According to certain studies, only about 2 to 5 percent of students are gifted. Unfortunately, the word “gifted” often gets misused or overused. Alternatively, many gifted students are not identified, and they become bored in school or behave poorly. In both cases, there is a disconnect between students who are actually gifted and the programs available to them. If you think you child needs gifted testing, here are several things to consider and avoid along the way.
Indications of Giftedness
No amount of educational television, books, or games can teach your child to be gifted because giftedness is not learned. It is independent of upbringing, socio-economic status, gender or personality.
Gifted children excel in at least one academic area or they are highly creative, artistic or musical. It is also possible for a child to excel in a specific skill, such as leadership.
Gifted children will often be curious, use their own approach to handle situations, display advanced cognitive skills – including teaching themselves new skills – and more. If you are seeing skills or interests in your child that appear to be more advanced than kids their age, you may want to consider gifted testing.
Students ages 4-8 are the best candidates for gifted testing. When I test students for giftedness, I begin with their records. I look for indications of giftedness in their school work and interests. However, this alone does not provide enough information because gifted students can be underachieving due to boredom. I also do intelligence and achievement tests for objective, quantifiable results. Again, these tests are not enough on their own because some gifted students are perfectionists and struggle to finish tests.
An IQ score of 85-114 is considered average, whereas a score between 115 and 129 is referred to as mild giftedness, 130-144 is moderate giftedness, and 145 to 159 is high giftedness. Scores higher than these are considered exceptionally gifted.
Identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses is always my goal in testing. A child’s strengths will reveal if they are gifted and ways they can be challenged to continue growing and learning. A child’s weaknesses can reveal a learning or processing disorder or weaknesses in studying or organizing and areas they could use help.
If your child’s assessment reveals that they are gifted, it’s important that you seek ways to challenge them where they are strong and strengthen them where they are weak. Some of the most disruptive kids in the class are just gifted students who need harder challenges than most kids their age. They act out of boredom and disinterest.
Many schools provide access to gifted and talented programs, where more advanced curriculum can supplement students’ educations. In some cases, teachers will give gifted students more challenging work in the classroom.
Other times, seeking a tutor is the best or only option for making sure gifted students reach their full potential. After testing, I always discuss these options with students and their families to help them find the best one for them.
What You Should Not Do
Many parents are too eager to have their children tested for giftedness. Challenging your child and communicating healthy expectations are two keys to helping kids grow and learn to set their own goals. However, I see far too many parents prioritize academic performance over character development. This creates imbalanced children who are extremely afraid of failure.
Before testing your child for giftedness, reassure them that the test does not affect their grade and that there is no failing score. This conversation can help reduce pressure they may feel going into the test and minimize a sense of failure that may come if they are not deemed gifted. It can also help the gifted child who struggles with perfectionist tendencies to test accurately.
If you learn that your child is in fact gifted, it’s important that you resist stepping into the role of coach. If your child chooses to apply themselves, they will have a bright future, but it is more important for you to show them love, demonstrate important life skills, and express your unconditional support than grooming them for college acceptances.
If you would like to discuss gifted testing more, please contact me. I am happy to help you identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses and create a plan for developing both.
Laurie is a Licensed Educational Psychologist and Credentialed School Psychologist, and she holds a Diplomate in School Neuropsychology. She has had a private practice in Santa Clarita since 1996.
In more than 30 years of experience, she has provided assessments, counseling and educational consultation to families and individuals of all ages. Having worked in public schools, she has an understanding of the services available for students in preschool through college.