Assessing Child's Skills before Kindergarten

Question: I was wondering if there was some sort of assessment test that can be given to my 5-year-old? His pre-kindergarten teacher told us that he reads at a first-grade level, and that he will probably be bored with kindergarten. My son is just one of those kids who learns very readily, and mostly on his own. He taught himself how to read in the past year. I know he's extremely bright, but I really feel that I should get a handle on his intelligence so that his teachers are not the only ones assessing him. -- For Testing

Answer: There's no good reason to have your son assessed now. While it will tell you about your child's potential, it won't tell you whether or not he'll be bored at school. Why don't you wait until he has been in kindergarten for a few weeks before doing anything? This will give his teacher a chance to become acquainted with him, and you will know whether he's excited by or bored with kindergarten. If he is excited, things are probably going all right for him. Kindergarten offers children far more than just pre-reading instruction. On the other hand, if your son isn't enthusiastic about school and says that he can already do all of the work, the school environment might not be sufficiently challenging for him.

After a few weeks of school, schedule a conference with your son's teacher to exchange information about your child, and to enlist the teacher's cooperation in devising the best curriculum for him. A teacher should find it easy to work with him, as he has the ability to work on his own. You might want to create a parent portfolio for the conference that tells specifically what your child can do. For example, list the names of the books he is reading.

Schools don't usually test for giftedness before the age of 7 or 8, because children's rates of development and performance on tests are somewhat unstable before this age. Before having your child assessed, think carefully about whether anything will change as a result of the testing. If you decide to have your child tested, two appropriate tests that assess a child's intellectual abilities are the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence, and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale.