How Our Journey Began

I know most new parents assume their child will be probably be curing cancer by the time they get their drivers license but that wasn’t the case with me. My darling girl was born two months early and so after reading all the scary things that can plague preemies I was just hoping she’d be able to see and hear normally. She was our first (and only) and I really had no direct experience with little ones so I had no idea what a normal child was. When she spoke her first word “Hi” at age 10 months everyone thought it was adorable – and it was! She looked much younger than she was because she was so tiny. Her second word was actually a phrase, “I know.” And she said it in that tone of voice that I tend to use. That should’ve set off all kinds of warning buzzers off in my mind!

Still, we really didn’t look for nor expect anything than a just a healthy, happy girl. At age two and half she was following the presidential election closely enough to know that Barack Obama lived in Chicago and his wife’s name was Michelle. Thank you, NPR. Of course, she also told me that Barack Obama and the Muffin Man were both from other planets so I’m not sure she really had a good grasp on the political landscape of 2008.

We sent her to daycare three days a week beginning at age two and we chose a facility based on the fact it was affiliated with a local hospital, it was clean and provided nutritious meals and we could afford it. She absolutely hated it. Every morning she cried when we dropped her off and it was one of the hardest things for any parent to deal with. So we set our sights on a preschool that would do more to keep her engaged than a typical daycare.

The preschool we chose was new and looked like the architect used to work for Disney World. It was darling and the staff said all the right things. The director said that in the two-year old room children learn colors and shapes. When we asked what happens if the child already knows all that and their numbers and letters we just got an indulgent smile. You know that look. I’m sure there will be at least one future post about that look.

On the second day when I went to pick up my daughter the director met me with a look that made my heart skip a beat. I thought something had happened to my little one – or the check had bounced. No, I was greeted with “You didn’t tell

gifted child

Age 3, reading her performance review

us she could read”! It turns out my little darling was reading the menus for what was for lunch and telling all the other kids. The staff wasn’t sure what to think so they started having her read miscellaneous forms. Yep, she could read. I felt like crying. Partly with joy and partly with fear. Looking back on it, mostly fear.

We took her to the library which was already one of our favorite places to go and started pulling random books off the shelves to see if she really could read them. We knew she could read all the books at home but that was because we were reading to her and she was memorizing them. Or so we thought.

Pros to having a two year old who can read:

  • Listening to them discover new ideas in books is a thrill
  • Learning seems to happen almost exponentially
  • It’s a pretty good parlor trick

Cons to having a two year old who can read:

  • They can read billboards that announce Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays!
  • They read your incoming text messages while playing on your phone
  • No more skipping sentences or even words when you read to them (yes, I used to edit all those Dora books)

So, my point (finally) is – how DO you know if your kid is gifted? Well, it’s tough. We still didn’t know what we had on our hands and unfortunately where we live there aren’t any resources for kids until they’re in 1st grade. We did have her tested at age three and a half and it was confirmed that we had one gifted girl. It was then that I started educating myself on what all this meant.

My first stop was Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page. This is a must for anyone wishing to learn more about all things gifted. Second stop was Talent Igniter and the Ruf Estimates of Levels of Gifted. The assessments are a good place for parents to start.

How did your journey begin?


23 Responses

  1. Our journey began when I found my then-2-year-old writing the names of all the engines on Thomas and Friends on the driveway in chalk, spelled and punctuated correctly. Then he started writing the sentences from “Stuart Little” on the driveway. We had it on CD for car trips and he’d memorized the entire book, along with “Charlotte’s Web.” Woe be unto the mommy who skips chapter 11 of “Charlotte’s Web”. Our second half of the journey began when my then-1-year-old climbed the piano, opened the lid, and started unscrewing the lid. He kept all the screws in his pocket and didn’t lose a single one. Then he brought all that to me. At 3, he was writing in mirror writing all over the walls, copying whatever he heard from his brother’s homeschool lessons.

    Thanks for the post! I’m looking forward to wandering through your site more. I need all the knowledge I can for this exciting journey.

    • The Common Mom says

      That sounds like one of the best uses for sidewalk chalk that I’ve heard of. Thanks for sharing your story – those boys sound like they’d make for a fun playdate!

      Sharing what I’ve learned and hearing from others on similar journeys is exactly what I hope to get out of this blog. Looking forward to swapping ideas.

  2. tardis_blue says

    I hope you replied to the director “Well, when you gave me the look for suggesting she knew shapes and colors, I figured I’d let you see for yourself!”

  3. It’s amazing how unwilling people are to believe that kids like this exist. My son was also a spontaneous reader (at 2 1/2)

  4. So glad I found you!. My daughter is 21 months old. We have been playing I spy the color….and she finds it. She also counts to ten and is almost up to 20. Sings the alphabet. What struck me in your blog was a similarity as one of my daughter’s first two word sentences was, “I do” followed by “I know”. It took me a month to realize she was really saying that because i just couldn’t believe she could know anything like that!!! I think I am just coming out of denial and trying to find good resources. Here is my emotional roller coaster as the months roll by: Excitement, questioning, fear, denial, curiosity, acceptance, courage, hope. By the way, today was a really rough day…exhausted. Looking forward to more posts.

    • The Common Mom says

      That roller coaster of emotions sounds very familiar! Finding resources at that age was incredibly difficult for us. We were fortunate to have supportive pre-school teachers that provided her differentiated curriculum – even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Until our daughter started school, we really were on our own to find resources and it was scary. As someone once told me, you’re going to be advocating for your daughter for the rest of her academic life. Now that thought is exhausting! Hope your day is better and I’ll get working on more posts!

      • Thanks so much for your response. We are going to enroll her in a 2 year old preschool class mid-year on her birthday (January). I hope since she is the youngest it will be stimulating enough for her!

  5. I find it interesting that your daughter was premature. I’ve read info that many gifted children are also premature. Both of my kids were preemies. My daughter just turned 5 and we early entranced her into Kindergarten. She was 5 weeks early. My son will be three in January. He was almost 8 weeks early. Both were huge babies for their gestation and suffer no long-term effects from arriving early. Both learned their ABCs and numbers (both saying them and recognizing them) shortly after age 2. My son’s fourth word was actually the question/phrase “What’s that?” he used to point at everything and say “Et da?” Neither of them have been extremely early with reading, but my daughter has always been much more advanced than friends with her fine motor skills and her attention span and her memory is fantastic. We accelerated her in preschool and decided to do the same for Kindergarten after having her tested and understanding that she is indeed gifted. My son is in a 2 year old preschool class now. I think that he will turn out to be more gifted than my daughter. I see the wheels turning in his head in ways I never saw with her. She was an observer and he is hands-on. He wants to know how things work and is often getting into things to see what happens when this knob is turned or this button is pushed. I am interested to see how things go in the next two years for him. My husband and I are on the ready to determine what we need to do for him regarding preschool. He will be at our daughter’s preschool next year. After that year we will decide whether to keep him there or send him to pre-K at my daughter’s gifted K4-8 school. Not sure we would have him early entrance to K like we did our daughter. Depends on how his writing skills develop over the next year.

  6. Thanks to your twitter post, I found this today. I actually just blogged a bit about our journey last night ( Our daughter was more of a math-bug than an early reader, and I totally get the “parlor tricks.” We used to have her recite dad’s phone number and grandma’s phone number for people when she was 18 months. I had no idea that it wasn’t normal until people started telling me. 🙂

  7. So glad to find this blog! Are any of your kids Davidson Young Scholars? If not, definitely check it out. It’s a non-profit for profoundly gifted kids and parents. Our son was accepted to their program this spring and they will be helping us and his school create an education plan when he starts kindergarten in sept.

  8. My journey starts today. I took my almost 7 yr old daughter to a neuropsychologist because she’d been diagnosed with ADHD, and had some severe fears and anxieties, and I wanted to get to a doctor that would know how to deal with both. What we found out (today, in fact) is that she tested above very superior on the IQ test. I have an older son who is special needs, so I thought I knew how this appointment would go, I’ve been through it before. But I was not expecting to hear that my child is so intelligent that he’s using her as a case study for his university students. I’m still in shock, and trying to figure out what’s next.

  9. My son rode a bike without training wheels at 3 age (scary!) And was alert from the moment he was born: intense, aggressive, curious and very very determined. We began working with therapist to help with his emotional regulation while I ironically was getting a masters in Psychotherapy. He was behind in reading when he started kindergarten and punched kids who upset him. In first grade we had him tested for ADHD but results were inconclusive. He tested as mildly gifted. Then this year in 3rd grade we started getting regular calls from school and the suspensions piled up. His teacher began making all sorts of accommodations to reduce his disruptive behavior. He started psychotherapy again, OT for sensitivities especially re: refusal to eat most foods, and ADHD meds. Then to my surprise the teacher calls to recommend we apply him for a profoundly gifted academy. A new IQ test reveals he is highly gifted. Our lives begin to make more sense!!! I love this blog! Oh, and the minecraft addiction, so can relate!

  10. I love this! Our son wasn’t reading at 2, but he started reading at 4 -overnight- and was blowing through chapter book series within a couple months. He was reading Potter in K, and The Hobbit at age 6. I love hearing others’ stories and I’m so glad that the internet exists because how lonely this journey would be without folks who understand!

    • The Common Mom says

      Oh, Harry Potter. Love/hate relationship with those books. We finally banned her from checking them out at the school library because she had them all at home yet could not stand to be without one with her at all times. She’d have a couple in her backpack which is too heavy for a little kindergartner! I’m with you, love hearing from others on the same journey – I like the company!

  11. Suzanne Lanzon says

    3 minutes – looking at the camera with an ‘I hope you’ve got me in the shot’ aware look in her eyes.

    First word – “hello” at 6 months. We heard it at 5 months but still refuse to believe that.

    At 19 months – Me: “Look at that monkey, honey.” Her: “Actually, it’s a chimpanzee.” And she was right.

    At 23 months – “There’s an aeroplane in the sky mummy. It’s small because it’s so far away. It’s so far away that I can’t touch it. I’m going to get a rocket, hop in that rocket and zoom up into the sky. Then I will be so close I’ll be able to touch that aeroplane. Yes, that will be fun.”

    30 months – “Do you need the sun to make waves?” “Is Mont St Michel a chateux?” “What is a baby koala called?”

    Last week – will be 3 years old next week – wrote the word ‘cat’

    I’m so glad I know she is gifted AND for this site where I can share how it feels. I don’t have to feel that shock, surprise and almost horror when she shows what she is capable of. I smile and remind myself that my darling girl is gifted. Her home will always be her sanctuary where she is typical, normal and unconditionally loved. It’s the place where mummy will just say, “Good question, let’s find the answer! Oh, a baby koala is a joey!”

  12. Wow! My oldest was born premature as well at 35 weeks but she weighed in at 3lbs 7oz. Your comment stating that research shows that premature babies end up being gifted was interesting because as a speech pathologist I normally see it the other way around. I was so nervous the night my oldest was born knowing what could happen developmentally but she turned out just to be little. The nurses in the NICU said she was the most alert baby the have ever seen and that comment still holds true. She is quiet but will amaze you with information that she has learned just by listening. She was an early reader as well and carries multiple books with her everywhere. I am so happy to have come across your blog. Thank you.

  13. So what do I do with my 8.5 yr old son, who has a 144 iq (tested at 4 yrs old), is wildly inquisitive and intellectual (devours books on topics from Egyptian mythology to oceanography to outer space, but also can comprehend and make connections with sophisticated fiction/text from Harry Potter to Sherlock Holmes to Shakespare)? He has always been mainstreamed in a very good public school system in lower Westchester county, just outside of New York City. Our district, which caters to a well educated and wealthy population, does not offer gifted education. My son is not typical, and he does not have an aptitude for typical activities (at least those that are popular here) such as sports. It can be a real challenge finding things in which he has an interest but that are also somewhat social and healthy (video games don’t count in my book).

    Do you have any suggestions for anything related to the above? Do you recommend getting him retested? Although our district is good, we are still subject to growing class sizes, among other issues, yet my husband and I cannot afford private education, though I’ve often wondered whether that might be a better fit academically and socially for my son.

  14. The Common Mom says

    He sounds like he’d get along with my daughter! I’m always surprised when I hear of a district that doesn’t offer gifted education. So frustrating. Of course I’m not an expert but you might want to consider having him retested an apply to the Davidson Young Scholars program if his scores qualify – 144 is very close to the cutoff. What about grade or subject acceleration? Regarding sports, we’ve had our own issues in trying to find a good fit but eventually discovered that she enjoys individual sports more than team sports. Martial arts and running are her faves.

    Have you explored some of the online classes? The Stanford EPGY or CTY programs may be an option. Also, there are MOOCs (massive open online course)available for students his age. Sometimes you have to resort to ‘after-schooling’ to keep them interested. What about chess club? Our local library hosts a chess club open to all ages and abilities and several gifted children gather there.

    I hope this gives you some ideas. I know it’s not easy but hang in there!

  15. Hi! My son’s first IQ test when he was 6 in the fall of first grade showed he was just barely at the threshold for gifted. We had taken him to a psychologist due to his disruptive behavior in school and had been working with a therapist who suspected ADHD. He was also just reading at grade level (He actually started out behind in reading in Kindergarten and had a tutor through Americorps). Then in second grade suddenly he began blowing through novels and devouring books and our house became more peaceful. He was retested last year at age 9 and came out 20 pts higher on his IQ test. I’ve researched IQ tests and depending on the test, most are reliable between 8-10 years old. Yes, they can vary. Yes, testers can mess up. My son had also begun ADHD meds for the second test along with being in the optimal age range. I’d say, yes, retest.
    A hobby your son might enjoy is solving rubik’s cubes type puzzles. There many variations on the puzzle. I know this because my son is OBSESSED. I think he wants to set a world record of some kind. He watches videos of others and has many different kinds of puzzles: tower, mirrored, 7×7, speed cubes… He wants to start his own you tube channel. I’m all for it. Whatever keeps him out of trouble. He also does Kendama and there is a club at a local Kendama store, Sweets, it’s called. He also has gone to yo-yo clubs at games stores in local malls. I think the store is Games by James… lego robotics might be something else available in your neighborhood. I do not know that private school is the answer unless they meet the needs of highly gifted…Just piling on more work is not the answer of course, offering depth and critical thinking and the opportunity to connect with others who may share intensity, humor, quirks… That is the real value in programs geared toward gifted…


  1. […] course, at the time I didn’t know she was gifted. We were just finding out that she could read and were six months away from having her tested. Also, until this time we’d never really seen […]

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