Is your Child Gifted?

Every parent knows their kid is “gifted,” “special,” “talented,” whatever you want to call it… But in New York City, unlike most of the sane world, our kids are forced to endure testing, testing, testing to prove such claims. That said, we tried to make light of all of it, not wanting to go the “coo-coo” route of $30k private schools and admission interviews on par with Harvard.

Our daughter was reading at an early age and had strong vocabulary and recognition skills. I remember seeing something on tv about kids reading before they were two and realized that a lot of kids are doing it, so maybe they just have to be offered tools. It was part of the impetus for Jade’s ToyBox; the other was the lead toy scare.

Personally, I contemplated having our daughter assessed early on, but when asked, “What would you do with that information,” I didn’t have a great answer. I knew I would seek out resources to reinforce her giftedness, but I wanted her to have a “normal” experience too…. not lumped into the brainiac class where she wouldn’t have the opportunities to pretend she was a kitty cat, as she loves to do…So I held off on doing anything.

Then as kindergarten neared, and our great local public school became overcrowded and waitlisted, we contemplated another idea. We’d have her assessed to see if applying to NYC’s top elementary program- Hunter Elementary– for gifted students was an option. Not to mention, it’s free!

The assessment proved worthwhile at $350, less than the cost of the Stanford Binet intelligence test she’d soon have to undergo for Hunter admissions, and the ERB, the $510 test required for almost every private school in the city. Had she not done well on the assessment, we’d have probably not wasted the money for the the tests. But the assessment- one week before her Stanford Binet test- gave us a good indication of her strengths and weaknesses. Beyond that, we didn’t bother with the test prep or the $300-500 ERB workbooks that are out there. I’m not opposed to helping your kid understand the nature of the questions, but I’m not sure that drilling them for weeks is necessary. And besides, there is enough good information on the ERB website to give you examples of what to expect.

Admittedly, I’m the kind of mom who believes in reading books about going to the doctor before taking my kid to the doctor, or reading a story about an airplane trip before flying to visit grandma. For children, expectations are everything. Give a child an understanding of what she or he can expect and they will flourish. Explain nothing, and you’re in for the unknown.

Our biggest worry with the test was not the material, but the response our child would have to walking off with a total stranger in a strange environment- exactly what we New Yorkers tell our kids not to do… But as for “prep,” we didn’t… we relied on playing games we already had, that might be useful based upon the ERB areas of concentration for Pre-K-1:  verbal- vocabulary, similarities, word reasoning, comprehension, and non-verbal- block design, matrix reasoning, coding and picture concepts.

So even though our daughter went to Round 2 at Hunter, she is now waitlisted for her local great public school. Even with great SB and ERB scores, her “giftedness” is awaiting a response from the one gifted private school we applied to late in the game. So we’re still weeks away from knowing where our little one will attend school in the Fall, yet, if I had to do it all over again, I think I’d do it all the same.

JTB Recommends: Here are some useful resources for navigating a path for your gifted child:

The Jade’s ToyBox New MINI Brainiac Box– a collection of helpful toys, books and games to familiarize your child with exercises typically found on the ERB. Not hardcore test prep, but educational games that focus on similar core areas of the test.

• ECAA- Early Childhood Admissions Assessment: The ERB test: there is enough FREE information here to get an understanding of what to expect so that test prep materials aren’t really necessary. Each concentration area has at least one example.

• NYC Assessments for your Child:
Aristotle Circle–  Suzanne Rheault,
Bright Kids

• Test Prep: If you decide to go this route, apparently 2 pricey workbooks are available from both Aristotle Circle and Bright Kids NYC

Other resources:
observed characteristics of gifted children, from Hunter Elementary
Looks like the blog hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s a start at understanding the areas covered on the WPPSI III, or ERB test
the ECAA site for registering for the ERB test a good start for understanding the NYC gifted and talented programs and admission process
the website for Hunter College Elementary School
Inside Schools- “Your Independent guide to NYC public schools”
NYC Private Schools blog- “A public guide to NYC private schools”
A great article about the over emphasis on standardized tests like the ERB, SB, etc, for K admissions.


One Response to “Is your Child Gifted?”

  1. brandy0408 Says:

    Having a gifted child is really a blessing.

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