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Kindergarten is significant milestone in a child’s life

By KEN MOORE • Mar 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Kindergarten is a significant milestone in a child’s life. It marks the beginning of a child’s formal schooling, an educational process that will continue through the next 13 years and into his/her adult life.

Kindergarten elicits a variety of emotions. There is excitement as your child goes off to school for the first time, but there is also anxiety as you wonder how he / she will like this new experience.

This experience begins even before the first day of school; it begins at kindergarten screening. The registration processes starts by parents selecting a screening time through visiting the Norwalk City Schools web page, www.norwalktruckers.net. This is an online scheduling tool to register students for screening. This allows our parents the flexibility and ease of scheduling their child’s appointment at their convenience. An email confirming the appointment time is sent once the parent has submitted an email address. Within the email parents are asked to bring the following information to the screening appointment: a copy of the child’s birth certificate, up to date immunization record, proof of residency paper and custody papers if applicable.

Once arriving at the appointed time, parents are given an informational packet containing enrollment forms, transportation information, summer enrichment topics, handwriting scripts, and other curriculum informational material to complete while their child is welcomed by a teacher. Once students feel comfortable, they are escorted to the screening center by one of our kindergarten staff.

In the screening classroom students will attend five stations. Three stations will be managed by three of our kindergarten teachers; while in the fourth station students will have their vision assessed by a nurse from the Huron County health department. The child’s hearing will be screen by our speech pathologist during the fifth and final station.

The assessment screening tool our kindergarten teachers will be using is the DIAL 4 (Development Indicators for the Assessment of Learning, fourth edition). This instrument is an individually administered developmental screening test designed to identify young children who need further testing or who need help with academic skills. The Dial-4 examines three major areas in early developmental learning: Motor, concepts and language. Motor skills assessed include activities such as jumping, hopping, cutting, and copying. Conceptual areas may vary from identifying body parts, colors, counting, concepts (big/ little) and shapes. While the language section documents articulation, letters and letter sounds, rhyming, and problem solving.

Many questions arise for parents prior to and subsequently following the screening of their child. Several frequently asked questions are listed below.

What is the age requirement to enter kindergarten? Norwalk City Schools has adopted the policy that students must be 5 years of age on or before Aug. 1 as the date by which a child is to be admitted to kindergarten.

For what purpose does the school use this information? A child’s screening and assessment data cannot be used to determine eligibility to enter kindergarten. The only criterion for entrance into kindergarten is age eligibility. By Nov. 1 of the school year in which a child is enrolled for the first time, the child must be screened for vision, hearing, speech and communication, medical problems and any developmental disorders. If the screening reveals the possibility of potential learning needs, the district must provide further assessment. Schools must note that screenings are not intended to diagnose educational disability or to be used for placement procedures. Screening results are helpful in identifying areas of individual development that require further assessment for educational programming, particularly for students who might benefit from early intervention, prevention, acceleration and/or enrichment programs.

Is there something my child should be doing to prepare for the screening? The screening process provides a means for sampling skills and knowledge that are developmentally appropriate for young children and can be easily demonstrated or observed when mastered. Because the screening is intended to capture a glimpse of your child’s genuine development prior to entering kindergarten, drilling or practicing specific skills in isolation for the purpose of improving the screening score will not enhance your child’s overall performance in a meaningful way and is likely to cause undue anxiety or apprehension. The objective of screening is best met when educators can accurately gauge your child’s present development as a basis for providing the most responsive educational program possible.

The kindergarten screening dates are as follows: April 10 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., April 12 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Norwalk High School LGI center and from 4 to 7 p.m. April 19 and 26 at Maplehurst Elementary. We also will have a screening date in August before school starts that is yet to be determined.

We look forward to the coming school year with excitement and anticipation of a great beginning. Norwalk City Schools and Maplehurst Elementary are committed to making your child’s kindergarten year a happy and successful experience.

Local columnist Ken Moore is the principal at Maplehurst Elementary.

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