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Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?


by Barbara L. Ekelman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?
Kindergarten is the start of a child’s formal education. It sets the stage not only for later academic success, but also for self-esteem, learning, and peer relations. Age eligibility is only one factor to consider when determining whether your child is ready for kindergarten. You should also know how well your child listens and understands, expresses ideas, communicates with peers, and learns and retains new concepts.

The WELL screening is an online animated assessment that identifies strengths and weaknesses in skill areas essential for kindergarten success. It was developed by a team of highly-qualified speech-language pathologists along with an advisory committee of renowned learning specialists, researchers, pediatricians, teachers, and psychologists. This is the only online screening of its kind, and it was developed with parents in mind.

The parent scores the test online while the animated characters, Trip and Click, instruct and guide the child through the entire screening. It is a user friendly test that takes 20 minutes to complete. Children are usually unaware that skill areas are being assessed. They are captivated and entertained by Trip and Click and the underwater scenes. Designed to be taken at the end of preschool and during kindergarten, WELL can be used to assess kindergarten readiness and to monitor kindergarten growth.

Parents, educators, and health professionals will gain valuable information about the child’s language, attention, reading, math and social skills after the screening is completed. Results appear instantly detailing the child’s learning profile in easy to understand terms, along with links to Next Steps: games, learning materials, and help finding the right professional to consult in any skill area identified as a weakness to bolster.

Knowledge of what it takes for your child to “hit the ground running” when entering kindergarten is empowering for parents. You will know your child’s unique learning style. Your child will have strengths to celebrate, weaknesses to bolster, and skill areas that are acceptable and to be expected for a kindergartner. The following eight skill areas are vital for school success. These are the areas assessed by the WELL screening test.

RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE (Comprehension): Receptive language is what we do with information when we listen. It is how we understand what we hear. As we get older, it is how we understand what we read. Children with good receptive language skills understand a wide variety of vocabulary and are able to follow multiple step directions, simple and complex sentences, and story themes.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE (Formulation): Expressive language is what we do when we talk. It is how we share our ideas through speaking. As we get older, we use more complex sentences and vocabulary especially when writing. Children with good expressive language skills use a wide variety of vocabulary, simple and complex sentences, and are able to tell stories sequentially with detail and ease.

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION (Pragmatics): Social communication is what we do when we use language for different purposes, adapt or change language according to the needs of the listener, and follow rules for conversations and stories. Children with good social communication skills talk differently to their friends than to their teachers. They are sensitive to their listeners, take turns when communicating, and are tuned into nonverbal cues.

EARLY LITERACY (Phonological Awareness): Early Literacy is what we do when we learn skills that are necessary for reading. Children who are good with phonological awareness skills (rhyming, identifying beginning and ending sounds in words, blending, manipulating sounds in words, etc.) are the first to decode print.

READING (Decoding): Reading is what we do when we decode words. Children who are strong readers have good phonological awareness, word recognition, fluency, and receptive language skills

ATTENTION: Attention is what we do when we are able to stay focused, concentrate, inhibit, and sit still. Children with good attention skills are able to learn more easily, plan, organize, regulate behavior, and complete tasks on time.

MATH CALCULATION: Math calculation is what we do when we understand numbers and simple math facts and operations. Young children with good math calculation skills can count to 10, recognize math numbers, and do simple calculations with manipulatives.

ARTICULATION: Articulation is what we do when we use our oral structures to produce speech sounds. Children with good articulation are intelligible when they speak. Some speech sounds are acquired later than others.

Visit BolsterLearning for a 20 minute online assessment that will help identify your child's strengths and weaknesses. Once your child enters kindergarten, the screening profile should be shared with the teacher to help guide instruction in the classroom.

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