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Benefits of Assessing a Child

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: Should I get my child assessed and what difference will that make?

I have an 8 year old boy who attends a state primary school. From an early age he showed an exceptional interest in maths. Since he has been at school (he is now in year three soon to go in year 4) the school has struggled to meet his needs in this area, though they acknowledge he talented in this field. Last year I tried some sessions with a personal tutor but found without the follow up in the classroom it wasn't very satisfactory (the tutor was working at early GSCE level with him).

A: Firstly, as a parent you need to explore the reasons for testing your child. Ask yourself; is it for entry into a specialized program or to affirm existing assumptions about the child's abilities? For very young children (at 2 or 3 years of age), it may only serve to validate a parent's beliefs that their child may be very bright. But in your case, your son is at school age and you have seen exceptional qualities, therefore testing can help document his ability and give you a tool with which to advocate for appropriate educational programs.

You are doing the right thing by providing enrichment to meet his needs but it is difficult if the school does not follow up. This would be the best age to test since IQ scores can become depressed as children age due to the ceiling effects of many assessment instruments.

As for the school, I believe that they have limited resources and perhaps rather than not wanting to help, they just may not have the essentials to help your son. The teachers need to be trained for this and if they do not have a subject acceleration program at school (your son needs this to cater for this high ability in maths), they are certainly not helping even after acknowledging his ability. You can speak to the school to see if anything can be done to help him further develop his ability (e.g., sitting in another class that matches his ability during Maths or getting a teacher to commit some time during his Math class more challenging work). He will not fir in the regular class and may, at some point, be disinterest in all other subjects as well.

If there is a possibility, you may want to place him in another school that has a better program for students of higher ability. But first, get him tested on a standardized test to see if he has strengths in other areas as well and any weak areas he needs to strengthen. I believe he would benefit from a non-regular program. All the best!


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