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Testing a Gifted Child
Q: I am going to homeschool my daughter who is now three and a half. I slowly started her on "Hooked on Phonics" and she loves it. She already knows her ABCs, phonics, shapes, etc. Am I starting her too early? I don't push anything -- we do it as a game. Should I have her abilities tested?
A: It sounds like you have a very bright little girl! You are following the right path by doing your teaching as a game. As long as there is no resistance, keep doing what you're doing. Children also need lots of time to play and explore at this age. Parents sometimes misinterpret this as "wasted time," but imaginative play is just as important as phonics or letter memorization, if not more so. Even daydreaming is important, as your child grows and absorbs vast amounts of new information each day. Try to keep a balance and incorporate learning in other ways, too. For instance, Legos® provide an introduction to logic, as well as teach your child how to follow directions. Many girls' toys do not encourage this type of thinking, so it's important to provide these toys for your daughter.
Reading aloud is another good way to help her discover that learning is fun. Go to the library and pick out several beautiful picture books. Read and discuss what you like or dislike about them. If your daughter finds a particular interest -- like rainbows -- pick out a book on that subject. Be careful not to "teach" that subject -- just share the knowledge together.
I think she is a bit young to enter the testing arena. Unless you suspect a problem, there is really no reason to have a child tested at such a young age. If she's progressing nicely -- and it sounds like she is -- just let her be herself. You know she's especially bright; you don't need a test to prove it. Enjoy her, and keep up the good work!
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.