I just found out that my child would need to take a test to get into the school we want her to go to next year. What should we do to help her prepare?
The tests you are referring to are readiness tests, and they are used for class placement and curriculum planning.
Readiness tests focus on a child’s current skills. The results are a snapshot of your child. And unfortunately, the picture can be blurry.
The debate about school readiness has been ongoing, even before 1989, when President Bush’s Goals 2000 made the No. 1 goal: “All children in America will start school ready to learn.” At the present time, it is still unclear what “being ready” means. Some authorities say that readiness in one city or state may be different than in another.
Even parents and teachers will disagree on what it means to be ready to learn. Most parents assume that readiness means academic skills such as knowing letters, colors and numbers. Teachers describe readiness as a disposition to cooperate with other children and an eagerness to know.
Here are some of the problems of testing a young child:
It places the burden of showing what you know onto the child
It tests only a narrow band of skills and ignores many others
It assumes the child must get ready for school, rather than the other way around
I would suggest that the most important thing is what you don’t do. Do not make your child feel pressure in any way. She is too young to understand the implications, and the damage that could result is devastating. Rather, make sure that she is well rested and has had a good meal.
No matter what the results, you should know that these tests are not predictions about your child’s future success in school.
Many schools are taking a holistic approach to entrance by asking parents to collect samples of artwork and a list of favorite books, and by conducting informal interviews with the parents and the child. Let’s hope this is a trend that will catch hold for all schools.
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