Prepping, and Testing, and Waiting – Oh My!

As you know by now, we are very, very happy it’s finally fall.  And while we do love all the weather changes that come with a new season, it’s also a lot more than that.

Fall really is a time of new beginnings – and that is something felt in all things.  Not just the crisp air or changing leaves or freshly sharpened pencils.  It’s a lovely time of settling in the city, when the frantic energy of the summer heat simmers into something softer, lighter, more peaceful.  It’s a time not only to reflect, but also to look forward to all the possibility of the future – particularly in the education of our little ones.  Yes, this is the season of beginnings and change – and some of that starts with choosing the perfect preschool or kindergarten for your child.

The admissions process for preschool and kindergarten has gotten more and more involved over the years.  It has become more competitive, and with that, it has become imperative for children to hone their skills earlier and to their fullest extent.  This is particularly true if you are a parent looking to prepare your little ones for any readiness exams.  The most common readiness exam in the New York City education system is the Gifted and Talented, or G&T, which is used in public schools.  Other exams, such as the test administered for Hunter acceptance, are used for private school admissions.  These days, many schools use their own modes of assessment to gauge a child’s readiness and abilities, while still focusing on a similar category of concepts.

The main goal of these programs is to provide a challenging academic environment for children of particular skill.  The accelerated curriculum ensures that children are completing work that is age appropriate while also testing their abilities and nudging them to new scholastic heights.  The entrance exams, administered in the year preceding kindergarten, introduce and test on certain concepts to decipher a child’s aptitude.  Examples of question topics include colors, shapes, math concepts, analogies, spatial reasoning, social awareness, etc.

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We have worked with many children over the years, helping to prepare them for these exams and beyond.  Because of this, we wanted to share some tips we have found very useful in prep sessions.

  • Be sure to talk to your little ones about the process of taking a test and what that actually means.  This will be the first time they are in that type of environment, and it can often be overwhelming.  They may be unsure or nervous, but giving them the insight and information they need prior to test time eases that anxiety.  If they are already in school, you can compare it to their time in class – how they didn’t know their teacher before starting, but now they’re happy and comfortable there!  This comparison gives them some common ground, and may make the situation less scary.
  • Ask your child open-ended questions to allow them to practice their attention to detail and providing in-depth answers.  Often, children are tempted to respond with a “yes” or a “no,” or to give short answers without much meat to them.  If they are paying attention to details early on, they will be able to apply the same skills and knowledge to the exam and with the instructor.
  • Expand their vocabulary!  These tests often incorporate language that children may not have been exposed to yet.  Some examples are: above, below, between, deep, shallow, wide, narrow, etc.  If they are aware of these prior to the G&T – particularly comparison words – they will be prepared come test time.
  • Incorporate educational games into their play time!  Matching games, flashcards, trivia, etc. are all very beneficial when it comes to expanding a child’s skill set.  These games also assist with increasing engagement and attention span, two crucial elements in test taking.
  • Make the day of the test a happy one – with a nice breakfast, ample rest, and a peaceful morning.  Their mood the day of the exam can often inform how well they do – nobody likes taking tests when they’re tired or hungry, after all.  Energy level and comfort are key – and usually all a child needs for smooth sailing.  And remember – children pick up on the energy and emotions of those around them.  If the caregiver is anxious or stressed, it will carry over into a child’s own feelings.  At the end of the day, worrying will only hinder your child’s performance – confidence is key! 

In addition to the test, many schools require a playdate and interview prior to acceptance.  Socialization is obviously very important in the early stages of a child’s development, and it comes into play during these sessions.  Part of Book Nook’s approach in terms of small group instruction is to assist with these types of scenarios.  If a child feels secure in an intimate environment, with a small selection of friends, they will be able to ease right into these playdates.  Additionally, if kids are exposed to groups of their peers early on, they will be more likely to communicate and interact comfortably, allowing for a smooth transition.

No matter if you plan on applying for a readiness exam for your little one, these skills are important as children progress on to kindergarten.  Often, after a child leaves preschool, they are overwhelmed.  Transitioning from a play-based curriculum to one that is fully academically focused and involved can be scary – but with the right preparation, we’re confident every child should do well and feel comfortable in their new setting.

We love answering questions and preparing parents and children alike for this next step.  If you are a parent with admissions questions or concerns, we’d be more than happy to answer them for you.  Email us at hello@booknooknyc.com today.  🙂

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