A parent phoned me a couple of weeks ago and asked me whether she should attend a workshop on advocating for her 3-year-old. I said: No! Here are my thoughts:
Advocacy as defined on this site is speaking up on behalf of a child described as gifted who needs help in order to effect positive change. There are other definitions but our emphasis is on change for someone who needs help. There is no need to advocate if gifted children are happy, thriving and participating in programs that accommodate their special needs.
The mother who called me explained that her child is very happy in her pre-school, the teachers are very responsive to the child’s needs, and there are no apparent problems with social and emotional development. Signs of giftedness are evident in advanced language development and critical thinking, when compared with her age peers. However, the parents and school are providing enrichment and the mother had no concerns. So was my response appropriate?
I checked to see what some of the experts in the field of giftedness have to say. I went first to the page of the Gifted Children’s Association of British Columbia that is titled New to Gifted and offers suggestions for what characteristics to look for in a young child. The US National Association for Gifted Children has a comments on Identifying Advanced Young Children with related links. There are also popular social media sites that comment on this issue, such as Yummy Mummy Club and Baby Center. Parents must weigh many opinions in the search for answers.
My advice to the parent who called me was to stay informed, continue to provide enrichment, work closely with teachers and, above all, have fun playing. And, if the road becomes a little rocky as the child gets older and starts school, that would be a good time to come to an advocacy workshop.