Monday, February 05, 2007

Experts at Nova warn parents not to overemphasize test scores

Plantation · Wednesday's lesson: Don't get caught up in the numbers. A child's intelligence is based on more than test scores.

By making children empathetic, self-reliant, self-aware and expressive, education experts said, parents can directly impact the other intelligence -- emotional intelligence. Intellect and emotion work in tandem to create clever children.

That was the message delivered Wednesday by the University School of Nova Southeastern University during a class designed to teach parents how to better educate their children.

"It's a combination of nature and nurture," Kristen Cunningham, a psychology fellow at the school, told the crowd of about 40 parents. "This gives you the opportunity as parents to really step in and pick up where nature left off.

"Genetics, a parent's educational background, home life, neighborhood and peers all influence children's intellectual intelligence, or IQ, Cunningham said. A child's IQ, she said, represents the raw data of student success, such as school grades and FCAT scores.

Emotional intelligence means having the social skills or ability to turn potential into achievement, she said."A lot of parents think IQ is relatively fixed," she said. But "IQ by itself simply represents potential."

And for two hours Wednesday, parents in a hotel ballroom turned classroom listened and learned how to tap in to that potential.

One woman wanted to know what to do with her 8-year-old daughter who has a high EQ but low IQ. Another -- how to keep from stifling the spirit of a punk-rocking 13-year-old while directing her down the right path?

The answers were slightly different but the overall message the same: Don't fixate on the figures.

There's always time to develop a child's skills.

There were mommies with tiny tots there too.

Lori Sobol and her friend, Abby Weiner, 33, of Plantation, wanted to know how to handle the trying times of toddlerhood. Their 3-year-olds are in the mine-hitting-biting-stingy stage of development.

"I'm trying to get tips. You know, instead of jumping on the situation and saying, `Stop. Come away,'" said Sobol, 31, of Weston.

Though simple, the suggestions offered to these mothers -- be specific; be consistent; be calm -- are important ways to establish the social skills needed for emotional intelligence.

"The key point of all this is as a parent: You want to teach. You want to provide support," said David Krasky, a University School psychologist.

By Akilah Johnson

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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