Edmonton Association for Bright Children (EABC)

a Chapter of Alberta Associations for Bright Children

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  What is BESTS?    
EABC Parent Experiences

EABC Membership Does Have Its Benefits
One of my yoga teachers described her son who was gifted and bored. His teacher put him in a cubicle at the back of the class. He was viewed as disruptive because he was bored and kept distracting the others. The parents had him tested at the University of Alberta. Turned out to be gifted. Guess what one of their recommendations was--take him to EABC sessions for enrichment. The parent said he seemed to turn around after a one month family trip to Asia. Now an adult, he is fine at the University of Alberta. Doing great.
Advocacy In The Background
Sometimes all it takes is to know that there is one champion in a school for your child. In our case, I realized that the principal had been implementing, without making announcements, many elements described in The Journey for gifted children. I learned that her own children were gifted -- but she didn't tell me until later in the process. I really think she didn't want to appear to be catering to gifted kids to the rest of the parents. The power of one good person.
One Family's Experience with the BESTS Talent Search
If your elementary-school child correctly answers most of the questions on tests at school, perhaps without much effort, you may be wondering if this means your child has room to learn more.  It is obvious your child knows the material that is on the test, and you believe they are ready for more challenge.  But how much more challenge, and how can you find out?

To answer to these questions, our family chose to take part in the BESTS Talent Search offered through the University of Calgary's Centre for Gifted Education.

Since then, a number of parents have asked me, "What was it like?" and "Was it worth while?"  For us, the short answers are "Fun" and "Yes."  But I can expand on those answers some more.

Let me describe what the testing experience itself was like for our child in 2000 (the first year BESTS was offered in Edmonton), what kind of results we were given, and how we have used them since.

On a Saturday morning in February, the students congregated in a lecture theatre in the Education Building at the University of Alberta.  After the children had a chance to become familiar with this novel setting, the parents left them in the hands of the adult test coordinators, who really seemed to enjoy the children and were most respectful of their needs. 

The event lasted about two and a half hours, with a break half way through, which allowed enough time for going to the washroom, having a snack, and working off some accumulated energy.

The talent search looks at how a student works in four areas: English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning.  It is not necessary to coach a child in these subjects before the test, because the testing is more process-based than fact-based.  By this, I mean it looks at more at what processes a student is using to solve the test questions, rather than just whether they produce "the right answer."

In our case, our nine-year-old child enjoyed doing puzzles, and solving pencil-and-paper problems and what he called "thinking" problems.  When we were preparing him for this day, we avoided the word "test," because it sounded like something a teacher might give to see how well you did your homework.  Instead, we presented the experience as an opportunity to do those fun kinds of puzzles he liked so much, and at the same time help give his teachers some ideas about how he learns so they could teach him well. 

Our child really enjoyed the novelty and challenge of the experience, and afterwards talked about some very interesting puzzles they were given, and how he tried to solve them.  For him, there was never any feeling of anxiety about doing this.  It was just a cool challenge for a Saturday morning.

Of course, if your child has any discomfort about being in this kind of situation, you may wish to take a different approach.  Perhaps some of these quotes from the interpretation document we received might be helpful.  We were told:

  "...the invitation to participate in BESTS is an honor and a recognition of achievement in school.  Your child should feel proud of his/her accomplishments to date"
  "This test was developed for students in eighth grade...The intended purpose of above-level testing is to provide additional challenge beyond that of a grade-level test"
  "It was expected that most students would only answer some of the questions correctly.  For many bright students, such as your child, a challenging test is a new experience.  No one can fail this test."

I was very pleased with the depth of information in the results returned to us.  The test results came directly to our home (although there is an option to share them with the child's school as well, if you wish).  We also received a detailed explanatory booklet that helped us interpret the results and put them in teacher-friendly terms we could share with the school.  (For example, "Skills and Knowledge Associated with English Score Range x-y: Students can recognize blatantly illogical conjunctive adverbs between clauses in a sentence".)  In addition, we also received a summary of various curricular options recommended for participants at certain result levels. 

We did choose to share the results with our child's elementary school, and later with the junior high school.  Having thorough and objective test results that can be mapped easily to our school curriculum made it much easier for all of us parents, student, and teachers to be very specific in developing yearly IPPs (Individualized Program Plans) and in fine-tuning programming. 

The result has been a better school experience all around.


Participants are also informed of programs and services available through the Centre for Gifted Education, such as SUCCESS, an academic summer program for gifted students the CGE conducts at the University of Calgary.



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