Identifying Advanced Young Children


Parents can find many conflicting viewpoints about formal testing of preschoolers. Most experts argue against routine early testing. Nancy Robinson, Ph.D. from the University of Washington, wrote, "Testing is never warranted unless it will make a difference in a student's life.” Testing simply to obtain a score is unwise. The effort is costly, and, even more importantly, a lower-than-expected score runs the risk of disappointing parents and affecting their view of their child. This is particularly risky for very young children for whom there are no significant educational decisions pending, and whose scores are likely to be less stable in additional to being more heavily  influenced by how the child feels that day than those obtained later on."

Teachers should be able to assess where your child is academically by assessing his or her content knowledge and through classroom observation. 

Informal Assessment

There are checklists to help you know “how different is different” when you compare your child’s development to others.  There are several lists that can help parents feel assured that their observations are valid and help them provide activities that will interest and challenge their children.. For example, look through this short list developed by Dorothy Sisk, a scholar of giftedness:

  • Early use of advanced vocabulary
  • Keen observation and curiosity
  • Retention from varied sources of information
  • Periods of intense concentration
  • Ability to understand complex concepts, perceive relationships, and think abstractly
  • A broad and changing spectrum of interests
  • Strong critical thinking skills and self-criticism
  • Early demonstration of talents in music, art, athletics, and/or the performing arts

Read Nurturing Your Child's Interests and Strengths for more information on activites that will keep the love of learning alive.