Looking for ideas on how to enrich my child’s education

Brain & Behavior Changes

So, it appears as though my three-year-old (birthday in early July) is smart. Like really, really smart. My wife and I are both teachers, so we are familiar with the developmental milestones of children basically up until their teenage years, and at this point our son is doing some things that kids in early elementary are learning to do.

For example: he can work with quantities up to 10. He can count past 100. He correctly reads 3-digit numbers. He knows how to tell digital time, and understands (for example) that when it’s 4:59, the next time will be 5:00. He can also read the hours on analog clocks. He can skip count by 2’s, 5’s, or 10’s to 100. He can skip count by 100’s to 1000. He can skip count by 1000 to 10,000.

Which is better these days?
SchoolHome education

He is starting to read, and actually reads for meaning (i.e., if he reads something funny, he will laugh). He likes to build puzzles, and can assemble a fresh, never-before-seen 30-piece puzzle in about 10 minutes. He also likes to take 24 piece puzzles and turn them over so you can’t see the image, and assemble them that way.

As teachers, we know how to help him with a lot of those skills, and we feel he might be best suited for some kind of private school or special program, because he will otherwise be bored to death in a regular kindergarten classroom. The issue is, we are teachers so we can’t exactly afford private schools.

My idea, then, is to enrich him outside of school. To put him in after school programs and activities that will feed his interests. Hence the purpose of the post – does anybody have experience with this? Can anyone recommend the kinds of programs that might be most effective at developing his abilities and interests?

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Comments: 4
  1. Goodperson

    I think you are on the right path, as far as activities. Enriching experiences such as music, dance, arts, and sports are great for development. Getting outside for walks, festivals, and exploring your area – anything that builds your child’s curiosity and learning about the world.

    One thing you might not have considered, is finding activities your child is not naturally good at to engage in regularly. Part of learning persistence is failing or struggling and continuing to try. Gifted children don’t always get enough chance to practice failure, and can be overly discouraged when they do run into something harder. You can use language to reinforce this idea by talking to your child about what he is learning rather than how smart he is. If you aren’t familiar with growth mindset theory you might want to check it out.

    Good luck!

  2. lushlilli

    I don’t think you need a special class or school. The point of kindergarten is to engage a variety of learners. He will be fine unless his teacher is absolutely dreadful. If it makes you feel better, my daughter was doing most of the things you mentioned (she wasn’t telling time) before kindergarten as well. She loved kindergarten.

    The better schools don’t even start gifted testing until 3rd grade. They are highly inaccurate before that point and many of the kindergarten geniuses just had a head start in life and aren’t actually gifted.

    Just keep having fun. If he likes to read, join some classes at your library. Do science experiments at home. Go for nature walks and collect rocks. Put him on a toddler sports team. Read with him at home. Color with him. Do puzzles. At this point, you don’t need to do much you wouldn’t do otherwise. My kids had the same childhood experiences despite one being gifted and one not.

    If you are really desperate for a challenge, you could put him in language classes or an immersion school to teach him a second language. That is good for almost everyone.

    Edit: Wanted to add that we had to transfer our gifted one out of her private school because they weren’t meeting her educational needs. She is now at a public magnet and is doing awesome.

  3. kate

    I think youll be ok with regular kindergartens. Teachers should be able to adjust work for all levels of learners. But more importantly theres a lot of social and group skills that kids learn in kindergarten that will be new to all of them. Our kids also have cooking, trips, dance, art, science, technology at (public) school so there other types of learning in the day beyond the three Rs.

    Another thought – have you considered a dual language school? Those are becoming more widely available in public schools and it definitely puts a new challenge to kids at all levels. Our kids have enjoyed it and grown a lot through the experience, i recommend it.

    As for outside enrichment, try everything, even stuff he’s not great at. Sports, dance, robotics, art classes, whatever he shows interest in. Dont get caught up in developing his skills. Expose him to all sorts of things in the world and follow his lead in exploring them.

  4. Garret123

    He’s three, at this point I think he’s old enough to voice his interest in something like this, so I’d make a list of classes and programs offered in your area, or just pull up your towns rec/activity center page, since they should have one, and let him pick something out from that. He’s more likely to engage if he’s had a say in it, and if he picks something and he hates it, you can try again next enrollment block

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