Don’t assume the school will recognize your child’s abilities - they teach to age and grade level, not specific abilities

You need to know how your child compares to others, both intellectually and academically, before you choose a school:

  • Is my child unusually smart or advanced, and how can I tell? Read more…
  • How do I ignite and encourage my child's gifts and talents? Read more…
  • Do I know the appropriate educational and school options for my child? Read more…
  • What are his/her emotional and social needs? How do I address them? Read more…
  • What resources are available for helping with these issues? Read more…

The Ruf Estimates™ Kids IQ Test (Online Assessment) will provide answers to these questions and actions you can take to secure the best schools and learning environments for your child.

Talent Igniter and Educational Options Websites Are Going Offline as of November 2, 2017

It is with a tinge of both sadness and exhilaration that I announce some endings and some new beginnings. Both of my websites will totally go offline in November. The Shopping Cart will shut down on Talent Igniter tomorrow, November 1, 2017. The Ruf Estimates, the Self-Esteem Tests for Children and Teens, and the Keys to Parenting PDF-book will not be available after that from this site or anywhere for the foreseeable future.

I am also closing down my Educational Options website because I will no longer accept and work with individual families going forward. My final client will be here this week on Thursday, one client more than I'd promised myself earlier in October.

This does not mean I am done writing, speaking, and contributing to the fields involved with meeting the needs of highly intelligent children and youth (and adults). I simply want more time to do the writing that will have a lasting benefit for readers even when I say my final good-bye. I have become extra interested in the social and emotional factors, especially the influences of parents and environment, on how we all end up doing in life. I've come to know way down to my bones that how emotionally healthy and stable our parents are makes a profound difference on how we'll be as adults and how we will do our own parenting. That's what I want to write and share about.

I will set up a blog site at some point and I'd love to find a way to make the Ruf Estimates available somehow going forward. I have no marketing skills (or interest) and no real way to set all that needs to be set up done, so if there's anyone reading this who'd like to look into how to make it happen, let me know!

Until then, I hope to see you all soon and over time.

Warmest regards and love,


Is Your Grandchild Maybe Gifted? How Can You Tell? - by Deborah Ruf, PhD

My own two grandchildren are now 7 and 4-1/2 years old. When I visit them, I am overwhelmed with curiosity and awe as I watch them soak up the world! As a high intelligence specialist who deals especially with unusually high levels of abilities, I am very aware that when I'm with just my grandchildren, I have very little idea of how they compare to other children their ages. I wrote this blog piece to help other grandparents (and aunties and uncles and parents, too, of course) to discover just where their own precious little ones fit in.

Many grandparents start to wonder if their grandchildren are unusually smart and if there's any way they can support the parents' nurture and handling of the blossoming child. It's likely that if both parents are pretty darned smart, their children will be, too. There is a strong genetic influence, after all! But, sitting down and doing school work before you start school, doesn't necessarily point to a future genius. But, figuring out what kinds of schooling and talent support a young child needs can go a long way toward facilitating the child's growth into all he or she can be. And grandparents can play a significant role in enabling that to happen.

First, any "signs" of intelligence must be viewed only as possible indicators that the child is unusually intelligent. They are not PROOF. Some children are highly intelligent and show fewer of these signs while they are still young. Some kids show many of these signs while young and are bright, but not unusually bright in every area. Being intellectually gifted doesn't necessarily mean or guarantee all kinds of achievement, high grades, success in school, or high paying jobs.

Here are some common signs or early indicators that you can look for and consider:

Alertness: Probably the leading indicator of giftedness in infants, toddlers and preschool aged children is their alertness. It is hard to assess or describe. Gifted children tend to stare intently at what people are saying or doing, they seem to be wise beyond their years even before they speak. They almost always understand what adults are talking about long before they actually start speaking themselves. This alertness leads to them soaking up everything around them whether you are directly trying to teach them or not.

Language development/high interest in language: This early development and ability generally indicates verbal giftedness, but since it is generally associated, as well, with the brain development of little girls being ahead of and different from little boys in the verbal domain, sometimes girls will be perceived as brighter than equally bright boys in the early years. The frequently more precocious verbal development of girls can confuse many adults about "how gifted" a girl is while leading to underestimates of "how gifted" a young boy is. When a little boy is very verbally advanced, though, it is a more reliable sign that he will ultimately prove to be intellectually, verbally gifted. The content of the child's vocabulary, the words they correctly use, the way they string together words to form complex meaning and sentences, is more an indicator of intellectual giftedness than is simply early or a lot of talking.

Motor skills development: Gifted babies and toddlers are more purposeful in their motor activities, perhaps, but it is a physical skill that makes them dextrous or really good at it at an early age. When a child sits up or begins to walk unassisted is not really all that related to intellectual level. Purposeful means that they, as infants, don't just "bat" at something held before them, but stare and actually try to reach for and grasp it. They "play" with objects, investigate them, turn them over and over, and taste them. In my own experience, gifted infants and babies learn very early not to taste things or "mouth" things that adults tell them not to put in their mouths. Some gifted kids become perfectionistic early on and won't try their motor skills (for an audience) before they feel they are quite good at it. This is another reason why not to get hung up on the demonstrations of motor skills as an indicator of intellectual precocity!

Perception (they're particularly perceptive): Gifted babies and toddlers are often described as being like little sponges. They soak up everything around them. They also remember what they've seen or heard or smelled and bring it up or connect to it later -- in the right context -- much to the surprise of the adults around them. All of this perception tends to be related to their particular talent areas, too, what they will eventually prove to have an enduring ability or interest in. This is all related to "engagement." Gifted kids are paying attention. (This rarely transfers to their school behavior, however, because for gifted kids, there is often very little to learn in the same-aged classroom with material and other kids who are simply "doing" and "being" something very different.)

Memory (a good memory): Fantastic memories for what falls within their interest and ability domains. They remember what you said and how you said it. They soak up what is read to them. They notice the routes you take and how to get places. They start "reading" store and street signs because they've put what they've already learned by paying attention and remembering into action. Gifted children's brains are ready to soak up material in their environment while they are younger than other children. This is why they are so advanced of others when they start school. This is why school is frustrating and boring unless the school is set up for children like them.

Good problem solving: Usually good at this, but it depends on the topic, especially for boys. Boys tend to be specialists and more single-minded than girls. This ability is why parents and teachers need to also be smart and stay one step ahead of gifted youngsters so as not to be outsmarted by them too often. You need to be prepared to be surprised. A child who quickly figures out how to put something together or make something work is showing dexterity, and often spatial reasoning, cause and effect reasoning, effective use of trial and error, and memory for what's worked before skills. A child who picks up vocabulary and tries it out on a regular basis is also showing problem-solving skills. This shows in the discussions and arguments about why they think they should be allowed to do this or that when they want to, for example.

All of these signs can occur earlier in exceptionally and profoundly gifted kids. Let me just say this, the more highly intelligent an infant is, the less likely you can leave him or her in a bouncy seat without interacting with him or her and expect him or her to be happy. Very bright infants demand attention and interaction, some call it stimulation but that's not a clear enough term in my opinion. If caregivers take the child on a walk and talk to adults or on their phone instead of interacting with their infant, they're making a huge mistake! The child isn't happy; the child is insulted; the child feels unimportant, and you're missing the chance to lead the child forward into the big, wonderful world of learning and engaging with others.

For more specifics about all of this, please read the article "How Smart Is My Child? Using the Ruf Estimates™ of Levels of Gifted", the first article under the Resources tab.

Tips for Homeschooling Abroad by Cassie Phillips, Guest Contributor 2016

Tips for Homeschooling Abroad

If you tend to travel often or have even decided to move abroad, homeschooling can be a great option for your family. It removes the burden from your children of frequently becoming “the new kid” in school and can allow you to have time to bond with your children while they get an education. It can also sometimes decrease the risk of your children becoming the targets of bullying, as you will be able to control the environment more than if they were attending public school. The downside of homeschooling is that there are often legal requirements that can make it a bit more difficult for you to get started right away. In some regions you may even be required to have a teaching certificate of some sort.

There are also a few other things to think about before and while you’re homeschooling your kids. Don’t let those dissuade you from doing so! Homeschooling can be a rewarding venture for both you and your children as long as you do your research before you begin putting your plan into motion. Here are some tips for homeschooling abroad that should be of great assistance to you on your journey:

How to Partial Home School: Quick Overview by Deborah Ruf, PhD ©2009

What is Partial Home Schooling?

Partial home schooling—which we can also describe as “emanating from the home schooling” or “the parent’s role as educational manager”—involves keeping the child in the regular school for part of the day and in some alternative educational situation the other part of the school day. While home schooling is currently legal in every state, the law does not generally anticipate partial home schooling, although it, too, is legal most states. In Minnesota, for example, is a law called “120B.20, Parental Curriculum Review,” which basically permits parents to provide what the school has not. The school’s permission is not required. Public tax support is still available to the school when a child is partial home schooled. Private schools do not generally reduce their fees if the child still attends part of the day, and the school’s permission is needed. The reason I recommend partial home schooling is to enable the family to provide learning experiences at the child’s own level and pace, and to keep the school aware that the school has not done so. If a family totally removes their child, the school system cannot experience that the child needed more than was being provided. Even if a parent is not “qualified” to teach, the child who still attends school part time will take regular standardized achievement tests and thereby prove that his achievement has been enhanced rather than damaged by the partial home schooling.

What Is An Intelligent Woman?

I wrote this article in 2008 and it was originally published in The Eleusis, the Alumna magazine for Chi Omega Sorority.

What is an intelligent woman? The answer depends on whom you ask and at what time in her life. I had many assumptions about my future when I was a Chi Omega at Ohio Wesleyan: become an elementary school teacher, marry, have children, and be a school principal while raising my family. My plans started well, but unexpected circumstances made my path less direct. Life is a journey and sometimes you change your mind about what you really want to do as you experience more of it. For intelligent women, as for anyone really, life is more satisfying when we get to follow our passions and use our abilities to their best. Whatever our intellectual profile, we are at our smartest when we do what we were designed to do.

Amanda Ripley's "The Smartest Kids in the World and how they got that way" - what do I think of it?

I recently read Amanda Ripley's "The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way" and was glad someone did this work. Yes, I knew that advocates for gifted children or advocates for teachers' unions would get their hackles up over many of the points that Ripley made. They might say that clearly she doesn't "understand" the needs of gifted children, blah-blah-blah. Clearly she doesn't understand how "unfair" it would be to keep "normal" people (i.e., those who weren't the best students themselves) out of teaching with her observation that schools must have the smartest and best trained teachers from the population if their students are to do well, become smart (i.e., live and learn up to their potential).

Is Your Grandchild Maybe Gifted? How Can You Tell?

Many grandparents start to wonder if their grandchildren are unusually smart and if there's any way they can support the parents' nurture and handling of the blossoming child. It's likely that if both parents are pretty darned smart, their children will be, too. There is a strong genetic influence, after all! But, sitting down and doing school work before you start school, doesn't necessarily point to a future genius. But, figuring out what kinds of schooling and talent support a young child needs can go a long way toward facilitating the child's growth into all he or she can be. And grandparents can play a significant role in enabling that to happen.

Be proactive for your child

By 1st grade, the typical same-aged mixed-ability public school classroom already has 12 grade equivalencies of achievement in it!

Where does YOUR child fit that picture?

How might "waiting to learn" affect your child's achievement, motivation, behavior, and self-concept?

Find out today!

Gifted Children Online Assessment Tool Now Available

Parents gain the confidence to be strong advocates for their child's educational and emotional needs.

TalentIgniter announces the availability of their new online assessment tool, the Ruf Estimates™ Kids IQ Test. For the first time, parents who want to make sure they’re choosing the best, most appropriate school environment for their children can, in the privacy of their own home, affordably discover this information while their children are still eager for the school experience.

“At TalentIgniter, our primary goal is educating parents of young children so they can make the best educational choices for their children from the very start. Parents gain the confidence to be strong advocates for their child’s educational and emotional needs,” says founder, Deborah Ruf, Ph.D. “Ascertaining the right educational fit ultimately ignites a child’s genius and creativity.”

What is the Ruf Estimates™ Kids IQ Test?

  1. It is an online survey, filled out by parents, based on early behavioral milestones and interests.
  2. It provides an estimate of the child’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses, a specific estimate of the child’s IQ range and what this means, and detailed feedback and additional resources for this particular child.
  3. Feedback results are divided into 13 different estimated IQ and academic ability ranges that progress from [this child is] Average for his or her age group through bright, moderately gifted and the highest Levels that are described by Ruf’s 5 Levels of Gifted article.
  4. It is appropriate for any child six years and older whose parents have kept good records or have good memories for their child’s early milestones. In the case of children who are clearly exceptionally intellectually advanced, parents can complete the survey for a child as young as age three.

For further information on the details of the assessment tool and the research behind the Ruf Estimates™ please visit our FAQs page.

Customer Testimonial

We strongly believe that Dr. Ruf has given parents the key to the proverbial gifted door with Ruf Estimates™ of Levels of Gifted Assessment. This assessment is the perfect launching point for all parents who suspect that their child might be gifted. Not only does it clearly define an intellectual range compared to age peers, it provides the essential information for what to actually do with a child in that range. The tailored information, guidance and recommendations given are fundamental to making informed parenting and educational decisions for the gifted child.

-Kristin & Ryan Parker

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