I know I said I would be positive in this series, so I am going to say that I am POSITIVE that buying your youngling edu-tainment toys will not guarantee them a ticket to Harvard. Instead I urge you to focus on buying your future student books. Plain old books. Buy them a few of your favorites and some new ones for that bookcase you are setting up in the nursery. Start reading now and never stop reading to your kids.
Parenting has a wonderful article on giftedness (h/t Kim) that not just says that gifted kids are rare, but that we can't make them with drills, toys, and extra work:
"Gifted" has become one of the most tossed-about words in the parenting lexicon. Unfortunately -- sorry, but let's get this out of the way right up front -- it's also one of the most misused. The vast majority of children are not gifted. Only 2 to 5 percent of kids fit the bill, by various estimates. Of those, only one in 100 is considered highly gifted. Prodigies (those wunderkinds who read at 2 and go to college at 10) are rarer still -- like one to two in a million. And despite the boom in infant-stimulation techniques, educational DVDs, learning toys, and enrichment classes, those numbers haven't been increasing. You can't build giftedness; it's mostly built in.
My daughter starts kindergarten next week and yes, she's in a gifted program. But we didn't drill her, send her to classes, or pile her with edu-tainment toys. I'm not saying that because I'm proud of it, honestly I'm deathly afraid that my trust in expert advice is actually wrong and all the kids in her class will come reading Shakepeare due to all the things we didn't do. I know they won't be, but that's what the edu-tainment & Co's are working off of...fear.
Instead, I ask you to have faith in your kid and yourself as parents. I know, many of us don't have our parents close by or if we do, they might not understand this new world we are raising our kids in. We all want more for our kids, but sometimes less is more.