Definitions,Thoughts, Questions, and the Difficulties of a Gifted Child

Okay, so this may be a bit long and rambling, but these are somethings that have been on my mind today.

So every morning, I am awaken by my crazy peanut with questions. These questions continue all day..... but mainly consist of definitions.

I wish I knew how her brain works...from the outside it seems that words must be randomly floating through her head and she spouts them out seeking meanings. Some of these words I know where she heard, from a book we read a month ago, from a show she watched 2 weeks ago, from a statement I made the day before....others I have no clue. Sometimes she can tell me where she heard it, other times she says "I don't know" when asked.

Here is a list of words that she asked for definitions of...these are JUST from today!


Some pretty huge words. This is all day long, when she is coloring and I am busy cleaning or cooking, outside when she is playing ball, riding in the car....All completely out of the blue.

I am thinking this is probably one of the ways her profoundly gifted brain works differently. I remember first noticing this when she was about 2 and she was working on a puzzle and I was reading a book on the couch. She looked up from her puzzle and asked "What does fancy mean?"
I get some words...but her need to know Erroneous, Beveled, etc....that just blows me away.

My thoughts for today were precipitated by an incident that happened at the library today. Right before we were leaving a little girl who was about A's age ran in. Said hi to A and asked if she wanted to play. A and she went over to the metal air system that is in the children's area that has giant magnetic letters. I was still chit chatting with the librarian when A came over to me carrying several letters and was very upset. "She won't play the right way. She won't let me spell words. We are supposed to be making words."

The little girl had no clue what the letters she was playing with were and was using the B as glasses. Typical play for this age, but A later told me that the girl "was very very impolite. I said we should spell words but she would not do it, and she took some of the letters I needed to make my sentence."

Was the girl being impolite,, she was being a 3 year old. She had absolutely no concept of spelling or what A was trying to do, even when A told her what she wanted. And A had no concept that the child did not understand. In her mind, of course she knew how to because she is her age and she she chose not to and was rude.

Which got me thinking...A really has no clue that other kids her age, and even much older kids do not know the things she does. She thinks "babies" have to learn the alphabet, "why would someone not know how to count mom?" has been asked to me before when she was trying to play hide and seek with kids her age when she was 2. She reads at a first grade level, yet most of her age mates are just learning the alphabet if that....she did JUST turn 3 after all. She can count to 100 by 1s, 5's,10's and do addition and subtraction with manipulations and simple addition and subtraction in her head....and has for months, when other kids her age are learning to count. She has known all her colors and shapes since before 18 months, yet in story time, that is what they worked on this past session....and that was for kids older then her. Sigh.....

So with A having no clue that every other kid her age does not do and know the same things she does, she assumes they are rude and impolite or do not want to play with her. When in reality, they just don't know how. This is one reason I try to put her in situations with 6,7,8 year olds to play, which works much better.

But how do I explain that these kids are not being rude, that they don't know how? Explain that yes she knows and understands much much much more then kids her age, without giving her and elitist attitude. She is no better then them, just different. I don't want this to become an issue and I feel it is...I feel she is starting to think kids are mean and rude all the time....but I feel if I explain it, then I am opening the door to another problem.

I have never talked to her about being gifted, and I don't think it is appropriate yet. So how do I handle these situations.

On another should see the looks I get from the parents as A spells words and writes sentences with the magnetic letters. Not very nice, let me tell you.


It's going to be a rambling comment too :) I didn't get Anna evaluated, but she is not much different from Ainsley. She reads very fluently and does pretty much the same things with math. She goes to normal play-based preschool and seems to thrive there, but she mostly hangs out with teachers. Still - her need for peer play and for pretend play really took off lately, and she enjoys play dates and adjusts her play to fit the other child. Many parents asked me, of course, how I taught her to read and tried the same things... not with the same results. It's important to me to raise my daughter "normal" without trying to dumb her down. So, yes, she is using long words, but she is still playing child games - going on trips around the world, playing hide-and-seek, etc. She is not much into playing mommy though - she'd rather own an entire Playmobil classroom :)
Joyful Learner said…
I just wrote a long comment and I'm afraid it got deleted when my phone blanked!
Anonymous said…
Little J was much like Ansley at 3. He did not like pretend play, still doesn't, and would prefer real experiences. He wanted to know all the how's and why's, that started around 2. So it did alienate him from his peers some. He's a big science geek, so when he would start to explain buoyancy to another child they looked at him like he had three heads!

It has gotten easier for him to fit in and adjust as he has gotten older. We also put him in a Montessori school, so he can learn at his pace. Most of his peers are gifted learners and they are all a little "out there" and "get" each other.

My best advice is to keep doing what you are. Provide for Ansley as you see fit. She will have to learn to interact with all levels of peers at some point. Perhaps providing them with common ground things, like crafts or dramatic play items might help.

As for other parents, yes, I had that trouble too. Little J could spell his name at 15 months and would hop around Gymboree counting and spelling his name. Just smile and keep moving. I will say it really has gotten easier as he has gotten older though.
Joyful Learner said…
As for other parents, I just ignore them. I used to get embarrassed when JC would throw a fit because she was sensitive to light, sound, temperature, etc...but I've learned to shut those who sneer or judge and just pay attention to my child. But enough about me.

You have a beautiful daughter and how amazing it must be to nurture her gifts and talents! Keep up the good work! Oh, one last thing...I don't think there's anything wrong with having friends who are older than you. I have friends who were 10, 20 years older and they are great because I can see beyond what people my age go through. I think this whole segregation by age has to go. It doesn't work in real life so why limit kids to same age peers for most of their schooled life!
Joyful Learner said…
I finally have some down time to rewrite what I wrote yesterday or at least try...

First, I just want to say you are doing a great job of paying attention and listening to her needs! I know it's not easy following up on all those questions...and what an impressive list it is!

Ansley is going to realize soon enough that she is different from most kids (regardless of being labeled or not) and will need other children who will understand where she's coming from. I remember one Kindergarten student who never played with other kids so we thought he was just shy or withdrawn. Soon after, he was tested gifted. Sometimes, even teachers will not pick up on it and misjudge their behavior so it's important that there's more awareness on this topic.

There are homeschooling groups that focus on gifted children. I love that they are all inclusive but there's awareness of giftedness and resources to support their learning and needs. Perhaps, you can look into one of these groups in your area. If not, join one on-line (I think you said you may have joined one already?) but I'm guessing that that might be the best place for ideas and support. I am sure there are many parents who have gone through similar circumstances and can offer good advice.

Too bad you live so far from us. I have a feeling JC and Ansley would get along well. JC would totally get making words with letters. JC has known all her colors since 18 months too. A friend even tried to test her and floored her when she knew the differences between dark and light blue at such an young age. Since she was my first only child, I myself did not know what most kids learned them much later (I didn't believe the milestones were correct, to be honest.) I'm still puzzled about the stacking blocks milestone. JC was stacking 10 or more as soon as she could hold them. How is it possible they learn to stack only one per year?? I still believe there's a mistake with those milestones.

What I noticed about JC, more than letters and numbers, is her awareness and sensitivities to human emotion. JC picks it up right away and is interested in the why's. Most of her questions revolve around why something is the way it why do we die and where do we go once we die as well the lighter subjects of why do we yawn and tear after yawning. She wants to know why the characters in the stories do what they do. She will pick up on husband's emtions as soon as he enters the room without saying a word. She will ask why he's in such a bad mood. She's also in tune with animals and is very protective of them. She wants to take care of all of them in our backyard! lol.

And just the other day, she sat next to her friend whom she's known from birth and asked why her good friend doesn't talk to her. He has sensory issues so interacting with other kids are a bit different than most children. It was hard for me to explain without putting him or her on the spot.

She prefers older kids too (6=9 year olds) but with younger kids have shown gentleness and patience (One time she got so excited when her two year old friend started talking and came running to tell me that she can talk now!) Most of the time, what enables her to get along with her peers is her sense of humor. Kids pick up on it and enjoy being around her. But the challenges come when her intensity gets the best of her. She's always been an intense baby and then an intense toddler and now an intense preschooler. Fortunately, she has learned self-management skills early on so that has helped a lot. "Mom! I'm going to go cool off now!" lol. Oh, I have to be careful not to laugh because she will get SO MAD at me because she's thinking I'm laughing at her! My goal is to help her lead a happy and balanced life.
Unknown said…
I am a mother of three who all have very high intelligence levels. What I would recommend is that worked for me is to allow them to understand leadership. Leadership will be able to guide them to understand other goals and help them to help others, as far as school work is concerned it helps them to feel good to "teach some one brand new at something, and it is always a good review for your own child. We must continue to let our children know that we all we scribblers at one time or another, and we all are life learners. I hope that this comment was valuable. My oldest who is in sixth grade has already been offered a college schloarship. She still has a lot of things to work on to make her a more well rounded person. Continue to follow your child, and keep up the good work!!
Amanda said…
Thank you all so much. :)
Raising A Happy Child-
I wihs Anlsey's need for pretend play would take off, but she says that is silly...."A horse can't talk" Etc. Much much more interested in how and why things happen. It is nice to connect with other parents who are experiencing similar things. Thanks!

Little Wonders-
Oh how I wish we had a montessori school here. We are pretty rural and there is nothing like that around. In fact most people here don't know what montessori is. Ansley definitly thrives with that method, and I wish there was a way I could have her experience it with other children. Ansley sounds very much like your son in the way her min works. She too loves science and gets excited by the concepts. Definitly gets some funny loooks from other kids...and adults LOL.

Joyful Learner-
Oh I think our girls would get along great LOL. I also always believed the milestone lists were wrong. At 2 I thought, no way they are supposed to be just creating sentences of noun verb such as "dog bark"....Ansley had an extensive vocab and was speaking in 10-15 word complex adult sentences. Thats the first time it was pointed out to me that she was way ahead....Our ped looked at me and said, she is on a 4-5 year old level and started to discuss gifted education with me. Then we moved and the new ped said "I have never seen anything like this" and informed me our school system would "Absolutly not work" for her.
We are part of a homeschool co-op but they do not focus on gifted, and they are the only homeschool group in our area. We are very rural and they draw from areas even 2 hours away. But luckily they have all recognized it and have grouped her with the five year olds, but she still needs differentation those days or gets bored.
I am hoping Anlsey learns those self management skills. She is SO intense, but has yet to learn when she needs to take a moment. I myself are just really paying attention lately to it and trying to help her manage the feelings. Thanks so much for taking the time and rewriting your post. It is so nice to connect :)

Discovering Montessori-
Thank you so much. I have never thought about it in that manner, but that is definitly something I am going to try. It is very nice to hear from parents who are further along in this process LOL.
Amanda said…
Hi Amanda! I just found your blog through Lifestyle of Learning. My mother feels your pain. ;) Seriously, your Ansley sounds like my oldest son. He is 9, and his best friends are 12 and 13. That will bring its own complications (mostly with the 12yo who is of average intelligence and very competitive, not the 13yo who is also gifted and appreciates my son's quirks). Most of my friends were at least a year or two older than I was growing up, and still are. Actually, now they're 5 to 10 years older! LOL. Don't know if it helps, but there it is. :)
Anna doesn't play "horse talks" pretend games and not much into dress up either. But she plays a lot of pretend games when she travels around the world, saves the animals, and does other things that are kind of within the realm of possibility. She is very careful separating real from unreal, and everything that Joyful Learner said applies here too. Still - she happily plays with a neighborhood boy that is older than her and just now started to speak in complete sentences. I don't think that being gifted will have to lead to being alone, or at least I hope it won't.
Amanda said…
Raising a Happy Child-
Oh I get what you mean. Yes she does those types of pretend play games. Sh ehas been playomh "animal rescuer" since before she was 2 LOL.
I hope gifted wont lead to being alone. I remember being very lonely growing up because I felt like I didn't connect with many people. In middle school and highschool ost of my friends where in their 20's and 30's which was great for conversation but not great for highschool socialization and with that big of an age gap, you cant really go places and hang out as much. Lots of great conversation then, but I was still lonely. I hope Ansley does not expeirence this. Ansley does have 2 good friends who are a year older then her, and they let her be herself...she likes to read to them LOL. They have fun playing at the park, but her other ames go over their head at times...heck....I have a hard time following the complexities of her rules LOL.

So nice to meet another Amanda :)I hear you about older friends...mine always have been, and yes it can bring its own sets of problems. And still most of my friends are husband is even 10 years older. Thanks for stopping by. I would love any insight you can give. It is always nice to hear from others.
Joyful Learner said…
Yes, there are drawbacks to having older friends...I noticed one of the girls started to develop a complex around JC so she's gotten really competitive...telling me she beat JC at Tic Tac Toe numerous times even though there's 6 year difference! Also, they pick up things from older kids which are not appropriate for younger children which reinforces the need to find at least a few peers their own age to relate.
Anonymous said…
Surprisingly enough, we haven't had too many play issues, but most of the time we are at playgrounds, parks, spraygrounds and the like. Tornado Boy definitely needs his physical play time so I try to have that be our playdates. We tend to do the library, museums and other stuff on our own. Our major play issue at home is that TB doesn't like to do anything for more than a few minutes and that sometimes frustrates his friends that want to play trains or the like. His attention span is so darn short.