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My girlfriend claims that our infant (about 9 month old boy) is gifted because he is doing certain things relatively early, such as the way he "speaks", moves around, eats, observes etc. That may very well be so. I have not studied when the different skills are to be expected.

Assuming he is gifted, what ways are there to help him make the most of this gift? I am looking for suggestions for toys/things, activities, food, environmental factors etc.

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Children develop at different rates. Doing things "relatively early" at 9 months is absolutely no indication of giftedness. –  Martha Sep 8 '11 at 15:17
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@Martha - you're right, but it's still an interesting question. For the sake of argument, let's assume this child is gifted, and think of good answers. (puts on my thinking cap) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 8 '11 at 15:20
    
True. I think the expectation also comes from the fact that I was a gifted child myself. I know about the mensa gifted children program but he is way too young for that. –  tomsv Sep 8 '11 at 15:23
    
Fair enough, @Martha, but in the poster's defense, he's asking that, assuming the child is, in fact gifted, what can they do to encourage this. –  Aarthi Sep 8 '11 at 15:28

5 Answers 5

It is very important to let the toddler play by himself and not be tempted to keep 'helping' him play.

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Giftedness requires challenging curriculum and the diligence necessary to acquire and execute many learned skills in order to produce academic success. Giftedness includes intellectual, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and emotional intelligence as well as artistic or creative giftedness.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gifted intellectual giftedness is different from a skill. Skills are learned or acquired behaviors while intellectual giftedness is usually believed to be an innate, personal aptitude for intellectual activities that cannot be acquired through personal effort.

Therefore, gifted children need a WIDE variety of stimulating activities repeatedly in order to gain various skills. These activities should stimulate:

  • intellect
  • body awareness
  • motor skills
  • emotional development
  • social skills

For a 9 month old, this will include exploration of their environment through physical manipulation, trial and error, and problem solving. As a parent, view every day events and surroundings with fresh eyes. Provide opportunities for self exploration in every part of the child's world. Encourage manipulation of objects in unique ways to develop a sense of mass, weight, texture, patterns, structure, sound, construct, balance, taste, reflection...the list is endless.

This is the true joy of parenthood: getting to discover the world all over again through the eyes of a toddler.

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Gifted is a useless term. Every child is brilliant to the parents, just as every child is beautiful to the parents. Albert Einstein was thought a slow-witted child, until he found his talent.

That the child may be "gifted" is not really relevant. The highly intelligent child will not learn differently, but perhaps will learn more quickly.

  • Provide a stimulating environment. Listen to good music, have interesting things on the wall, eat a variety of foods, go to museums and local sites and events.
  • Give the child access to "creative" things such as crayons, blocks, puzzles and musical toys.
  • Talk to the child in full sentences, not in baby talk. Don't anticipate your child's wants and needs, force the child to figure out and express them.
  • Read aloud to the child.
  • Get the child interacting with other people (adults and children) in a variety of settings.
  • Play games .. strategy games, games of chance, physical games, word games, number games.
  • Watch and see how the child learns, and give the child more to learn in that fashion.

In short .. find lots of ways to give the child new experiences and opportunities to find a gift or talent. Pay attention, and tailor the world to their talents and their aptitude.

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+1 for your excellent list of concrete suggestions! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 12 '11 at 6:52
    
Good answer, +1. While I agree that intelligent children don't necessarily learn differently ("more quickly" does seem a better description), I do believe that there are different types of learning patterns, and that people variously respond better or worse to different types of learning (e.g. visual-spatial, logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, physical-bodily-kinesthetic, etc.). However, this applies to everyone, and not merely those labeled as "gifted". –  Beofett Sep 13 '11 at 12:47
    
Too early for crayons and strategy games but musical toys are excellent. –  Itamar Sep 14 '11 at 8:33
    
@Itamar .. not if the kid is as smart as the parents think .. wink, wink. –  tomjedrz Sep 14 '11 at 16:13

At 9 months, I believe the best thing you can do is what you would do with any child (gifted or not) and that is to encourage learning and exploration in every opportunity. If you believe the child is gifted, you might notice your child advancing faster. It would be a good idea to probably look at possible milestones for children at each month so you can get a rough estimate of what to expect. Every child does develop differently, but they are some commonalities. In short, just continue to give your child all the best and introduce them to a wide variety of things and take note of their reactions.

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Let him explore with supervision. Having a special unlocked drawer in the kitchen (assuming the whole kitchen isn't off limits to him) filled with unbreakable things like measuring cups, spoons, a dish cloth, and cups will let him learn more about the world and what adults do. This fall, let him pick up leaves outside and crush them. He'll enjoy the sound and it will be good for fine motor skill development.

I think the most important thing to do is to talk to your son and tell him about the world around you.

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