My 2-½ year old son can read at 2nd grade level. He reads everything he sees, like labels, store names, etc. He will read pages to me in a book that he likes when I read to him. Do you have suggestions on what to do with a genius kid?

Your child seems to certainly have a real gift for language. First, providing books, any reading materials and vocabulary to follow his own interests would be the direction I’d suggest. Following his interests is important, especially since he is so young. 

Secondly, since at this young age there is so much development neurologically, physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially still happening - focusing on the integration of these would "trump" any singular skill focus, such as only focusing on reading.  Ages 2-5 are the foundational time for building trust, social and emotional well being that a life is built on, and learning how to learn is probably more important to focus on than a specific skill or area of least since your son is so young. I’d encourage you to have reading be a natural functional part of your life and the world around you and following your family interests. I wouldn’t worry to much about getting too focused on just his reading skills, but rather naturally include vocabulary and reading into all his play.

I would support and broaden his language development, including reading, by providing lots of play opportunities and include meaningful and relevant language to the topics of play that interests your son.  For example, if he likes cars, I would provide toys and dramatic play opportunities involving cars that naturally incorporates relevant language like traffic signs, books about cars or creating a dramatic play car repair store with car magazines, newspaper car ads etc.  You might even have him dictate stories to you or his instructions for how to fix cars or all the different kinds of cars there are.  Read books or even watch movies about cars and then have meaningful conversations about the story.

Reading is actually not the point or the goal for a child.  It’s an avenue for accessing the wonders of learning, the world and developing relationships with people. I would want to make sure his reading is for his pleasure and discovery of the world, not about any pressure or performance for others...sometimes gifted kids get so focused on developing one ability, they miss the joy and discovery aspect of learning.  So it's all about balance...feed his hungering for learning and reading through his interests and through play, which is the brain’s natural way to learn.  And remember be sure he feels loved for who he is not just what he can do, as you know, this matters more than anything. 

Answered by: