When Can My Child Be Tested for Giftedness?

Smart young boy drawing.

Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Culture / Getty Images

You may suspect your child is quite bright, but are they gifted? Among other characteristics, gifted children tend to have high energy levels and intense curiosity. They may walk, talk, and hit other developmental milestones earlier than other children. A strong desire to investigate and master their environment is also common among gifted children.

Parents who see early signs of giftedness in their children should learn more about when IQ testing is appropriate along with tips to encourage and support their child's development at home, at school, and in the community.

Be aware that not all gifted children reach all milestones early. In fact, sometimes they may appear to be behind. For example, some gifted children don't begin talking until after they turn 2.

IQ Testing for Babies

Children under the age of 2 cannot be evaluated with IQ testing. To be tested, children must be verbal and able to talk. Even if a baby is verbally advanced, IQ tests are not designed for children this young.

Signs of Giftedness in Babies

While there are no IQ tests designed to test babies, there are some signs to look for if you think your infant is gifted. Signs of a gifted infant include extreme alertness, constant stimulation-seeking, hypersensitivity to different tastes and sounds, and an ability to mimic sounds earlier than other babies. They also seem to need less sleep as well, which may not be good news for tired parents.

What to Do for Your Baby

So, what should parents do if they believe their baby is advanced? Treat a gifted baby just like any other infant. Read to them. Play with them.

Provide plenty of stimulation through music, books, and games—the things every baby needs to be engaged and explore their world. Keep in mind, however, a baby who is gifted may need more stimulation than other babies their age.

IQ Testing for Toddlers

Theoretically, verbal children around the ages of 2 or 3 can be tested for giftedness, but it's likely they don't need to be. More importantly, results at this age may not necessarily be accurate—nor are IQ test results stable among very young children, meaning that the score your child gets at age 2 might be quite different from the score they get at age 6.

Signs of Giftedness in Toddlers

Gifted toddlers have some of the same characteristics as gifted babies, including a strong urge to explore and inspect their environment, reaching developmental milestones early, and less of a need for sleep.

They also tend to be quite active, but with a purpose, mastering games and toys before discarding them to move on to the next. Gifted toddlers may be interested in numbers and letters, learning to do simple math or even read, well before they reach kindergarten.

They may distinguish between fantasy and reality, asking their unprepared parents questions about the Tooth Fairy or Santa well before other kids their age. Parents should always remember that while many children have some traits of giftedness in common, no two gifted kids are alike.

Until it's time to test your child for giftedness, keep an informal record of their behavior, noting any exceptional accomplishments.

Write down questions or comments that seem advanced for their age. Make notes of their favorite activities and interests, and save daycare and preschool records.

What to Do for Your Toddler

Gifted toddlers, like all toddlers, benefit from playtime with games, toys, books, and music. They may need more stimulation, but that doesn't need to be direct instruction or academic programming. At this age, children learn through creative play.

If they want to learn letters and numbers and letters, encourage it. If not, don't press it. Follow their lead in terms of their interest and curiosity. Learning at this age should be organic and never feel like a chore.

IQ Testing for Preschoolers

The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) is one of the leading tests for intelligence used among children ages 2 years 6 months to 7 years 7 months. While IQ tests can be administered at this age, researchers agree results for children up to the age of 6 are not always accurate.

Signs of Giftedness in Preschoolers

At this age, gifted children display many of the same traits of giftedness as younger children: immense curiosity, advanced memory and language skills compared to other kids their age, and the ability to think critically.

Preschoolers who are gifted may read before they ever get to school, and show a voracious appetite to tackle new books. They may find their own unique interests and develop a longer attention span.

What to Do for Your Preschooler

At home, harness your gifted child's desire for knowledge with preschool activities and games that reflect what they are learning in school (or will be once they enroll). They can explore art using basic supplies like construction paper, glue, feathers, and strong. Tap into their musical side by beating out rhythms using wooden spoons and pots and pans.

Inspire your bright preschooler with age-appropriate DVDs and children's programs that teach letters, numbers, and words while they entertain. Counting games and puzzles are a good way to introduce basic math skills. And when it comes to science and the environment, nothing beats a walk outside to explore the sounds, smells, and sights nature has to offer.

If your child seems gifted, you may feel pressure to get them reading and writing right away. But remember, there are many years of structured academics ahead. At this age, keep learning informal and fun for you and your child.

IQ Testing for School-Age Kids

The optimum time to test for giftedness is between the ages of 5 and 8 when test results are necessary to advocate for kids at school. An intelligence quotient (IQ) test measures the person's ability to reason. Most IQ test scores are determined using a baseline score of 100, which would be the average number where most scores would fall.

The greater the deviation on the higher end, the more gifted a person is. But not every gifted person is alike. There are categories of giftedness, depending on how far the score deviates from the norm. Consider that a person who scores between 115 and 129 is considered mildly gifted, while a person who scores 180 or higher is profoundly gifted.

Achievement tests are another way to gauge giftedness in school-age children. Achievement tests measure what the child already knows, especially children who may not necessarily earn high grades, but do excel at standardized tests.

Benefits of IQ Tests for School-Age Kids

IQ tests for school-age children allow parents, teachers, and counselors to identify a child's specific strengths and weakness and better meet their educational needs. Some districts have separate classes or programs for gifted students that allow them to explore subjects in greater depth than in the regular classroom.

It is important to challenge gifted students to keep them from getting bored at school or regressing academically, and also to tap into their personal interests which may turn into talents as they get older.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age can you test a child's IQ?

While you can test a child's IQ as early as 2 years and 6 months of age, the results may not be accurate and may in fact change with age. The best time to test IQ in children is between ages 5 and 8.

What is the best age to take an IQ test?

The ideal age to take an IQ test is 5, when test results may have an impact on the child's school placement and curriculum.

How can I test my toddler's IQ?

IQ testing for toddlers is not recommended because the results may be inaccurate. Instead, observe and record early signs of giftedness in your child and share them with your child's pediatrician.

Where can I get my child tested for giftedness?

Most school districts offer IQ tests and other tests for giftedness in school to place students in gifted and talented programs. Universal testing is preferred to ensure every student has access to high-end learning opportunities.

How do you test your child for giftedness?

Before your child reaches age 5, testing is not advised because of the potential for inaccurate results. After that, contact your child's school district regarding testing or visit the National Association for Gifted Children to find additional resources and testing in your area.

What are the characteristics of giftedness?

There are many different traits of giftedness. The most common include hitting developmental milestones earlier than other children, hyper-sensitivity to sounds and sights, and an innate desire to explore, investigate, and solve problems.

What are early signs of giftedness?

Some babies show signs of giftedness. They may appear hyper-alert and engaged with their environment, mimic sounds earlier than their peers, and sleep less than other babies.

When do signs of giftedness appear?

Signs of giftedness can appear as early as infancy and continue during the toddler and preschool years. Testing for giftedness and high IQ, however, usually takes place around age 5.

A Word From Verywell

IQ and other tests for giftedness are optimal around age 5. Until then, support your curious child with games, activities, and adventures that are fun and engaging. Take informal notes about their progress and share them with your pediatrician as your child prepares to enter school.

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  1. National Association for Gifted Children. Tests & Assessments.