By age 5, most children in America will have been given some kind of intelligence test, whether it is for private school admissions, gifted and talented qualification, or public school placement in slow, average, and accelerated learning groups. These tests cover the 7-abilities educators believe children must have in order to thrive in the classroom. While teachers understand why these abilities are so important for testing and school success, parents are surprisingly in the dark about them. Here is a quick tutorial on the 7-abilities and tips on how you can build them at home.
1. Language – Receptive language is your child’s capacity to tune into and understand the language she hears (and later reads) all day. Expressive language is her ability to use words orally (and later in writing) to express ideas and feelings in a clear, organized manner.
Why it matters in school? Language pervades any class a student takes in school. She must be able to listen, pay attention, and comprehend lessons being taught. She needs to answer the teacher’s questions and follow her instructions.
Tips to build language at home. Read picture books to your child as often as you can, asking her questions or expanding upon things that capture her interest. It’s also important to converse with her about everything and everything all the time. Children raised in high-language households have IQ scores that are 38-points higher than kids brought up in low language homes.
2. Knowledge/comprehension is your child’s understanding of information, social standards of behavior, and common sense that children his age usually understand. To flourish in kindergarten, a child should know colors, shapes, seasons, fruit, farm animals – all the basic kinds of information kids are exposed to through picture books, preschool, and life itself. He should understand manners and how to get along in the world as a 5-year-old. It takes time and a parent’s involvement to acquire this.
Why it matters in school? Your child’s kindergarten teacher will assume he has acquired this basic information by the time he starts school. In order to get along socially with his classmates, he will need to behave with the same level of maturity as other kids his age.
Tips to build knowledge/comprehension at home. Nothing beats real experiences like going to the beach, baking cookies, visiting the doctor or taking trips to the grocery store for acquiring basic knowledge. Concepts books such as Richard Scaary’s “Best First Book Ever” cover all the essential information kids are expected to know by kindergarten.
3. Memory is your child’s ability to retrieve information learned recently or in the past.
Why it matters in school? More memory is needed for school success than is required for any other career. In school, kids must remember spelling, vocabulary, rules of grammar, multiplication tables, history, and procedures for solving math problems. They must remember relevant facts and lessons learned in the past for new assignments and tests.
Tips to build memory at home. To remember things better, kids must be able to take something long they hear or read and shrink it to a manageable size. After you read a book to your child, ask her to tell you the story back in her own words. Make patterns using Fruit Loops or colored beads, cover them up, and see if your child can recreate them.
4. Mathematics is your child’s ability to work with simple computational skills and to do the thinking needed for higher order math work (patterning, sequencing, ordering, classifying, and comparing).
Why it matters in school? From the time your child starts school, math operations will be one of his most important subjects. Higher order math work is the foundation for the critical thinking and problem solving challenges your child will face as he advances in school.