There seems to be a great deal of information about gifted children and their characteristics, but very scant information about giftedness in toddlers. Gifted toddlers display a variety of characteristics. Some of the more common ones are set out below:
When comparing notes with other parents you may find that your toddler sleeps less than others babies and toddlers. Your toddler may be very alert, aware of sounds and noises, light and shade, observing everything with bright, aware, knowing eyes.
Your toddler may be very curious, looking, seeking, and soaking up and all new information.
You may have noticed that your toddler memorises everything, and that s/he may surprise you by talking about something that happened months ago. This is not unusual in gifted children, who need much less repetition than others.
Play and the Young Gifted Child
I have heard many times from mothers of gifted children that their child does not play the way other children do. They are often not interested in their toys, their play may be to read, and they may prefer adult company and conversation to that of their age peers.
Advanced Abilities in Under 3s
Under 3’s with a variety of advanced abilities may, for example, recite a whole story or sing a popular song word for word, or do 50-piece puzzles, recognise and name the entire alphabet (not in order), count to 100, count by 2s, 5s, carry out simple calculations, and want to learn more. They may love books and insist on you reading one story after another; be unusually skilful with a ball or a trike; give you correct directions to a familiar place when you drive; or sing in perfect pitch.
Advanced Abilities in Over 3s
By pre-school age (3+), a general sign of giftedness can show itself in surprisingly detailed or advanced drawings, for example a map of a town seen from a bird’s eye view, and if you ask, they can tell you a great many things about their drawing. A colourful painting may actually turn out to represent a machine with buttons, levers and pulleys. Similarly, pre-schoolers who are gifted may build intricate and complex buildings with wooden blocks or Lego, and they can tell you in great detail what each block represents. Finally, your pre-schooler may spontaneously learn to read (usually these are the highly gifted toddlers), although few will believe you when you try to explain that you did not secretly tutor your child with flash cards or lessons in phonics.
So, is Your Toddler Gifted?
Your child may have one, two or several of the characteristics described above. Here is some more information about giftedness in young children. However, in order to be sure that s/he is gifted you need to arrange for an IQ (cognitive) assessment.
If you would like to know more, you can access three parent webinars about giftedness here.