What to expect during Gifted Child Evaluations
Of course, we all think that our children are mini-Einstein’s-in-the-making. But, what many parents don’t know is that a gifted child is smarter than at least 98% of children their age. Therefore, having your child tested for giftedness is crucial to provide the most appropriate educational environment for your child. Many parents often wonder if and when their child should undergo a gifted child test. Parents of gifted children are typically awe-struck by their child’s precocious and quick learning abilities in comparison to other children.
Gifted child characteristics include:
- Learn quickly and efficiently
- Have a vast vocabulary
- Abstract and insightful thinking that most children (and sometimes adults) do not understand
- Ability to focus on one task for extended time periods
- Highly developed imagination
- Self- learner or self- taught skills
- Highly sensitive to others’ feelings
- Problem-solver, especially with puzzles, blocks, Legos, and number equations
- High interest in social justice from a young age
- Amazing memory for details of events, facts, personal characteristics of others
- Vast and deep fund of knowledge, curiosity, and determination to seek out more information
- Quick changing attention span when finding activity boring
- Ability to relate to older children and adults
There is not one single gifted child definition out there. Gifted children can be advanced in different ways. For example, one child may be a whiz at solving mathematical problems but may not be so great at formulating sentences that explain what things mean. Other children can express themselves with such prose and are incredibly meticulous with getting everything just right, so it may take them twice as long to complete a task in comparison to their peers. Some gifted children may have a rigid way of thinking. They may come to understand something so clearly, that to them it is just so obvious. This can frustrate them when they see that others don’t understand the concept at their level or see things from another point of view.
If teachers are not adept at enhancing a gifted child’s learning style, they can inadvertently reduce the child’s innate desire to learn. Being surrounded by peers and teachers who do not quite understand you can be very lonely for children. Sometimes, out of sheer boredom, children who are gifted may act out by talking to peers or getting out of their seats, seemingly disrespectful when they are just not being challenged enough. Therefore, it is important that the child is placed in the right environment where his social and intellectual skills can flourish.
When should you evaluate your child for giftedness?
Teachers may note that your child learns at a speed and depth much more advanced than other children in the classroom. This is a sign that it may be time to evaluate your child for giftedness for the next upcoming school year. Some schools in South Florida have Gifted Kindergarten classrooms, while others begin the gifted program starting in first grade. No matter the age of your child, if you suspect that he/she has an advanced learning capacity, it is important to test for giftedness.
It is recommended that a child be evaluated for gifted by the age of six, as a child’s IQ is pretty unstable before this age. However, if there are clear signs that your child is quite advanced from a much younger age, then it is highly beneficial to evaluate for giftedness to help prepare and plan for an appropriate learning environment that meets your child’s needs. Gifted child testing can be done year-round. Before scheduling the test, make sure you understand the requirements for your child’s school district.
What to expect from the gifted child testing process:
I try to make the test as comfortable as possible for the child. Here’s what I recommend for parents:
- Keep your anxieties about the test score at bay. Yes, the score of the evaluation is what will determine if your child is admitted to a gifted program but remember that what is important is to provide your child with the best and most appropriate learning environment. A child whose level of intelligence is not in the gifted range will not thrive in a gifted classroom. It’s okay if your child does not score in the gifted range.
- Make sure your child has a good night’s rest, a balanced breakfast, and uses the bathroom before the evaluation. Many kids, especially the younger ones, can have a difficult time concentrating when they are groggy or distracted by hunger or bathroom needs.
- If your child is sick, reschedule the evaluation.
- If your child asks what the test is for, keep it simple. Something along the lines of “We want to see your level of intelligence. Some things will be super easy for you, others may not be. Do your best and that’s all that matters.” If they feel nervous that others will find out their score you can reassure them and say “Eva cannot share your scores with anyone without our written permission. This is between us and no one else needs to know that you are taking this test or what your score will be.”
The day of testing:
I believe that the following practices set me apart from many of my colleagues who provide gifted testing.
- I make sure the child has had time to settle in before we start the evaluation.
- I inform the child in front of the parent that if they need to take a break or use the bathroom, they can let me know. Some children need that extra confirmation that they have a say in the process too.
- If I note that the child is getting antsy or tired, I offer the child a moment to stretch or take a small break. I note this in the report to provide feedback for parents and teachers regarding the needs of the child during a test.
Test results and the written report are provided within one week of the evaluation. I provide 2 copies, an electronic and paper copy of the report for your records. I remain available to parents should you have any questions regarding the scores and how they translate to everyday life. If you’re interested in having your child tested for giftedness, contact me at (786) 383-4942.