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What My 5-Year-Old’s IQ Test REALLY Taught Me

IMG_6298This week I drove my 5-year-old boy to a psychology exam at a local Early Intervention center. It was the first of a two-step speech evaluation — as they had to rule out any cognitive disabilities before assessing his speech issues.

After two years of not-so-subtle suggestions from his preschool teachers, we decided to go ahead and get him tested with a speech therapist. While I happen to think that he has a developmentally normal speech impediment, there are times when strangers and even family members have a hard time understanding a word or phrase. There are times when he feels frustrated or discouraged because he has to repeat himself multiple times.

It’s simply an articulation problem, but if he can get a little help before kindergarten, why not?

So there we were, in a small room, sitting at a small table, with worksheets and puzzles and toys. In case you’re wondering what an IQ test entails, there were first some trivia questions ranging from preschool level up until age 8 (“What animal lays an egg?”…”What’s the biggest ocean in the world?”), and then a series of puzzles and picture games that tested everything from his spatial judgment to his frustration level to how fast his brain works. He had to categorize (“A table and a chair are both ___”), memorize, and complete patterns.

And he actually scored pretty high. Not exactly Mensa level (which is the top 2 percent), but he’ll be fine in life. As for the score? Meh. I learned a lot more from watching the entire process than the percentiles could tell me:

He’s capable of taking a test.

This was the first real “test” that he’s taken, and it was interesting to watch the process. It’s not like I was wondering if he was smart or not — I was already pretty aware of his cognitive abilities, just being in the preschool environment. If I was asked to guess where he’d land on the IQ spectrum before the test, I probably would have been on target. But I had no idea how and if his skills would shine in this kind of testing environment.

It’s an issue that’s been lingering in my mind, especially with the Common Core discussion flying around. Is he a good fit for that kind of learning structure? Would he get nervous and stumble through the test? Would he get distracted? Would he respond well to the test giver?

Turns out his brain works in a way that the school system wants it to work. While I’m not positive that it’s any better or worse than a kid who happens to be terrible at taking tests, I do have a little reassurance that he might be okay in the public school system.

 

I’m really glad he’s going to preschool.

I was never more sure about investing in his preschool education than I was walking out of that test. A lot of the puzzles and games, as well as some of the trivia questions, were familiar from his experience with preschool. If he hadn’t gone to preschool and it was just up to me to teach these kinds of things, I’m not sure he would have scored as high.

 

This might be a little inaccurate.

While I’m sure that the test makers know far more than I do about this kind of thing, I left wondering how accurate the test really could be for a 5 year old. I feel like if he took the test on a different day, at a different time, he might score differently. After all, his “weakest area,” as the therapist told me, is his “working memory.” I just smiled and nodded because I was sitting right there when he bombed that portion of the test — barely paying attention, rushing through it. But what I really wanted to say is that he will STOMP any opponent in memory and matching games, and it’s one of his most impressive skills.

So after witnessing that, I couldn’t take the score too seriously.

That, and a kid’s IQ score can change up until age 8, so I wouldn’t suggest rushing out and getting your kids tested.

But if you happen to find yourself witnessing your child’s IQ test, it’s definitely an interesting experience to watch how he responds, follows directions, and copes during a long exam.

It’s way more interesting than a black-and-white graph and IQ score.

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