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IQ testing for Toddlers

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My child is approaching 2.5 years old.

1. He display amazing memory such as memorizing a 25 piece puzzle after doing it only once. He can do five puzzles easily in one sitting without help.

2. He has amazing attention span such as spending an hour on a single activity such as puzzles, drawing and looking at books.

3. He displays an understanding of humor such as holding up an A and laughs as he is asking me if it is a B he is holding up.

4. He sees shapes in ordinary objects such as octagon, pentagon, triangle, squares, semi-circle, oval, stars, rectangle, paralellogram etc...in ordinary objects like stop sign, swings, etc.... He often surprises adults by pointing out and saying these shapes that the adults don't even know.

5. He is sounding out words and knows all the sounds for each letter. on his own he would go through the alphabet and name several words that begin with that letter. he also knows small caps and caps

6. He can count to 30 in English, up to 10 in Spanish and up to 10 in Chinese.

7. He knows the basic colors also in those three languages and can interchange languages.

8. He is super cute and super happy and super lovable :0)

9. He loves drawing and write some letters, mainly A, H, U, O. He likes drawing straight lines, wavy lines, broken lines and naming them as he draws.

10. He shows great creativity such as combining two triangles and saying square by himself. He rotates a w and call it a E, 3, M. He also does this with an n, u, c.

12. He is very loving and love to be around people and other kids. and tries to teach other kids what he knows.

Well like most parents, I do think my child is amazing. I often get encourage to by other parents, teachers and family to get him tested. What is your advice? What are the benefits of testing his IQ? What are the negative aspects? Are there IQ tests for 2 year olds?

A: Of course your child is amazing - with all your highlighted! Based on the U.S. Office of Gifted and Talented the following is a short list of distinct characteristics of typical gifted preschooler (ages two to five years):

  • Uses advanced vocabulary for age.

  • Uses spontaneous verbal elaboration with new experiences.

  • Has the ability to make interesting or unusual shapes or patterns through various media: blocks, play dough, crayons.

  • Ability to assemble puzzles designed for older children.

  • Sense of humor used in general conversation.

  • Understanding of abstract concepts such as death and time.

  • Mastery of new skills with little repetition.

  • Demonstration of advanced physical skills.

  • Demonstration of advanced reasoning skills through explanation of occurrences.

Your son appears to fit in most. However, testing toddlers can be very challenging. At a very young age (two or three years of age), there is a high possibility of gifted children responding negatively to strangers (including the tester), may have separation anxiety (need their mothers/guardians all the time), have the need to play with toys rather than complete the test tasks, may not have a long enough attention span on the task given, etc. Although tests such as the WPPSI-R, K-ABC, and the Stanford Binet L-M and Stanford-Binet Fourth Edition are designed and normed for use with preschool children (you may want to find out if it is suitable for your son), there is a chance for the results to be less accurate than if the child is tested when s/he is a little older, four to five years old being an age with a better indicator of the results.

Firstly, parents need to know why there is a need for testing their child. They need to explore the reasons. If just an IQ score is wanted for pride purposes, then this can defeat the purpose of testing. If testing would result in parental pressure either way (if IQ range is expected or not), again this can be the down side of testing. Reasons for testing are purposeful if it is for entry into a specialized programs or to confirm existing assumptions about a child's abilities which can in turn help parents with a platform to provide appropriate educational opportunities for their children.

For younger children (between two and three years of age) testing can only serve to validate a parent's beliefs that their child may have above average abilities (that is if they are testing for giftedness). School testing helps document a child's ability and placement into appropriate programs. Testing prior to kindergarten entry provides valuable information for the family and the school about the child's level of giftedness, current academic instructional levels, motor abilities, vocabulary development, and so on depending on the test taken.

Whether a child is tested or not, parents are the best judges of their child's abilities and they are recognized rather early usually by observing their developmental milestones. A checklist can be used to guide parents here (as in the one above or more detailed ones). In this case, you have observed certain qualities in your son. Formal assessment later on (at ages 4 and above) serves as a validation for parents. The very fact is that, even before a child is formally assessed (at two or three years of age), parents who are aware of their child's above average abilities would usually provide enrichment in areas of their child's strength these enrichment activities are fun-based and very much more educational in terms of value than confirmation of a high IQ score. Hence, there is no doubt that early intervention promotes optimal development.

Hope that helps clear some doubts about IQ testing for very young children. Good luck!


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