More to a child’s talents than I.Q. score |

More to a child’s talents than I.Q. score

Helen and Martin Weiss

In Garrison Keillor’s legendary Lake Wobegon, all children are above average. Are yours? Parents are always concerned about their child’s so called “aptitude” or IQ. After we do an evaluation they often ask “How smart is my child?” Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines aptitude as “readiness in learning or understanding” or “an ability; capacity or talent.” Currently the measures used to determine these qualities are called the Intelligence Test or IQ Test. Beware placing too much emphasis upon a so-called measure or ability as the only factor in determining your child’s talents. Many skills and abilities cannot be measured by these tests. The great mathematician Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “It’s not that I’m so smart it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Many experts have found that genes don’t do it all – positive environmental factors can boost a poorer student’s IQ score. This is the old “nature” versus “nurture” argument. What a child does not necessarily have in his head he had better have in his habits.The child who has little exposure to books and language will certainly have a more difficult time advancing in school despite his so called IQ. The child who has been placed in a less challenging classroom despite his high IQ may wile away his in school hours accomplishing as little as possible losing precious time and opportunity to excel.Solving learning problemsWhy do we resort to the use of intelligence tests as tools? They often provide a floor for our expectations but they never provide a ceiling. Youngsters constantly amaze us with their flexibility. They can accomplish marvelous things when placed in the appropriate educational environment.Originally designed to help predict which children would be successful in school in France early in the 20th century by psychologist Alfred Binet, IQ tests were developed to select the elite group to be educated and separated from the common folks who were considered less capable. The French army later used such cognitive testing to select those fit to be officers and those who were relegated to the “enlisted man” category.For parents the pertinent issue to be considered is “If my child is so bright, why is he failing?” For teachers the significant issue is “Why can’t he keep up with his peers in my class?” For some the answer may be the existence of a deficit between cognitive ability and actual achievement, or a learning disability. What may look like laziness may in fact be a failure in processing information, poor organizational skills or difficulty remembering information. For others the primary factor may be the inability to sustain and focus attention upon tasks. Psychological factors and anxieties may also be interfering with the ability to concentrate and perform while for some the cause may be “boredom.” These children may be gifted but the gift is masked by their disability and the disability is masked by the gift. Parents and teachers alike may be fooled into thinking the child is unwilling to do the work because he or she can compensate and cover up the problem. Intelligence or “aptitude” testing may give us a few clues to the bases for these difficulties and help us develop individualized programs to help a child achieve. For others this may mean special classroom strategies and activities to motivate interest and avoid the pitfalls of failure and boredom. Testing talentsAccording to the psychologist Howard Gardner we should define IQ as a group of multiple intelligences in alternative ways:– The ability to solve problems.– The skill needed to create a product or service of use to one’s culture.– The ability to acquire and retain new knowledge.In addition, intelligence testing should reflect many learning styles, allowing children to choose the way they can express their understanding of an idea or concept. For example, they might: — Write an essay, short story or poem.– Show how music relates to information.– Role play or create a dance to dramatize the explanation of an idea or concept.– Put the information in a personal journal.– Explain how the newly learned idea applies to a situation demonstrating exceptional judgment and reasoning. — Draw a picture or poster that describes the situation.Remember IQ tests as they are currently designed are only a tool to measure verbal skills and performance in school related tasks. Students vary in the way that they demonstrate their abilities and talents. And these tests are not the sum-total of what a person likes, thinks and can do. They only give us basic information and we must be open minded about a child’s potential to perform.Helen Ginandes Weiss, M.A & Martin S. Weiss, M.A. Learning Consultants: P.O. Box 38, Twin Lakes, Co. 81251: 719-486-5800:, Colorado

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