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Are We Pushing Our Grandson Too Hard?
Q: My 2-year-old grandson seems very intelligent for his age. Since age 15 months he has known most of the presidents of the United States and the solar system. He has a very advanced vocabulary, knows his alphabet, and can also identify the letters in sign language.
We're worried about the attitudes of people who see what he is capable of. Many seem to think we "push" him too hard, but all we do is feed his curiosity and encourage him. At this early age, is there anything special we should doing for his well-being?
A: What a fun grandson you have! When you have a very bright child, you get used to people making comments that are not always helpful. Recently a gifted five-year-old friend of mine went to a summer day camp. When his mother picked him up, the staff rushed her as a group to ask her what type of flashcards she was "using on him," since he knew so much!
Of course, she wasn't showing flashcards, she was only feeding his natural, boundless curiosity, as you are with your grandson. Give him lots of books, crayons, building toys, trips to zoos and libraries, as well as the sandbox! It sounds as if you are doing lots of "the right stuff" already.
I do not advocate special teaching programs, such as teaching babies how to read. When little preschoolers are ready, they will learn. An additional point to remember: Refrain from asking your grandchild to show off to friends or family members what he knows. Little children can get used to that kind of attention-seeking and it's not always appropriate. Good luck.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.