Is Your Preschooler Academically Gifted?


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Your toddler asks questions - lots of them. All preschool children are inquisitive, but you suspect she might be different - maybe gifted. You could be right. Even very young children can show signs of precocity.

As a parent, you will probably be the first to spot it. You observe your child daily and understand how she thinks, processes information and views the world. You are truly the best judge of your preschooler's abilities.

Experts look for certain behaviors and characteristics as indicators of giftedness. These are listed below, but keep in mind: This is not an all-inclusive, definitive list.

Early verbal skills. Talks earlier, uses expressive language, ask lots of questions to gain knowledge and has a large vocabulary.
Early motor skills. Turns his head, sits up early as an infant, crawls or walks at a younger age.
Intense interest in numbers and puzzles. Puts together a 20-piece puzzle at age 3 or has interest in telling time and how it affects day-to-day activities.
Emotional sensitivity. Is empathetic to others and their feelings, and starts to observe differences with others who are the same chronological age.
Long attention span. Maintains a longer attention span, even as an infant.
Comfortable conversing with older children or adults. Finds it easier to talk to older children or adults due to early verbal and communication skills.
Asynchronous development. This refers to the unequal development of intellectual, motor and emotional skills in children. A gifted 3-year-old might have basic reading skills common for a 6-year-old but still throw tantrums. Developmentally, basic reading is not common for the average 3-year-old, but throwing tantrums is within the range of developmentally appropriate behaviors.

How to Respond

Every child is different. One gifted preschooler might exhibit multiple characteristics and behaviors, while another displays just one or two. If you see some of these signs in your child, consider responding in some way. Whether you invest in psycho-educational testing, enroll your child in advanced academic programs on a trial basis, or simply seek out other parents of gifted preschoolers with whom you can exchange information, you'll start to gain new perspectives and feel more positive about how your child fits into the world.

It can be isolating for parents who suspect their child might be gifted because they feel they can no longer share "mommy stories" with other parents. Many parents feel that this comes across as bragging, exaggerating or outright lying to say their 4-year-old just read a chapter book. Many choose to stop talking about their gifted child altogether.

Although parenting gifted preschoolers provides challenges and difficulties that vary from more typical parenting frustrations, searching for resources or a support group is the best way to understand your gifted preschool child. Contrary to belief, being gifted is not easy but with the right perspective and support, it can be a positive and rewarding experience for you, your child and your family.

Sidebar: Resources

Overexcitability and the Gifted Child by Duke TIP 
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted
Top blogs about gifted children, gifted education and parenting 
Top Ten Books on Raising Gifted Children 


Lissy Wood is an educator with more than 14 years of experience. She has studied the needs of gifted students and is founder of Wake Gifted Academy, an independent school, opening next summer in Wake County for kindergarten through fifth grades. Learn more at wakegiftedacademy.org.

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January 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Ages 5-18 try curling, a sport built on a tradition of sportsmanship and sociability. Equipment provided. Wear warm clothes and sneakers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Triangle Curling Club
2310 So Hi Dr.
Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: Triangle Curling
Telephone: 919-818-1177
Contact Name: Dina Gerber
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Enjoy a sneak peek of the new Goldfish Swim School in Wake Forest. Meet staff, learn more about Goldfish Swim School programs and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Goldfish Swim School Wake Forest
14460 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27614
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Sponsor: Goldfish Swim School Wake Forest
Telephone: (919) 435-3753
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Celebrate community heroes on MLK Day at Marbles. From 10am-2pm, meet real community heroes like a paramedic, teacher and police officer. Be a hero by packing food for Backpack Buddies to...

Cost: $7 ages 1 and older

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Rale, NC
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Spend the afternoon helping to maintain and beautify the area around Good Hope Farm in honor of MLK Jr. Day of Service. All ages. Volunteers age 15 and younger must be accompanied by an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Good Hope Farm
1580 Morrisville Carpenter Rd.
Cary, NC
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Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday with cake, crafts, storytime and various activities for kids of all ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 West Club Blvd.
, NC
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Book Harvest hosts the Dream Big Book Drive, a community-wide celebration of diversity, literacy and books for all children. Donate new or gently used children’s book, volunteer to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Book Harvest
Telephone: (252) 497-BOOK
Contact Name: Daniele Berman
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Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and view digital art created by local youth. Enjoy refreshments, networking and artwork created by youth in the community based...

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft Store at the Streets at Southpoint Mall
6910 Fayetteville Rd.
Suite 174
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: Microsoft
Telephone: (919) 361-3140
Contact Name: Sherry del Rosario
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Enjoy the story "Snowballs" by Lois Ehlert and enjoy time outdoors. Ages 18 mos-3 yrs with caregiver. Register online. 

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $80-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
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Rising kindergartners and their families learn about Wake County magnet elementary programs. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Washington Magnet Elementary
1000 Fayetteville Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Learn what wild animals do in winter as they hibernate, migrate and stay warm in the cold woods. Ages 3-5 with adult enjoy a hike, do a craft and learn how to help...

Cost: $3; no fee for accompanying adult

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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Enjoy the first live theatrical production based on Shopkins, the wildly successful brand launched in 2014. The Shoppies and Shopkins characters will take to the stage in performance featuring...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $80-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
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Website »

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Cost: $5/member, $8/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Explore a part of art. Ages 2-5 with caregiver. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/member, $8/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Join local churches and community organizations for a public celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Friendship Chapel Baptist Church
237 Friendship Chapel Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Head out to Lake Crabtree to learn all about our most commonly seen mammal. Spy on the gray squirrels that abound in the park. Park staff will answer all your gnawing questions about squirrel...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Celebrate Zaniac's first year in business by attending an open house event with free course demos, hands-on activities, a scavenger hunt and cake. Sample camp and after-school programs,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Zaniac
1206 Parkside Main St.
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: Zaniac
Telephone: 919-342-8536
Contact Name: Matthew Pepe
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Learn how to express yourself with color, pattern and imagery as you make your own art book with artist Anna Podris. All ages and skill levels welcome. Materials provided.

Cost: $10/member, $15/nonmember

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919-821-2787
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Make a craft and sing favorite songs. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111599.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Page-Walker Arts and History Center
119 Ambassador Loop
Cary, NC
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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn what wild animals do in winter as they hibernate, migrate and stay warm in the cold woods. Ages 3-5 with adult enjoy a hike, do a craft and learn how to help wildlife friends...

Cost: $3; no fee for accompanying adult

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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Enjoy a puppetry arts program inspired by the children's book "The Interrupting Chicken" by David Ezra Stein. Ages 4-9. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Branch Library
900 Old Fayetteville Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Carrboro Branch Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-3008
Contact Name: Jody Smith
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This annual festival features more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, re-enactors and more. Enjoy dancers, singers, storytellers and...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Each year, Cranberry Tree Farm donates its unsold trees to the Conservators Center for its animals to enjoy as a special form of holiday enrichment. During this walkabout, watch as wild animals...

Cost: See the website for fees.

Where:
Conservators Center
676 E. Hughes Mill Rd.
Burlington, NC  27217
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Telephone: 888-650-1139
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Learn about local birds and build a bird box. All ages with adult. Register online.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Take part in an event run by Triangle TechGirlz. Learn about networks that are connecting objects and devices to make our lives better, in the same way that social media does. From cars to...

Cost: Free

Where:
IBM RTP - Employee Activity & Fitness Center
3039 E. Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: TechGirlz
Contact Name: Jane Bossert
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Stop in and experience Rock Band at Bach to Rock Music School. The band program starts at age 7.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
958 U.S. Highway 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Bach to Rock
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
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Take a new or gently-used children’s book for donation to benefit kids in Wake County. Also enjoy special celebrity story times, craft activities, balloon...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Girls ages 11 and older enjoy a manicure and pedicure, makeup application or face painting, and a tiara-making station. Punch and snacks served. Register online. Choose course #111626.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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​Sibshops give brothers and sisters of kids with special needs an opportunity to meet other siblings in a relaxed, recreational setting to explore their feelings in creative, light...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hargraves Community Center
216 N. Roberson St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Adapted Recreation & Inclusion program: Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation
Telephone: 919 968-2813
Contact Name: Marian Kaslovsky
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Take a hike to listen for owl calls and learn why these creatures are well adapted to living in darkness. After the hike, enjoy s’mores around  acampfire while practicing...

Cost: $4/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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