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Assessing Gifted Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter is going to be 3 coming April 2011. And currently, we have been relocated to Goa, India for two years. I suspect my little one is very gifted, chances are high since I am also gifted. I was recommended to read Dr. Deborah Ruf book on 5 level of Gifted and was shaking in disbelief as I read along, noting that my girl shows similar characteristic of level 4 and mostly level 5, some even at an earlier stage comparing to the examples given. I'm very anxious to get her assess because we will be going back to Singapore early next year and Singapore does not allow home-schooling. For your information, my girl is attending play-school and lately refused going to school, complaining that the teachers were too fierce, not at her but at her friends. I was told that not many can assess very gifted children and my nearest reliable place to do so is Australia, by Miraca Gross. I noticed that Dr Sandhu is currently in Gurgaon, India will she be able to assess my girl in private?

A: It is very possible that your little girl is gifted especially as you have used Dr Ruf's levels of giftedness and she fitted in the category well. More importantly, you mentioned being gifted - and giftedness is in the genes! There are other general checklists that you can find to further gauge more specific behaviours and distinct traits of gifted children.

Assessing a child formally at 3 may not be a good idea as the results are not very stable at this stage. You may want to wait a little longer to get an assessment. In general, schools in Singapore may not take into account the reports of IQ tests for acceleration purposes. Teachers are also not trained to interpret results or IQ as such. However, well reputed schools in Singapore do have a good programme for bright children which allow gifted children to develop well intellectually. The general system of education in Singapore favours bright children and is rather challenging. Schools have gifted programmes as well as soon as children are well settled in formal schooling. These programmes are very beneficial for children who are gifted.

Furthermore, for gifted children, there are also a number of enrichment programmes that can be introduced to keep them intellectually occupied. You may want to check them out when you get back. Homeschooling is a good option for very highly gifted children; though a lot of effort and skill need to be applied for a good programme. I am aware of a few people who are homeschooling their gifted children in Singapore, so it is definitely an option.

Yes, I am shuttling between Gurgaon and Singapore; unfortunately I do not have a clinic here and my work is mostly on a consultancy level since the move. I am planning on starting something here soon. The WISC-IV is a good tool to assess gifted children of any intellectual level; you may want to consider that should you require assessment at a later stage (6 years onwards). For now, I think you it would be great to continue play school - one that allows a lot of free play, creativity and discovery activities. At preschool level, I personally find the preschools here allows for more creativity and learning that is conducive for preschoolers. You should make use of this as most preschools in Singapore in general are more structured which may not be very helpful for gifted children, even if it is a Montessori based one. This is probably to prepare children for the very structured formal schooling, which makes sense but less helpful for gifted children. You can also enrol her in enrichment centres, music, library, museum visits, etc. What she needs is a variety of activities that she finds challenging and meaningful to stimulate her intellectually. Wishing you all the best!


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