Formal programs for gifted students typically don't begin until a child reaches the upper elementary grades, but there are still plenty of ways for parents to encourage their gifted preschoolers at home. By recognizing the signs that a child might be gifted and providing enrichment activities that help build on his natural strengths, parents can keep their child engaged and nurture the gifted preschooler's passion for excellence.
Activities to Build Verbal Skills
According to many experts, an advanced vocabulary and an interest in self expression are two traits shared by many gifted preschoolers. Encourage your child's natural gifts by helping him create his own written and illustrated storybook to share with his friends or by videotaping him performing a puppet show. Make learning new vocabulary words fun by choosing a "word of the day" that everyone in your family will try to use in a sentence. If your child shows an interest, consider teaching him the basics of a foreign language.
Activities to Build Observational Skills
The American Association of Gifted Children says gifted preschoolers often show advanced observational skills. Encourage your child to develop his powers of observation by asking him to compare and contrast various elements in the world around him. For example, you could ask how his two favorite cartoon characters are the same or how he is different from his baby sister. If your gifted preschooler enjoys drawing, consider taking him to an art museum or checking out an art history book to practice observing different elements in the paintings and attempting to draw what he sees.
Activities to Build Logical Reasoning Skills
It is common for gifted preschoolers to be interested in putting together puzzles or watching the results of simple science experiments such as making a homemade volcano from baking soda and vinegar. Another good way to build a child's logical reasoning skills is to ask questions such as, "What do you think will happen if we add too much sugar to the cookies we are baking?" You can also challenge your child to imagine what would happen if there was a slight change in his favorite story. For example, how would the story be different if the blue engine in The Little Engine That Could had a friend who told him that he was too small to be able to pull the freight cars?
Activities to Encourage Personal Passions
Gifted kids often have a passion for one specific subject, such as learning about dinosaurs or being curious about what makes an automobile work. Anything you can do to encourage your child's passion, whether it's helping him assemble a scrapbook of dinosaur pictures you've printed off various websites or arranging for a local mechanic to show him what your car looks under the hood, will help him develop a lifelong love of learning. It is also helpful to try to think of ways to incorporate his passion into other activities, such as using tiny plastic dinosaur models as manipulatives for math problems.