Ideas to Parent Your Gifted Preschooler: Socialization Versus Academics

Page content

Being a Responsive Parent

Parents of gifted children know that activities for gifted children in preschool do more than just capitalize on their innate learning abilities. Since raising a gifted child is not as simple as it may sound, experts – such as Linda Kreger Silverman from the Child Development Institute – call for a responsive parenting approach, which underscores personal discovery and interest development.

Add to this the importance of socialization, and it quickly becomes obvious that such activities may quickly turn into a tall order for the average parent. Bright Hub Education’s own Vonnie Chestnut – in her article entitled “Emotional Needs of a Gifted Child” – touches on the importance of nurturing the emotional side of the child while concomitantly focusing on the academic end. Since preschoolers cannot fully communicate their emotional and social needs, play activities that meet an assumed need while also providing intellectual diversion come into play.

A Lesson in Support

Parents of gifted children already know that asynchronous development of their youngsters makes some games impractical and even dangerous. Since cognitive ideas go beyond age-compatible maturity, special care should be taken in not allowing the child to engage in any games that might cause danger or harm.

Compare and Contrast – for the abstract thinker

If your preschooler is gifted in the area of abstract thinking, capitalize on this ability by playing compare and contrast games. Ask her to liken an airplane to a bird, spring to fall, or hot to lukewarm. This requires a bit of mental gymnastics and is sure to give you an insight into your child’s working mind. If possible, play this game with a number of gifted children to allow the kids to work together on ideas for comparisons and also contrasts.

Hypothesize – for the creative thinker

Start off with tangible hypotheses, such as “what will happen when we bake the cookies in the oven?” From there, move on to intangible ideas that call for creative thinking. You might ask “what would happen if it snowed in summer?” This encourages story telling and creativity. For the purpose of socialization, play this game with a number of preschoolers and offer each child a different scenario.

Team sports – for the only child

If you parent an only child or have a hard time finding a peer group, enroll the child in a preschool team sport. This might be a dance class, gymnastics course where kids are frequently sorted into changing groups for activities, or peewee soccer or softball. The goal is to foster communication abilities with peers and also teach cooperation in a group setting.

Is an Academic Preschool the Answer?

As parents of gifted children, activities for these children that cater to their giftedness are a very real temptation. The problem arises when the preschooler enters kindergarten with other children, most of whom will not share her cognitive abilities. Before long, she will be the odd child out, and there is the very real danger that she might seek to hide her smarts in favor of peer acceptance.

A post on the Berkeley Parents Network strongly cautions parents against placing their children into the academic preschool. Instead, the advice goes against the grain of that which parents might consider useful: Children should attend a preschool that primarily focuses on socialization, the formation of peer relationships, and the art and science of everyday interactions. Within this setting, the child may actively learn to hone social skills, while enjoying intellectually stimulating activities at home with the parents.