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Talking About Testing with My Child
Q: How can I talk about testing for giftedness with my sensitive, ten-year-old boy? What if he doesn't score well enough?
A: I think the low-key, matter-of-fact approach is best. Something like, "Part of our job as parents is to make sure that you have a really good learning experience in school, and in order to learn more about your needs we think some more information would be helpful." Also, "The tests would give us some help in deciding if the program for gifted students in your school would be a good match for you. How do you feel about taking them?"
Really listen to your son. Reassure him that it is no big deal to you how he does on these tests -- you love him just as he is. But it is a big deal that he have appropriate educational experiences. The analogy that helps with some discussions is medical: "If we were trying to decide if you needed an operation, we would need lots of tests to see if the operation was necessary. The information that's collected helps us take care of you." If he is really dead-set against the assessment, back off. A private center where the time and setting are optimal may also help if you can afford this. Good luck.
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Mary Ruth Coleman is the director of Project U-STARS (Using Science Talent and Abilities to Recognize Students) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Coleman has taught in both general and gifted educational programs in both public and private schools.