testing 1 2 3

Our kids are good. They’re fun, and they’re nice, and they’re kind. They are respectful, they do not get into nor do they cause trouble. They are curious and imaginative and sometimes obstinate but mostly amenable. They are good sports, as long as they have had enough food and sleep. They’re pleasant to be around. They’re healthy.

What more could a parent want? Well.

Today our daughter’s piano teacher asked me whether our daughter was in the school’s gifted program. I said “no.” He asked whether she had been tested in grade school. I said “no.” He was shocked. “I’ve worked with gifted kids for over 30 years. I can see ’em a mile away. Get her tested!” He’s known our daughter for roughly 85 minutes. 

And, he said all this in front of our daughter. What happens if I get her tested, and she doesn’t pass the test? And what if she does? I ask because I just read this:

No big deal, but this researcher’s theory explains everything about how Americans parent.” Key quote: “We’re on the verge of trying to export very ethnocentric ideas about what competencies children need to develop at a very early age, which is really unfortunate,” [Harkness] says. “The U.S.’s almost obsession with cognitive development in the early years overlooks so much else.”

I guess the upside is that I didn’t focus too much on the children’s cognitive development in their early years. All I wanted was for them to eat the food I gave them, without a fuss. (Getting better at that.) And go to bed when I tell them to. (They do.) I focus a lot now on making sure they remember to clean their rooms (most of the time they do), resolve their fights (working on it), be respectful to grownups and their peers (99 percent of the time) and lately, how to navigate social politics during second grade lunch (she’s a quick study).

Important stuff. She’ll learn how to punctuate her hand-written stories and master her multiplication tables in due time. Right?

I can guarantee you that I’ll relate all this to my husband and he’ll say, “Get her tested, for God’s sake.”

All right, all right, I’ll ask about it. Of course, at the beginning of May she and her classmates will be taking the Stanford Achievement Test. Maybe I’ll see how she does on that, first. Still not sure whether she’s a warrior or worrier.

Not sure why I’m reluctant, other than the fact that my parents just didn’t get terribly involved in my education. They went to conferences and signed report cards and said “good job,” but that was about it. Maybe any extra effort seemed unfamiliar, or unnecessary?

Maybe it is necessary now. Certainly, schools like parents to be “involved.” As long as “involved” doesn’t turn into “insane.” That’s a slippery slope for me, because I have big dreams for our kids, and I can be really, really pushy… I don’t know. I just want our children to be encouraged to do their best, at home and at school. If being tested for “gifted,” regardless of the results, sends a signal to the school that I want my kids to receive more attention than they already do, then yeah, I guess I want them tested. 

As long as the attention is warranted by some objective measure beyond my own tremendous (though correct) bias.

What do you think?

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