Finding Enrichment Opportunities for a Young Gifted Child
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Parents who discover they have an intellectually gifted child want to ensure they provide the appropriate stimulation for optimal development. Here are some ideas.
When a young child is discovered to be gifted, initially at least, parents are elated. After the glow of these feelings wears off, the parents realize that they have a critical responsibility to the child to provide additional enrichment resources at the right times, to ensure proper development, and to ward off behavior problems associated with boredom.
Gifted Toddlers Interests
Many young gifted children are fascinated to discover how things work. This translates to behavior that can be almost obsessive in terms of wanting to take things apart and rebuild them. Interactive museums, puzzles and educational toys will tie in very well for satisfying this intense curiosity.
If the child is more language-driven, books are key. Find different types of books with stimulating drawings, textures and pop-ups to interest the child. It is not unusual for a gifted child to learn to read at about the same time as he learns to talk. Certainly, many kids in this group will learn letters, numbers and symbols well ahead of their peers.
Variety is Enrichment for Gifted Kids
Not only should parents provide the child access to events, galleries, and concerts, try new activities with the child on a regular basis. Music lessons at an early age can be a great idea for the gifted child. Introducing the child to the world of science and simple engineering principles with kits, blocks and other games may allow the child to develop early interests in concepts that are often more appropriate to the older child.
Variety also means giving the child time to reflect and absorb new information. Stimulus bombardment will frustrate a child that needs to digest information by resting and concentration. Take cues from her on how much is enough at any given time. If parents see signs of frustration and angst, take a break and let her absorb everything for a while.
Timing is Everything to the Gifted Child
Even a very young child can appreciate stimulating activities such as musical appreciation or viewing art exhibits. Babies and toddlers will show signs of being attentive to classical music by moving to the beat or by their sudden stillness.
Just as stimulation is vital at a timely age, it is important to note that because of the child’s asynchronous development, the motor components of the child’s maturity will not be on par with the cognitive strides. Therefore, the child may not appear to have a good sense of rhythm, because his movements are stilted and spastic. This is because his motor skills are lagging behind, or are developing at the same time as a normal child.
In some sense, the child is trapped inside a body that is not mature enough to express itself so that others can comprehend his thought processes. An adult in this situation would be frustrated and anxious, much the same way the gifted child will commonly exhibit signs of the same frustration.
Gifted toddlers are amazing people who develop specific fascinations with things, processes, and concepts at an early age. They benefit from a wide array of stimulation which can further identify areas of early interest. An attentive parent can identify when a given stimulus becomes overwhelming for the child and can allow him to rest and reflect at appropriate intervals.