When is a good time to have my preschooler assessed to see if she should be in gifted and talented classes?

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Celi Trépanier, Author, former public school teacher, homeschool mom and a passionate advocate for gifted children

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When to test for gifted identification will depend on the school your child will attend. In what grade level does the school's gifted and talented classes start? If the gifted program at your child's school does not start until 3rd grade, then having her tested the year before would be appropriate, but normally schools provide this testing.

Another consideration is the characteristics or behaviors you child is exhibiting now which would lead you to believe that she may be gifted. If she strongly exhibits gifted behaviors such as having taught herself to read by age 4, large, advanced vocabulary, intense emotional sensitivities, insatiable curiosity and other advanced cognitive abilities. There are many gifted traits checklists on the internet you can check out which are more detailed than what I noted above. Here is one you may want to check. If you feel strongly your preschool child is gifted, then you can opt for private testing because it is often helpful to know before a child enters school if they are in fact gifted.

Gifted children have many advanced intellectual traits, but they often have unique social and emotional needs which can pose challenges in school. Being aware of this and prepared is always a good thing!

Dylan Ferniany, Gifted and Talented Education Program Administrator

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Testing procedures and the tests that are used vary from state to state, so there may not be a perfect time for testing for the gifted and talented classes. As an administrator of the gifted and talented program in my own district, I have parents contact me about when to test. When I get this question I usually walk them through what the program looks like from year to year. Here in Alabama, we don't start gifted programs until the 3rd grade. So it doesn't always make sense to test students in Kindergarten or 1st grade. Students can't be tested for gifted in the public system until age 6 in Alabama, but again different states will have different policies about the testing of young children. I would look at the state and school district policies that are in place around assessment for gifted programs and then go from there.

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