Tests every child should do

By admin
02 July 2014

Identifying problem areas at an early age makes early intervention possible. We look at the various types of assessment for children.

Raising children can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. After all, who knows all the answers and how do you know exactly what’s going on in your child’s head? It’s especially hard when you want to know if your six-year-old is schoolready, which subjects your teenager should choose in Grade 9 or what career your Grade 11 child should follow.

Fortunately tests can help with this. Many parents make use of school-readiness, school subject and career tests.

It’s beneficial for parents to have these tests done, Johannesburg educational psychologist Zandie Shabangu says. Megan Osler, an educational psychologist with JvR Psychometrics – specialisists in psychometric testing – agrees. “Children who’ve done the tests have a greater awareness of their academic potential and can achieve and obtain support on the basis of this knowledge.

“The tests give parents greater insight into their children’s strengths, personalities and interests.” She says parents shouldn’t be afraid to have these assessments done because if there’s a problem, appropriate help can be sought.

Here are the most common tests, the age at which they’re done and what you can learn from them.

School-readiness tests

  • When? In Grade R, at least six months before your child starts Grade 1, so there’s time to get help if you need it. Although it’s every parent’s own choice, Megan strongly recommends children do school-readiness tests.
  • Why? They determine readiness for a formal schooling environment, she says.
  • How: Depending on the child, the tests can take three to four hours. In testing your child’s neurological, emotional, social, perceptual, cognitive and motor skills, they may be required to draw, memorise things and even play – while being observed by a therapist.
  • Who? Ask an educational psychologist specialising in school-readiness testing. The testing can involve speech therapists, occupational therapists or remedial teachers.
  • Estimated cost: R1 000 to R3 500

Subject- and career choice tests

When? Grade 9 for subject- and career-choice tests, and Grade 11 or 12 for career-choice tests, if necessary.

Why? It can all too easily happen that a matric learner doesn’t have the right subjects for their dream career, Megan says. Learners need a bit of help to make informed choices early on. “Career assessments look at a person’s abilities, interests and personality type,” she says. “It helps you determine which careers best suit your child.” Good career guidance includes additional research and activities such as job-shadowing, Cape Town-based counselling psychologist Dr Anthony Costandius says. Learners can do another career-choice test at the end of their school career to gain better insight into various career options. “Some people only find out in their early 20s what they’re really interested in. The evaluation is only the start of the process.”

How: Subject- and career-choice tests usually include psychometric tests that take into account a learner’s personality, aptitudes and interests. They usually take the form of multiple-choice questionnaires but could also include a conversation with an educational psychologist to help your child gain more insight into their interests and abilities. It helps if you and your child sit down together beforehand to research the various careers they’re considering. Subject choices and career assessments usually take from three to six hours.

Who? Ask an educational or industrial psychologist who specialises in subject choices or career assessments for teens. Or get advice from your child’s school.

Estimated cost: From R1 500 to R3 500 for subject-choice testing. Aptitude tests cost a little more, from R2 000 to R4 000.

More assessments

Not all children are the same. Some have more developmental needs than others – be it academic or emotional. If you’re concerned about your child you can consider other tests.

  • Learning problems: If your child is struggling academically, have their language or numerical skills tested. “The assessment focuses on identifying the areas your child struggles with and helps determine what remedial intervention is required,” says educational psychologist Megan Osler.
  • Behavioural problems: The tests focus on socio-emotional problems in children, for instance aggression, depression or anxiety. Play therapy could be a solution.
  • Gifted children: Is your child bored in class or do they struggle with routine work? Test if your child isn’t gifted, in which case more challenging tasks could be the answer.

- Petro-Ann Vlok

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