We're still in the thick of the school year, but for those of us with a child in Pre-K (otherwise known as a 4s Preschool Program), it's already time to look ahead to the next one.
Some parents, of course, know exactly where their child will be going next fall. The neighborhood school is excellent, their child will be the right age, and that's about all there is to be said.
But other parents, many others, have a lot of questions about the big step into kindergarten. In some places, there may be several options to choose from: zoned school, charter schools, gifted and talented options, language-immersion programs, or private schools. And for some families, there are questions about age cut-offs, readiness and special needs. In other words, it's a complicated picture, and you're going to want some help.
That is when you should be able to turn to your preschool's director. One of the important roles of a preschool director is to guide their families through the process of "exmissions." Your job, therefore, is to make the most of this valuable resource that you have at your disposal. In most preschools, the director has seen scores of children through the kindergarten placement process, and knows what it means to find the "right fit" for a child. So if you haven't already, make an appointment with your director, and get ready to ask a lot of questions.
1. Do you think my child is ready for kindergarten? See here for thoughts on what it means to be "ready."
2. If my child has a birthday on the cusp of the age cut-off, should we consider "red-shirting"? See this article on the topic for a point of discussion.
3. As an educator, how do you assess my child's personality, skills and interests? What sort of elementary school environment do you think would be optimal for him/her?
4. Tell me your impression of the local elementary school options. Unbeknownst to you, your preschool director has probably visited most of the elementary schools in the area in preparation for just this question.
5. Should I tour more than one school? How many? What should I look for?
6. What is the process for applying to gifted and talented programs/charter schools/private schools? Get ready to take copious notes on this one.
7. How can I begin investigating the resources available for special needs kids at each school?
8. If my child will have to take any kind of pre-kindergarten test, how should I or should I not prepare him/her for the experience?
9. Can you walk me through the timeline for this process?
10. Can you put me in touch with other families who have children in the schools we are considering?
And a bonus question for extra credit:
11. When can we meet again? Because you will inevitably have a lot more questions once you begin the process.
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