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Is Three Too Young to Be Labeled Gifted?

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My three-year-old son has been labeled "gifted" by a psychologist who did some language, memory, concentration, and verbal IQ testing with him. This seems too young to me. Is it accurate at this age?

A: Even though it can be done, testing at a very early age is not always completely reliable due to the attention spans and mood swings of young kids. Many psychologists recommend waiting until a child is "kindergarten ready."

From your description, it also sounds like your child did not receive a complete IQ test, including performance as well as verbal factors. It is quite possible for a person (of any age) to be gifted in one learning area (or subject) and not in others.

In your child's case, however, we can at least assume he has significant verbal learning potential. Encourage this with lots of word play, including books, play-writing, rhyming games, etc. Also encourage drawing, practice with scissors, gluing words and pictures he cuts out on paper, and so on. It's not uncommon for young gifted kids to avoid the fine-motor writing skills because they are better at talking, and you want to encourage the manual skills needed for writing and drawing. For performance -- or the "doing" side of learning as I call it -- puzzles and building toys are excellent.

As for reliability of scores, fully retest your son when he's five years old and on his way to kindergarten.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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