My daycare informed me yesterday that my 2 1/2 year old is having trouble listening and following directions. As you can imagine I am extremely concerned. She is very active and usually will not sit long enough for me to tell her a story or read a book. When I give her directions she usually listens, but she seems to have selective hearing. She is a smart girl, and I have acutally been told so by the same daycare. I have noticed that she count's 1-3 then starts with 7-15. She rarely counts adding 4-6. I stop her and correct her everytime, but she had not taken my instruction.
Also, I had trouble in school, but my parents just punished me for not trying. I never went to a Dr. for my learning issues, but I was painfully aware that I was not keeping up with others. It breaks my heart to imagine this could be the road my child is going down.
So my question is...Should I be concerned? Is this normal behavior for a 2 year old?
first off, true counting (the idea that each object being counted corresponds to a number--called establishing 'one to one correspondence') is not something you would expect a 2 year old to be able to do consistently. I would not worry at all about that, since how she understands mathematics at this stage is a function of her little brain still developing. You can teach a two year old to memorize things, like all of those parents who are subjecting their poor two year olds to flashcards, but her brain is not ready for true understanding. Better to focus on concepts such as: more versus less, bigger versus smaller, many versus few. Help her develop conceptual understanding by letting her manipulate objects she can touch and hold (better and cheaper than a thousand leapfrog products I promise you). I would hope that the day care staff know when to expect children to develop their understanding of early mathematics.
Many children are more active than their teachers would like. Sometimes girls in particular are expected to be able to tolerate sitting still and focusing when they are not really ready. I would ask to observe in the classroom and have a meeting afterwards with the director to make a plan for intervening. The director is usually the most experienced and educated person in a daycare, so he/she is likely to have the most ideas.
Your next stop should be to describe what you observed at school to your pediatrician. Some pediatricians use screening questionnaires, such as the Vanderbilt, to determine if your daughter's symptoms and behaviors are truly beyond the norm for a child her age. However, a screening questionnaire is fairly limited, and may not give you much information. If things do not get better, then I would seek a consultation with a child psychologist. Once she is three, there are many assessment tools the psychologist can use to learn more about her auditory processing and ability to sustain attention. Read my articles on Medhelp about ADHD and about Early Childhood Assessment so you will have an idea about what kind of help to seek. The book Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence by Dr. Jane Healy is an exceptional resource that will help you understand typical versus atypical development.
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