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Testing Very Young Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter is one year and ten months old. She loves to press buttons on the computer, knows the the different shapes like triangle square etc, can count to ten knows what abc 123 looks like. She speaks fluently and understands if you tell her something. She knows the difference between a elephant donkey giraffe and so on. She likes to sit down and read. Loves those balls that you take the skirled and square and put it in the holes. Doesn't sleep much very active. Loves the movie 'Madagascar'. Likes playing with the older kids at the cresh like the 4 year olds.

To me she seems gifted and would like to know if we can have her tested and what course of action should be taken. If this child gets bored she becomes naughty.

A: Since parents spend the most time with young children, they are indeed the best in determining whether their child has advanced abilities. In this case, based on the brief description, I believe that your girl had advanced abilities in comparison to her age group.

However, I feel that unless there is a suspected learning problem that requires early intervention, testing for intelligence should only be done when the child is four years and above. The general rule for testing for intelligence is to ask yourself the reason for testing, especially with very young children. 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.

Now all of the above is more suitable for older children, at least 4 years of age. For now, what you may want to do is to monitor her progress and feed her interests. Have a variety of meaningful and stimulating activities. Expose her to her surrounding to learn new things. She is very young and there is a lot to explore even a walk would do her good. Encourage lots of questions and keep asking her stimulating questions. Introduce her to books unless they have a reading problem, books are very essential for bright children as they open up a new world for them and help their curious minds. Keep going like this and she would have no time to get bored. Being naughty is part of growing up for all children, and gifted children can be quite witty, so this should be allowed within appropriate parameters. Good luck in your journey!


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