By Coleen Lou and Dr. Bernice Kirzner
With the world of kindergarten changing so dramatically over the past several decades, parents have good reason to wonder where their child will be most successful: Kindergarten, pre-kindergarten or transitional kindergarten.
The kindergarten of the 1980’s is a world apart from the kindergarten of the 21st Century. Children today are expected to achieve at more advanced levels than ever before, and there is every indication that this trend will continue.
Universities have elevated their expectations in hopes of creating a cadre of graduates better prepared to meet the challenges of our global world. This necessitated the elevation of high school graduation standards, setting in motion the “trickle-down effect.” In order to meet entry expectations at each grade, the preceding grade needed to accelerate. The kindergarten which was once primarily a place to play, dance, sing and draw now emphasizes academics interspersed with purposeful play.
So, how do you know if your child is ready for this new world called “kindergarten” and, if the answer is yes, which type of kindergarten? Parents and educators must work together to ensure that children are socially and emotionally ready to learn and to embrace these new kindergarten expectations.
This necessitates matching children with learning environments that are aligned with each individual child’s developmental needs. In the Journal of Educational Researsch, early childhood education expert, Dr. Sandra Crosser said academices are only one aspect of school entrance. A child’s social, emotional and physical characteristics play a role too, she said.
The transitional kindergarten curriculum at The Epstein School is uniquely designed to meet the needs of the children in the program. There is a greater focus on the development of executive functioning skills, those pre-requisite skills that enable students to become successful learners.
In the end, whether a parent decides upon a traditional Kindergarten, another year in Pre-Kindergarten, or a Transitional Kindergarten, the main focus should be understanding the child’s developmental needs and identifying the best match.
Find a school that takes time to really get to know your child and your family. Strongly consider schools that have multiple options to offer your child. Talk to parents whose children are currently in the program or who were recently enrolled. Find out about the curriculum and how the school differentiates within the class for different children.
Bottom line - find the school that “feels” right to you; the one that you leave with that smile on your face that says, “I found the right place for my child”. That’s when you’ll know you’re giving your child the best gift of all!