For parents interested in Gifted / Classical test prep from ThinkTonight.com

November 16, 2009 at 10:37 am 5 comments

I know that parents wo are getting ready to test their kids for the GEAP programs for the first time have a common question:  What can I do to help get my child ready for the tests?  Is there anything I can do to help improve my child’s score?

I’ve posted a link before to a web site called www.thinktonight.com.  It’s one of the few web sites I’d found as a parent that had some books about test-prep.  I should point out that the content of most of these tests are well-guarded so the best a parent can do is t help their child practice they *type* of questions that *might* be on the test.  I order a few workbooks and have found them fun to do with my son.  I haven’t used them for test prep, but we take them to restaurants to work on while we wait for the food.  We use them more as fun brain-teasers.  At the very least, showing him how to follow a question/answer format seems like a good skill to learn.

I’ve been in touch with the owner of ThinkTonight (Helen) who has been kind enough to write a piece on her thoughts on education test prep (and after reading her piece I need to stop using the word “prep!”)  Take a read-through… it’s very interesting.  I’ll also post some recommendations she has on which material might be most helpful to Chicago parents.

My family moved to the US from New Zealand ten years ago and, in part because of frustration
with the education system, I went looking for resources to use with my
children.  Friends were interested so I started buying to resell and
eventually went online at www.thinktonight.com

Testing, testing, testing.  Those are the opening words on my website.  My
website which began as a collection of resources to use with gifted children
to get them thinking morphed into a test preparation site because of the
demand from parents.  What’s interesting to me is that what I sell hasn’t
changed – just how it’s presented.

When any child is tested to see if they’re gifted the test is looking for
specific skills.  Can a child classify objects as similar or different, can
they make associations, can they reason using analogy, can they make
patterns, can they predict and so on.  These are all activities that
naturally gifted children push themselves to do.  They’re also skills which
any child can be taught.  That “any child” might not have the potential to
become gifted but teaching them how to get the most out of the brain they’ve
got can only help them.

What’s unusual about testing in Chicago is the secrecy surrounding it.  It’s
understandable given what’s happening in New York.  There tutoring business
have sprung up which charge over $100 per hour to teach to the test.  When a
group multiple choice test is used, as in New York, there are a limited
number of questions that can be asked.  If you make up enough similar
questions and coach children on them they’ll probably test better.  That
doesn’t necessary mean (and often doesn’t) that you’ve improved their
underlying skills.  It distorts test results.  Keeping the specifics of
testing confidential means that all that parents can do is work with their
child on general skills.  Do it right and children will score higher when
they’re tested but for the right reason – because their underlying skill
level has improved.  You’ll have fun too and hopefully keep on with
activities like these after the test date.

If you’re a concerned parent spend some time browsing my website.  There are
two sections which are likely to be most interesting.   The WPPSI is like
the gold standard for testing young children.  It’s a very comprehensive
test done one on one with psychologist.  Sometimes the entire test isn’t
used.  The ERB’s for example (used for private school entry) are some of the
WPPSI subtests.  http://www.thinktonight.com/WPPSI_s/306.htm  has my
suggestions for products that can be used in anticipation of WPPSI testing.
There are a lot of them because the WPPSI tests a lot of areas.

The other type of testing that is often used with young children is multiple
choice.  That’s what NY does.  I’ve got plenty of information about the
OLSAT which is the test currently used in New York at this link
http://www.thinktonight.com/OLSAT_s/26.htm

A discerning parent will see a lot of overlap between my suggestions for the
two tests.  That’s because I don’t sell anything that was written for a
particular test.  The OLSAT isn’t as refined or as broad a test as the WPPSI
but it has the same objectives and there’s a pretty strong correlation
between children who do well on the OLSAT and those who do well on the
WPPSI.  They’re the children who can do the types of activities that the
material I sell was developed to teach.

I enjoy helping parents so give me a shout (email or phone) if you’ve got
questions

– Show quoted text –
Helen Flavall, PhD
www.thinktonight.com

helen@thinktonight.com
425-688-1183

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jan  |  November 17, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Seriously? People coach their kids to get into a gifted program?? Doesn’t that have the effect of possibly getting their child into a program that in the long run goes at a faster or deeper pace than the child is developmentally able to keep up with, and set them up for failure?

  • 2. dazedandconfused  |  November 17, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    this DOES concern me as well. my daughter tested into a classical program but did not score high enough for a gifted program in our area. i honestlly had no idea what any of that meant prior to testing. now that i understand it better- it looks as though that is exactly how she should have landed. i’m not sure if i taught her “tricks” that she’d be properly situated.

  • 3. dazedandconfused  |  November 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    but i do appreciate the information – as ALWAYS!!

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