IQ Testing and the Gifted Homeschooler

Much of the literature out there for parents of gifted children focuses on the importance of testing and identification. That’s because access to school-based gifted programs is generally based on test scores. Schools usually use standardized achievement testing or standardized group-administered ability tests like the CogAT or the OLSAT. Similar bubble-sheet testing that is available to homeschoolers includes CTY’s SCAT test and the ACT Explore.

A true IQ test does not involve a bubble sheet or a group administration. Your child is tested one-on-one, sitting face to face with a psychologist or someone with advanced training in psychological testing. The tester pays close attention to your child’s problem solving strategies. How she answers is as important as what she answers.

Many parents think of IQ as a single number that tells where your child ranks in comparison to other children. To a psychologist, an IQ test is more complex and interesting than that. We look at the profile of results on the different components of the test. We can consider how a child does on verbal tasks vs. nonverbal tasks, or tasks based on learned information vs. tasks a child must figure out on the fly, or timed tasks vs. untimed tasks. To a skilled interpreter, an individualized IQ test gives a broad picture of a child’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses.

If you think your homeschooled child is gifted, should you seek testing? Often there is no need. You don’t need “permission” from an IQ test to modify your child’s education. If you think you recognize giftedness, go ahead and act accordingly. If your child seems ready for advanced material, give it a try.

When do I recommend testing? There are several possible situations:

1) When the family is interested in seeking admission to programs like Davidson Young Scholars or PG Retreat, which use IQ testing as one criterion for entry.

2) When there is disagreement between the parents about whether giftedness is present or how to respond to it.

3) When there is significant asynchrony present – that is, when a child is well above average in some areas and at or below average in other areas, so that it’s hard for a parent to know what to expect.

4) When there is a possibility that the child might be twice exceptional – both gifted and learning disabled, or both gifted and struggling with a mental disorder.

5) When the parent is uncomfortable accelerating forward through academic levels without “proof.”

6) When the homeschooling parent is struggling to meet educational needs appropriately or is looking for help dealing with some of the behavioral and emotional factors which are often associated with giftedness.

7) When the family is just curious and testing will not be a financial strain.

To find out more about having your child tested through Minds in Focus, please give me a call at 443-826-9858 or email me at

6 ways to shake up your homeschool & avoid the midwinter blues!

Homeschooling lore has it that more people decide to quit in February than any other time of the year. If homeschooling is really not right for you, it is perfectly fine to put your kids back in school. But so many people feel a slump in February that, if you feel like giving up, it might be a good plan to try something different for a while, and see if that (and the coming of spring) rejuvenates you. Here are six ideas for something new to try:

  1. Stagger your academic schedule so you’re starting something new in January (science, history, and art are good candidates). Most of us have more enthusiasm for new stuff than we do for the same old, same old.
  2. Get out of the house. Schedule a lot of field trips and a lot of group activities. Field trips don’t have to match your curriculum thematically. Try something off the beaten path. For example, Maryland folks might enjoy going up to York, PA for a day of free factory tours.
  3. Have reading days, where you stay in your PJs most of the day and just read to your kids – or everyone reads to themselves. Try a book swap, where each member of your family gets to pick a book for someone else to read – including letting your kids pick out their favorite graphic novel or series fiction for you.
  4. Trade kids with another homeschooler. (Not permanently.) You know how your kids always seem to behave better for someone else than they do for you? Similarly, other kids will probably be better behaved for you AND more impressed with your teaching. Or maybe both sets of kids will just appreciate their own family more when they go home.
  5. Suspend “regular school” for a few weeks and do a unit study, or a home renovation project, or community service, or board game tournaments. Again, none of this needs to be related to your regular curriculum thematically, and in fact, it probably shouldn’t be. Fancy private colleges often have a “winter term” when students get to learn offbeat stuff in a different setting, so why shouldn’t you?
  6. Have a movie week where you watch documentaries every day. Try a movie adaptation of a book you’ve read to your kids (or they’ve read on their own) and talk about the differences and similarities. Let your kids mess around filming with your video camera, iPad, or smartphone.

Surviving the February slump.

Homeschooling lore says that more people decide to quit in February than in any other month. It’s cold and dark, and the excitement most of us start the school year with has faded long ago. I gave a talk at the Baltimore Homeschool Community Center today about how normal the February slump is, and tips for getting through it. If you missed the talk, here are some of my suggestions for taking care of yourself and your kids, as well as my thoughts about when the normal midwinter slump is, well, not so normal. In my next post, I’ll share some ideas from today’s session about how to shake up your homeschooling itself.

Coping and self-care strategies:

  • Get some physical exercise for yourself and your kids. Skating, indoor pools, indoor gyms and playspaces, cross-country skiing, sledding, active Wii games, bowling, or just turning up the music and dancing in your living room.
  • Take sick days when you’re sick.
  • STOP reading homeschool porn: perfect blogs by perfect homeschooling families, assurances that homeschooling will supply you with angelic and brilliant children, perfect Pinterest projects.
  • Get social support from other homeschooling parents. (locals, BHCC is a great place for that.)
  • Trade babysitting with a friend and get some time to yourself. Don’t feel like you need to use it to clean your house or reorganize your school plans… unless that stuff is genuinely satisfying to you.
  • When possible, get exposure to sunlight early in the day. Bundle up and go for a morning walk, or sit in a sunny window.
  • Make sure your sugar intake is balanced by protein and whole grains.


  • You are hitting your kids, escalating punishments, or regularly screaming at them, insulting them, calling them names.
  • The winter isn’t going well with school, but neither did the fall. Or last summer, when you thought you’d catch up. Or last spring.
  • You are crying more than once a week, feeling sad or hopeless most of the day, having trouble sleeping or sleeping way more than usual, thinking about hurting yourself or your kids.
  • Your kids are hurting you, each other, or themselves.
  • Your kids are significantly “behind” and not improving, and either (a) you just can’t manage to get teaching done on a regular basis, or (b) teaching doesn’t seem to help.
  • Your child’s behavioral or emotional problems are taking up more and more of your life.
  • Call me at 443-826-9858 for a confidential consultation.

Introducing Minds in Focus

MIF logo (2)I am happy to announce the opening of Minds in Focusproviding clinical psychology services for children and families who are homeschoolers, alternative schoolers, or others who don’t fit the general mold. Minds in Focus offers psychological testing (both simple and complex); psychological evaluations; diagnosis of learning disabilities, ADHD, emotional difficulties, and behavior disorders; and family-oriented treatment planning for interventions.

Located in the Baltimore, Maryland area, Minds in Focus serves families throughout Maryland, as well as visitors from Northern Virginia, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. Services are provided within the Baltimore Homeschool Community Center in Pikesville, which offers a full range of social, recreational, educational, and support opportunities for homeschooling families.

Minds in Focus is accepting appointments beginning August 20th. To schedule a consultation or an evaluation, call 443-826-9858 or e-mail I look forward to hearing from you, and helping you find new ways to help your child!