Should I Help My Child Prepare for WISC-V?

In this blog post, Dr. Ellen Iscoe expands on her recent “What is this New WISC-V?” article.ellen

Sure! In his book “Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Culture Count,” Richard E. Nesbitt, a prominent cognitive psychologist, stresses the importance of nonhereditary factors in determining I.Q. He suggests a number of steps parents can take, starting before the birth of the child, to boost their child’s I.Q. If your child is already school-age, your efforts can still have an impact.

Intelligence Concept Hand Drawn on Chalkboard. Blurred Background. Toned Image.

Professor Nesbitt gives the following recommendations:

  • Start before your child is born by eating well and exercising several times per week (unless medically unwise).
  • Breastfeed your baby, if possible.
  • Start early by using a broad vocabulary and encouraging your child to do the same while including him/her in your conversations.
  • Ask open-ended questions so your child has a chance to formulate meaningful sentences and complete thoughts. Read to your child and encourage discussion.
  • Make it safe for your child to explore and take intellectual risks.

This last bullet point was a cornerstone of my own childrearing philosophy. Both of my children were very verbal, and I was interested in helping them develop strong vocabularies. I was alert for the first appearance of new ‘big’ words. Hearing “Nice use of the word ecstatic!” brought my daughters a moment of pride. “Wow, ‘exuberance’ is a fabulous word!” was a treasured response I could give, while following up later with what ‘most people’ mean when they used that word. Our house was a safe place to try out new words, even if they were used in atypical ways. My daughters tell me now that they didn’t mind the ‘corrections,’ which were always given gently and in private, because it meant they were becoming part of a club whose members knew the real meaning of that word. Because I was in that club, they wanted to join too. By the time they thought I was uncool, they already had great vocabularies.

Cheerful parents and two little daughters with board game at home

To help your child develop fluid-reasoning, the new Index on the WISC-V, Nesbit recommends a variety of exercises that are common in word games, board games, playground games and, yes, video games:

  • anticipation (what’s coming next, who will take action, where will it take place?),
  • stimulus discrimination (how is this one different?),
  • learning to manage unexpected information (the smaller box might have more items than the larger box), and
  • attention.

The good news here is that all these skills can be acquired in a game format, or as part of daily life as you run errands, open the mail or wash the dishes. Will we see more red cars or blue vans? Which of these things will be heavier?

If we switch gears and mentally zoom out a click or two, there are other attributes that support fluid reasoning. In the assessment setting, we have a chance to observe how a child balances persistence with graceful failure (know when to hold’em/know when to fold’em). I’ve assessed children who got stuck on a puzzle and refused to quit, even when it is clearly beyond their capability (and well beyond the allotted time limit). There is a point where persevering shifts to perseverating! Contrast this with a little boy who told me nonchalantly, “I don’t know that one, but I bet I will when I’m four.”

In summary, parents can encourage, support, have fun, and make failure and mistakes a safe part of learning. My guess is that you’re already doing this for no other reason than it seems like a good way to help a little person you love grow up. So relax, play with and talk to your children, and remember: the WISC-V score is just one part of the admissions process.

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