Young Mensans are entitled to enjoy all the benefits of Mensa membership, and you can find more about that here. Youth are full-fledged members of Mensa (they can vote in elections and everything!). Many local groups have specific activities for youth, but even if they don't there's lots for them nationally. Please look over the benefits carefully and find what will be useful for your family. If it's been a while since you've explored what we've got, you may be surprised at how much there is.
We provide a Facebook Group, BrightKids, that enables parents of gifted children to connect with each other and offer advice and support, even if they are not Mensa members. To join, please visit facebook.com/groups/MensaBrightKids. You can also find resources on our Pinterest page at pinterest.com/brightkids.
Additionally, the Mensa Foundation is the education and research arm of Mensa that provides the following benefits to all children, regardless of Mensa affiliation:
Access to lesson plans on the mensaforkids.org website
Access to parent/teacher resources at the same site
Access to gifted-kid appropriate on-line games at the same site
Funding scholarships to college students of all ages and educators of the gifted
Other organizations with resources for gifted kids:
nagc.org - the National Association for Gifted Children
sengifted.org - Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted
davidsongifted.org - an institute for profoundly gifted kids (with a school)
giftedguru.com - the site where Lisa Van Gemert shares tips for parenting and teaching gifted youth
Q. How do I make sure that I'm meeting the cognitive needs of my gifted child?
Many parents of gifted children are concerned about making sure they meet the child's unique needs, especially younger children. Fortunately, this is far easier than it seems! For preschoolers, it is a simple as time with parents and others, play, books, and answering questions. Truly, it's that simple. No need for expensive toys, schools, or programs.
For school-age children, it gets trickier as you try to navigate the balance of cognitive and social needs. Acceleration, differentiated instruction, charter or private school, or homeschooling are all paths that have been used by parents to educate gifted children. The most important thing to remember is that gifted is an adjective; the most important part is the child, and they are children no matter how smart they are. They have the same needs for free time, play, and fun as all other kids, and their cognitive needs are best met when these needs are served.
All learning should be child-directed, so don't feel that just because a child is gifted, he/she needs to be doing physics after school. That may be of interest to some children, but parents should never feel that they need to push learning on children, no matter how gifted. It's not a contest – it's a journey that should be joyful.
If you're looking for more specific educational suggestions for your particular child, unfortunately that is outside the scope of what I can do without knowing your child personally and the choices available in your area. I would invite you to join the BrightKids discussion group on Facebook and get feedback from other parents.
Q. What if I want my child in Mensa?
We hope you do! We love and welcome kids in Mensa, and we work very hard to serve them. Belonging to Mensa can help give parents credibility when negotiating for excellent educations for their children. There are two ways to join Mensa. Mensa will test children over the age of 14. Younger children can be accepted into Mensa, however, they must submit prior evidence for admission. If you have a young child, we have no opinion on the testing of young children and do not recommend it. If you are determined to test a very young child, you may wish to discuss this with your pediatrician to obtain a referral to someone who has a lot of experience testing gifted children. You can see a longer list of the tests we accept at us.mensa.org/join/testscores/qualifyingscores.
Most schools administer tests that we accept for admission, following are some examples:
Otis Lennon (OLSAT - often given with the Stanford Achievement tests)
Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RIAS)
Naglieri Non-verbal (NNAT)
Test of Cognitive Skills
Woodcock-Johnson Intelligence Test (not the Woodcock Johnson Achievement Test)
The scores required for these tests must be at or above the 98 percentile with an index or composite of 132.
Official documentation for school-administered tests may be one of the following:
An official school transcript (sealed in a school envelope OR with a school seal embossed on it) indicating the score -OR-
A letter from the guidance counselor, on school letterhead, indicating that the "Name of Test" scores are X, were taken on X, and signed by the counselor -OR-
An original (or notarized copy of the original) school psychologists report (on letterhead, with an original signature of the psychologist).
We also accept the Wechsler scales (WISC-R, WISC- III, WAIS-R, WAIS- III, WPPSI or WPPSI-III). We require a full-scale score of 130 on these tests in order to qualify. Some school psychologists will give this test battery. Many parents, however, opt to have the child tested by a child psychologist when a school psychologist is not available.
Scores from your child's school must be submitted to Mensa in one of the following formats:
Listed on a sealed school transcript or on a school transcript with a school seal
An original score report (include a SASE for safe return of the document)
A notarized copy of your original document.
For those children who have been tested by a private psychologist, scores must be presented in the following format:
Written on Psychologist/Clinic/Agency Letterhead
Date of Testing
Name of Test
Full Scale IQ and percentile
An original signature of the psychologist giving the test, and the psychologist's license number must be on the document.
To apply for Mensa membership, please send the documentation, application, and evaluation fee to the address listed below.
1229 Corporate Dr West
Arlington, TX 76006
You may find out even more at us.mensa.org/join.