To Test or Not to Test (for Gifted Kids)? 5 Questions to Consider

To Test or Not to Test by Karen Campos

Here’s the question. Is it better to know or not know specific details concerning your child’s intelligence? You do know your child is smart and shows herself to be more capable than other kids her age. You’re good with that. No need for testing. These kids get tested enough as it is. Touché! Is there any validity to having your child privately tested or request school testing? Do you need to put him through that? Or worry about labels? Good questions. Allow me to give you some food for thought as you mull this over in your mind or with your spouse or your child’s teacher.

Here are the five questions (give or take) that guided my thinking regarding testing. I hope it will help you to arrive at a conclusion you can own as well.

1. What is to be gained by testing? What am I dealing with? Where is this all going? How can I parent a child who may in fact be smarter than me? Unique discipline issues have crept up like balance between their intelligence and their respect of authority. What do I do?

2. What are his academic strengths and weaknesses? How can I foster the strengths and strengthen the weaknesses? What areas of skill seem innate to him and which need prodding? If I’m going to be an informed advocate for my child, I need some direction. What exactly is he going to need as a learner? Taking into consideration his personality and self-concept, shouldn’t I know his level of potential and how can I help him be successful at every step along the way?

3. What should be my educational considerations? What options would best fit his learning style and level? What financial decisions might need to be planned for? What combination might take him farther?

4. What social and emotional needs do I need to be prepared for regarding my child? Sometimes he shines and other times he completely misses the boat. Does he even have friends or only one? Is this okay?

5. I know he’s smart but someday he may not perform in the classroom. How do I prevent underachievement? Due to boredom? Unengaging environment? No motivation? How will I know if he’s bored if I don’t know what he’s capable of? I don’t want a class clown on my hands or a recluse.

So there you have it. Five (or so) questions to consider. It is very hard to keep the focus on learning as a process or a journey, but that is a more accurate description. No one ever arrives. There should be no specific parental outcome or parental expectation placed on them, which is REALLY hard to do. (I don’t believe I’ve ever said, “Come on, you’re smarter than that.” Ok. Maybe once or twice or three times.)

And what about the six and under set where testing is mostly inaccurate? If you are interested, there is in fact, an excellent online parent inventory you might consider. Developed by Dr. Deborah Ruf, who has extensive experience in this area including working for Mensa, it gives valuable insight into your child’s intellectual world. (It does cost $25 – but a worthy investment-in my opinion, not to be confused with my other “In My Opinion” posts!)

IF your conclusion is the same as mine, the better question may not be to test or not to test, but rather when?

Does testing seem daunting? Are you a good test taker?



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