Is my 4 year old gifted?

Ali - posted on 11/08/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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I have been researching giftedness and really hope one of you can give me some guidance, it will be most appreciated. I live in South Africa and giftedness is not really catered for in schools. My son William is 4 years old and I suspect he is gifted. Recently we have been having problems with him at his school and need some guidance and questions answered about him. Firstly the bad behavior comes down to being’ difficult’ refusing to take part, not listening purposely doing the opposite (trying to be funny) i.e. the teacher will ask him to touch his knees and he will smile and touch his waist. He spent the majority of one day under the table and refused to come out. (This behavior does not happen at home)
Here are some of his more positive characteristics;
He knows at least 20 scientific or Latin names for animals,
He loves to sing and knows most nursery rhymes by heart,
He can count to 100 (with some help)
He recognizes numbers and letters (he knows the alphabet)
He has an extensive vocabulary and it’s funny to listen to his professor type speech,
Loves to be read to,
He can write his name and most numbers,
He knows if he counts 20 ants then there are 20 in the group and does not need to recount if I ask ‘are there 20 ants?’
At the moment he is fascinated with space and has asked me 'but where does space end?' he knows all the planets names.
He is fascinated with maps and loves to look at the atlas
He loves to tell me that he loves me to the dwarf planet Pluto.
He loves classical music and hums along in perfect time and rhythm.
He loves to ‘play’ on the piano and on his guitar although not very well.
He is a very loving child to everyone in his family and his friends but is also extremely strong willed and independent.
He has a ‘soft’ heart and is sensitive to things said to him
He loves to play the clown
He does 24 piece puzzles quickly and easily on his own and loves to do them
He likes to give me riddles to solve i.e. I am going upstairs to fetch something small and yellow and it has a teddy bear on it (I must guess)
He makes friends but prefers to hang around the adults
He gets frustrated easily if he cannot do something and prefers to try to do it on his own
He has always been a problem to get to sleep at night as he has always been a busy boy (endured numerous comments about how he stays up too late)
He has recently started taking all sorts of things apart before I catch him; he says he wants to see how they work.
His father and I both have degrees and value education which is why I do not want him to have a negative concept of school. I am very concerned about his recent behavior. Just over a month ago my sister committed suicide (she was Bi-polar) and with the shock, we decided to not tell the little ones ages 4-6 what has happened and Will asked about a day later (the others remained oblivious) and we told him she has gone to heaven anyway he loved his aunty very much and is very confused and now very curious about death. He asks questions on just about a daily basis and I am struggling with explaining it to him, he asked me did she have an accident and I told him no she was just very sad (which I now realize was probably not the best answer but I was caught off guard) This is why I suspect he is acting out at school as well as he told me he finds school boring. Please as you can see there is Bi-polar in my family and I would like to know if Will looks like a gifted child or is there maybe some other reason for the bad behavior. As Will is going to ‘big’ school next year I would really like to go and see the head master and discuss Will. Is ‘normal’ school stimulating enough for him? Do you have some suggestions of questions for the headmaster? Do you think he will be bored in Grade 00? Is it harmful to let them move up a Grade if he is not ‘mature’ enough? How can I best stimulate him i.e. he wants to learn to read but I am afraid I don’t teach correctly. If he needs extra stimulation I can obviously try to give him as much at home but worry he will be bored and behave badly at school. There is an educational psychologist at the school but she is fully booked until December and then she is on holiday until January so I would really like to try to figure this out as much as possible before January when I can get him to her. Thank you for ANY feedback.

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Ali - posted on 11/21/2011

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Thanks so much Kelli I am still really confused about his behaviour but there has been an improvement with a lot of encouragement and immediate punishment/ withdrawal of priverlages if he slips so holding thumbs all will go well. I am friends with his teacher for next year so I will discuss him with her before he starts next year. Thanks again Alison

Kelli - posted on 11/20/2011

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He sounds more inquisitive and tuned into details than most 4 year olds. I am certainly no expert on "giftedness," though, so I wouldn't begin to guess as to whether or not your son is gifted. I just wanted to encourage you that your best course is to talk openly with your child's teachers and headmaster. When my daughter was 3 yrs old, she had a hard time adjusting to a larger classroom when we moved her to the "big" school because she was no longer the "leader of the pack" as she had been in her classroom of 8 -- her new class of 30 children was a mix of 3, 4, and 5 year olds, and there she was the youngest, although as advanced as the 5s. It was a struggle, but we realized it was insecurity on her part -- she was afraid of making mistakes in front of the older kids; she refused to do the work she was capable of doing. Instead she chose to stay with the "dip and pour"' types of works wouldn't do the spelling and reading work she could have been doing. My understanding is that insecurities and perfectionism often come with giftedness -- this can lead to distractedness and "underperformance." If you aren't tuned into your child and really aware of what his/her issues and capabilities are, this can easily be mistaken for boredom and bad behavior. I never really called my daughter gifted at that time, but her teacher and I put it together by comparing notes and working together to find ways to make Alexandra more comfortable in the classroom. I just encourage you to talk with your child's instructors and be up front with everything you know about your son and ask for their help. I suspect they have come across this before, even if the school program itself doesn't have an official gifted program. Our kids' school doesn't either, but it is Montessori which works well. On teaching your son to read, don't worry at all about knowing the "right" way to do that. Just read easy books with him -- if he is ready and able to read he will pick it up. I would read books like "Hop on Pop" and distinctly sound out each letter separately first (pointing at each one) and then say the word and run my finger underneath the word as I said it. She just started doing it on her own one day. She was almost 3 1/2. She loved doing it and it came easily for her -- we didn't set out to teach her to read; she just enjoyed it so much that we did it quite a lot. Here is a link to info that might help answer your questions about the bi-polar disorder -- you really shouldn't jump to that worry, though: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publicati... I'll watch for news from you -- best of luck!

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