When my brother was two years old, my parents noticed that he had very good memory skills. As a toddler he could already sing the national anthem without missing any word and with proper pronunciation at that. Further, he was also able to memorize every word from his story books, which naturally scared the wits out of my mom. Having seen these things from him, my mom stopped all sorts of stimulation thinking that it may be best for my brother to achieve milestones just like any other kid.
He grew up having a normal childhood, without even having any pressure to excel in class. He is now a doctor, finishing medical school as one of the top students of his batch. Throughout his school years, my parents had plenty of opportunity to go with him on stage to receive various commendations and through it all, nobody ever labeled him as gifted. He had a full and enjoyable childhood, and my parents never had any regrets because they would never have it any other way.
Even today, a fixed parameter for giftedness is still yet to be defined and there is still some confusion when it comes to identifying whether a child is truly gifted. According to experts, a child’s intelligence alone is not enough to define giftedness. While a child with high IQ scores may have exceptional cognitive skills, there are still other factors such as creativity, artistic ability, and even leadership skills – aspects that experts also still look at. And that’s not even all of it, there’s actually more.
If your child is showing skills that are way beyond his years, how are you dealing with it? Do you push him too hard to learn more just because he is way too advanced as compared to his peers? Bear in mind that during his formative years, whatever impact you have on his attitude towards learning and even life in general, can have long-term effects. Hence, you have to remind yourself that while your child is gifted in so many ways, he also needs plenty of enriching experiences so that he can reach his maximum potential.
If your toddler can already read at age three, don’t oblige him to read books if he wants to do other activities. At this age, your child can benefit more if you put more attention to nurturing his growth in a secure and loving environment. And while stimulation in the form of toys and other activities can help him develop skills, you don’t really have to overdo it. Be supportive and let your child set the pace because learning is supposed to be fun. According to research, our brains would want to remember an activity if it is done with pleasure. So provide many opportunities for play because it is not only fun, but it also fosters learning.
When your child attends school, his abilities may become more apparent and opportunities for learning may also abound. Evaluate whether your child may benefit well from being enrolled in programs for the gifted or by classes that teach specific skills. From art to music, the options can be many, but before you enroll your child in any of these classes, you need to know if it is really what he wants. It’s also equally important not to overbook your child with activities because he is entitled to a normal childhood. While these classes can hone your child’s gifts, he also needs to experience life as a child, with scraped knees and all.
It’s also vital that you teach your child that while achieving is good, we all have limits. Assure him that it’s perfectly fine to ask help when he needs it because learning is a continuous process, and you also don’t expect him to know everything. Getting in touch with other parents of gifted kids may also be beneficial because it will not only give your child an opportunity to socialize, but by doing so you will be able to get first hand information on how you could be a more effective and supportive parent.
Remember that at the end of the day when the grades are recorded and when the books are kept, what truly matters is that you nurture your child’s growth by providing lots of love and attention — tools that are necessary for him to reach his full potential. With a supportive and loving family to guide him through, everything else follows.