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Terra Nova Test

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter turned 5 this past November and is enrolled in a full-day kindergarten program. She is doing well; e.g., she is able to read Hop on Pop almost entirely on her own and understands simple addition. My town imposes a cut-off date for entry into the 1st grade that she does not meet (must be 6 by Oct.1) but I do not want to hold her back. I've been looking into some private schools and some use standardized tests such as terra nova test to determine if she can enter their school. My questions are:

  1. Is such testing appropriate at this age?
  2. What are your feelings about pushing her ahead?

A: Your daughter is indeed doing very well for her age. I understand that certain policies are quite stringent where cut-off age is concerned to be fair to all. To answer your concerns:

1. There are suitable verbal test that can be conducted by a psychologist specializing in testing young children. Suitability will depend on the impact of the results. At 5, children take tests for enjoyment but it is parents who get most affected, be it positively, or negatively. As long as parents do not transfer the stress to kids, taking tests at a young age may be seen as just another activity by kids, so I guess age does not really matter. However, the impact of test results will only matter to young kids if you show them that it matters (naturally negative feedback would cause more stress as kids are always trying to gain approval from adults).

2. Frankly, I feel that if she is really ahead of others as you have described, I do not see a reason to stop her advancement to more difficult levels. In fact, otherwise, this may deter her enthusiasm in learning as she may find work unchallenging. Having said that, tests can be a good indicator of whether she should start ahead or remain where she is. A standardized test by a qualified psychologist would give an indication of her educational needs. At the same time, based on her results, the psychologist would be able to advise accordingly. Whatever the results, as a parent, you may need to give additional support to your child to make learning more fun and enjoyable to maintain interest level. If you feel that she is able to do more advanced work in comparison to her peers at school, perhaps you may want to enroll her in a reputable learning center (the ones conducted after school hours). Of course, she must enjoy it. I hope I have answered your question.


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