Kindergarten Readiness

Early Entrance into Kindergarten
A parent may request early admission to kindergarten if the child turns age 5 after the district’s kindergarten entrance date (August 1/Sept. 30) and before January 1.

Connor turns age 5 on September 3, 2016; the school district he will attend has chosen the August 1 cutoff date for entry into kindergarten.

We weren’t sure until recently whether we wanted to pursue early entrance into kindergarten, or let him be the oldest in his class. But he’s an early reader; he’s quite the problem-solver; plus, he’s tall for his age, anyway, so it’s not like he wouldn’t fit in. We decided to go for it and let the professionals decide.

We submitted the application for early admission last month; last week, we got the call to schedule an appointment with a school psychologist for Connor to go through the initial half-hour screening. Yesterday was the screening.

Since our appointment wasn’t until 9am, and it was only a five-minute drive from our house, we were able to enjoy an unusually chill morning. We both sat at the table and ate breakfast, talking to each other and playing on our tablet and phone, as if it were a weekend. I made sure Connor knew when we’d be leaving for the appointment, and gave him a five-minute warning (at which point he genuinely praised me for my clock-reading skills).

My timing, for once, was impeccable: five minutes to get us wrangled and into the car, about eight minutes to drive to the administration building, and a few minutes to get us into the building and announce ourselves to the secretary. Perfect timing. We had enough time for Connor to play with the toy school bus that was sitting atop the box of books in the waiting area (and to realize that the batteries were dead — missing, actually).

The psychologist came up and introduced herself as Maria, and shook each of our hands. Connor took that as a cue to show her his light-up Batman shoes. I was glad to see he wasn’t going to be all shy with her, but I hoped he’d be able to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

I took Connor’s coat and, as I’d expected, the two of them retreated into a small windowed room with the blinds drawn.

Waiting Area

I sat there in the waiting area for the next half hour, only gleaning bits and pieces of the conversation that was going on behind that closed door.

I heard him telling stories about our cat, Mei.

I heard him say (presumably about one of his answers), “I was just being silly.”

I heard her pointing out objects to him: “This? …This? …This?”

I heard him say, “This is like a puzzle!” and I heard her reply that, yes, it was, wasn’t it?

I heard her ask him what has a tail, is furry, and barks.

I heard her ask him what has a checkout desk, places to read, and rows of books. I cringed, because we haven’t taken him to a library yet. “A bookcase!” he answered, taking what he knew and applying it as best he could. That’s not fair, I thought. His own bookcase is overflowing with books of all levels, so we haven’t felt the need to borrow more.

I heard him ask her how many more pages they were going to do, and her reply that there was only one more after that one. I was proud of him for sticking it out and focusing for an entire half hour.

Then, finally, I saw some movement through the cracks in the blinds, and Connor reached for the door handle and opened it himself, then came over to give me a big hug.

The psychologist told me that Connor was “a hard worker,” which made me proud, of course — even more so because he has a tendency to do a big comic shrug and give up when he doesn’t want to figure something out. The fact that he applied himself to his “kindergarten test,” as he called it later, meant that he a.) understood how important it was, and b.) was mentally able to sit and concentrate on it.

The psychologist said that they’d be getting back to us with the results of the assessment once it was scored. We exchanged farewell pleasantries, and then I asked Connor if he was ready to go to school — meaning his pre-k classroom. He responded with, “I can’t wait to ride the school bus!” At which point the psychologist told me that Connor had brought up how excited he was about the school bus several times during their interview. I’m not sure why he’s so excited about the school bus, apart from the kids at pre-k doing a sing-song “School bus! School bus!” whenever they see one drive up.

We said our goodbyes — again — and then Connor saw the dual drinking fountains. One short, one tall — and the short one was just his size without a stepstool! He wanted to go have both of us drink at the same time, of course. He started his fountain, and as I started mine, the height of his fountain went down, as those kinds of fountains tend to do. Teaching moment! I explained to him how the two fountains were using the same water pipe, so when they both go at the same time, the streams are shorter than if one is going by itself.

Time for some experimentation, which I should have seen coming. I let him try it out a couple of times, then told him we needed to wrap it up — and realized that the psychologist was watching all this unfold. I swear, I wasn’t trying to show off, I wanted to say, but didn’t. Instead, on his last try with the water fountain, he shot himself in the nose with the stream of water on accident, and there I was laughing at him while he faced away from me. I had no idea how perplexed and upset he looked until the secretary offered him a tissue. Oops.

Finally, we got back to the car and headed to pre-k. I tried to get him to tell me what they talked about, and all he would say was, “Nothing! We didn’t talk about anything.” I asked him if they played games, and he replied that all they did was play games the whole time, actually.

Later on, he told me that she had him draw a couple of pictures, too — just people. Connor isn’t particularly gifted in the arts, and draws the standard circle body/head with arms and legs coming out of it. I knew that, some 30+ years ago, I had taken my own interviewer by surprise by drawing a neck and arms on my picture of myself, and I wondered if Connor’s stick figures meant anything either for or against his early entrance.

I know that the district is continuing to do assessments all this week, since it’s Spring Break and they have the resources available. I’m understandably anxious to get the results of Connor’s assessment back, though. On one hand, it’s not a huge deal, in the grand scheme of things — but, on the other hand, it will determine whether he’s the oldest or the youngest in his class, which will affect his interactions all through school.

He’ll be crushed if he doesn’t get to go to kindergarten this Fall… but, if it comes to that, we can spin it somehow. Plus, that would give him plenty of time to work on his reading aloud skills, so he can read to his kindergarten class like Mommy did.

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