It enters a young mother’s mind sooner than she thinks. Her child starts to walk early, and their cooing turns into “Mama” and “Dada” before others in the playgroup. Mom mindlessly starts comparing her child to others, and before they know it, they are tacking on the “talented” and “gifted” labels. After all, a mother should think her baby is gifted and talented, among other amazing things. This is what moms do. We make perfect babies with our perfect genes, and the world should take note. But the truth is that only a tiny two percent of the entire population qualifies as gifted, as in a child with an IQ of over 130. Luckily, there are steps to take to discover if your child is truly gifted and talented. Below is a guide geared towards the public school gifted and talented process.
The Testing Process
When and how to get tested. Generally in kindergarten through second grade, a teacher recommends a student for gifted testing based on classroom observation. Parents also have the option to request the testing. Children are given an intelligence quotient (IQ) test like the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V;Wechsler, 2014) and Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scale 2nd Addition (RIAS2). In public schools, students only receive the “screener” test (a shorter version like the or the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test) that requires a minimum score of 120 to qualify to complete full gifted testing. These are not the kind of tests you study for either. Your IQ doesn’t increase with age; it is an inherent trait, so you have what you have and that’s that. Testing is completed as a group, but qualified private child psychologists also offer private individual testing for $300 to $400.
Confusion. Personally, I know a handful of children who failed the group screening but qualified through private testing. How can you know if it is worth going through the testing and/or dropping the dough? Honestly, it is easy to confuse a high-achieving student with a gifted and talented student. Check out this helpful article that points out the subtle, but important, differences. Conference with the teacher about your child and decide whether your child is a fast learner who knows all the answers or is actually the one asking the questions and re-inventing the wheel.
Test results. The best part of IQ testing is seeing your child’s different strengths and weakness. IQ tests have different sections such as processing, verbal skills, critical thinking, etc. Interpreting the results can help you and the teacher understand how your child learns, what is difficult for them, and what comes easily. This peek into your child’s brain can be used to implement better study skills and parental patience when it comes to helping your child with homework.
If your child is gifted and talented, it means….
They qualify for the gifted program at their school. Schools offer a variety of programs to serve the gifted population. Some are pullout programs where similar students meet once a week and assignments are focused on higher level thinking. Others are all-inclusive, year-long programs that include accelerated curriculum and gifted students grouped together in a classroom. Know what your school provides to meet these students’ needs and utilize them.
They need a challenge. Gifted and talented students are considered exceptional, meaning the norm isn’t enough for them! They need mental stimulation and opportunities to be creative, to experiment and to fail in a safe setting. Motivation can wane if they aren’t able to exercise their intelligence.
It does not mean they won’t struggle. Gifted children, like any other student, can struggle in school. They might have trouble socially “fitting in.” They can still have learning disabilities. Expectations are high and the pressure (internally and externally) can weigh on a gifted student causing emotional stress. The parent of a gifted child has a responsibility to be extra sensitive to their exceptional student.
If your child isn’t gifted and talented, it means…
Your child is still bright! Sadly these days, parents feel like an “average” student is not a smart student. This is ridiculous! A bright student has plenty of strengths, as the test points out. A high achiever has huge academic potential, so it’s important to encourage them to set their expectations high. They like to receive praise and feel pride in doing well.
You didn’t do anything wrong. Only that small two percent will qualify, and it may not be you. Quit thinking that your child’s scores could have been higher if you hadn’t skipped that fish oil prenatal vitamin or had suffered through another round of Baby Einstein episodes. So many parents feel like a failure if their child isn’t gifted and talented. Ridiculous, I scream! Children care about what we think of them, so build them up.
And most importantly, be proud of the child they are, not the number they are.