Our 2-year-old daughter seems very advanced for her age. She can already count to almost 1,000, read and spell more than 100 different words, and say the alphabet. Do you have any suggestions as to what direction we should go with her? Should we have her tested by a psychologist? What type of preschool should she attend? -- Looking for Guidance


Parents are usually able to recognize if their young children are gifted. Observation of their children's words and actions are good clues. Gifted preschoolers tend to use advanced vocabulary early, retain a variety of information and understand complex concepts. They also are keen observers and have intense periods of concentration.

There is no real reason to test children for giftedness before they enter elementary school. Early testing does not measure future potential. Furthermore, IQ tests before the age of 5 do not give stable results. You think that your child is gifted, so she probably is.

Parents, like you, who feel their preschoolers are gifted, need solid information about school programs and how to guide their children's learning. Contact the gifted education office in your State Department of Education and ask if there is a statewide advocacy group that includes parents of gifted children. This group will help you find gifted associations in your community where you can network with other parents and find out about local resources for gifted children and their parents. You should also find out from the Department of Education if your state has a conference on gifted education, because attending these conferences would be an excellent opportunity to learn more about giftedness.

Remember that preschool is about far more than academics. Before choosing a preschool for your child, check to make sure that its program is designed to accommodate gifted children.