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Four Clues That You are Raising a Gifted Preschooler

The preschool years are a time of rapid intellectual growth and development, so naturally, these years provide a prime opportunity for parents and teachers to enhance and develop a child's natural strengths and talents. This is especially important for parents who are raising a gifted preschooler.

Giftedness is defined as ability that is significantly above the norm for a child's age, according to the National Association for Gifted Children. While IQ tests are not typically given until a child reaches elementary age, a demonstrated ability above that of his or her peers in one or more of the following areas may be an indicator that your child is, in fact, gifted:

  1. Cognitive
  2. Creative
  3. Attentive
  4. Behavioral

The table below offers a set of traits exemplifying giftedness in preschool-aged children. Keep in mind that every gifted child has his/her own unique strengths, and no gifted learner exhibits traits in every area.

Along with these strengths and talents, often comes a unique set of challenges for parents, particularly when it comes to handling emotions. This table also contains tips for addressing those specific challenges and nurturing your gifted child's strengths.

Area of Strength Description Examples Ways to Nurture
Cognitive He/she demonstrates advanced thinking skills for his/her age.
  • Reaching developmental milestones well ahead of his/her peers;
  • Advanced vocabulary or speaking ability; and/or
  • Ability to memorize facts and recall obscure information learned from books, movies, or television.
  • Be attentive to your child's observations. Expose him/her to a variety of books and experiences. Encourage new skills and interests. A token board can be a useful tool for reinforcing the practice of new skills.

    Sometimes gifted children think more quickly than they can express themselves, verbally or physically. Respond with patience and try to help them verbalize their thoughts.

    Creative  He/she demonstrates creativity through a specific talent and/or a vivid imagination.
  • A demonstrated artistic ability;
  • Engaging in word play, mimicry or storytelling; and/or
  • Having imaginary friends.
  • Offer plenty of opportunities for your child to explore his/her creativity. Give praise, emphasizing effort and progress, rather than perfection.
    Affective He/she exhibits a strong sense of equity and/or empathy. 
  • Becoming upset by injustice; 
  • Heightened sensitivity to others' feelings; and/or
  • Feeling "different" from his/her peers.
  • Respond with empathy yourself. Model positive ways to solve problems. Help your child learn to recognize and name his/her emotions. Provide opportunities for your child to connect with other gifted children. 
    Behavioral He/she is unusually active, alert, and attentive.
  • Intense curiousity;
  • Extreme passion for his/her interests;
  • Unusual energy (though not hyperactivity); and
  • Ability to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time.
  • A lengthy attention span can sometimes lead to disorganization or a tendency to ignore other obligations. Provide structure using a daily checklist or reward chart.  

      With a little patience, guidance, and love - and the right tools - you can equip your gifted preschooler for success in their early years and beyond!

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