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Gifted or just bright? Age 4

(36 Posts)
ItsGemma Mon 08-Aug-16 21:40:15

My little girl is 4, she starts reception in September and has been in a nursery thats attached to the school for the last year.

My health visitor (who has been visiting us while reviewing our 2nd child) mentioned a few months ago that our LG may well be classed as Gifted. Until that day I had no idea what that meant. I always knew she was bright, but first child and no friends with children meant I never really knew how far off average she was.

She has always been on target or above for mile stones, and very early with speech. Her first "proper" word (i.e. not mama, dada, do-de) was at about 11 months (it was Teddy - clear as a bell) and she was using broken sentences at about 14 months ("We go shops now") - by 2, her speech was perfect, and she has an excellent vocabulary and uses better grammar than most adults I know haha (she corrected me the other day because when we were walking I said that park was "not much further" "farther mummy".)

Fast forward to where we are now. As I say, she isn't in school yet, but is reading well. A teacher friend gave us some books for her, and they are about right for her at "Oxford Reading Tree Level 4" - she can read all of the words but does stumble a little on a few and has to sound out and use the pictures to suss it out. She could possible read a little harder - but the non Reading Tree books we have are still a bit much for her - though we do read them together at bed time obviously.

I asked her nursery teacher where I could get some books that were suitable for her, and I was told she "shouldn't be reading yet" and we were told to go back to "can you find and "a" on this page" so that she didn't excel to far past what they will be learning when she starts reception... that really grated me, but thats not the point here, i've since found out about the reading tree and it's making it easier to search out appropriate books (thank you scholastic!!)

She can write well, and forms most letters correctly (sometimes b and d she does the loop from the bottom instead of going back up, but thats it) - she can spell most words that she can read, or at least has a very good guess. She's written about 10 different letters to people this holiday thanking for new toys, telling grandparents what we are up to etc. At first we wrote it out as she dictated, and then she copied. But now she writes and just asks us how to spell words she doesn't know.

She has a good basic knowledge of maths and knows shapes and numbers, and can work out addition and subtraction using counters and bits of paper (or up to probably around 8 in her head) - but its not one of her biggest strengths.

She has an excellent memory, and seems to spout facts from nowhere that she must have heard on TV or something, today telling me that "the moon isn't made of cheese its made of rock, it just looks like cheese because of craters" or the other day "when we flush the toilet, it goes down a drain, gets cleaned and then goes into the sea!"

She's also got a huge interest in the human body - she has a skeleton that you can take apart and put together, and it has internal organs that you put in in the right order. She can tell me all about how her organs work (better than I knew until recently! haha) she tells me that the oesophagus is like a trap door so you cant breathe and swallow, and that the stomach squashes all the food together to mix it up ready to go into your intestines. She understands blood pressure (I spent a lot of time in hospital with high BP before baby brother was born, so I think that's possibly where the interest comes from) and is just generally keen to know EVERYTHING!

I feel like her nursery was no bloody help, though I never mentioned gifted / talented to them as I felt that I would be brushed off as one of "those" parents. She got into a lot of trouble at nursery. Fortunately never being unkind, but being constantly disruptive - and I feel that it is because she was bored, which I mentioned to the teachers but it seemed to be disregarded.

I worry that when she goes into reception she's going to carry on being bored and disruptive and getting into trouble, and it's going to be a poor start to what should be a great time for her.

I feel like I can't talk to my friends. I posted a video of her reading on Facebook to show my family that I don't see often (and because I'm super proud of her!!) but have since received loooads of snide comments about how my child is "perfect" and how "it's alright for you with your genius child"

She's NOT perfect. She's such a handful, and I honestly don't know how to cope with her a lot of the time - I'm exhausted and have all the same problems every other mum has. It's not a bloody competition is it! But alas, everyone else seems to feel it is sad

I worry because when she is in the very play based education of Reception class she is going to get bored. We're 3 weeks into the summer holidays now, and she has every day bugged me to teach, to learn, to expand. I'm trying my hardest to keep her interest, but I'm spending every blooming evening to try and find things on pinterest that will keep her interested but are also at least a little bit play based. She just demands her activity books (those "ready for school" books you get at the works etc.)

I feel like responsibility for educating her is suddenly landing on me - and I don't know that I'm up to the task, she just wants more more more! Oh for a child that would crash in front of Cbeebies for a couple of hours, or go kick a football for a bit. She has a whole play room (which is, if I say so myself, AMAZING) that has loads of different toys set up for playing - but she's not interested for more than 5 minutes and just wants to write, read, do activity sheets, count, talk, question, experiment and explore.

Sorry, this has turned into a much longer post than I intended, but once I started rambling it just al started flowing out.

The main thing I guess I wanted to hear from others is
1) surely its not just me? This is exhausting.
2) what age were your lovelies identified formally as gifted and
3) did them being on the gifted register actually change how they were taught stuff, or does it just seem to be a paper work exercise?

Everything I can find online seems to talk about older children, and I'm feeling more and more alone in this.

Artandco Mon 08-Aug-16 21:44:22

Sounds similar to my just turned 5 year old. This time last year he had just turned 4 and was going to school. He was reading well before he started school and reading and writing. He plays well alone though also. He's around average in his class I would say over the last year, so not particularly gifted.

228agreenend Mon 08-Aug-16 21:46:10

Difficult to tell at this age whether she is gifted, but she does seem to have a thirst for learning.

If you want to know if she is bright, contact Mensa and get her assessed.

Lovelongweekends Mon 08-Aug-16 21:48:10

Sounds like my dd, bright but not gifted.

newmum28 Mon 08-Aug-16 21:50:55

I have 7 and 4 year old DDs. Your daughter sounds definitely gifted to me. Both my girls are bright but not with this kind of thirst for knowledge. As a teacher I am constantly amazed by the supposed average on Mumsnet. Your child would be at the top of any class that I have come across. It does sound exhausting and she probably will level out at some point. I could read at three apparently and sadly am not now a rocket scientist! Sounds like you're doing all the right things and she's leading the play/activities.

Tanaqui Mon 08-Aug-16 21:54:46

She sounds v v bright to me- how about starting her in a musical instrument? Or dance classes? Something challenging but not necessarily academic, to keep her nice and rounded?

ijustwannadance Mon 08-Aug-16 21:59:25

I would say bright rather than gifted. I always think of gifted as a child being particularly adept in something, like music or maths.
Speech wise my DD sounded like yours. Spoke very clearly in full sentences by 2 and absorbs info like a sponge. She struggled with other children her age though and prefered to be around older kids or adults. She loved reception though and made some lovely friends but sometimes got bored. Teacher told us she would probably like it more when starting y1 in sept and she has more structured learning.
My DD is bright but not gifted.

JinRamen Mon 08-Aug-16 22:03:08

Google Oxford owl for free ort reading books online.

SanityClause Mon 08-Aug-16 22:08:27

I believe it's not usually possible to tell if a child is gifted before they are 7. Two of my DC have had testing for SEN, part of which is IQ testing. The youngest age they could score in the tests was 6 years, 9 months, I think.

There's some interesting stuff about this in a really good book called Nurtureshock, which you might be interested in reading.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade. Your DD sounds lovely, and a really bright spark. And remember, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. If she works hard, she'll go far.

hmcAsWas Mon 08-Aug-16 22:09:21

I think she sounds gifted rather than just bright. Both my (older) dc are bright (one passed the 11+ and is at grammar school, the other didn't take 11+ due to dyslexia but tops her class in science), and were not as advanced at 4. However, a word of caution - sometimes children like your dd simply peak earlier than their contemporaries, some of whom will catch them up later. You'll have to wait and see whether she continues on this trajectory!

You were a bit daft / crass posting video of her reading on facebrag. No wonder you got some negative responses!

hazelnutlatte Mon 08-Aug-16 22:15:52

I also have a dd who is about to start reception and have been told by her pre school teacher that she is well ahead of most of the class (pre school attached to the school and will be mostly the same children in reception) but she is nowhere near where your daughter is. She can read some simple books (book band red) and will write little notes and seems to have a grasp of simple addition / subtraction.
However her pre school have been really encouraging, for example they sent her home with books to read every week and when their own stock got too easy for her they took her up to the main school library to choose some more. They have also let the reception teachers know what she has been doing and have told me that the reception teachers will differentiate activities to challenge her. It sounds like your dd's school might be less keen to challenge more able children but they should be making an effort!
My dd's school has a majority of children with 'below average' starting points (according to ofsted) so I know my dd would probably be average in a school with a more middle class catchment. Do you know this information for your dd's school? If the school is in a deprived area maybe she is so far ahead they don't know what to do with her!

Mov1ngOn Mon 08-Aug-16 22:15:55

I'd certainly encourage the playing/exploring non academic stuff over the summer so she can develop all round! As she gets older you can expand her sideways by focusing on sport/music as she's already hit targets in terms of being prepared for school.

A lot do seem to getter early (my one did) but others do genuinely catch up. (a home schooled friend is now reading fluently at 7, so a long time after mine but she's bright and bubbly and you'd not know any difference - just had a different home emphasis to my schooled child.)

Clankboing Mon 08-Aug-16 22:29:08

She is good for her age, yes. And teachers generally know how to extend learning for bright pupils. As you will probably be aware from her time in nursery, it is good if children can develop 'characteristics of effective learning' (Google it if not) which are skills that enable future learning. If you look at examples of these characteristics, you will recognise that there are plenty of ways in which she can develop. My first son is exceptional (well they all are but he was more vocal about it lol) and now that he is 15, I can look back and I realise that some teachers extended him and enthused him more than others, but all have developed him in different ways. I helped along the way, but it didn't all depend upon me. Hth.

ItsGemma Mon 08-Aug-16 22:33:00

Thank you all, it's amusing to read such contradictory responses haha. I'm aware its obviously not that easy to judge a child's skill based on a forum post, though it is interesting to hear of others at a similar level smile

I'm honestly kind of hoping she ISN'T gifted, and that she will level out and quickly, because our school (anecdotally according to my health visitor) has a bit of a bad reputation for supporting their children on the gifted register, but the other schools that ARE "up to the task" as it were, happen to be private, and thats just not something we are in a position to consider.

Re the facebook video - I have close family all over the country who don't get to see us often, so I post videos of the kids doing all sorts of stuff. I see hundreds of "my babies walking now, look" videos - didn't think a "my babies reading now, look" would be a big deal. Competition parenting is bloody stupid.

I will look into the Nurtureshock book, and the Oxford Owl library, thank you for that.

nennyrainbow Mon 08-Aug-16 23:04:54

Try the Book People if you haven't already for cheap book sets.

With FB, you can group your friends and family and then just allow your posts to be seen by certain groups. So you could group your family and just send the FB videos to them in future if you don't want to be perceived as showing off ( which is how most people on FB will see it).

I think the G&T register is more red tape than actually doing anything. It sounds to me like she will be put on it from what you've said. I only found out by chance that my DS2 was on it when he was in reception as I had asked whether he was on any special programs because of his HFA and the teacher said no, but he was on the G&T list. I don't think he does anything different because of being on the list and I don't even know if he's still on it.

KarmaNoMore Mon 08-Aug-16 23:27:07

I have, aparently a gifted child, he has an IQ in the 98 percentile, was multiplying by 12 at 3, thought himself to read fluently before he was 4. As in your case, his bloody new school wouldn't accept he should be reading at that level and started sending him home with books he was reading at 2, so he lost interest in that.

By 5 he could talk fluently in three languages at a level much higher than his age, was a genius in mental maths and could splurt facts about politics, geography and history that have put their teachers to shame. I found him reading Stephen Hawkins' Grand Design when he was 6, admittedly, he only read half of it but he said he found it very interesting.

So, years later... He refuses to talk in any language other than English, so his conversation skills in the other 2 are gone. He is bright in school, top set for most important subjects but so relaxed about everything I wouldn't say he is doing better than the average child. He was classed as gifted in maths but being dyslexic, he has found it very difficult to keep the pace with advanced maths since he has to write the equations.

So my "gifted" child is pretty average nowadays. Which I suppose the proves the point that being "gifted" is not a permanent talent.

What I would say is, if she has such interest in learning, don't let the school hold her back. You can get the Oxford Reading Tree books cheaply in Ebay or borrow them from the local library. Play Radio 4 in the background and don't put any pressure, when you think she is ready for the next challenge, get her the book/activity/etc and leave it somewhere where she could find it and had a go at it on her own.

With regards to learning an instrument. Being so young it is important that you choose one that is suitable both to her personality and her hands' ability. There is a book called the Right Instrument for Your Child, it does really help when selecting one.

Good luck!

PlotterOfPlots Tue 09-Aug-16 00:32:15

No idea on the bright vs gifted thing but to me it's a moot point.

There is plenty of "other" stuff in YR to challenge children. For example, working cooperatively with a peer, or in a group, or having the sticking power to complete something that isn't to your liking, or to deal with your output not being perfect. Working with others can be a particular challenge to a very forward child, and it's particularly tricky if they are mainly used to a parent providing things that fit round them and "following their lead" - as firstborns tend to get, especially very expressive and vocal ones! I know mine did. Personally I think it's helpful for parents to see group working skills as an area worthy of effort rather than dismissing it, thinking their child is just too clever to communicate with the riffraff. Getting on with people might be a "soft skill" but it contributes significantly to someone's happiness and career options IMO. It doesn't come easily to everyone, but the same is true of reading and everyone gets support with that.

My DS can do all sorts of clever stuff with maths, but this year (y2) he's made genuine friendships with a child who has little speech, a different child who has autism (they have loads in common, it's lovely to see!), and he has started joining in with football and developed an interest in improving his game and following the local team. These may not be exceptional achievements but we feel they are much better uses of his time than, say, doing advanced maths worksheets and working towards a super-early GCSE. He kind of carves his own path with maths - that's the easy bit for us. Today at dinner he told me out of the blue that if 20 people clinked glasses there would be 190 different clinks, so we talked around that. But the much more challenging part of parenting him is trying to encourage him to try things that are out of his comfort zone, stuff he won't immediately succeed at, learn how to interact with others (ie understand they don't all want to talk about his specialist subject, and learn how to talk about or do other things). Maths at school is fine. He's had lovely teachers and he still says maths is easily his favourite subject so we're happy with that.

Early reading is a gift for a child (and parent!) because it opens up an incredibly rich seam of access to information. But in terms of "cleverness" it's somewhat fleeting, as a PP says. Some later readers genuinely do catch up or overtake by 7/8. This is fine, and probably quite good for the egos of the super-early readers. See early, easy reading as a gift given to your child - I don't mean in the sense of "giftedness", but in the sense that they are lucky to have had this present land in their lap. Yes it does bring its own challenges for you. But taking a child who finds reading hard from non-reader to end of reading scheme, over several demoralising years of hard work and tears, is many many times harder IMO. Writing is a great avenue if she is into that - her version of "play" might be story writing for example.

sablepoot Tue 09-Aug-16 08:52:32

There are so many differences in opinion between where the line between gifted and bright is that the gifted designation is meaningless. According to who you talk to it can mean anything from top 10% (your dd almost certainly) to Einstein (your dd probably not, but arguably way too early to say). Teachers and schools use it differently too, so the answers to your questions won't necessarily help you to know how things will work out for your dd. The gifted label also can be emotive, so my advice would be don't use it, use bright instead. Be careful not to brag (even inadvertantly) about your dd's abilities as it never goes down well - for some reason academics are not celebrated in the same way as eg sporting talents in this country. Continue to support, encourage and develop her interests as best you can without neglecting areas she might be less good at (eg social skills, sport). More cerebral extra curricular activities like music and chess are things that some people find helpful. School may or not be a problem, a lot depends on the teacher, so no point worrying in advance, but tackle any problems when they arise.

Greenleave Tue 09-Aug-16 12:31:47

You sound such a wonderful mom even just to read what you describe your daughter, I can feel all love/support here. You watch her, support and know her development well, gifted vs bright she will def go far.

Personally I am very against gifted word, which only is suitable for "lazy" people who dont have to do much and was given a particular skills/ability from birth, and if they dont continue to nuture these ability/skills then all the others will catch up. Your daughter sounds as if she loves learning, it doesnt need to be quantified at this early age as just in maths/english or reading tree(and quite alot kids can read well and do maths before reception on mumsnet). There are many other things that she can be challenged(why not picking up an instrument, at this early age it can be a violin for an example). Support level is very different in each school. Our local state outstanding school supports everyone-which means that everyone has an equal level of support, it sounds fair however when your child is thirsted for challenge then it might not be a perfect school as resource is equally spread to everyone(she can be bored, learns things too quickly and finds school is too easy, no challenge...nothing is interesting except playing time-well, that is mine). How you want her to be raised is important(financially too). Many private prep schools do wonderful in stretching their pupils and help them to expand their limit better(if you can afford/and amanage-convenience-pick vs drop)
I am also learning too, my child isnt gifted however she is very close to your daughter based on what you describe here, I am no where nearly as good as you( I am trying to make it up now, still loads to catch up to everyone here). All the best!

sashh Fri 12-Aug-16 06:06:42

YOu have said a lot of what she can do but not much that she can't other than getting bored with toys.

Honestly I think she will be bored with some stuff in YR but I think there are things she does need to learn, such as if she is bored with playing then there won't always be someone to give her something she does want to do and as a PP said to learn to play with others, cooperate etc.

I'm assuming she can get her self dressed / changed, can ask to go to the toilet, eat with a knife and fork? If she can't then these are the skills she needs to start school.

If she is gifted then she will be bored at least some of the time in school.

If she isn't then the thing you have to watch for is that she finds the learning to read/write boring and tunes out and then the others overtake her while she is being bored.

UnexpectedBaggage Fri 12-Aug-16 06:48:29

She's certainly bright but, as has been said, it's difficult to decide on gifted until she's older. She may just be forward in her milestones for now. If she enjoys "work" then let her do it, as long as she does physical and practical things as well.

Both DSs were very early readers and enjoyed "academic" work from nursery school, now one is a PhD and the other a MSc. They are both crap at sport and anything practical. Both are devoid of any common sense as well. Thank God they earn a living by their brains because there's sod all else they can do. smile

irvineoneohone Fri 12-Aug-16 10:34:57

I think reception isn't so bad, since it's mostly child led learning.
All the children get bored at certain aspect of school life. I think learning how to deal with it is important.
You can either get disruptive, disengaged and become a trouble, or learn to entertain yourself and find some fun within any topic.
She sound like a very inquisitive child, so I'm sure she will find learning at school a lot of fun.

corythatwas Fri 12-Aug-16 19:49:19

Dd seemed verbally quite advanced at an early age, was identified as gifted in primary school, but had in many ways levelled out by the end of Sixth Form.

Not (I think) because the others had caught up or because she had lost interest, but because the things that were being tested had changed. Basically, she is very good with words, very good at understanding and "feeling" literature- all very impressive at age 6- but by the time she got to the end of Sixth Form it was already becoming clear that she has not got the kind of analytical mind needed for essay-writing and analysis. She enjoyed college, but is quite clear that she does not want to go to university. She is trying to get into stage school, where I think she would be a much better fit.

I otoh was also an impressively early talker, but turned out to have the particular mind that writes (if I may say it myself) a good PhD. Otoh I do not have my db's giftedness at mathematics, so giftedness is a multi-facetted thing.

Gifted can be all sorts of things.

What neither dd or myself have, however, is the kind of mind that gets bored or gives up if we are not stimulated from outside. I went to a very unambitious backwater state school: and found I could easily listen to the teacher with one ear and plan my own reading or make up stories in my head at the same time. Don't think it would ever have occurred to me to wait for somebody else to tell me to start learning or finding things out: that seems to have been inborn. Even in middle age I don't get bored waiting at bus stops or when sleepless in bed either: there is always something to think about. So I don't think I needed any particular support, beyond a well stocked library.

corythatwas Fri 12-Aug-16 20:05:50

I have always felt bemused by the (it seems to me very British) assumption that informal play is somehow less intellectually advanced than filling in worksheets. Surely imaginative play- testing different scenarios, making up dialogue, playing with words- is far more like the academic work that goes on in higher education than filling in worksheets is?

I can understand that some children prefer the worksheets because they do, on the whole, require less intellectual and creative effort: if you are an early developer it is a way to earn praise very cheaply.

But as a parent if you have a bright child, I seriously don't see why you would want to feed them the idea that it is the less challenging worksheet approach that constitutes "real learning". A bright child needs to be taught that learning is in everything around you, that it is something you do for yourself (with a little help from others) and that there are always more questions to be asked.

Mov1ngOn Fri 12-Aug-16 20:34:30

I agree completely. A bright child with access to several different acrivity tables, roleplay area, outdoor play, construction, writing area, books etc who is bored isn't trying hard enough. Just worksheets isn't really challenging or stretching a child or developing imagination or problem solving or working with others...

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