What to do with a bright/academically advanced four year old?

Mazy - posted on 07/01/2013 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My oldest just turned 4 & he is ready for school, but our town won't even talk to me because he isn't five & has a summer birthday. We are on the waiting list for some magnet preschools in the area, but are so far down that it's unlikely he'll get a spot this year. We've been casually homeschooling & he is into the second grade curriculum already. Yes, he reads very well on his own, does math, including some beginning multiplication, science, geography, etc on his own. I don't know what to do with him! I'm afraid that when he's old enough for school, he'll be bored or even act out. But I also don't want to push because I've read that most academically gifted children slow down around middle school. What do those with kids who learn early do....push on the school to at least look at him, have his doctor test him? I also do not plan on homeschooling indefinitely because I need to go back to work soon!

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[deleted account]

J was an early academic learner. What you are describing is actually not "gifted" but rather academically advanced, or an early learner.

With J, I enrolled him in extracurricular activities and camps that cater to his interests. We had the same issue you do--too young to start school.
There is no point where they "read too well for their grade level." Most schools now have individualized reading curricula. If your son is reading on a 4th grade level in kindy, it will be very difficult to find books that are materially appropriate for him, but they will not hold him back and force him to read at a lower level (Just be prepared to supply your own books often). Encourage him to read, and supply reading material for school so that if he finishes work before the rest of the class, he can read without disturbing other students. Just be sure he knows he is NOT to read during instructional time, which shouldn't be a problem because there is very little lecture based instruction in kindy, they teach through play, so even if he has mastered the academic concept, he'll still have fun, be involved, and most importantly, develop his social skills.

Allow him to explore his interests outside of school. Once J found out there was so much out there to learn about, he stopped speeding ahead on the academic stuff and simply widened his knowledge base about things not taught in school. For example, he LOVES all things architecture. He studies art history, art appreciation, design theory, and other related topics. Most of this stuff is appropriate for him (meaning no major themes I'm not ready for him to learn about yet i.e. sex, violence), and a lot of it is online where everything is simplified to a degree that he can read, even on an elementary school level. These things will help him tremendously in his life and are very valuable, but they are usually only taught in college because they cater to a specific interest. Find your child's interest and you will help him grow and excel without causing problems at school.

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Mazy - posted on 07/02/2013

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Kelly, thank you so much for your response! I agree that he is not gifted, just early :-) We've already discussed that we will have to remain very involved with his education even though we are not homeschooling & I really like the idea of branching out into other subjects to simply add to school (he is currently very interested in engineering & electrical circuits). And yes! Supplying reading material is a huge must! Thank you!

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