My Jakarta: Catherine Andrea, Preschool IQ Tester
Mark Vincent Sindhunata
Plenty of psychology majors get practical experience by working in the psych wards at hospitals or clinics, but not Catherine Andrea. Her love of children led her to a job as an IQ tester for preschoolers at the IPEKA Counseling Center.
Today, the 22-year-old Catherine talks to My Jakarta about what it’s like trying to get a bunch of preschoolers to sit down for an IQ test, tells us if she’s discovered any budding Einsteins and describes her future plans.
It’s hard enough just getting preschoolers to sit down, so how do you get them to finish an IQ test?
That’s why we use different formats. We can’t give them hundreds of questions to finish in a limited time or try to make them write down all their answers. All children love to play, so we use games and verbal questions to make them more excited about the test. And we test the children one at a time, so we can get a deeper look and a better idea of their IQ and psychological state.
So what made you decide to get into the business of giving IQ tests to preschoolers?
I choose preschoolers because I love kids. My love for kids keeps me passionate about the work, so I can communicate with them and stay patient since they are very active. Besides, testing preschoolers gives me something that I wouldn’t get if I were testing older people, which is personal contact. I can spend 120 minutes with the children, testing their IQ, learning their point of view, talents, psychological makeup, and I get the chance to help them. For a kid lover like myself, this really is a gift.
But come on, isn’t dealing with all those kids a little more bothersome?
Sure. Preschool students always do what they want, and all they want is to play. S o as an IQ tester, you have to create a fun atmosphere during the test so they wont get bored. If they do get bored they can’t answer the questions properly or worse, won’t even listen to you, so you won’t get a valid test result.
Whenever I have problems with naughty kids, I just remember my goal when I started this job. I’m here because I love children, and also because I want to become a good mother. Someday, I will have kids to handle and I will want the best for them. I want to become the kind of parent who not only understands my children’s problems, but can solve them. Every parent wants the best for their children after all.
Come across any interesting cases during your work?
It’s mostly just preschoolers with concentration problems. These kids at first will sit down and answer my questions and listen to what I say. But as time passes, they start to lose focus, playing with their nails and looking around, then several minutes later you will find them running around and doing whatever they want, forgetting about the test entirely.
What constitutes a failure with these kinds of tests?
When I was doing the tests at a school in North Jakarta, I encountered a kid who had imagination problems. When I asked her to tell me about her family, she told me that she had 10 brothers and 10 sisters. I quickly saw that there was something different with her. I tried to explore further and repeated my question about her siblings, and she said that she had 20 brothers and 20 sisters. In the end, I concluded that she was feeling very lonely because her parents were so busy with work so she made up all these brothers and sisters so she could play with them. In this unique case, I couldn’t got any proper data from the test. That test failed, but I learned a very good lesson: Spending time with your children is very important.
What about parents who disagree with the test results?
I’ve never had any complaints from parents. Actually, IQ testers never have direct contact with parents. Our reports on the results only go to the teachers. If parents want to ask questions or complain, they can go to the teacher and ask for an explanation. If there is an error in the test, the parents can complain to my institution. Fortunately, though, that has never happened.
You must love kids a lot to do this? What are your plans for the future?
I would like to build a school for them or become a child psychologist. I want to help them have a better childhood and a better future by helping parents understand what children really need. Attention from parents is really important for children.
Catherine Andrea was talking to Mark Vincent Sindhunata.