Saturday, December 31, 2011

Research on Reading - The Secret Weapon for Gifted and Talented Test Preparation

I should rename this site "How to turn your slightly above average child into a Gifted and Talented A+ student".   When I'm closer to the test, I'll probably panic and start focusing on which workbooks will give the child the edge.   But in the mean time, I've got important news for longer term test prep.

I've been reading academic research papers from the test authors to get some insight on what they test and why.  I came across this nugget:  "A big vocabulary will increase your child's brain power."  I put the actual quote at the bottom since it's so dry.  There are numerous articles on why testing for vocabulary is one of the key predictors of success in academics that go along with this theory.

For months I've been stumped on why kids who focus on reading at home do so well on the GAT tests, even though the GAT tests are nonverbal.  Now I know.   Having a big vocabulary opens the mind to learning new ideas and concepts, and vocabulary accelerates learning.   At a very young age, this can be a significant advantage on a test.

Bottom line for test prep - read every day to your child.  If you do nothing else, do this.

OK, here's the quote, from David Lohman and Joni Lakin in an article entitled "Reasoning and Intelligence".   David Lohman may or many not be the leader in his field, but he's the only one that posts all of his papers on his website.  When the author refers to reasoning tests, he is referring to assessment tests to distinguish these from aptitude tests.

"... concludes that the ability to infer word meanings from the contexts in which they occur is the cause of high correlation typically observed between vocabulary and reasoning tests. But there is also a synergism in that vocabulary knowledge allows comprehension and expression of a broader array of ideas, which in turn facilitate the task of learning new words and concepts. Thus, language functions as a vehicle for the expression, refinement, and acquisition of thought, and the humble vocabulary test masks an enormous amount of reasoning and remembering."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Your Second Gifted and Talented Child

A GAT parent wrote into that of the 27 children in her child's Gifted and Talented classroom, 25 of them are the oldest child.

I've noticed this too, and it seems to be a consistent pattern and I cannot think of a counter example.

It is natural for a first time parent to hover over their first child, convinced that this person is the most special, cutest, smartest thing in the world.  There's time for Baby Einstein tapes, lots of reading, flash cards, whatever.  Then number two comes along and it's a different story.

I started this blog when I started training my second child for the Gifted and Talented exams.   It's not just that I don't want to short change him on the opportunities that his older brother got, it's that I don't want to have to drive to 2 different schools.

So the second child gets 15 minutes a day of my time for reading and worksheets.  The older one doesn't.  Skittles are passed out for challenging milestones for child #2.  I will just had a few to child #1 and say "You've already earned these."  The oldest is struggling to adjust to this new order.

Conversely, what if things went the normal route:  When the oldest child hits a Gifted and Talented program, there is 1 to 2 hours of homework a day that a parent needs to help with, and if the second oldest get less attention before, he now gets no attention.  That's why I think the GAT programs are primarily made up of the oldest child.  That's what I want to avoid.

And that's why my Top 10 Ten List for Gifted and Talented Test Preparation includes item #10.