Maybe your child is genius-level smart; 99 percentile. You don’t need this post. Your kid will get into the program – gifted programs were made for your kid.
Maybe your child is a little above average. You don’t need this post either. It doesn’t matter what you do, your kid isn’t going to get in to a public school gifted program. If you can affords a private school, you might be able to get him or her into a private gifted program -especially one that is new or struggling. They tend to lower the IQ bar and once your child is in, he or she can generally stay in for the duration without being retested.
But, if your child is quite a bit above average, but not a slam-dunk, this post might help. Your child just needs a few extra IQ points, maybe a small percentile gain. There are things you can do to help.
First, let me be very clear that I am not telling you to push learning on your kid, especially if we are talking about a kindergartner testing into a first grade program. Any prep you do should be fun and your child should want to participate- if your child resists, he or she is probably not developmentally ready. Let it go.
Here are some things you might want to consider:
- Choose a preschool with lots of art, singing, story times, outside play, cooperative games, and imaginative play. Kids pick up so much just by doing these simple activities. They give children a foundation for the academics that come later. Pushing worksheet academics on a three year old is not developmentally appropriate.
- Some gifted programs require children to be reading before first grade. This means you may need to teach your child to read. For most bright kids, this can happen pretty naturally just by reading out loud together. There are programs of course, and if you use one, just make sure it is fun. If your child resists or can’t seem to get it, he or she is not developmentally ready to read. Wait a few months and try again. Meanwhile, keep reading out loud to your child.
- Do lots of mental math, puzzles and other spatial activies, sequencing, ordering, classifying, and comapring. These can easily be incorporated into games or playtime. Line up toy cars from biggest to smallest, divide stuffed animals into groups using a specific criteria, list all the ways that an apple is the same or different than a tomato, make up a math story problem while you are waiting in line at McDonalds. Those skills show up on IQ tests. Again, do these things only as happily received by your child.
- Make sure you jump through all the right hoops. Every district has their own set. Get your paperwork in on time. Always be very polite to everyone you talk with in the gifted department.
- If there are several options for testing dates, choose the latest date possible. At this young age, your child is changing daily. A month, even a few weeks of extra time could make a difference. You want your child to be as old as possible when taking the test.
- If you have the option of having your child tested privately, do it. Usually kids are tested for gifted programs in big groups, early in the morning. It is strange, it is stressful. If you can pay to have a psychologist test your child privately, he or she will work with just your child. You can choose someone who works well with kids. You can choose a time that makes sense for your child. The test itself may be different as well. It will likely involve one-on-one activities with the tester.
- Be sure you child gets plenty of sleep the night before test day. Eat a healthy breakfast. Lay off sugar. You might want to skip dairy products as well. Aim for nondairy protein and healthy carbs.
I come at this post as both a teacher and a parent. In my teaching career, I taught in gifted programs. As a parent, I have a gifted child.
Funny thing about that. My other child, the one who is not even close to testing into a gifted program scored only a few points lower than my gifted child on the WASL (the truly dreadful standardized test given to school children in Washington State) and her grades are better. Giftedness is such an interesting concept. But that is for another post…