Intelligence and academic achievement don’t necessarily align. There are plenty of kids who fail to achieve their potential because of a learning disability, such as dyslexia. Unfortunately, schools are not always equipped to identify such children, and they end up falling further and further behind in the classroom. 

Signs a Child is Struggling

There are several signs that a child is struggling at school. Ideally, teachers should spot when a child is not meeting their developmental milestones, but sometimes it’s down to parents to keep a close eye on their child. 

  • Is your child finding English and Maths difficult?
  • Do they struggle to understand what’s written on a whiteboard?
  • Are they acting out at school?
  • Do they suffer from low self-esteem?
  • Are they finding it hard to make friends?
  • Do they struggle to organise their school work?

All of these are reasons to be concerned about your child’s cognitive development. If you do have a reason to be worried, it’s a good idea to speak to your child’s teacher, as they see the child in class every day. You may even be called into a meeting with your child’s teacher if they are already aware there is a problem.

Cognitive Testing for Kids

Cognitive testing is advised when a child is having problems at school related to academic achievement. It tests a child’s:

  • Verbal comprehension – this checks how well a child understands what is being said, as well as their ability to express their thoughts verbally.
  • Working memory – this tests how easily a child can retain and manipulate information.
  • Perceptual reasoning – this tests a child’s ability to organise visual information, solve visual problems, and reason with rules
  • Processing speed – how accurately can your child scan and process information?

A cognitive assessment is also known as an IQ test. It looks at a child’s areas of strength and weakness, which detects whether a child is struggling in a particular area, such as reading. The GL Assessment’s Cognitive Abilities Test is the main test used in the UK – this post explains more about understanding the CAT4

Cognitive testing helps identity children that are intellectually gifted. This is useful because such children often struggle in mainstream education where classroom learning is aimed at the average intellect. When an intellectually gifted child isn’t challenged enough, they soon grow bored, which can cause behavioural issues. 

Cognitive testing will also pick up specific learning disabilities and kids who are on the autism spectrum. Again, such children don’t do well in school if they don’t have extra help in the classroom. 

ADHD children can also benefit from a cognitive assessment.

How is Cognitive Testing Carried Out?

Cognitive testing is usually carried out by trained psychologists. Background information will be obtained from teachers, parents, and the child before any tests are conducted. Once the tests are over, a report is produced that explains the results and offers recommendations. 

Parents can use the report’s findings to agree on a way forward with the school. The report can assist with lesson planning, interventions, and accommodations for the child. It may even help parents decide when choosing the right school for their child. 

It’s important to note that testing should be repeated at agreed-upon intervals to assess the child’s progress. In most cases, children are retested at three-year intervals. This enables parents and teachers to adjust the support already in place and make further accommodations if necessary. It is also a useful check to make existing strategies are working effectively.

Parents needn’t be scared if the school suggests a child would benefit from cognitive testing. The process is there to help children achieve their educational potential, not put a label on them.