4-Year-old Overacheiver

Updated on April 08, 2008
A.H. asks from Kaysville, UT
14 answers

My 4 year-old-daughter is reading and doing math at a second grade level. My husband and I do not push her to be a genius, but she does it on her own. (e.g. I found a 5 page illustrated book on her desk about a week ago. She had sounded out words on her own, of course there were a lot of mispelled words, but they were very close to accurate). We do not force her to do anything.

One of her favorite things to do is to read phonics books. I love that she is so intelligent, but it has presented a lot of problems too. Her preschool teachers are frustrated with her because she answers ALL the questions and doesn't give the other children a chance to respond. She gets very frustrated because I think she feels like she is being held back. She has started having behavior issues in school. We put her in a center-based preschool, because we realized that although she was ahead of the game academically, she was behind socially. She is an only child, and has only one cousin that is much younger than her.

We have had advice ranging from home-school, to skipping her a grade (this one came from a member of the schools administration). We don't want to skip her because she is already going to be one of the youngest in her class (born in May) and we don't want her to have the social issues that will come along with being even younger once she gets into highschool. We had thought that we would be able to get her through Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, at which point she could enter Spectrum classes, but I'm seriously doubting that we are going to get that far. I am SOOOOO scared that she is going to get into Kindergarten and "shut down" because she is so bored, and then carry those habits throughout school. With preschool, we have tried challenging her more at home, but that is only going to make the problem worse the more she learns. Also, it is not helping during preschool.

I'm nervous about home-school because of the lack of social opportunities.

We have not ruled out either option, but we are hoping to get more advice from parents that have "been there". Any help and advise will be GREATLY appreciated!

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J.

answers from Denver on

Hi A.
I don't know where you live, or what you situation is financially, but I do know that there are 2 wonderful private schools for gifted kids in the Denver/Boulder area. One is The Logan School for Creative Learning http://www.theloganschool.org/
and the other is Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted and Creative
www.rms.org
They both seem to be able to keep kids challenged and working at their own level, without expecting them to behave older than they are.
Good Luck.
-J.

1 mom found this helpful

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R.W.

answers from Colorado Springs on

First, I would definitely advise not to hold her back in her learning. I had an uncle who was reading encyclopedia's at age 3 and comprehending the material as well. My grandmother did not let him skip any grades either because of some of the same issues you mentioned. When he was in middle school, he got so bored with the classes that he started taking drugs and drinking alot. He was just frustrated and needed an outlet I guess, so he turned the wrong direction. The drugs and alchohol really messed him up. He is now in his 40's and can barely read at all and has LOT'S of social issues; especially with the law. It would be like your average adult sitting in a classroom everyday while someone was teaching them the ABC's and 123's. You would already know it all and just get bored and irritated real fast. Not to say that what happened to my uncle will happen to your daughter,(those were different times), but I would definately cater to her individual "special" needs. If she is more advanced, I would go for it and see how far it takes her. As far as home-schooling, you should check out COVA(Colorado Virtual Academy). They are a public charter home-schooling program. The classes are internet based and you would have an overseeing teacher to help you. They will give her some sort of comprehension test and then place here accordingly. Her teacher, and other parents, organize social events with students in her "class" as well and on a regular basis. That way she can interact with other kids and not miss out on any social skills. They even have talent shows and things like that. The curriculum is really easy to follow and they teachers are very helpful. All the materials are free; they even pay for your internet connection. They will let you borrow a computer to use for her if you choose. My son attended COVA last year. We already had 2 computers, but borrowed one anyway just for him to use for schooling. The only reason he isn't attending now is because we are moving out of Colorado and they do not offer the program where we are going. I'm hoping to find one similar to it though. Ok, sorry to have "talked" your ear off, but thought you should really check out COVA. Just type in COVA or K12 in your search engine and it should come right up. They'll have a website you can browse around in and an 800 # to call for info. Hope this helps and good luck to you; and your daughter. Take care.

R.

1 mom found this helpful
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H.T.

answers from Denver on

Homeschool and don't look back!

I can give you advice (I hope) from your daughter's perspective, though not from the parental perspective, but first I want to address the issue of social opportunities.

First of all, I have become convinced that school is a pretty terrible place to learn social skills, and it's even more so for kids who are fairly outside the norm in some way or another. (More on that later from my own experience)

Secondly, from what I have seen of LDS churches, there should be plenty of opportunity for social activity there. They're pretty active churches, it seems to me. You can also join a support group that meets regularly.

Ok, on to my experience in school. I was also brighter than average, and advanced for my age. I learned how to read at four, though I don't know if I was doing second-grade reading and math. Kindergarten was ok for me, because it was mostly playtime, but 1st grade suddenly became excruciatingly boring. I checked out mentally. Fortunately my parents put me in an accelerated private school, and taught me things at home, and I am eternally grateful that they did both of those things. I have often wished they would have just homeschooled me. I would have learned more, wasted less time going over stuff I had known for years, and it would have been better socially as well. I was shy, and I did better in a situation with fewer people around that I could get to know well (the private school was smaller than the public one), and I think I would have done even better if I were homeschooled.

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R.W.

answers from Provo on

A.-
I too have had this same problem with both of my older 2 girls. I am a preschool teacher and faced this problem with many of my students. As a teacher there is not much else to do but encourage them to read, I seperated them into a seperate group and read the bob series. But as a mom I faced great challanges at the public school. My girls now are in 4th and 2nd grade and my 4th grader stopped reading because it was too easy and she got bored. I could see my 2nd grader going in the same direction so we researched and found a charter school in our neighborhood(and it's free!). The charter school we go to does the Core Knowledge program which is excellent for excelled learners. They seperate the kids for math, spelling and reading into their own levels of learning. My 2nd grader is in the 5th grade reading program and loves it and my 4th grader is enjoying reading again. Their are a lot of LDS members that attend there and we had a wonderful Christmas program that public schools aren't allowed to have. Our director is not LDS but still a very good christian man. This might be a very good option for you to look at. You can do research online for State of Utah public charter schools and find one in your area. If your daughter is attending kindergarten next year, now is the time to research and find a school because they all have small enrollments because they focus on small teacher/student ratios. Hope this helps. I know from experience that it cures the boredem fear. If you'd like more information you can e-mail me at [email protected]____.com

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C.A.

answers from Provo on

I have a 3 year old who sounds very similar to your daughter. He is very smart and has always been way ahead of the other kids his age. He loves preschool though, and is very social. Are you planning to send your daughter to public school? I would reccommend sending her to a private school where she can have the opportunity to be properly challenged and stimulated. I think a kid that smart needs the proper environment in order to thrive. I would send her to a private school or homeschool her. I understand your concern with social life if she is homeschooled. I struggled with the same thing and decided against homeschool. Have you ever heard of a private school called Challenger. It is in Orem, you should look into it. Good luck!

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L.

answers from Denver on

I think we tend to focus too much on "fitting in" and being popular. The reality is that everyone, at some point or another, does not fit in and this can be what motivates us to go beyond our boundaries and to grow. I skipped 2 years of school and decided to study abroad for a few years, mostly because I didn't "fit in" California. Best thing I have ever done, and suprisingly, I found great friends all over the world. I will never "fit in" with the kids in the school I went to in California and truth be told, it really doesn't matter. I'm not only more financially successful, I feel I'm more emotionally successful since I don't need to derive my sense of worth by what other people think of me. I tend to feel that no matter what you do, you'll be placed in some sort of box in school or even work and the best lesson one can get is to find the strength to break out of the box. So encourage your child to continue to learn. She will find her place on her own. If worse comes to worse, she can always move to Silicon Valley where kids growing up with social issues because of intelligence are the norm--not the exception. :)

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R.H.

answers from Salt Lake City on

I am not sure what to do about her raising her hand and not giving the other children a chance to respond. You may be able to start teaching her taking turns and letting others answer, too.

I was a "gifted" child in Kindergarten. I was reading around the age of four. Myself and one other girl were the "smartest" in the class. I had to learn to wait to let a few other kids answer first. If they were wrong, then the teacher would call on me. What worked for me and the other child was extra reading or meorizing of poem, etc. after I finished my regular work, I read more books or helped the teacher with extra things in the classroom. Also, the other girl that I stated above lived in the same neighborhood as I did which made it easier for her and I to do the extra homework together.

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C.S.

answers from Fort Collins on

Hi A.,

I beleive you are right about her shutting down or rebelling when she gets into kindergarten because she is so advanced and MIGHT get bored and frustrated. Your fear of social issues later on with her being much younger than everyone else, may or may not happen. We all know how cruel kids can be and may shun her for being so different (i.e., calling her a know-it-all, teacher's pet, etc.), but I believe that children have a way of finding their place. She will find others who are on her advanced intelligence level who may be a different age, but that never seems to be an issue with gifted children.
I was a gifted child, who skipped preschool, who had a first grade reading and math level at age 5 (wasn't in kindergarten until I was 6 years). My parents taught me the importance of giving others a chance to excel by not answering every question even though I knew what the answers were, and to edify them when they got a difficult answer correct. So, that helped me make friends rather than them disliking me. My teacher also allowed me to help the other children with their reading skills, and that made me feel very useful, smart, and appreciated. I was put into a gifted and talented program when I started 1st grade and that lasted the duration of my gradeschool days. I found that when I got into middle school, other kids had caught up with me, others were still behind and others were smarter. That taught me how big the world can be and that I wasn't the only advanced kid out there. Part of me liked it and a part of me hated it because I was so competitive, academically. However, I knew when it was appropriate to do so. Again, something I just learned, just as your daughter will. Your daughter is only 4 and may not understand these skills yet, but give her a year and watch how far she'll come. Once she understands, she'll learn on her own (and with guidance) how to utilize her skills. And if you talk to her teachers (and they are good teachers) and explain things to them, they will help her excel in the ways that she needs to. That's what teachers are for. ;-)
In my opinion, I think home-schooling your daughter might hinder her in some ways. I know that if I would have been home-schooled (not something that was done back then, but still), I would not have felt challenged enough because it was being in school, around others, and all those experiences that gave me the challenges I needed. Being in the gifted and talented program helped me SO MUCH, having other adults give me a push in the direction I needed to go helped, and having other children to relate to (in some ways, of course) helped me tremendously. I absolutely LOVED school and it would have killed me not to be able to go.
I hope this helps you some.
In the meantime, I also have a 4 year old daughter who is very advanced and would love to play with your daughter. Are you in Fort Collins?

C.

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T.R.

answers from Denver on

Hi A.,

It sounds like she needs something to create a balance in her life. Get her involved in sports, dance, crafts... something that she enjoys and allows her to interact with other children.

T.

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D.P.

answers from Colorado Springs on

You really ought to be outraged that your daughters teachers are trying to hold her back, rather than encouraging her to do her best. Perhaps they could try directing questions toward specific children (in a no-pressure for getting it wrong sort-of way) rather than asking general questions to the whole class in order for THEM to give other children opportunities, instead of expecting a 4-year-old to "give other children a chance."
Holding your daughter back probably won't help her socially either, because she'll feel out of place anyway. It will eventually result in resentment, and possibly a dislike of school resulting in poor grades and an unwillingness to make friends there. Other children will start to tease her for being smart. People, in general, don't like to be made to feel stupid, and being around smart people tends to have that effect. I went to elementary school with a boy who was a year younger, and he had plenty of friends, despite being physically smaller than the rest of us. I would let her skip a grade--but only one. As far as her social development, not everyone is cut out to be a social butterfly. As long as your daughter actually spends time around people (I disagree with home schooling in most cases) she'll develop some ability to deal with other people. We all have our strengths, and you should allow your daughter to shine with hers.
Beyond that, I agree with the others here. Have her tested for being gifted, and look into gifted schools. Then she'll be around other children as advanced as she is, and perhaps it will do her good to have some degree of "competition" in answering the teacher's questions. Get her involved in Girl Scouts or a team sport to give her more opportunities to socialize (but don't overdo it).

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R.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

you need to enroll your daughter in a program for accelerated children. I recommend a privte school, challenger has a good program you should check out when they enroll. I would not recommend home schooling for an only child, she needs social interaction. I would also recommend a sport or dancing or something else where she interacts with children. Her entire life cannot be about school and learning she needs interaction with other kids if she is going to balance herself.

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T.G.

answers from Grand Junction on

A.,
I know exactly how you feel, my now seven year old son is exactly the same way and I went through all of those decisions myself. He taught himself to read and do math all on his own before preschool and is constantly learning and absorbing everything he hears. Teachers told me to move him up at least a grade, but I know that socially he wouldn't do well - and I was a year ahead when I went to school and I know how hard it was to go through middle school and high school being so much younger than my peers. In kindergarten, it became very hard to get him to go to school because he hated it and was constantly bored - not to mention that his teacher told him when she would ask a question "Not you Dylan, I know you know the answer", so he just stopped participating all together.

Anyway, coming to the solution I found - I don't know where you are located, but in my area they opened a new charter school that uses the Core Knowledge Program that tests each student in each subject at the beginning of the year and they are grouped with students at their level for that subject - regardless of their actual grade (the charter school does not cost anything to you monetarily). They also implicate History and Science classes that keeps him very interested. He absolutely loves going to school now and is challenged to live up to his potential. It has been wonderful for us and I am so thankful to have found it. If you would like to know more - e-mail me at [email protected]____.com this helps!

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M.R.

answers from Fort Collins on

My son who is five years old sounds a lot like your daughter. I homeschooling him in COVA(Colorado Vitual Academy) It is a public homeschool program it can be found all over the nation.www.k12.com He is in K. He started in 1st grade math this sem. and we flew through the curriculum so fast that we are starting 2nd grade this next semester . He also has been reading for sometime now and is in 1st grade Phonics and Lang Arts. The program has so many social outlets it's not even a concern. What I love about the program is you go at their pace fast or slow and they can move up a grade at 80% complete. The curriculum has objectives that you follow and it give you guidelines and you are able to find your childs strengths and weaknesses and shape the curriculum around the way they learn. K12 also has a gifted and talented program which is called GATE. Hope this gives you some ideas to check out! Blessings

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M.M.

answers from Reno on

Hi, A.,

First, congratulations on having such an advanced child. My child is an only as well and she is behind a bit socially also.

Have you looked into a private preschool setting that may encourage the children that are ahead? Is that a resource you can use? I would go onto Google and look for special programs in the area - I know there is a Goddard School in Colorado springs that I would highly recommend, but I don't know if that's feasible for you - are you in the Springs area or closer to Pueblo?

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