More and more often, I hear about and know of parents who share that their preschoolers / toddlers are gifted. Some parents did a lot of reading up while some shared that their Pediatrician has shared that the child is advanced. Frankly I am sitting on the fence for these sort of early diagnosis.
I understand that all children are gifts and are blessed with talents in different areas. I am not trying to belittle the efforts of parents who want the best start for their kids. But I feel that there is a lot of difference between a child prodigy who is profoundly gifted versus one who is advanced. Smart kids are sprouting up quicker than ever possibly because of more discerned parents who pick up on quicker developmental milestones achieved by their kids and also more 'hardworking parents' who take greater effort to teach their children and expose them early to many different experiences.
The thing is with such early 'diagnosis' and sharing, I know of parents who insist on having their preschools advance the child to another level. I am certainly not in favour of this unless otherwise the child has been formerly tested (which the recommended age is around 5) and falls in the profoundly gifted category where the child needs an entirely level of engagement altogether.
While advanced, some children do lack behind in other areas such as social or motor skills. By placing a child at a higher level class, the child may be challenged academically but may not be given a proper chance to work at his / her own pace when it comes to something as simple as the pencil grip. By placing the child at an older class, the child may be rushed through as expectations are already set that 'this child is gifted' and hence can catch on quickly. By rushing through the early years, sometimes these children are not socially ready and may have issues dealing with concepts emotionally leading to meltdowns - Asynchronous Development.
I met a couple some time back who shared that they feel that their child is happier with older children, can take instructions well and is an advanced learner. The entire conversation surrounded on what the child (a toddler) can do and that they did not wish for the child to be placed in the 'original' class as they do not want their child to revert to 'babyish days'. As the parents shared, yes, it is great to develop leadership skills are but they do not necessarily want or need the child to be with his peers (based on age) where the child would likely spend his/her time herding and helping out the rest of the children.
Those are some pretty strong thoughts - whatever happened to 'community spirit'? I, for one, feel that there is much to be learnt from having a child mingle with children at his / her age. To me, the child will pick up important values along the way - patience and tolerance for his/her peers, compassion, helpfulness, etc. As pressure amounts for e.g. in Primary school, would resilience not enter into the story? In group projects, would the child not be required to understand what teamwork, cohesiveness and tolerance? If as parents, we are not even tolerant of unique differences and embrace them, how do we expect our child to know and display them? Are these not important traits to hone rather than looking purely at the academics?
The child after all, is all but a wee little person at less than 3. Is there such a need to rush the child through 'life' - the child has many many years of formal schooling to come before entering adulthood. When has society become so impatient with these little kids? Since when, have we as parents, become so intolerant of this wonderful journey and experience called "childhood"?
I know that many place academics above and beyond traits and values but I do not. I strongly believe that deep rooted values form the foundation for all things; if there ever is a 'gauge/meter' where I am being measured how 'well' I did as a parent, academics will probably not be in the top 3. Heck, I am not sure if it will even make it to the top 5.
I will consider giving myself a pat on the back if my child (in no particular order) has a thankful and compassionate heart, has a good attitude in life (e.g. perseverance, the right focus), is sensible and filial and of course, loves God.
I know that Dumpling's formal school years (Primary One) is creeping and crawling up slowly but surely on us. I am not in denial that there is prep work to be done prior but I rather spend time showing her the ropes of how to be a 'good person' and prefer that she has a happy childhood filled with laughter and memories of us hanging out and having fun than rushing her through 'life'.