Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lĭt / uh / ruh / sē Äw / fĭs

School Readiness - Preparing Children for Kindergarten and Beyond: Information for Parents
Ensuring a healthy start. Promoting a bright future.

[ Also an Audio Version]
National Association of School Psychologists


Is your child ready to begin school?
Most adults remember kindergarten as a relaxed opportunity to learn the formal reading and math skills needed for first grade through guided play activities. However, because current public policy demands that schools meet higher standards, young children today often find themselves in increasingly rigorous academic programs beginning as early as kindergarten.


Beginning kindergarten students are now often expected to be ready to learn what was previously taught in first grade. Given these expectations, parents worry that their preschoolers may not have the preparation or maturity needed to succeed in today’s kindergarten programs.

School Readiness
The concept of school readiness typically refers to the child’s attainment of a certain set of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills needed to learn, work, and function successfully in school. Unfortunately, this common philosophy of “ready for school” places an undue burden on children by expecting them to meet the expectations of school.


A more constructive way to consider school readiness is to remove the expectations from the child and place those expectations onto the schools and the families. Young children have wide ranging needs and require support in preparing them for the high standards of learning they will face in elementary school.

Who Is Ready for Whom and When
States designate a specific, arbitrary cut-off date to create consistency in school entry practices. If a child reaches a certain age by the cut-off date (usually 5 for kindergarten and 6 for first grade), a child may begin school. However, cut-off dates vary considerably across states. In addition, age is not the best determinate or most accurate measure of how well a child will adjust to school. However, these policies are relatively fair because all students are treated equally.

Research about the relationship of school entry age to later school success suggests that children who do not meet the cut-off date and begin kindergarten do not suffer any harm in the long run.

It is difficult, though, to imagine that all entering kindergarten students will have similar skills and needs. Often school districts and communities hold kindergarten screening programs designed to help parents determine if their child is ready for school and to identify problems in development that might warrant attention or extra services. In spite of the kindergarten screening programs, young children are very difficult to evaluate accurately owing to their rapid development, short attention spans, and often inconsistent performance on demand. Children also may be entering the school system with, for instance, varying linguistic abilities, varying cultural heritages, and varying levels of both personal experience and cultural exposure.

In addition, because it is normal for children to learn different skills at different rates, it is inappropriate to judge school readiness based on a prescribed set of skills and abilities. While schools may reasonably expect that children enter kindergarten as active, curious, and eager learners, it is not reasonable to expect that all 5-year-olds have the same level of preparation needed to acquire early reading, math, and social skills, or have the same attention spans or motor dexterity. It is the school’s job to teach children at their own level and to meet each child’s needs, not the child’s job to meet the school’s expectations upon entry. School readiness should signify the need for educators to be ready for the child as much as it has come to signify the child’s need to be ready for the school.

Topics Covered:
- Characteristics of School Readiness
- Parent and Family Influences on School Readiness
- What Parents Can Do to Help Prepare Children for School
- Promoting Readiness to Read

- Ten Signs of a Great Preschool

Testing for kindergarten: simple strategies to help your child ace the tests for: public school placement, private school admissions, gifted program qualification
Karen Quinn - 1st Fireside, 2010
372.126 QUINN

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