Kindergarten Assessment Helps Teachers Prepare for Students
Question: I am trying to get information about what my daughter needs to know for the kindergarten assessment this fall. When I asked her current preschool teacher, the answer was, “Don’t worry, she is ready.” I wasn’t satisfied with that answer so I went to the local public elementary school where the testing is done. The person I talked to said the only thing my daughter needed to do was to meet the age criteria. Do you have any ideas about how I can prepare my child for the upcoming assessment? — Anxious Answer: Relax! You have the reassurance of your daughter’s preschool teacher that your child is ready for kindergarten. This assessment is not to decide if your daughter can or cannot enter the public kindergarten. Meeting the age criteria seems to be all that is necessary. The assessment test will give the educators a picture of what your daughter and the other entering students already know so the proper curriculum can be planned. More importantly, the assessment will discover if any of the students have significant weaknesses that need to be addressed right away so learning can occur. What’s on the assessment test is not as important as having your child feel comfortable about the testing situation. This is not going to happen if you are continually trying to find out the specific test questions so you can drill your daughter on them. What would be nice to know is how the test will be administered so you can tell your child what to expect. Question: My children’s elementary school is not a winner. The classes are overcrowded, achievement scores are below average, and there are many discipline problems. I never thought that I’d do this, but I am thinking of transferring them to a private school. But I have heard that tuition is outrageously expensive. Is this true? – Transferring Answer: It can be almost as expensive to go to a private elementary school as an Ivy League college. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the median tuition for their member schools was close to $14,000 for grades 1 to 3, $15,000 for grades 6 to 8, and $16,000 for grades 9 to 12 just three years ago. And it’s probably higher now since tuition usually goes up each year. Fortunately, many private schools do offer financial help — available even to middle class families. You need to understand that not all private schools charge high tuitions. Call several in your area to discover what you are likely to pay. Plus, 85 percent of all private schools are affiliated with religions. Their tuition is likely to be much lower than that of very exclusive private schools. In addition, there are free charter schools that offer alternatives to enrolling in the typical public school. If your children’s schools are starting soon, there are several things you can do to make the school year start out smoothly for them. Here are a few suggestions: Preschool – Your children need to be toilet-trained. – Your children need to know how to sit quietly. Library story hours can help them practice this skill. Kindergarten – Make sure your children have visited the school they will be attending so they will be familiar with the physical layout. – Read books about going to school so your children know what to expect. Elementary School – Select with your children their fall activities. Make sure there is plenty of time left for play and homework. – Establish what the morning routine at home will be. Middle School – Agree with your children to a homework contract that spells out all the details about doing homework. – Make sure your children will be taking courses that will lead to the future they want. Parents can send questions to DearTeacher@excite.com.