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IQ Testing for Highly Able Toddlers

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter, Heidi, is just two and a half this month, but after reading an article in a sainsbus's little one's book about a very intelligent three year old that's a member of Mensa, it made me wonder about her, as the list of things the mum has listed, my daughter was doing at a little earlier age to her little one. For example;

  • Heidi didn't crawl for more than 3 days, she was walking at 11 months, running at 12mths.

  • She could say two or three word responses by 14 months, she now speaks in full sentences.

  • She understands humor in conversation.

  • Recognises her name on paper.

  • She can also do basic Maths such as "if mummy has one apple in this hand, and two apples in this one, how many apples is there?" and she also knows that if I take one away to count backwards.

  • She can count back from 5 to 0.

  • She tends to go to adults to engage in play, as she is very picky about who she will play with, even at her nursery group that she attends one afternoon a week.

  • She has a grasp on the concept of time, e.g., she knows that lunch is at 12 o'clock, tea is at 5 o'clock, and daddy gets home at 6:15 then bed is at 7 o'clock.

  • She prefers to dance to music with a heavy beat, read stories or draw and paint to even 10 minutes of TV. She can sing along to roughly 3 chart songs start to finish.

Does this mean she may be as intelligent as i believe her to be, or am i just really enjoying my daughter's characteristics and she's as average as any 2 years old? If she is an intelligent child, how would I go about having her IQ tested so she can be given the best start in education that Ia can give her?

A: I believe she is as intelligent as you believe her to be! You are indeed the best person to be the judge of this and you have compared her to a member of Mensa who is older. The description certainly places her in the advanced group.

I believe that intelligence testing for very young children may not be very helpful. I understand that you want to give her the best of education and a head start but at such an early age, she has much to learn to be tested. Therefore, a mere intelligence score may not be very helpful. The reasons for testing should be

  • Application for early entry in school system.

  • For some children giftedness masks learning disabilities. The reverse can also be true; learning disabilities can mask the recognition of giftedness in the school environment.

  • Testing can identify specific areas of need and focus for early intervention.

All of the above is more suitable for older children, the minimum being at least four years of age. For now, what you may want to do is to monitor her progress and stimulate her with varied and meaningful activities. At this stage, you do not need an IQ test to determine the activities suitable for her. She is very young and has a lot more to learn. So, what is best is to expose her to new learning material which, with her advanced abilities, she would grasp quickly. Gifted children are like sponge – they need many more activities to stimulate themselves simply because they absorb at a quicker pace compared to other children.

A few things that can be helpful is for example to keep a journal or diary of her development to monitor her progress and help her learn effectively. A lot of repeated activities may be boring for her. The fine line here is to give her challenging rather than more work of the same kind. When reading, look for varies ways to make reading exciting, for e.g., discuss plot and characters or ask her to change the ending of the story. When answering knowledge questions, rather than giving answers right away, stimulate her by asking her more questions that leads to the answer. This will help them think and encouraging this habit early is very helpful.

Apart from home stimulation, make sure you provide a wide variety of experiences inside and outside the home, such as trips to the library, museums, parks, galleries, concerts, historical sites, etc. Exposure is the key to learning for a young bright mind. The more the exposure, the more it encourages thinking and asking questions. This is essential for gifted children for constant stimulation. Toys can also be helpful but you need to choose appropriate toys for e.g., toys and games that call for reasoning, understanding, exploration, and manipulation are very good for them.

In short, monitor her passions and encourage them. If she enjoys dancing and singing, you may want to do other activities while dancing and singing! For example, instead of reading a book, it may be more exciting to “sing” one to her. As a parent, we need to be very creative in deciding the kind of activities that will help maintain interest and avoid boredom. All the best!


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