Seven mom bloggers with children in preschool gathered on TheMotherhood with Karen Quinn, author of “Testing for Kindergarten,” to discuss the challenges of having a child tested and ways to prepare for the process.
Karen answered questions and provided tips to help parents with pre-K kids work with them to develop their minds and skills.
Keep reading for an information-packed Q&A with Karen Quinn. Thanks to Karen and all of the other hosts and participants in this enlightening conversation!!
What are some of your observations about kindergarten today?
These days, what used to be kindergarten is taught in pre-K. In most schools, the kindergarten curriculum is what used to be first grade!
Now kids are expected to start kindergarten knowing letters and numbers, writing their name, and doing things that I know I couldn’t do when I started first grade. The other sad thing about kindergarten curriculums these days is that play time is often taken away completely or reduced significantly. Children learn so many skills just through play.
What are kids tested for?
Some kids are tested for private school admissions, some kids for gifted program qualification, others are tested for placement in ability groups, which sounds like what happens where you are. With that, you want your child placed in the highest possible grouping for her capability, learning alongside equal or more able pupils. Kids placed in slow groups are taught at a slower pace with simpler lessons and they learn less in the school year. Their self-esteem can suffer. You want to help your child move out of the slow group if you possibly can.
How can I prepare my child for kindergarten?
Here are three of my favorite tips to get a child ready for kindergarten:
• To build your child’s fine motor skills, have him draw and color. If he’s still gripping his crayon with his fist at age 4, break the crayon in half. That’ll force him to hold it with a mature pencil grip. Testers always note how your child holds his pencil.
• Here’s a tip for building your child’s language skills. Talk to him all the time about everything and anything. Even when he’s a baby and can’t talk back. Children who grow up in high language households have IQ scores that are 38 points higher than kids brought up in low language homes.
• Your child will have to know shapes for any kindergarten test. Shapes matter because they are the basis of letters and numbers. An 8 is two circles. A “V” is part of a triangle. What can you do? Read shape concept-books. Work with shape puzzles. Draw shapes. Triangles are the hardest for kids to master. To help, teach him to draw 3 dots and connect them.
My child is very shy. How can he be tested if he won’t open up?
Some kids have a hard time “warming up” in admissions situations. If your child is in preschool now, he may be more talkative a year from now, after he has more experience interacting with teachers. If he is still very shy, let the admission directors/testers know before you go for interviews/testing. They might make accommodations to help him succeed, like allowing you to stay in the corner so he feels safe. Some schools will visit the preschool and observe him in the setting he’s most comfortable with, plus they will talk to his preschool director to learn more about him.
Another thing you might do is to prepare him for what is going to happen. Walk by the first school where he’ll interview a day or two before. Talk about what will happen and maybe even play-act it out. After he’s had one comfortable visit under his belt, he might “warm up” more easily.
What is your book about?
In the book, I talk about the 7 abilities kids need to be ready for testing and kindergarten. Here’s a link to an article on my blog about the 7 abilities.
The 7 abilities are: language, knowledge, memory, math, spatial reasoning, thinking and fine-motor skills.
If you can just get your arms around them, you’ll naturally start doing all the right things in your interactions with your child and it won’t take extra time.
There are many ways to be intelligent in this world. There’s athletic intelligence, artistic intelligence, creative intelligence. But these 7 abilities that I talk about make up what I would call school intelligence. And you cannot get through the American school system today without having these 7 abilities in place. If your child is deficient in just one, she will struggle.
What are some resources I can use to help my child prepare for getting tested?
If you’ll check out my website, http://testingforkindergarten.com, I give free daily tips for getting a child in preschool ready for kindergarten and testing. You’ll enjoy doing these and they are free!
If you go to this page, I’ve listed the 20 products I recommend most to prepare a preschool child for kindergarten. My book, Testing For Kindergarten, also has lots of ideas and activities.
Another wonderful resource to teach children reading is http://www.readingkingdom.com/ – I love that site!
The FABULOUS mom bloggers who co-hosted the Talk were:
And a special thanks to Doug Morse, who also contributed to the discussion and recently made a docu-drama called The Kindergarten Shuffle, about navigating the process of applying to public and private schools. See more here: http://kindergartenshuffle.com/
See the original Talk here: http://tmotherhood.wpengine.com/talk/show/id/62043