Is There a Good Reason to Test Your Child?

Boy Taking Test
Boy Taking Test. Echo/ Cultura/ Getty Images

Is my child gifted? When parents notice that their child seems to be more advanced than other kids the same age, that is the question that they ask. It doesn't matter that most of the signs are there. Parents still ask. There is always a degree of uncertainty. Even when the parents get an answer that pretty much says, "Yes, your child is most likely gifted," they still aren't sure. That uncertainty can lead some parents to ask the next question: Should I get my child tested?

But is eliminating uncertainty a good reason for testing your child? It could be if it helps you feel confident as you work toward getting your child appropriate academic services. Is testing always necessary? No. Sometimes parents want to get their child tested so they know what to do at home. They want to provide nurturing enrichment experiences. While that sounds like a great reason, testing isn't necessary.

You know your child better than anyone else. If you see your child is bored with something, you know your child needs more challenge. If you see that your child is interested in a topic, find ways to satisfy that interest, whether it is through books or lessons like music lessons. Ask yourself whether the score your child gets on an IQ test would change the way you treat her. If the answer is yes, then you need to think more about why you need to know. If your answer is no, then you most likely don't need the IQ test.

Make no mistake, though, there are some excellent reasons for getting your child tested. There are even some very good reasons to get your child tested earlier rather than later.

Why Should You Have Your Child Tested?

  • To Understand Your Child's Strengths and Weaknesses

Not all gifted children are globally gifted, which means being gifted equally in all or most domains. Some children are verbally gifted while others are mathematically gifted. Testing can tell your child's strengths and weaknesses in those areas and some others. You can also learn about your child's other abilities, such as the ability to reason. IQ tests can also tell you something about the strengths and weaknesses in your child's learning style.

IQ tests can also reveal some learning disabilities. It is not unusual for gifted children to appear to be less capable than they are. They may look like an average or high average child in school because their disability "masks" their giftedness and their giftedness "masks" their disability. In other words, their giftedness allows them to compensate for their disability so that neither the disability nor the giftedness is apparent.

  • To Advocate For Your Child in School

If you don't believe that your child is getting the academic services she needs, the results from IQ testing will give you the information that you need to explain to school officials what your child needs and why. You will have specific information about your child's strengths and weaknesses as well as information about your child's learning style.

When you speak with school officials, therefore, you will be able to talk about your child's needs with some authority rather than just telling them that your child is gifted and needs to be challenged. Talking to your child's teacher requires a little finesse. It is rarely a good idea to go in announcing that your child is gifted and needs to be challenged. That may be true, but stating it that way is likely to make the teacher shut down. With the results from an IQ test, you can state specifically what your child needs for both his strengths and his weaknesses.

A  final reason for testing is peace of mind. It is not unusual for parents to keep second guessing themselves. Even though they know what their child is capable of doing, listening to others can make think they have it all wrong. It is very difficult to advocate for our child when we aren't sure ourselves about our child's abilities.

When Should You Have Your Child Tested?

When you have your child tested will depend on why you are having your child tested, but there are some issues you need to consider that can affect your child's test score. If you are going to go through the trouble and expense of getting your child tested, then you definitely want the most accurate results.

Many people will suggest that IQ test scores aren't stable until the child is around 8 or 9 years old. That may be true, particularly for non-gifted children. However, there is a problem with waiting too long to test gifted children. These children often hit the "ceiling" of a test. That means that the score may not be accurate. It may be lower than it should be because the tester essentially ran out of questions.

If you begin to suspect that your child is gifted, you might consider getting him tested to avoid those test ceilings. The recommended age for testing gifted children is between the ages of 5 and 8. If you get your child tested and the score seems lower than you expected, you could definitely try again. That does not mean you keep getting your child tested indefinitely in the hopes that eventually he'll get a high enough score. It just means that your child may not be ready to take any kind of test. This is especially true if the tester doesn't have experience testing gifted children.

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