Several parents we have encountered on the discussion boards seem interested in exploring the relationship between homeschooling and giftedness. This seems particularly true of new parents. They really want their children to be gifted, but their children have not yet been to school, and therefore, have never been evaluated.
To many young parents, homeschooling is looked upon as a way to force-feed educational outcomes and bypass the evaluators and psychologists. But before introducing reading and academics to toddlers, I would suggest considering that researchers generally agree that children actually learn better through more developmentally appropriate activities at a young age than they do through academics.
A three or four year old learns more about math, for instance, by sorting shapes and colors than they do by rote memorization of number sequences. Viktor Lowenfeld, art educator and child psychologist, generalizes that the cornerstone of education for most educators is the manipulation of 26 letters and 10 numerals. The patterns and manipulations become increasingly abstract and complex with time, but they actually mean very little without a frame of reference for understanding what the arrangements of the symbols actually represent.
"Being able to assemble letters in the proper sequence to spell rabbit does not constitute and understanding of a rabbit. To really know a rabbit, a child must actually touch him, feel his fur, watch his nose twitch, feed him, and learn his habits," Viktor Lowenfeld, Creative and Mental Growth.
The advice then, is simply to enjoy doing things with your child. Give him/her a wealth of experiences to draw upon, so that when he/she learns something, it actually means something. Howard Gardner, the author of Multiple Intelligences who has done much to define the term "genius", also wrote a book called The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach. In it, Dr. Gardner presents a case for restructuring education based in part on the ancient practice of apprenticeship, and in part on the concept of the modern children's museum. Both work because learning takes place in context.
And while it is very tempting (and often encouraged by well-meaning friends and family members) to introduce academics when creating an environment for "cultivating" giftedness, my recommendation is to have fun reading to your child without prematurely concerning yourself with whether or not the child can read by him/herself.
Lighten up. Enjoy the experience. Learn things together. If you eventually feel it is necessary, go ahead and get an evaluation. It may turn out that you have actually received the mixed blessing of a gifted child and homeschooling can be an excellent way to meet his/her needs...in much the same way as homeschooling can provide a way to meet the needs of children with various other categories of exceptionality.