Identifying Gifted Toddlers

By Joan Franklin Smutny for Your Baby Today

Toddler & DadA gifted child demonstrates unique and clever behavior long before a school acknowledges it. Though, parents-especially new parents with little experience-may not recognize the special talents of their child until a standardized test or a teacher evaluation identifies those talents. Some parents may suspect that something is different about their child, but they shy away from the subject. Parents are the best judges of their child's abilities, particularly from infancy to seven years old; therefore, they should trust their instincts and act on them.

What do you look for in a potentially gifted toddler?

A high level of curiosity is often the most immediate sign of giftedness, but you also should look for early development in three general areas:

Motor skills (ability to execute large and small motor tasks with ease)

Quantities (large vocabulary, long attention span, long and often complex sentences, fast absorption of knowledge)

Comparisons (compared to other children: finds more ways to use toys and tools, an imaginative approach to activities, concocts creative solutions to problems, shows deeper understanding of questions and answers from adults)

Your toddler may be gifted if he or she:

Sits through a reading of a long book and then asks hear it again

Walks or talks early, and/or shows early interest in the alphabet

Shows interest in and understands numbers and time concepts

Completes puzzles intended for older children

Compensates for handicaps-learns to adjust and function in spite of them

Demonstrates strong sensitivity and response to music

Remembers complex events and describes them vividly long after the fact

Expresses an advanced sense of humor-recognizes incongruities as humorous

Relays stories or narrates events clearly and creates a plausible ending to a story

Absorbs songs and poems quickly and recites them accurately

Expresses impatience with limitations (i.e., when the mind wants to perform tasks that the body can't yet handle)

Comprehends how things should fit in the scheme of things; stands firms is intolerant of something she perceives to be unfair

Consistently organizes, sorts, arranges, and classifies things, and then assigns them all names

Understands cause and effect, makes inferences, responds to directions, and multitasks earlier than others

To notice a toddler's special talents -- that is, before they attend school -- is beneficial to their development. If they receive the support, guidance, and instruction that are appropriate to their skills, they're more likely to reach their full potential. As a parent, you are your child's first teacher-be observant and encouraging.

Read more about toddlers

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.