Is Your Toddler Gifted?

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:

Unusually alert
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.

Excellent memory
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.

Should Mothers Work During the First 5 Years

There has been a bit of a furore over a recent article about working mothers. I rarely agree with Miranda Devine, however, as a psychologist and an early childhood specialist, I am completely in agreement with her views that women should either stay home or work part time, at least for the first 5 years of their children’s lives. Why only mothers? Because the infants who grew in their bodies unsurprisingly experience the greatest amount of security in the company of their mothers while they are young and are therefore much more likely to have a healthy developmental trajectory. So strong is this attachment that from day one infants can recognise the smell and voices of their mothers (and therefore also differentiate between mothers and others)! And why for the first 5 years? Because children’s brains grow faster then than at any other time of their lives. During this time the brain hard wires almost everything that will define the person as an adult: environmental input to their IQ, quality of their relationships, empathy, sociability, and more. There is no amount of child care fees that can pay for this connection or guarantee the optimum level of development that secure attachment provides. Instead, behaviour problems can surface quite quickly in children who attend early-to-late care – a fact rarely publicised – and can risk becoming a future burden on families and society alike. Finally, although children’s services can only operate with regulatory approval, 30% of approved children’s services still do not meet the government’s own National Quality Standard.

Long Day Care and Gifted Children

Welcome to the first Early Childhood Matters blog. Although I may know quite a bit about early childhood, I must admit that I am a very green blogger. I read a blog for the first time yesterday, and this is my very first blog entry. It may therefore be New-Blogger-Optimism, but I am hoping to inspire comments and interesting conversations about young gifted children as a result of this blog.
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Hyper Narcissistic Parenting

I wonder if you came across the article Hyper Parenting by Katie Roiphe last weekend in the Weekend Australian Magazine (July 12-13). I did, and although there were some valid points in the article, it caused me to revisit the sad “feminism vs children’s needs” debate, the one that has thrown out the baby with the bathwater.
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Should we treat all children the same way?

At yesterday’s Understanding Your Gifted Children seminar, a participating father asked a very interesting question: “Why should we treat our children the same way?”. His question reminded me of a little boy in a child care centre I used to know.
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Our Children or The Productivity Commission’s Children?

The Productivity Commission’s recenly released discussion paper “A national quality framework for early childhood education and care” (available here) has no problems with conscience or consequence, and makes no bones about favouring the nation rather than what might be good for families and children.
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Disadvantages of using the Stanford-Binet Version 5

I tried to sell my Stanford-Binet Fifth Edition through the Australian Psychological Society last month, but no-one even gave me a call to negotiate the price. Perhaps it is a good thing that I was forced to keep it, as I sometimes use it with adults. But I don’t think I will be using it very much with children anymore.
Why? Let me go back a bit: When I completed my post graduate diploma in psychology I had to make a very difficult decision: What assessment tool or tools I should invest in for my gifted consultancy. At the same time I was excited. This was the moment I had been waiting for: Only qualified psychologists can administer or purchase IQ tests, and I was finally qualified. I wanted to be sure that I had the best tools available for assessing gifted children, and a mistake could be expensive – these tools are worth several thousand dollars each.
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The inconvenient truth about being a parent

I turned on ABC Radio 702 this morning on the way to the city and heard an interview with Gillian Calvert, the groovy Commissioner for Children and Young People. She made a statement that caused the hostess of the program to do a double-take. Her message was that the best place for babies under 12 months was at home with their parents.
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At last – 1:4 ratio announced for under 2s

It has been a long, hard battle, but finally, we have victory: The 0-2 year olds who have until now been cared for by 1 adult to 5 children in 3/4 of the State’s child care centres will no longer have to wait quite as long for their turn to have a cuddle.
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Why corporate greed may not be as simple as ABC

A comment was left about the 1:4 blog I posted some time back. The writer wondered whether the prospective 1:4 adult to child ratio for babies may have been a factor in the current ABC crisis. It was a reasonable comment, but the problems with ABC may be a little less innocent than the mere tightening of the financial child care belt.
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