cognitive development.
Look forward to hearing if you have had any success or if this advice proves helpful. Best wishes:)
Sorry, new to this forum so have not read all the background info so don't know if responses go directly to people's personal emails ... In any case the response above re Birkenhead Montessori was intended for Carrie.