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July 07, 2009


We signed Brenna up for pubic kindergarten in WA and while there was no real testing, there were tables set up all over the gym. We went from table to table, filling out papers, answering questions, etc. At one point, a teacher showed Brenna a list of the letters of the alphabet and asked her to identify them. She also had her identify colors and numbers. That was about it.

What I would say to you is that most Kindergarten teachers are wonderful. They KNOW kids are coming in with a wide range of knowledge, and that this fact means absolutely nothing in the long run. They know it, because they work with it every year. Chances are your son will be assessed by the teacher within the first few weeks of school, in more depth and detail, so he/she can see exactly where he is at and what he needs.

The first time Brenna took a test to identify letters, she failed miserably, because the letters were written in a fancy font that she had no encountered before. Just like this one, actually, with the funny "a" and "g".

Can you call the district tomorrow and ask them exactly what the assessment is? Then you could google it.

Oh a can of worms! My daugther went to K last year and is a January baby, although I wasn't jumping up and down with joy, I knew she was more than ready and she has absolutely flourished and loved it. My son on the other hand will be 5 at the end of August and will be starting this year. Like you, I do not question his academic ability, I believe he's probably above average in this area. However his focus and fine motor skills are areas of concern to me. There are no assessments in our school as such, but as siblings usually have the same kindergarten teacher, I am reassured that I already have a good relationship with his future teacher. Luckily she's what I would term as old school, in her late 40s and pretty laissez faire, especially when it comes to boys. Her main aim is just to get them used to the school environment, a kind of transitionary year from home to school with a bit of learning added in. Knowing all this makes me much more comfortable + sending a second child in many ways is less daunting. Grade one is bit more challenging. I guess what I'm saying in a long winded way is, when the time comes, really take time to build up a relationship with your son's teacher so you can get a more rounded view, and, hard as it may sound, try not to let the whole thing affect your summer. I know I had a knot in the pit of my stomach for months.

Take care.

I wish we could go back to the days when kindergarten was a safe, fun place for kids to explore and get comfortable with the idea of school, not to cram information into their untainted little minds. I'm wondering, how "average" is defined on those assessments? Is it like in college physics where a grade of 65 is considered an "A" since the test is so outrageous that nobody can possibly get 102? Cuz, you know, they gotta make room for the occasional child prodigy that is reading the Iliad before they're walking ;-)

You've hit on one of the many many many reasons we homeschool ~ and have for 17 years (5 kids aged 22-6).

I am an elementary school teacher, though never below 2nd grade so I am not an expert in kindergarten readiness by any means. It seems to me that to ask a parent to teach their children letters, letter sounds and sight words BEFORE they get to kindergarten is ridiculous. Isn't that what they are supposed to learn IN kindergarten? I currently teach 4th grade. That would be like me expecting students to know all their multiplication facts by the time they enter 4th grade, when in fact mastery of all multiplication facts is a skill you need to master by the END of 4th grade.

As a teacher it makes sense to me to assess students so that you can meet their needs. You can't teach them at their level if you don't know what skills they have in place. But to imply that a student is "behind" and needs to work on skills that are supposed to be taught the following year makes no sense to me at all.

We don't have assessments at our school, but my son has a bday in late August and he started kindergarten just fine even though he couldn't read yet. We didn't push him to read much and I don't think he really was ready when he started. He could read words and such but didn't show much interest to do it himself. I think your son will do just fine! Ignore the numbers. Just focus on him being well adjusted and just being a "Kindergartner" and he'll flourish! It sounds like he's already doing well!

we don't have anything like it in norway. they go from daycare (what we call kindergarten) to first grade the year they turn six, and learn how to write, read etc during that year. no one 'rates' them like you describe. in waldorf schools, they don't start practice reading etc until second grade. they all grow up to read and write in the end - what's the hurry? :)

Assessments? BEFORE freakin' school starts? That is crap. PERIOD.

Let's talk about the Education Blog, ok?!!!

I have a similar dilemma looming. Here in the UK kids can now start school a year earlier than they used to. This means that Nipper will only just have turned 4 when he can start school. That seems far too young to me and I'm more concerned whether he can dress himself and get his shoes on than whether he can read and write! I'm not sure what we'll be doing but I'm finding your reports on how you are getting on really interesting.

It's all numbers, one-size-fits-all testing, and bureaucratic silliness. I think you're really smart to be tuned in to his overall readiness instead. Such an exciting time! How is he feeling about school? Even education experts are aware of how much outside of the classroom (not to mention testing room) is important for development... don't let the school being OCD about numbers discourage you or him. :)

I wouldn't worry about it. I'm a teacher, too. We have to assess to know where to start with each child, but the assessments are not the end all be all. I can't tell you why they're assessing them in the summer, though. I'm sure it's not all that accurate. It's probably more to appease the kind of parents who are all about pushing they're so-called brilliant children. You know, the ones who want to be assured that their 5 year old will be challenged at all moments of his day and won't be wasting his time playing. God forbid the 5 year olds get to play during their day. Anyway, I think that what makes a great kinder classroom is a teacher who is sweet and funny, who uses real literature to teach reading (not just the letter of the week), and who allows for movement in her classroom (singing, dancing, playing at centers). Most likely he will love it. Good luck!

I'm a teacher too and don't like kinder assessments. First I don't feel someone can meet a child for 20 min. and know a child that well. I assess all my children but I spend all day with them. My other problem is that when you have girls and boys together boys get the short end of the stick. Do to nature kinder most schools are designed for girls to be successful this changed in the push for equality and our lost socity is the male child. Second how can you judge a 4 year old who won't turn 5 until after school starts with a child who has been 5 for 3 months. When I start my class off I put my children in order by their birthdays so that I can see who should be more mature and ready. I'm sorry that I didn't read this earlier but studies have shown that children who go in knowing nothing to kinder come out at the same level as students who go in knowing everything.

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