Parenting the Very Young, Gifted Child

Nancy M. Robinson

This report provides research-based answers to questions facing families of young, gifted children, and to questions often asked of preschool teachers, physicians, psychologists, and other professionals who deal with young children. Unfortunately, the database about these children is sparse and often inconclusive. The most consistent findings point to the strong influence of the home and to the extra investment parents of gifted children make, not so much in securing outside classes, but in reading to and playing with their children, enriching their experiences, and helping them focus on potential opportunities for learning. Psychological testing is advised only in special circumstances; parents can, in fact, describe their children’s development rather accurately. Their descriptions provide the best basis for responsive parenting, which includes securing and creating an optimal match for children among their readiness, their pace of development, and their environments.


Robinson, N. M. (1993). Parenting the very young, gifted child (RBDM9308). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Parenting the Very Young, Gifted Child
Nancy M. Robinson


  1. Gifted children show one or more abilities ahead of their peers by at least one-fourth their age. Although parents often describe them as having excellent memories, vocabularies, attention spans, imagination, and curiosity, no unique characteristic or “giftedness factor” has been identified. In metacognition (i.e., the ability to observe and manage one’s own thinking), however, they may be especially advanced.
  2. Parenting gifted young children is labor-intensive.
  3. Some roots of high motivation and willingness to take creative risks can be found during early childhood.
  4. We have no strong evidence that special preschools, early teaching, or computer technology significantly advance the development of gifted children.
  5. Gifted children clearly identified during the preschool era tend to stay ahead of other children even if not quite so dramatically as before.
  6. Gifted children are at least as varied as any other group of children.