When you first start to explore options for your child's education, you are evaluating schools on their strengths and abilities to best meet the needs of your child. When it comes time to apply, you realize that the school, in turn, will be evaluating your child. And there is the possibility of disappointment.
Just as you would never discourage an older child from trying out for something, you shouldn't be deterred. When it's time to make an application, a little bit of knowledge and preparation can ease your nerves, and you and your child can enter the admissions process in an exploratory frame of mind.
When our seniors apply to colleges, our counselors are quick to point out that "college acceptance is a match to be made, not a prize to be won."
What is a school looking for in an applicant?
Private school admissions can be the stuff of theater. How can a school assess the potential brilliance of a 4-year-old? By what standards will your child be judged? What are schools looking for? How can you help your child to be at his or her best on the day of the visit?
At our school, we often talk about our search for students who are “willing and able to do good work." This guiding mantra really applies to every grade as we seek students and families who will benefit from and contribute to our school community. We work hard to find those students who are eager, even among the youngest, who are 4-, 5-, and 6-years-old.
According to the book NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children, by Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson, 73% of the time when we test children younger than age 7, we’re wrong! What in the world does assessment at this age mean?
Our assessment process is similar to that of many independent schools across America. And we thought it would be helpful to demystify the process for families considering applying to an independent private school.
When we assess your child's Kindergarten readiness, we will present a set of tasks and accumulate some basic information about social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth to determine if he or she is ready to learn at our school.
In the heart of the admissions season, in January and February, we find that group sessions work well to reduce any stress or anxiety associated with assessment for our Kindergarten applicants and their families. Parents join administrators and teachers for coffee and to chat about the program while the kids are in the Kindergarten classrooms with teachers and counselors.
What happens on the day of the assessment?
Groups of 10-12 kids start out in a welcoming circle time with one of our Kindergarten teachers reading aloud. Then we group three to four children at three centers to evaluate letter and number recognition, fine motor skills (using the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of visual-motor integration) and writing/drawing/scissor skills. Some free play concludes the session as we observe kids and their ability to cooperate with peers and explore games during unstructured time.
Group assessments are conducted in January and February, and after that we evaluate each Kindergarten applicant individually in the Admissions Office. The downside is that we can’t evaluate in a group setting, but the upside is that we can administer the Bracken School Readiness Assessment, a great test for general school readiness.
We know and love kids, and we wrestle with the reality that they are dynamic, changing beings. Sometimes our best assessment practice misses, which is why we engage personally with our families to establish working partnerships over the course of the many years of their children's journey. Those conversations are important. We know children, but you know your child.
Many times, we follow up on our assessment with a trip to the student’s preschool so that we can observe the student in an environment that is more comfortable for him or her. We understand that kids are sometimes reluctant to leave mom or dad in a strange environment. Since children embrace routine, we want to give kids every chance to demonstrate their best tendencies in a comfortable and structured environment.
We love our time with these kids and enjoy time with parents as well as we get to know our next, newest class. As you seek out the best learning environment for your child, we hope that this helps you prepare for this exciting next step in your child's life.
If you are interested in getting more information about how Randolph can help your child start school in a challenging environment, or if you would still like a one-on-one assessment of your Kindegartener for the 2017/2018 school year, it's not too late. Click the button below to get started.