There are many ways to show love, but few are as effective as giving a preschool child the gift of time—time spent interacting, playing, or just being together. Although gifted children are great at amusing themselves like all children, they also need to connect with those who love and care about them. Parents play an important role by spending high-quality time with their children.
However, it’s difficult to find the precise activity at the exact moment your child wants to participate. Children who have special abilities and unique interests won’t settle for the everyday time-fillers. So what to do?
Make a list with your child of things you can and want to do together. Keep the list handy for when your child is bored and looking for an activity. Remember that the time you spend with your child should be fun, and the activity need not be overly challenging or structured to be beneficial. Often the best time spent with your child is when the activities are not competitive or inordinately difficult. They don’t have to be hands-on, but they should be stimulating and varied. Here are some specific suggestions:
- Read a story together, and then take turns thinking of different endings. Or, read it out loud and have your child make up the ending. You can make television a more beneficial activity by generating different story lines to a show that you both watch.
- Encourage your child to think of different uses for household products. For example: a pot for a hat, a wooden spoon to beat a drum, or an empty paper towel roll as a horn.
- Get creative with art supplies: fingerpaint with Jell-O or pudding, or make your own playdough (1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup of salt, a few drops of vegetable oil, food coloring, and water).
- Compare the measurements of familiar objects using novel units of measure. For example, measure Daddy’s height in arm lengths or the length of the living room in baby steps.
- Play bingo to strengthen number recognition. This can also be a math spatial memory activity by having your child recall placement.
- Using different lengths of colored straws, have your child determine how many shorter straws of one color it takes to make one longer straw of another color. Ask your child to think of other ways to use the straws to measure things.
- To teach spelling, use magnetic letters to identify items, such as a list of the foods that will be served at dinner.
- Memorize poems together. Take turns repeating lines until you can say them to each other.
- Play word games that focus on specifics. You say “flower,” and your child says “rose.” Or you say “bud,” and the response could be “petal.”
- Remember “‘A’ My Name is Amy?” (“‘A’ my name is Amy, and my husband’s name is Andrew. We come from Alaska, where we sell apples.”) Teach it to your child and go through the alphabet.
There’s no limit to the things you and your child can do together. Just thinking of activities can be enjoyable. Remember, though, that being creative should never feel like a chore—for either one of you. When play becomes work, it’s time to stop. Playtime should always be fun time.
- Bringing Out the Best: A Guide for Parents of Young Gifted Children, rev. ed., by Jacqulyn Saunders, Free Spirit, 1991
- Creative Publications
- “Suggestions to ‘Turn On’ Bright Children at Home,” by available from the Queensland Association for Gifted & Talented Children