Talking with your child about the assessment process

Opening the conversation: 

The purpose of a psychoeducational assessment is to figure out how someone learns, what are their learning strengths, and where do they have learning challenges. This information is useful for:

  • Teachers to know how to best teach you
  • Parents to support you
  • Knowing how to advocate for your own needs

Explaining the process: 

The assessment process includes a wide range of activities. Some are like school such as reading, writing, and math, and some tasks present more like games such as working with blocks, puzzles, and looking at pictures. There will also be conversations about what the child enjoys doing and what they find challenging.

It is important that the child understand that this process is to. learn more about how they learn and is not about finding what is “wrong” or “different” about them. Having the child accept the process and be willing to cooperate will make the assessment easier for all parties involved.

Helping the anxious or resistant child: 

To ensure the assessment will be successful, it is important that the child try their best and give good effort. If the child is resistant or unwilling to complete tasks it can be challenging to produce valid results. Their full participation is key!

However, it is common that the child will be unsure about the process if they do not see how it will benefit them, think it will be hard or scary, and/or if they think the assessment is to find out what is wrong with them.

Here are some tips to help your child “buy” into the process:

  • Avoid using the word “test” and instead say activities or tasks
  • Dial down the seriousness of the assessment by explaining it in a way that makes it clear that there is nothing wrong with them, they are not in trouble, and that this process is to help everyone (parents, teachers, and themselves!) learn more about how the child learns. Try also having the conversation in a less serious setting (e.g., on a walk, in the car, over ice cream etc.)
  • Explain that while some activities may be hard or boring, there will be such a wide variety of activities that there will also be activities that they find easy and even fun!
  • Use the child’s words to explain why you considering the assessment. For example, if they complain about school (e.g., it is hard or boring, their teacher is mean, they have too much homework, they don’t like school, etc) reframe this process as trying to help solve those problems and change it so they don’t always feel that way about school
  • Set up the environment around the assessment to make the experience more pleasurable. Make a special breakfast before testing, go to dinner after, give them a small gift upon completion for all their hard work etc.