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Gifted Children/My 2 year old is clearly gifted, now what?

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Question
My son started reading at 22 months old.  He's now 2 and a half and he's reading new books daily that contain 2, 3 and sometimes 4 syllable words.  He can count to 100, knows the planets, the days of the week, the months of the year, can identify the United States on a globe and he can type simple sentences into Microsoft word (using one finger of course).  He also understands basic punctuation and has been asking me about contractions this week (i.e. "won't, can't, etc.)  He's funny.  He tells jokes that are sometimes shockingly sophisticated.  

My question is - now what?  I know this kid is absurdly smart for his age.  Do I tell his nursery school next year?  Do I prepare to get him into some kind of special school?  Can he still just go to a regular kindergarten even though he's so far ahead?  Should I have him evaluated independently by someone and if so, who?  I'm proud of him and I encourage him daily but I'm wondering if there is something else I should be doing - especially when he starts school.  I don't want him to be a weirdo or feel like he's abnormal in some way but I also don't want him to be bored and lose interest in learning.

Answer
It sounds like you have quite a remarkable son. This is a good time to start learning about what it means to be gifted. It affects everyone in the household, not just the gifted child.  Free Spirit Publishing, www.freespirit.com, is an outstanding resource for information about all aspects of raising a gifted child. I don't want to overwhelm you with too much information in this response. You'll be reassured, when you see the resources available, that you'll have guidance throughout your child's upbringing, as he moves through various developmental stages.

As your son approaches school age, you'll be more knowledgeable about getting his intellectual needs met, whether that's in public school with gifted accommodations, private school, home-school, or a combination of options.

There is often a tendency to over-emphasize intellectual development, at the expense of emotional development. Your most important task is to be the guardian of your son's emotional development. A gifted child may be years ahead of age intellectually, but emotional development stays close to age. It's called "asynchronous development". There's a strong pull to think of the child as advanced emotionally, and others will respond to him that way, which is why it's so important to stay mindful yourself of his emotional development. Gifted kids need consistency and firm boundaries even more than kids with average intellect. He needs you to be the parent, the adult, even when he thinks and acts like he should be running the household. He needs you to teach him "people skills", such as communication, tolerance, respect for self and others, good manners, cooperation, etc. No matter how smart someone is, if they can't get along with people or manage their behavior, there is little chance of success or fulfilling relationships. A child with a balance of academic stimulation, play, and rest, will do better academically than a child with overemphasis on intellectual development.

The most important thing you can do for your child is, if you're married, to make your marriage high priority. Have lots of family fun and make memories.

I hope this is helpful. Thank you for letting me serve you. Return anytime.  

Gifted Children

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Faith A. Coleman MD

Expertise

No questions are off-limits. My strengths are understanding what questioners are really trying to ask, knowing the right questions to get to useful answers, and putting complicated, subject-specific words and concepts into language accessible to lay-persons. The topic is fascinating and can be surprising, the opposite of what might logically seem expected of giftedness. I am skilled in identifying giftedness at any age, including very early in life.

Experience

Children constitute about one-third of the patients in a Family Medicine practice. I was Director of Children's and Women's Public Health Education Programs with the Northeast Texas Public Health District. I have two highly gifted children, one of whom attended Roeper School, listed first in this site's Sponsored Links. I was the health expert for Roeper's board of directors; I maintain contacts there. I'm on the board of directors of several organizations of which I'm a member. I spent a summer as the Medical Director of a camp for kids with ADD, ADHD, and psychiatric disorders. Editor, Medical Economics Publishing Co. licensure to teach K-12 in Oklahoma, with added qualification in Journalism

Organizations
Champions for Children: Advocacy, resources, quality assessment, for early childhood daycare (Board of Directors). American Academy of Family Physicians. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. READ: Advocacy, education, resources for teaching and encouraging literacy in adults. East Texas Network for Children (Planning Board).

Publications
Journals: Medical Economics, Contemporary OB/Gyn, Diagnostic Medicine. Albuquerque Journal Daily, Tyler Daily News, New Mexico Daily Lobo, New Citizen Weekly, Alpena News, daily.

Education/Credentials
BA, Journalism MD University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Internship, Detroit Medical Center. Family Practice Residency, Top-100 Hospital - Beaumont. Clinical Faculty appointments to three medical schools. Faculty, Family Practice Residency, Detroit area.

Awards and Honors
Two official commendations awarded by United States Army for service and contributions to young soldiers and families. Publishing Internship, Medical Economics Publishing Company. Research Internship, Hastings Institute of Society, Ethics, and the Life Sciences. Woman Medical Student of the Year. Numerous others.

Past/Present Clients
As above in experiences, publications and awards. Many thousands of patient/family encounters.

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