By age 5, most children in America will have been given some kind of intelligence test, whether it is for private school admissions, gifted and talented qualification, or public school placement in slow, average, or accelerated learning groups.
IQ tests cover the seven abilities every child needs to thrive in the classroom: language, information, memory, math, spatial, thinking and fine-motor skills.
Here, Karen Quinn, author of Testing For Kindergarten, offers tips for building these abilities at home.
- Talk to your child about anything and everything all the time. This will build her language skills. Children raised in high-language households have IQs scores that are 38-points higher than kids brought up in low language homes.
- Read concept books such as Richard Scarry’s Best First Book Ever or DK Publishing’s My First Word Book to your child. Children tested for kindergarten are expected to know colors, shapes, seasons, fruit, farm animals — all the basic information kids are exposed to through picture books, preschool, and life itself. If your child knows everything covered in these books, she’ll be ready.
- Challenge your child’s memory. After you read your child a book, ask him to tell you the story back in his own words. Make patterns using Fruit Loops or colored beads, cover them up, and see if he can recreate them. These activities will build your child’s verbal and visual memory.
- Build math concepts into your conversations. “Dinner will be ready in five minutes.” “Do you want a whole cookie or a half a cookie?” “Look how cute your toes are. Let’s count them.” “You have three M&Ms. I’ll give you two more. Now you’ll have five.” You can even bring up math when reading picture books. “Look at that funny octopus. How many legs does he have?”
- Give your child blocks, puzzles, Lincoln Logs, Legos or Duplos to play with. These will strengthen his spatial skills. You can also look for spatial challenges in Highlights Magazine, which always features hidden pictures inside other pictures, or read a Where’s Waldo book and let your child find Waldo.
- Let your child solve problems. When the ball rolls behind the console, ask him to come up with ways to retrieve it. When he can’t get dressed in time for school, let him think of ideas to get ready faster. Give him a voice in making simple choices so he’ll become a decision-maker. Children who are allowed to think for themselves at home develop strong cognitive skills.
- Keep craft supplies handy and let your child create on rainy days. Colored paper, crayons, scissors, glue, glitter, paint, markets, brushes, q-tips, Play-Doh — working with these materials strengthens fine-motor skills, which are simply your child’s ability to control her hands and fingers.
Bonus! Make play a priority. Play is like a super food. It supports development across all 7-abilities. As long as your child is engaged and having fun, that’s all that matters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Quinn is the author of Testing for Kindergarten: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Ace the Tests for: Public School Placement, Private School Admissions, Gifted Program Qualification (Copyright © 2010 by Karen Quinn)and has tutored scores of children and taught hundreds of parents how to work with their own kids to prepare them for the rigorous kindergarten admissions tests for Manhattan’s most in-demand programs. She has been a featured expert on school admissions on ABC’s 20/20 and The View and in The New York Times, Forbes, Redbook, Woman’s Day, and more. She now lives in Miami Beach with her husband and two children. You can visit her website at www.karenquinn.net.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- Read Chapter 1 of Testing for Kindergarten: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Ace the Tests for: Public School Placement, Private School Admissions, Gifted Program Qualification
- Learn more about the author
- Browse more books by Karen Quinn