Intelligence in toddlers doesn’t always happen the way you’d hope, like when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store and your 2 1/2-year-old shows his early prowess for symbol recognition by reading the Cosmopolitan magazine heading, “50 Ways to Please Your Man in Bed.” And, because intelligence doesn’t really affect impulse control, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for your little reader to collapse on the floor 30 seconds afterward because you declined his request for a candy bar. Although most children aren’t formally IQ tested until kindergarten, studies of highly gifted children show specific tendencies even in early toddlerhood.
Early Verbal Development
Because the absorption and production of language is such a complex process, it’s not surprising that early language development is one of the most cited characteristics among toddlers who eventually test at the gifted level. More specifically, The Davidson Institute for Talent Development compiled a list of advanced behaviors and notes that toddlers who score at least 30 percent above the average intelligence level often have vocabularies of three to four words by 10 months. This rate of progress is significantly higher than the average toddler who doesn’t develop such communication skills until 15 months of age.
Not only do highly intelligent toddlers communicate early, they’re also especially good at understanding the meaning of words and phrases. At just over 1-year-old, a gifted toddler is often able to follow single-step directions, such as “please put the block on the chair,” or “please bring me the block,” as opposed to other toddlers who can’t comprehend such requests until they’re nearly 18 months old. Because of this advanced comprehension, gifted tots can sometimes distinguish a more detailed level of classification and vocabulary, such as identifying a robin and a blue jay separately.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills require concentration, perceptibility and memory. This means you get to enjoy wall-scribbling months before everyone else, hooray! While most toddlers can’t correctly copy a triangle until the age of 5, many gifted toddlers are able to master this skill at 3 1/2 years old. These same unusually intelligent toddlers can draw people with at least two body parts, such as the head and legs, a few months before their third birthday, while the stick figures of most toddlers won’t spawn limbs until the artist is 3 1/2 years-old.
Even at an early age, intelligent toddlers are intrigued by details and relationships. A little one might focus on building a complex block city or studying a transparent toy with such focus that even hearing his own name called several times isn’t enough to disengage him from the task at hand. While other children his age might find a shape-sorter challenging, an intelligent toddler has already mastered the toy and is busy finding similarly shaped objects from around the house, like an oval makeup container or a star-shaped box, to test on his toy.