Every mother thinks her tot is a genius, but identifying the signs of a gifted toddler can be surprisingly difficult. Since children all mature at different speeds, it's easy for proud parents to confuse 2-year-olds who are merely ahead of the developmental curve with those who are truly gifted. Private testing is extremely expensive and doesn't become reliable until children enter elementary school, although there are some early signs of being gifted that many bright toddlers display.
1 Watch for signs of academic precociousness. When children are too young for standardized testing, looking for signs that they have developed early academic skills can help identify giftedness. Gifted 2-year-olds will love being read to or be able to decipher a few words on their own. They will have an extensive vocabulary and be able to memorize favorite stories easily. Another common trait of gifted toddlers is being exceptionally good at jigsaw puzzles, since this is often linked to high mathematical reasoning ability.
2 Look for your toddler's special talent. It is rare for someone to be universally gifted, so don't assume that your toddler will someday be painting like Picasso and programming computers like Bill Gates when he's not busy taking over Wall Street. Most gifted people have their talents focused on one specific area and are either average or slightly above average in other subjects. For clues as to what your 2-year-old's specific talents may be, look for areas in which he seems to show a strong curiosity and a longer-than-average attention span.
3 Examine your child's personality compared to her peers. Gifted children of all ages have personalities that stand out from the crowd. They tend to prefer the company of older children or adults to spending time with their peers. While typical 2-year-olds can be quite self centered, a gifted child will be described as morally sensitive, compassionate and concerned with justice or fairness. Gifted toddlers have vivid imaginations and are extremely creative, but they can be infuriating because they love to question authority.
- Homeschooling is often recommended as a viable option for parents of gifted children, but this is a major commitment. If you think you might be interested in homeschooling, start researching local support groups now to get a better idea of whether this is the right decision for your family.
- Toddlers who seem happy and content generally do not need to be tested for giftedness. IQ tests are not normally administered until at least 3 years of age, and most communities don't have enrichment programs for gifted children until they begin elementary school. Simply reading to a potentially gifted toddler regularly and encouraging whatever specific talents he seems to exhibit is enough to provide a solid foundation for future success.
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