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Gifted Children/Encouraging learning


We have a daughter who is 3 years old, and while maybe not gifted we have been told she is advanced, especially with language skills.  I don't even know how many words she knows and uses, but she is constantly asking us to tell her what words are, what they mean, or asking us to spell words.  She often spells words she sees (Target outside the store, Stop at a stop sign) and asks us what it says, then remembers it the next time she sees it.  She can spell her name, our dog's name, Mommy, Daddy, Grammy (out loud not on paper) and she associates letters with words beyond a is for apple, knowing several words or names that start with each letter.  She does go to daycare at a center that encourages learning.  We have been working on writing letters with her and reading simple books as has her aunt who is a 2nd grade teacher .  My question is, my husband wants to enroll her in Kumon to further help her learning but I am afraid it will either advance her too much past her classmates and she will be bored or she will grow to hate learning if we force it on her.  

I will provide feedback

Thank you for your patience.

Since I received your question I've been doing some research about Kumon. I think you are wise to question whether or not that particular program would be of benefit to your daughter. I applaud you for your awareness of your daughter's learning needs and desire to nurture her in that respect.

You and your daughter's aunt are already doing what has been determined, in considerable, responsible research, to have the most powerful effect in enhancing a child's learning ability and acquisition of knowledge - reading to her. Another way shown to have a significant, favorable impact on a child's learning is simply to talk to her.

Kumon consists of math and reading only. They describe the program as one in which completing worksheets is the core of the program, requiring an average of 30 minutes per subject, per learning session. Although they say that their program is constructed to begin with preschoolers, 30 minutes is an awfully long time to hold a three-year-old's attention on a particular task. They have an expectation that the child will attend the center for two learning sessions per week. With the two topics, that's an hour twice a week. They expect the parents to conduct 5 learning sessions per week at home. That's a huge commitment, with rigid structure, for uncertain return, and considerable expense. With the hundreds of parents with whom I've worked in regard to giftedness, and tens of thousands of parents in regard to child development, none have used Kumon, and it is not something that even comes to mind when enhancing a child's learning is considered. It doesn't translate to everyday life, and one of the things it teaches is how to do worksheets in the context of a highly structured environment.

As I stated, just talking to a child is one of the most effective methods for learning. In the grocery store, you can talk about food labels. When driving you can talk about scenery, etc. You don't have to talk all the time, or be concerned that your talking is too complex for her level of learning. You're teaching her about things in the context of how she'll use her learning.

There are a couple things I'd like to recommend that you can trust are good for learning and the whole family:

Free Spirit Publishing,, is a treasure of a resource. You and your husband can learn about intelligence, giftedness, and very importantly, communication skills, social skills, and character. I can't stress enough how important those are, as important as academic learning in the traditional sense. Ultimately, those skills will produce a more successful child, with greater academic success, than a child who didn't receive that type of learning.

The other resource is the Critical Thinking Company,, which is about the movement toward teaching a child to think and problem solve, rather than teaching rote learning.

Both resources have fun games and activities for the family, in which lots of learning takes place.

As I tell all parents, the most important thing you can do for your child is to make your marriage high priority.  Have lots of family fun and make memories, too.

I hope this has been helpful. Thank you for letting me serve you. You're welcome to use this site anytime.  

Gifted Children

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Faith A. Coleman MD


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.


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

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).

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

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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