Meet Marlow (the youngest of my nieces), a capricious two and half year old that would astound the most seasoned educator. This preschooler has the vocabulary of a child 3 times her age, she recognizes letters and is able to give examples of words that begin with the letter sound. She sat through the Broadway production of the Wizard of Oz and was able to answer questions about the story line, knowing that in order for Dorothy to get home she had to bring the Wizard the witch's broom. She recalls details of family vacations and events. She converses in full sentences, using part of the question in her answer. She holds her pencil using a firm pincer grasp and draws a face; two eyes, a nose, mouth and a tear drop for good measure.
So what makes Marlow so exceptional? Was she born with amazing aptitude or is it environment?
Marlow has two older siblings 12 and 10 years old and she attends daycare.
She has one cousin who is her age but all the rest are in their late teens and early adult years.
Spending a few hours with Marlow will leave you thinking.
How much should we offer children? Should we limit our classrooms based on the general guidelines of development or should we offer more?
I offer that Marlow is both, gifted and nurtured by her environment.
As educators we should provide children with a rich context giving due consideration to developmental milestones but not being limited by them.