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Preschool to require IQ tests for students

Logan Koch-Michael, a BK Play teacher, at the current facility in Issaquah. - Gwen Davis photo
Logan Koch-Michael, a BK Play teacher, at the current facility in Issaquah.
— image credit: Gwen Davis photo

It will be unprecedented in Washington state: The first institution designed for young gifted students to require IQ testing from preschool applicants.

BK Play Academy for the Gifted, opening this coming fall in Bellevue, will help foster very young children (starting at age two and a half) who posses inherit intellectual talent and ability.

While many of the private gifted schools in the Seattle metropolitan area provide educational care for pre-kindergarten children (younger than five-years-old) BK Play will be the first to actually require IQ testing from all applicants.

“We saw a need for gifted programs,” said Dr. Meera Shin, the director of the school. “Our program will help fill the gap.”

The school, now in a professional center in Issaquah, has been catering towards children of different heritages, and has been providing instruction in three languages – Spanish, Korean and English.

Shin said that the program – which originated in 2001 in New York and New Jersey as an independent consulting service for the area’s public schools – primarily was to serve children for whom English was a second language. However, after moving to Issaquah and becoming a formal preschool program, Shin found that English-speaking children of high ability would better fit the school’s educational paradigm.

“When we first opened, we thought it would be for second language students more, but it didn’t happen that way,” Shin said, who is herself of foreign heritage.

Approximately 90 percent of students – of the 20-something children the school serves – speak English as a first language.

When BK Play transitions to a comprehensively gifted program in September, will the school keep its focus on foreign language? According to the administration, the answer is definitely yes. Students will continue to study Korean or Spanish – as well as engage in plenty of English-related activities.

BK Play Academy, for this coming fall, has received over 40 applications for fewer than 30 or so spots. Preschool students will attend two or three days a week; kindergarten will be full time; and the first- and second-grade program only will meet on Saturdays.

One of the teachers, Logan Koch-Michael, who instructs the Spanish-speaking classroom, said that the children are highly enjoyable, and that she looks forward to seeing them each day.

“All of the children are different,” Koch-Michael said. “Some are complicated because they are so gifted and are so young. For instance, one child is two and he acts like a five-year-old. His vocabulary is amazing. Sometimes I just look at the other teachers and I’m like ‘I can’t believe he’s talking like this!’”

The Davidson Institute, a 501(c)3 private operating foundation for gifted education, has added BK Play Academy for the Gifted to its list of Washington Gifted State Resources – along with the other gifted schools and programs in the area such as Seattle Country Day School, Open Window School and the gifted program at the public Lowell Elementary School.

BK Play does have plans for expansion. According to Shin, the school in the future may have two programs, one for gifted students and another for bilingual students, although no official decisions have been made so far. BK Play also, in coming years, may enroll more children.

“The school is very individualized, positive and supportive,” Koch-Michael said. “It’s a really, really fun place.”

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