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Cherry Hills Christian School

Kindergarten Readiness: Gesell Institute of Child Development

by | Dec 14, 2020 | The Lower School, The Preschool

The Gesell Institute of Child Development has created a comprehensive, developmental observation tool that helps school administrators determine kindergarten readiness. Cherry Hills Christian uses this resource, along with several others, to partner with families while determining appropriate placement in our Lower School Kindergarten program.

Why is it important to understand that all children are individuals?

No two children are alike. Even those of the same age in the same family differ remarkably from one another, each experiencing growth and development in a unique way, at an individualized pace. Many important factors contribute to a child’s individuality including his or her developmental pace, heredity, temperament, intelligence, health, as well as cultural and environmental influences. These all affect the way he or she grows and learns. When parents, teachers, and others view and respect each child as an individual with unique abilities, competencies and needs, they can better support healthy growth & development.

What can I do to speed up or enhance my child’s development?

Your role and responsibility in your child’s growth and development is very important. First realize, however, that developmental growth and learning, while not automatic, is a natural process that proceeds at different rates in different children. Certain developmental skills are typically achieved within a range of ages but not according to a rigid schedule or timetable. A child may be anywhere within that range.

A child should not be pushed to develop more quickly – development is a fluid process that cannot be rushed.

Experiences can enhance development but cannot speed up a child’s rate of growth. Regardless, you can and should engage your child in a large variety of enriching and meaningful experiences that enable him or her to grow more fully in skill and confidence, within his or her own developmental stage. Positive early experiences are critical for brain development, helping to prepare a child for better learning at later ages.

Should my child repeat PreK?

Research has shown that retention after Grade 1 results in no significant academic gains for children. What this tells us is that retaining a child due to concerns over academic failure later in the school career will not usually produce the desired results of “catching up” and succeeding in school. On the other hand, children who are not developmentally on the same level as their chronological peers may benefit by an extra year of preschool, Kindergarten, or first grade; depending on the circumstances, the individual child and school environment.

While we do not suggest that waiting a year before entering Kindergarten or retaining a child in any grade is the best solution for all children, and we recognize that this simply is not an option for many families, particularly those without access to quality preschool settings, it may be a viable option for some children and in some schools. In certain cases, waiting a year may “level out the playing field” so that development can catch up with chronological age, or age and development can catch up with the school’s expectations.

It is important to understand that parents should be fully involved in the decision of whether or not to retain a child and have every right to be involved in that decision. Academic differences in the classroom can be accommodated in school much more easily than wide differences in developmental stage, but both can be addressed in the ideal setting with ideal resources and supports.

If you are concerned about a recommendation to retain your child, talk to your child’s teachers, express your concerns, and know that you are your child’s first – and best – advocate.

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