Preparing Your Child for a Psychological Assessment in School

Contributed by Barbara Brish, Psy, Sp, NCSP, Education Specialist

A psychological assessment is outlined in the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education as part of the process to determine special education eligibility, a requirement for children to receive special education programs and services in school. The results of psychological testing are used to analyze a child’s strengths and weaknesses in ability when planning for appropriate programs and services.

In Dr. Omahen’s article, she reports that the testing situation can often create an atmosphere where the child may experience “…discomfort, confusion, anxiety, motor planning and sensory challenges.”

The following are ways you can prepare your child for a ”psychological assessment” so that they can perform to the best of their ability with minimum negative impact:

  • Be honest, let the child know they are going to go with a psychologist to do some work.
  • Talk to your child about the psychologist, who they are, their name.
  • Ask the psychologist to meet with your child prior to the testing and perhaps engage with them in some enjoyable activity so that the child may feel more comfortable during the test.
  • Do not use the word ”test” as it has a negative impact.
  • Do not say they will have fun, that it will be easy.
  • Tell them what types of activities they may be doing with the psychologist: answering questions, listening, talking, remembering things; they may also be working with blocks and puzzles.
  • Ask that the test session(s) be scheduled, if possible, during the time of day when your child functions best.
  • Share with the psychologist what helps make your child feel calm and at ease.
  • Share with the psychologist any incentives that your child may enjoy.
  • Stay away from on-line IQ tests or test preparation sites so that the test results may accurately reflect your child’s strengths and weaknesses in ability and performance; this will help enable the team to develop an appropriate and effective educational plan for programs and services.