Yep, I did it. I attended a parent-teacher conference in regards to my three-year-old.
My son’s teacher didn’t tell me much that I didn’t already know: he’s academically far beyond his peers, and he’s a mental sponge, but he needs work on his fine motor skills (like cutting with scissors and holding a crayon correctly).
His parents were much the same. Aaron is one of the only other people I know who also learned to read at age three, like me.
Given the diametrically opposite ways that Aaron and I reacted to being labeled as “smart,” though, my mind is already racing to come up with ways to keep Connor interested in school, to maintain that love of learning, and not let him fall into the trap of feeling obligated to do well in school just because of the results of his standardized tests.
Connor’s teacher told me that they’re giving him extra things to learn, like non-standard shapes and colors (crescent, pentagon, fuchsia, neon yellow), and while the other kids in his new preschool class are learning to recognize and spell their first names, Connor (who can already spell his first name) will be working on his full name, instead.
That’s fine for now, while he’s still a little sponge who loves to learn and who doesn’t really notice or care that he’s doing something different from his classmates. As he gets older, though… as he finishes his worksheets early and then starts staring out the open window… he may or may not resent being given more or different work to do just because he can. He may feel “special,” or he may feel unfairly singled-out.
(I’d guess that’s why some parents home-school their children: letting them learn at their own pace, without knowing or caring what others their age are doing, without letting that knowledge affect their idea of a “fair” workload. That’s not the route we want to take, but I can understand why some parents would.)
I loved being singled out as “gifted.” I loved the extra classes that were a grade level or two above my age. Up through most of high school, I thrived on being in the advanced classes. Aaron didn’t share my love of school, though, despite also scoring high on all the standardized tests and having an advanced reading level, and he got berated for his grades on a regular basis.
My son is only three. I shouldn’t be worrying (or even really thinking) about such things yet. So far, he loves to learn, and he learns through play, and he doesn’t know anything about standardized tests or reading levels or grades.
How long can we keep him that way?