2 Year Old Seems to Be Advancing Quickly

Updated on October 24, 2010
J.S. asks from Bothell, WA
15 answers

Hello Mommas,

I am writing to you in the hopes that you might be able to give me some guidance and/or insight with our daughter's educational needs.

My 2 year old (September 5) speaks pretty clearly in succint sentences. She recognizes letters from the alphabet while we are out and about and 9 times out of 10 associate that letter with something with which it starts. She can count to 20, knows her colors, shapes, and has a mind like a 'steel trap.' (As my husband puts it.) I have not pushed her in any way to become this sort of learner; everything has always been child lead. (I was a teacher for almost 15 years so I did not want to push that on her; seeing one too many times what can happen when a child is just pushed too hard.) She is socially well adjusted, is well like by her peers and also enjoys playing with them.

My concern is this, I am unable to find a school that will be willing to take her because she missed the August 31st cutt off date. I am afraid if I can't find her someplace where her gifts can be nurtured, she'll become bored. There are some co-ops in the area that have large age groupings, but I honestly don't think that she'll continue to be challenged.

Part of me is thinking that she's done fine this far at home, let's just keep it going...but like I said, I want her to continue to be part of that social and educational circles.

Does anyone know of any schools in Snohomish County/North King County with a good program for toddlers such as my daughter? Any suggestions for keeping her engaged and ways to continue to nurture her gifts?

Like I said, everything has been child lead and I will continue to do so. She is a wonderfully bright little girl and I just want whats best for her.

Thank you so much!

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So What Happened?

It seems that she is just like every other 2 year old apparently. None that I know, but they are out there. Thanks everyone! :)

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answers from Portland on

I so agree with Peg M. A child's job at that age is to play. She will grow and learn so many other things as she explores her world through play.
My younger son was very advanced academically on his own, but was given lots of time and space to play and create. Today at almost 20 years old he is still bright, smart, and a kind and caring person of others.
Believe me there is no rush to advance in this area.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

It's great that you are aware of the tension between pursuing academics and the natural activities of young children. Everything I have researched, as well as my own experience with some really bright kids (including my going-on-five grandson) confirms that babies and toddlers need play, and lots of it. Free play, exploratory play, physical/active play, pretend play, manipulative play, role-playing play, and more play. This is children's real "work." This is what allows the brain to develop properly.

There is plenty of time for children to invest in academics in coming years. It's perfectly fine to teach her yourself at a rate that she has an appetite for, without pushing an agenda at her. You are exposing her to all sorts of learning opportunities now, and that's probably optimal, especially encouraging language and a large vocabulary, which are the single best predictor of academic performance in the elementary years.

If she's truly gifted, to a degree that normal relationships with her peers simply won't stimulate her enough, I think that will become evident in her first two or three years in grade school, at which point you may wish to find a school environment that can offer accelerated classes for exceptional children. She's probably too young for you to really know that now.

All of that could come at the cost of a "normal" childhood. But there are kids who really would find that normalcy pretty stultifying. I think you will gradually know whether your daughter is one of those children.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't think the preschool you choose needs to be the end all. Keep doing the wonderful things you are doing at home but add a co-op.

I think the time to worry about her placement will be in Kindergarten. At that time finding the right school will become paramount because you will want to find a school that differentiates the curriculum for her.

A good preschool's focus should be on play especially at age two and three. As a teacher, you know the value of art, imaginative play, and hands on learning.

As I am writing this, my seven year old is showing me squared numbers up to 2 to the power of 9 and he is now making division problems for me to solve. (It's eight in the morning; so I am struggling to keep up with him).

When he was a toddler we went to a co-op the first year (age two) and then to a private preschool for the next two years of preschool. I choose the school because it values the whole child. For Kindergarten we moved to our local Catholic school. He is now a second grader. Though it is academically challenging, I made this choice because our local public schools struggle to provide science, art, music, and p.e. I felt that if the focus was solely on reading, math and writing, my children ( I also have a ten year old) would be bored since they are both above grade level and need the other subjects to keep school interesting.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

If she is truly gifted now, she will still be gifted a year from now. Don't rush academics on her, she is still just a baby. Keep reading to her, make sure she gets plenty of playtime and sleep and limit her TV time. My son is 4 and is reading and doing simple math. He also loves the solar system. We encourage those things at home (with books and trips to the science center) but at preschool, he just plays and works on his social skills.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would find a good Montessori school in your area. If you're not familiar with Montessori, look it up, and You Tube has some good videos also. In a Montessori classroom, the children work at their own pace and a quality Montessori teacher will stay one step ahead of the children. Then I would keep her in Montessori at least through Kindergarten. I'm a Montessori teacher and one concern that parents have when their children leave Montessori is that they'll be bored. However, Montessori schools teach to the whole child, not just social skills or academics. Yes, bored children can become discipline problems and while Montessori children are generally academically ahead of their peers, they usually aren't bored when and if they enter public school. They are responsible, respectable, helpful, leaders in the classroom, have a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning! They know how to conduct themselves in public and in a classroom setting.
If they finish their work ahead of the other children, they could probably help others, (and would be happy to do so!) pull out a reading or workbook, help straighten up the classroom, etc.
I highly encourage you to start looking now, and look at ALL the Montessori school in your area, and I know there are some where you live. Don't forget to inform yourself about Montessori, too, if you haven't already because just because it says 'Montessori' doesn't necessarily mean it's a good quality one.
Good luck and if you need more info about Montessori or your child's needs, I would be happy to help you out. Montessori is the greatest, all of mine are Montessori children and I just started my 28th year as a Montessori teacher and I'm so passionate about it, I wouldn't consider doing anything else. And I've been a Montessori teacher for longer than I've been a parent.
Mary~Montessori School of Puyallup

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answers from Seattle on

My now 7 year old son was like that as well. I would say- just continue with what you are doing. My son's b-day is Oct. 7, which makes him the oldest in his class. We wouldn't have it any other way. He is very confident and well liked at his school. I believe this would have been a different story if he had started school earlier. In Kindergarten he memorized all of the NFL teams records and figured out who was likely to win each week by their records. He also could add up his own yahtzee score and multiply. I should say, that I don't think your daughter is just like every other two year old. My second child just confidently learned her letters at 4 (2 years later than her brother-and ther is nothing wrong with her head) and this is more the norm. She is right with her peers.
I have recently been reading a book called Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman. It has some thought provoking chapters. One thing I would advise (which we didn't do and can now feel the affects of) is to praise your daughters effort when she does something smart rather than pointing out how smart she is or having her show off. Be really careful with that. When my son encounters something that is tough he avoids it rather than pushing through. The first chapter of Nurture shock speaks to scientific evidence in this phenomenon. I am on the 5th chapter now which states that IQ tests done in preschool or even up to second grade usually don't hold up in the later grades. I am reading it slowly but it I would suggest you read it as well.
You have to stay one step ahead of a gifted preschooler. Just know that right now you can stay ahead of her and just continue the child driven learning. It is amazing how much I know about planets, dinosaurs, geography, sharks, etc. now. Enjoy! It is really fun to have a kid who learns easily and quickly
School is a bit frustrating but my son has been so confident. I don't think there is any rush for preschool. Also, I wouldn't push her ahead. They can supplement her academically through life but the social could be a problem. Remember she would be the youngest in junior high/ early highschool and do you really want to be sending a 17 year old away to college? What is the rush? (Younger students tend to bounce out of college and feel a failure- even the smart ones).
p.s. My son is in Montesorri grade school through the Seattle Public Schools. This technique is working well for him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My daughter was the same way at 2... And also missed the cutoff date, however I didn't even look into a preschool setting until she was 3... And they let me sign her up in the winter (january, after the holidays)... In the meantime, I signed her up for gymnastics and got involved in our local mom's club group for fun and socialization. She is now in kindergarden doing things she has known for years... But she is having fun! We work with her more at home than school probably ever will... I'm just glad she is enjoying her school experience and that learning comes very easy for her. I would enjoy your time with her as much as you can... Get involved in play groups and keep working with her on your own.... She'll do this more with you know than she will as she gets older! Have fun!

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answers from Dallas on

Sounds like my 2 year old, and lot's of 2 year olds I know. But we haven't thought of her as gifted, just happens normally around this age.

Have you contacted Montessori schools? What about teaching her yourself?
Is there a rush for school? If she is doing well without it, I would just continue to encourage learning at home. There is no need to rush her into an academic setting. Usually you get into an academic setting and they have to go at a slower pace to accommodate for all kids who are at different points.

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answers from Seattle on

Ex K-1 teacher here. I have taught in traditional schools, private schools for gifted young children, and Montessori schools. I am thinking Montessori preschool for your daughter. It will not emphasize reading, math, and writing, but it will be available if she wants to do it. There will be other areas such as fine and gross motor activies, geography, science, etc. I think that you should find out if there is one available and close to you. Try for a half day at your child's age. She is not ready for more than that.

Go and observe. Not all Montessori schools are the same, and I always recommend observing any school. If you feel uncomfortable don't enroll your child. If they limit your observation time, don't enroll your child. If you can't drop in, don't enroll your child.

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answers from Seattle on

Chelsea House Montessori (in Lake City... close to Dicks and Seattle Gymnastic Academy) is where my son went, and it's an amaaaaaazing school. For 2.5 - 6. They do NOT do daycare (their hours are strictly 9-3... one can do 9-12, 9-1, 9-3, 12-3, 1-3 ... minimum 3 days a week to 5 days a week), so they usually have openings year round. They are a *very small* school, 3 teachers 1 classroom, and between 10-20 students. When we were there, potty training was also required for entry (but they were *really* good about accidents / etc... you have ziplock bags with full changes of clothes -from shirt to socks-, so if there was an accident ... no biggie. Change 'em out, the bag of wet ones by the sign in sheet at the door... and the kids just keep going about their day. No shaming or trouble, just an easy "lets strip and get in dry ones!")

It's not technically a "gifted school", like Evergreen in Shoreline, but it might as well be. Learning is FUN, and encouraged, and nurtured in a way that is *ideal* for gifted kids.

Here are some snippets of things that my son was just exploding at the seams to tell me / I loved about the school:

"Mom! Did you know the brain has a big CRACK in it?!? Right down the middle separating the lobes! It's called the longee-tuna-fishy!" (longitudinal fissure... from their human body study)

Hearing the word "strata" used correctly (from their study of archeology and dinosaurs)

The scientific names of parts of plants and flowers (stamen, foramen, etc.) being used as easily as "leaf, trunk, roots" is used.

Model of the earth's crust, mantel, outer & inner core

Eric Carle study "bird" painting (i had that one framed... it's in my living room).

Singing "The earth goes around the sun, the sun.. the earth goes around the sun! 12 months! 52 weeks! 365 days!" as part of the birthday ceremony as the teacher holds a candle in the center of the circle and the birthday child dances around the circle with a globe the number of years that they are celebrating, and then gets to blow out the candle for good luck.

All of his weekly works that came home... from over 50 maps (my son loved map works), bracelets and necklaces, reading works, math works (by the time he "graduated", SUCH a touching ceremony, this was + - and multiple digit x & / ), his "book worm" (for every book they read, they put an extra circle with title, author, etc and it gets added to the worm), science works (LOVE the 9 planets necklace that came home... yes 8 now... but pluto was still a planet at the time). Seriously, everything from scissor work to counting dots to silly stuff to solid academics that our public school district consideres "3rd"!!! (argh) grade work.

Their discipline procedure : I NEVER once heard that ANYONE had been "bad" or was in "trouble". Instead; "So and so was having a hard time being a good friend today" or "So and so is learning how to be a good friend" (aka we don't bite, hit, take stuff, etc... not because it's bad... but because in order to be a good friend that isn't what one does... it's ALWAYS in the positive and giving children options and the right way to do things), or "So and so had to sit in the timeout chair so they could calm down and remember how to be a good friend (aka it's not a stigma being sent, it's a chance to cool off and remember). However, it was sooooo rare that it was ever needed.

Wiggles and movement are encouraged

There is a ton of time for running around and playing outside (they are essentially outside playing every hour).

The monthly newsletter that outlined what all the kids had been working on that month.

Being able to talk with the teacher EVERY DAY about how things went/ were going... because plain and simple, they just always made the time, and because there is a 10 minute window for drop off and pickup. So I could stand and talk with the teacher on the playground while the kids played, and then scoop up my kiddo and head out after low fives with the teacher and hugs to classmates.

The bathroom is right there (there are only two rooms in the house, not including the bathroom) and kids can use it WHENEVER they need to, at any time (inside or outside) throughout the day

The kids all help with cleanup (wiping down tables, sweeping, windows... whatever they *want* to do) all with child sized equipment (my son had a thing for windows... that's not a normal thing, but it was what he asked if he could do... so that's what he did).

Tons of stuff. Just an amazing school.

They don't have a glitzy webpage, and I'd recommend phoning rather than email. Pasha is just an amazing woman. Chelsea house was one of only 2 preschools in the city I was willing to send my son to (the other being Learning Tree - who DO have a glitzy web page, but CH is still my top pick). I *thought* I had "easy" requirements for a preschool "safe, fun, & interesting"... but those two were the only ones to really meet all 3 that I found in my searching.


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answers from Richland on

There are lots of things you could do at home to keep her interested and growing. A friend who does in home child care recommended "Mommy, Teach Me!" by Barbara Curtis. It's got ideas for Montessori activities you can try at home. We started to do a few, and it's been fun.



answers from Seattle on

Lake forest park montessori.. great place both my kids went there.. It is off of Ballinger way and 19th NE.. check it out know if you are intrestood.. as they usually have a waiting list..



answers from Grand Rapids on

sounds like your daughter is like mine. Mine is 2 1/2 going on 6. She knows a LOT and she sits with her half-brother who is 8 while he does his homework. He is trying to teach her how to add and subtract. She is trying to read on her own now. For me I figured that she is only a kid once, and no reason trying to start her in school now. I am a stay at home mom, so I want her home with me as long as possible. I feel that she won't get bored as she loves to play and read and has a great imagination. I know she will have enough school in her life, so i don't want to start her early. i also feel that it's my job as her parent to encourage the learning and teach her as much as possible, and supplement when in school. I can do that much better now and teach her things while at home.

if you really want to keep her motivated to learn, help her learn another language. Either buy videos or rent them at the library in different languages and teach her. I am looking into the signing time videos and teaching my kids sign language. I learned it, in college, and loved it. i teach my kids the basic signs so i was able to commnicate with them very early on. around 6-9 month area.


answers from Chicago on

You may want to see if you can find an arts driven day care type center to take her to or even just for the social stimulus a regular part time day care. If they see something additional in her they may be able to suggest something else from there as well. If she is the driving force, she will find success in any forum as long as those around her are willing to go along for the ride.



answers from Seattle on

Sounds similar to how my daughter was at that age. We choose to do a co-op because I wanted the social aspect for her, not really pushing academics. I think my daughter has about evened out now that she is 4, still a little ahead academically but not too far. Kids learn best thru play and that is what her co-op is all about, but each of the activities that is presented to the kids is actual teaching. To us it may not seem that way, but pre-reading, pre-writing, math, and science are all present in these activities. I am so surprised when my daughter comes home and tells me all the things she has done and how much she has learned in play environment.
I would have chosen Montessori for her, however, I really didn't want to drive 30mins each way to get the closest one to my home. But I am so glad we did co-op. There is a lot of parent commitment, but I am fortunate to be able to dedicate the time. The co-op we go to has a toddler program 18months to 3 years and a 3-5 class. I think that is typical with co-ops, so your daughter would fit right into one of the classes.
If you feel like when it comes time for Kindergarten, you daughter is close enough to the cut off, that you could have her tested, but here is my thought on that - if you have the opprotunity for her to stay home one more year and be the oldest in a class versus the youngest, I would chose to be the oldest. If you daughter still is exhibiting gifted tendencies, they will still be apparent in a few years, but for now, I would say focus on social and play based programs. Foster her need to learn thru activites and enjoy your time with her.

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