Early Learning Centres What is IQ

Early Learning Centres: What is IQ?

13 June 2024
Posted by: Chelsea

Few terms have been as badly misunderstood or more frequently misused as “IQ” or in full, “Intelligence Quotient”.

Early learning centres are sometimes asked questions about IQs and related subjects. Here we’ll explore the history of this occasionally controversial term and what, if anything, it means for younger children.

Early Learning Centres and the History of IQ

The use of the term IQ is a relatively modern development. It was first used by a German scientist who developed some of the early ideas surrounding IQ testing in a book published in 1912.

Humans have an innate tendency to try and measure and quantify almost everything. Work in the later 19th century extended that to the concept of intelligence. That was partly to try and help identify cognitive problems as soon as possible and partly to try and predict who would be successful in education, the military or a particular career line etc.

The use of IQ testing was taken up rapidly by many Western countries, largely because the test’s outcomes appeared to correlate to subsequent academic or career success.

Over the past 100+ years, it was also widely used to test younger children, primarily seeking to identify those ‘gifted’ individuals who would be most likely to do well later in higher education. In some countries, it was used as an entrance threshold for admission to ‘better schools’.

Children’s ages
Theoretically, IQ tests can be applied to children from the toddler ages upwards. However, this practice is widely seen as having little predictive value overall when conducted at such young ages.

Most child development experts today suggest that testing only becomes meaningful after the age of 7 or 8. That is because the results can vary significantly between the predictions at toddler age and those in full-time schooling and again post-puberty.

Formal IQ testing of younger children is now viewed with more scepticism overall, as it risks pigeonholing children as being more or less ‘bright’ when they’re still far too young, consequently discouraging or entirely missing late developers.

Concerns over IQ testing

Many IQ tests have been heavily criticised as being:

  • too quantitative, often being heavily focused on numerical manipulation;
  • too orientated towards spatial manipulation exercises (e.g. moving boxes around in a cube);
  • too problem-solving in structure whilst insufficiently valuing the creative and ‘soft’ skills such as empathy, artistic flair, cooperative leadership, imagination and so on;
  • vulnerable to generating misleadingly high scores due to people being able to improve their IQ test performance through practice in advance on similar tests. This has led to a common criticism that IQ tests only test how good someone is at taking IQ tests rather than their actual intelligence.

While some of these criticisms have been partly addressed by the evolution and development of such tests over time, the area remains controversial – notably in the domain of testing children.

Early learning centres and valuing children

We believe preschool children have intelligence that transcends quantification and attempts to compare it to other children on a graph. Preschool children are individuals with skills, abilities and aptitudes that need nurturing and development, including through techniques such as our jolly phonics program.

Some will progress faster than others but at early ages, that is not a safe indicator of their subsequent intelligence.

What is clear is that children benefiting from a formal early development program tend to do better in certain areas of later schooling than those who do not undertake such.

Why not arrange an appointment to come and see us to find out more about Jolly Phonics and how our programs help children to develop?

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