keeping a gifted child challenged

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)
  • Author
  • mama_nickles

    DS is 5.5 and reading at a mid-6th grade level. He LOVES reading, and will read a chapter book a day if I let him. I know he is still young, and I want to make sure he has adequate time to play, both indoors and out. I am curious to hear about other parents of gifted children have implemented CM in the early years. We are working to establish a firm foundation in Bible and the 3 R’s. He also really enjoys reading history books, both on his own and with me reading to him. He writes for fun, and reads for fun. I am having a hard time giving him enough books to read, and I have to slowly dole them out after a trip to the library.


    I am interested in what others have to say about this too. We have a 5yo who is gifted as well.


    Ooh, I have at least two of those!  DD7 was the first to start to keep me on my toes!  She seemed to magically learn to read at age 4 and was reading Narnia on her own at age 5.  She can go through a few chapter books a day when she’s in the mood.  DS5 announced on the day after his fourth birthday, “I’m 4, so I have to learn to read now.”  He did, although it took a few months (which was ages, compared to DD7).  His real strength, though, is in math.  He figures things out in his head that amaze me.  I’m still watching DD3 to see what she’ll do!

    I’m continually conscious of the need to balance ‘challenge’ with ‘just being a kid’.  I’m a bit of an overachiever, and if I’m not careful, I will start to expect too much and push too hard, always thinking “Well, she/he can already do A, B, and C, so let’s move on to D!”

    So I have tried to provide lots of good books and opportunities to explore, but then I just follow at the pace the child sets.  For example, DS5 (Mr. Mathematician) saw Big Sister enjoying the “Life of Fred” books, so he wanted to do them too.  He is free to read a chapter whenever he wants, and I help scribe for him when he needs it for the questions, but I don’t ‘assign’ chapters the way I do for DD7 (who is officially in grade 2).  He could go faster and learn more and get further ahead if I wanted to have him do that, but that’s not important to me right now.  Encouraging his love of learning is my main focus.  I don’t think it’s good to prevent a child from learning when they are ready, but I don’t want to go too far the other way either.

    We make good use of ebooks.  My kids each have their own ereader with lots of books from Yesterday’s Classics, Heritage History, and other places.  I’ve loaded each with a collection appropriate for each child.  At the library they are allowed to choose their own books, subject to approval, and they tend to be attracted to the twaddlish books (such as Magic Treehouse or ‘Puppy Place’ and ‘Kitty Korner’).  I think there is something about reading a familiar series that is comforting.  Anyway, then I take out plenty more and just leave them on our library book shelf at home.  They blow through their choices quickly, then they start exploring mine.  I like to put books on hold online, so that I have time to research and find good ones from home, then can just pick them up.  I’ll often pick books that relate to things DD7 is reading in school, so that she gets more breadth to each topic.  Ideas from ‘’ are great too.  We often have 70-80 library books out at once.

    They don’t just sit around reading, though.  They tend to read in the morning, before breakfast, while everyone is getting going.  They have some time at bedtime, before ‘lights out’.  The rest of the day, though, we are busy spending time outdoors, playing with playdough, fingerpainting, building train tracks, playing Barbies, (DS is surrounded by 5 girls, because I have 3 more in my home daycare, so he can play Barbies with the best of them!) going on playdates or to the zoo, or whatever else young kids do.  They might read for a few minutes when they need a bit of down time, but there’s usually something going on that draws them back in sooner rather than later.  We spend a maximum of 2 hours on ‘school’ in the afternoons (while our toddler friends are sleeping), which includes family devotional, songs, scripture memory, plus individual work for DD7 and DS5, and some stories for DD3.  DD7 has about 45 – 60 minutes of individual work.  DS5 probably spends about 20 – 30 minutes on his individual work, then he sometimes listens in with DD7, and otherwise just plays with DD3 or on his own.

    I don’t know if that answers your question.  I’m not an expert yet, since my kids are still young, but those are some of my thoughts.  Ask more specifics if you like!



    I also have a gifted 5YO.  She’s been reading since her 3rd birthday.  I have always struggled between my belief in kids not being academic too early and her obvious desire to keep reading everything she can get her hands on.

    She does do well with toys that encourage her to be creative — Playmobil, Legos, etc.  She can spend hours doing those. 

    We’re not officially homeschooling yet since she won’t be starting K until September, but we’ve started doing some informal narrations and nature walks.  It’s hard when I try to read out loud to her and then we have to stop without finishing the book. 

    I * think* she’ll be excited once we start doing more formal learning.  She does tend to get frustrated easily when it comes to fine motor (writing, drawing), so I’m holding off on starting the nature notebooks till September.  We have started listening to classical music and she loves it.

    She also loves audiobooks, when I am not able to read to her out loud.  These are nice because they can be new material for her, but require her to slow down and pay attention.  She got a “Sparkle Stories” subscription for her birthday (online audiobooks) and she LOVES them — she’ll listen for an hour or more, while playing quietly or just sitting curled up in a chair. 


    I was glad to find this thread. I have a gifted 5yo who was also reading at 3. She is already able to read at the 6th or 7th grade level. Actually, she can pretty much pick up about any book and do fine with it, we may have to help her sound out some words of course. She loves math and has already gone through two math programs in about 2 months. I’ve been trying to figure out how to offer a more CM approach to school with her. She LOVES workbooks and crafts and activities like lapbooks and such. If we read a book, she likes to have an activity many times like a coloring page or a craft. I tried to start AO 1 with her a couple of months ago but it didn’t seem to work well for her; at least not as scheduled. The readings are not too advanced for her by any means. But when we tried doing 10-15 min. lessons and alternate subjects, it didn’t work for her. She seems to do better by having just a very few books but be able to spend more time with them. In other words, if we have a reading for literature, it seems to work better for her for us to do a reading then let her have plenty of time after the reading to play or color or act out what she’s read before we move on to another subject. There were too many readings in AO 1 for her. She seems to need to be able to take time with something before moving on to something else.

    So it seems to me, the CM idea of short lessons is to increase attention over time. Right? So for her, short lessons probably aren’t necessary for the most part because she can easily sit and do pages of math. She can sit and do school work for an hour and still ask me for more.

    And what about CM’s idea of variety? It seems that a lot of various readings in a day does not work for her. I guess variety can still come from a small selection of books PLUS art and music.

    Any thoughts anyone? Sonya?

    Also, what I notice is that she typically prefers to work through one literature book at a time instead of 2 or 3 over a longer period of time. For example, if we’re going to read Winnie the Pooh, she typically wants to read it day after day until we’ve read the whole book rather than read it one day, then read another literature book the next day, etc.



    Mrs. K., I found your comments very interesting, because that is exactly what I’ve been discovering with my DD8.  We tried following an “AO-like” schedule this year (meaning we did a similar number of books and lessons, but changed some of the books.)  We have been finding that we are just moving from one lesson to the next lesson so fast that there isn’t time to really enjoy.  With so many books being read in short chunks, neither my daughter nor I were really connecting with the books and characters.  I know that the theory AO is based on is that you get to ‘live with’ the books over a longer period of time, so that you really get to connect with them, but it wasn’t working that way for us.  So we are going to try a different approach for the next few months.  We’ll still get to the same books by the end of the year, but we’ll focus on fewer books at a time, reading more often or for longer.

    In terms of lesson length, I also am finding that it works better to have slightly longer lessons.  Many of our lessons were ending up very short, because DD can read a chapter and narrate in great detail in less time than most kids just read it.  (For example, the other day she completed 10 chapters – 113 pages – of her free reading book in 10 minutes, and then happily narrated it when I asked because I wasn’t convinced she had read it thoroughly.  She had.)  It takes DD a few minutes to get settled on lessons like copywork or math, but once she gets started, she can focus and get a lot done.  So trying to do so many lessons in a day was taking far longer than it should simply because of the transitions.  Of course, some lessons are naturally short, such as picture study, but other things we’ll try longer lessons.

    Granted, DD8 is older than your daughter, but they sound similar in personality, so hopefully that will help you determine what you want to do.



    Well, you are right when you say that the short lessons are for training in attention. If you have a gifted child who listens and can narrate back to you in great detail for a longer period of time, then that is good!

    However, I did not notice from your post that you are having her narrate? Be sure you don’t omit this step – especially with a gifted child. She should learn to tell back to you what she has read in a coherent and logical sequence, with her own ideas and opinions. This will help ensure that she is retaining what she reads, and it will help with composition skills down the road.

    Second, I don’t know if you have looked at the SCM plan online, but it is considerably less ‘hopping around’ than AO. We have differing opinions of what Charlotte meant by a ‘varied curriculum’, and I think you should use the amount of variety that works best for your child. Personally, I find AO’s recommendations too disjointed for my children.

    My DD12 was very much like your little one. She was very hands-on and reads at lightening speed with excellent retention. I have had to be very careful to work with her in developing weak areas and character issues (humility, patience, etc). It is wonderful to be smart and find that things come easily to you, but being smart doesn’t guarantee success. Be sure your child is trying new things (hard things) and continue to emphasize discipleship above all else.

    There is no need to cut the activities that she likes from your schooling. Just be sure to include time for nature study, handicrafts, art and music, poetry, etc…It isn’t all reading! Our children who love to read can be gently steered toward learning how to balance ‘head knowledge’ with hand and heart knowledge. Be a discerning mama/teacher and move your gifted child into expanding her interests and experiences.

    It sounds like you will have to stay on your toes to keep up with her! What a blessing :-).


    Thank you ladies for your comments. They were very helpful!

    Our daughters do sound very similar in this respect. You used the word that helps describe the trouble we had when we tried AO Year 1 – transitioning. When we tried to work through the schedule and bounced from one thing to the next, transitioning was very difficult for my daughter. I decided to drop AO and just focus on a few things and give plenty of time between subjects and it worked much better. Also, my daughter very much is one who when she gets started on something, she wants to keep going until she is ready to stop. She literally could spend half a morning just doing math. And I am not exaggerating. We do regularly go to the library and check out books for her to read whenever she wants. Sometimes, she will sit for a long time and just read her library books. So she has great attention span and can focus for a long time.

    Serving with Joy,
    Yes, I have had her narrate but not with everything. Since she is young and we have just this year begun formal schooling, we are officially just beginning to work on narration. However, she has always been very good about telling about something she’s read or a show she watched and all…and she has often done so with great detail. And she definitely has no problem with adding her own thoughts and opinions. 🙂  She has an excellent memory and for the most part, when she learns a concept…it is learned. She doesn’t often seem to need a lot of review. I’ve read that is common with gifted kids.

    You mentioned looking at the SCM outline. I have. And I actually would really like to use it with my daughter. But I think I’m just having a mental block on how to do it practically. I know that may sound silly. Maybe it’s just because I’m only looking at the samples and it would all come together in my mind if I had the full guide to look at. Don’t get me wrong, the guide makes sense to me. It’s just I guess I’m not for sure how to practically apply it with a gifted child. Maybe I’m making it harder than it seems….probably am. 🙂 And what you said about AO being too disjointed, yes! Exactly!

    In regards to character and habit training, yes this is something we are trying to work on. It is a difficult process with our 5yo (she will actually soon be 6yo). She is very, VERY persistent. I am hoping to order Laying Down the Rails with Children when we are able to do so.

    And yes, our little one definitely keeps us on our toes! 🙂


    Music study is fabulous for all children.  It keeps our gifted ones challenged, and helps our challenged ones to succeed at higher levels in all areas.


    Gifted kids are fun.  🙂  My first two were also gifted, early and voracious readers.  I was considered gifted in my school system as well and I learned a lot about what’s helpful and what’s not!  My two oldest are now 17 and 20.

    1.  Let them read free-time books, but KEEP SOME SCHOOL BOOKS ON A SLOW SCHEDULE.  This is for a very, very good reason.  Yes, your kids may PREFER to gulp them whole.  Their brains, however, NEED the ability to keep several things going at once and the time to let some material seep in slowly.  I and my sons did our fair share of book-gulping, and we retained a lot less.  We have experimented with this and we all agree–retention is helped by reading more slowly, whether one likes it or not.  I doubt we’ll be able to convince our kids to do this ALL the time, so I let them read decent free-time books as quickly as they wanted.  But we chose a few books across subjects to read more slowly.  

    2.  Most gifted kids need some place to expend excess mental energy. Music is good.  Chess.  Logic.  Problem solving.  Math puzzles.  Writing stories.  Studying languages.  Codes. Computer programming. Find something they are interested in and let them put some energy and effort into it.  Gifted kids are a little prone to taking a sudden obsession with something, then dropping it and moving on to something else.  Sometimes we let them do that.  Sometimes we encouraged them to stick with something for a little longer.  Gifted kids can also be prone to only wanting to do what is easy to them or what they are interested in and ignoring everything else.  Again, you need discernment here to help them so that they learn some perseverence through difficulties, too, and learn not to give up and drop things just if they are hard.  

    3.  Don’t ignore habit-training, spiritual training, character formation.  We all need to learn to subject our minds to a higher power, we all need to learn humility and concern for others.  This is certainly true of gifted kids too.  Many gifted kids figure out early on that they don’t think like most everyone else around them–they need to know the Christlike way to handle this.  

    4.  In general, let the kids move through lessons quickly enough if they are really retaining.  I found mine would really take big jumps in math ability periodically.  I needed to let them move on once they demonstrated to me they were ready.  Sometimes this involves getting lots of curricula and books.  It’s OK.  A lot of the things people worry about—don’t let a kid under 14 take algebra, don’t let a young kid read books “too old” for them–is kind of silly.  Now, don’t give an inappropriate book to a ten-year-old.  But if they want to tackle Les Miserables, or Oliver Twist, let them.  Yes, there are darker things.  It can be good for gifted kids to learn a little compassion and understanding vicariously, through books.  And don’t be afraid–if they can handle pre-algebra topics, they are likely to be just fine in Algebra–my eleven and twelve year olds have done JUST FINE in algebra, and then in the next classes.  

    You can learn a lot at  It’s not all useful for Christian parents, but I found it really useful to have a good handle on tendencies of gifted children so I could ponder a solid, Christlike response if one of my kids began to exhibit a certain tendency.  Some things we let go (I decided it wasn’t worth fighting over seams in socks, or wool in clothing) while other things, like correcting adults, may need to be gently dealt with.  It’s better if you know what may be coming.  It’s hard to stay ahead of these kids!

    Find mentors you approve of to help your kids in certain areas as they get older.  This is not a bad policy anyway, but can be especially helpful for the hungry gifted mind.  I had men step in to help my sons learn piano, woodworking, flying airplanes, Morse code, electronics, etc.  

    Good luck!  You are likely to need it.  🙂  Giftedness is a form of a special need–you can’t really just ignore it and expect your kids to make it to optimum development on their own.  


    Wow Bookworm. Thank you so much for your reply! I want to reply to your points above so I’ll just give the number of your point and give my comment. Hope that makes sense!

    1. This makes sense. It could be that the biggest problem when we tried AO Year 1 was trying to transition too quickly in a day and that maybe it would work okay to choose one or two books to spread over a longer period of time instead of doing that with five or six books. You know, when I think about it, she is doing okay with doing one lesson a day in The Story of the World book I have along with the activity page that goes with it. That is obviously spread out longer. It would typically take a full year but she usually likes doing one full chapter in a setting and doing the activity pages. So it won’t take us that long. But it will still take at least around 18 weeks. I let her read her library books whenever she wants and however much she wants. But don’t you think that taking a literature book and reading it one chapter a day over the course of a couple of weeks is still spreading it out? And doing that instead of trying to read three literature books at one chapter each a week over a whole term?

    2. We are a very musical family. We have tin whistles, tambourines, some kind of hand drums, and a keyboard. Although the keyboard has pretty much went out of commission so we are looking to get a new one here soon. I also just recently bought a chess set. None of us really knows how to play so it should be interesting! LOL I bought it because I had read that chess is a great game for gifted kids. Logic…I’m wondering if you might have any suggestions of some logic workbooks for younger children my DD’s age. Since she loves workbooks, I’m thinking that a workbook for logic would be good….something fun. In fact, my teenage daughter would probably enjoy them too! 🙂 Also, what about books with math puzzles…any suggestions for those?

    Also, I do notice that our DD tends to want to give up really easy if it seems too hard for her. Where is a good balance at this age with challenging them a bit…having them stay on task even when it’s hard? Our DD is pretty much excelling at most things we are doing but she doesn’t like writing for very long. I would say her writing level is right at her age level. She can write and spell…write words…even write sentences *if* she wants to. The hardest challenge I’ve faced with her handwriting is that she continually wants to make the letters “her” way. When we sit and do very short copywork (which up until now has been just really focusing on correct letter formation and then short words as well as her name), I have to watch very closely to make sure she makes them correctly. I believe she *knows* how to do it but that she wants to do it her way. Even when she writes them her way, she is still writing the letter…just that she’ll do it differently like start at the bottom line for letters that are supposed to start on the top line…that sort of thing. I imagine that when she is playing or sittting at her desk doing her own thing, she probably does not write the letters correctly but probably writes them her way.

    4. Math – did you find your gifted kids didn’t want to continue reviewing things once they learned them? I have read that is common with gifted kids. My daughter worked through both MEP Reception year and Horizons K in about 2 months time. We are now in Horizons 1 which is 1st grade. What I am finding is that when she already knows how to do something that they have review problems on the worksheet for, she doesn’t want to do them most times. For example, she got the concept of what number comes before, after, or in between very quickly. But the math worksheets continue to review that along with the new concepts and there’s usually quite a few to fill in. She does not want to keep doing those. And it’s very clear she knows how; so I know the concept has been learned and is being retained. Sometimes I’ll let her skip them; other times I’ll ask her to pick two problems to do. How have you handled that? I have recently read that because of this very thing, mastery math programs may work better for gifted kids than spiral math programs. What has been your experience?

    Books – this is where I have found a big challenge. What do you do when you have a 5yo able to read on an advanced level? Because you have content to think about. You say that it’s not a bad thing to let them tackle harder books, obviously books that would be appropriate. Do you have book recommendations for her age that are a more advanced level? She can definitely read and comprehend what she’s reading up to 6th to 7th grade level….and really probably beyond that with us helping her out with the harder words.

    Habit training is something we are trying to work on but it is very challenging. Our daughter is very spirited. Working on habit training can sometimes be quite exhausting, especially when we are talking about the will. As I mentioned before, I hope to order Laying Down the Rails with Children as soon as we are able to.

    If you have any other advise or recommendations, please do share them. It is so very helpful!



    Oh, and what about using SCM with a gifted child? Any thoughts?


    Your daughter is still young, and so what you are doing literature wise is probably fine.  I do think there is value, later, in choosing one or two very meaty books and doing them slowly all year long–perhaps even a two literature books, a history, maybe something else.  And having several going at once can be good too.  I counted one time in college—in one semester I was concurrently reading 32 books.  LOL  That is a skill to be valued–being able to track and read and remember where you are in many books.  Using CM recommended skills is very helpful in this–narration, review before beginning a reading, some prep (writing proper names, looking up a few definitions or historical details) then narration at the end and asking for what you think will happen next time–these are VITAL skills in cementing details from many books in the mind.

    If my kids really have a math concept down, we rarely review it.  I might “spot quiz” it occasionally, to make sure they are sharp, but doing endless problems over the same thing when you know you can do it is just dull.  It’s like torture.  LOL  Also doing 27 problems on one concept when you only need 5.  I do use a mastery based program, so.  I’ve never used a spiral.

    SCM should work as well as any CM approach, what you need with a gifted kid is a little flexibility.  You may need more books, or to go up a level (which will necessitate more books when your child actually REACHES that level later.)  SCM is a good example of a CM education, reaching many places in a child’s mind, feeding from all directions.  This is very good.  Gifted kids can tend to get lopsided.  🙂  

    Book ideas.  Sigh.  You are just going to have to mine the lists.  Christie has an especially good collection of book lists.  I recommend starting there. Ask the librarian.  Be willing to preview at least briefly things that are modern.  I hesitate to recommend certain things, as families need to make certain decisions on content for themselves.  In other words, I don’t want to get flamed because I let my kids read scifi and fantasy.  😉  

    I can hook you up for logic and puzzle books, though!  🙂

    This site will even recommend things by age group:  They can tend to be VERY workbooky.  We like the quirkier offerings best–we love Mind Benders, Language Smarts, Math Analogies,–keep it fun!

    Look for chess instruction online.  My kids did an online instruction program at first.  Some are very, very good!  

    Math puzzle books—we love this site:  THis guy came to one of our conventions, we bought a bunch of books then, the kids all raced through them and we’ve since gone back for more.  For younger kids, consider Primary Grade Challenge Math, Becoming a Problem Solving Genius, and anything that looks like fun.  We are hopelessly geeky so have almost all the math and science for upper grades by now.   He has some particularly good chess books as well.  Your library will also have some things like this.  My boys went through a stage where they all loved Sudoku puzzles.  They have grown bored now, but your child is still young.  IF the numbers look daunting, there is a product called Colorku that uses colored balls instead of numbers.  We have, like, five of these in the house.  🙂  They were hugely popular when my kids were younger.  They even got visiting friends doing them.

    Also consider foreign language.  Gifted minds can be very good at these, even at early ages.  If you are not exploring one, consider adding it, even if only online or DVD or something.  

    There are tons of videos on YOutube that we use a LOT now.  Mathy, sciency, geeky, language-y, music-y—yes, there is a lot of preview necessary.  But Youtube, on top of being the king of cat videos, is actually a hotbed of slightly subversive educational content for the very bright.  Again, I hesitate to recommend anything.  My family is weird and, importantly, my youngest is a teenager.  I’d really, really hate to hear anyone say “Bookworm said Rhett and Link are great and we watched this one  video and I’m never letting my kid in the internet again!!!!!” So.  Beware.  


    OK.  The kids have reminded me of a few more video channels they like.  STILL PREVIEW.  But One MInute Physics and vihart are great.  Very fun.  My kids occasionally request that we view some of these instead of reading our nightly book.  WE occasionally give in.  🙂  I know there are problems, but boy do I wish there’d been a Youtube when mine were small!!


    Thanks so much Bookworm! I’ve bookmarked the sites. Also, we do a foreign language. We watch Salsa Spanish videos each week and then, probably in the spring, we are planning to get Rosetta Stone.

    With following the CM process of narration you mentioned in your comment, that’s why I’d really like to go with the SCM guides. I like that Sonya helps you with that process by including the review, BOC timeline entries, and such.

    Thanks again for all the help! I really appreciate it! I am going to bookmark this thread. 🙂

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 25 total)
  • The topic ‘keeping a gifted child challenged’ is closed to new replies.