One moment your four-year-old child is eloquently telling you about negative numbers, the next they’re in in a toddler rage because you want them to get dressed. Asynchronous development, where the child’s behaviour is often out of sync with their age (meaning that aspects of their life develop at different rates), is common in children with high learning potential (HLP), not just a quick passing phase. It’s also a phenomenon that schools might not recognise as the higher the IQ, the rarer the child.

When School Starts…

Let school know about anything that you wouldn’t expect them to know about your child’s asynchronous behaviour. If the teacher acknowledges that your child does need greater learning challenges than their peers, check that the work is age appropriate. For example, a five-year-old child who was able at reading came home with a book about slavery.

Is your daughter or son being accelerated a year? Your child may well be judged by the other children in their new year group to see how they “fit in”. A good teacher will take some of the pressure off by make allowances for any age discrepancies: for example, a five-year-old won’t be able to produce the same handwriting or perfectly drawn geometry as an eight-year-old, as their fine motor skills aren’t as developed. Instead, the teacher should focus on their pupil’s strengths, developing their higher order thinking skills.

Social Skills

Top of the class but struggling to keep friends? Asynchronous behaviour can make it look like your child lacks social skills, although it’s also possible that the moments when they appear mature beyond their years mean that the other children react badly. Is there any lunchtime support offered, such as a club, or perhaps a playground buddy? Asynchronous children often prefer socialising with children who are several years older because of their developed verbal skills or interests. Alternatively, they may prefer younger children who have yet to acquire the insight more common in older children.

At home, teach your child to handle frustration. Tap into their ability to think on more complex levels – for example “Why did they not agree with me” could be dealt with as “I don’t know but that’s a good question. What could you have done differently?”

Babyish Behaviour?

Sometimes asynchronous children enjoy talking or lisping like much younger children; they may even develop their own language for imagination games.  You might notice that your child chooses to be an animal, which can be their release from the advanced learning that they soaked up in the day or they may switch the other way and copy the accents and language of an older child.

“Baby talk” becomes less appropriate as your child grows older, although it’s fine in younger HLP children as they can explore a variety of imaginative play without being expected to act like a mini-adult and show social maturity. Discuss with your child when it might be right to show that behaviour in a classroom or home education group – perhaps saving the younger play for home. If you join in with their game it will brighten your child’s play and they will feel at ease!

…Versus Acting much Older then Losing it

Is your child frustrated that their peers reject rules, or don’t listen? In the asynchronous child, there may be a “sense of justice” trait, which may result in tears or hitting out when there isn’t fairness. Ask the school if the children can work together to find a game to play away from other children, with adult supervision so they can learn to co-operate without argument. Build resilience.

Reduce the Gap

Asynchronous behaviour can mean that your child is super-eager to forge ahead with what they know and their passion for a subject. However, it’s good to factor in activities for their general development. Creative activities enjoyed together such as cookery, making up stories, crafts and music will broaden your child’s thinking and fit in with providing a “normal childhood”.

Final Tips

Find opportunities for your child to meet other HLP children. Your child might enjoy Potential Plus UK’s activity days and Big Family Weekend, there they can meet similar children who will accept them and you can share experiences with other parents. However, when you return home don’t get frustrated; realising that asynchronous development is very normal for children with high learning potential will help you handle it.

For further information why not read our fact sheet PA514 Asynchronous Development