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First Grade: Ready or Not? (page 3)

— Iowa State University Extension
Updated on Sep 29, 2009

Assessing Your Child

You know your child best. Your child's teacher, counselor, pediatrician or child psychologist knows about children and the school setting. Together, you can discuss and evaluate what will benefit your child.

If you are concerned about whether your child is ready for first grade, ask for additional information from the school counselor and classroom teacher. More serious concerns may be addressed by having your child evaluated. This is not a test your child will pass or fail. It is an assessment of your child's development. It simply gives you more information.

An evaluation will assess readiness skills and behavior such as language, independence, impulse control, interpersonal skills, experiential background, and physical and mental health. These items are important for finding success in school. Each child's progress should be assessed primarily through observation and recording at regular times, and reported to parents in written or oral comments.

Ask for extra support your child may need to develop skills. Some children may lag behind in kindergarten and then move ahead by second grade. Children need to be supported during each stage of their development and encouraged to grow.

Children progress at their own rates, and each child is unique. Parents and schools guide this process. An evaluation done by school or private professionals will give you information that will help you support your child's individual needs.

Supporting Your Child

At this age there is a very wide range of social and academic skills as well as emotional maturity. Avoid comparing children. Susie may be ahead of most when entering kindergarten, may lag behind when entering first grade and may move ahead again when entering second grade.

The challenge for schools and parents is to provide experiences that will meet the needs of the children instead of waiting for children to meet the pre-determined standards of the curriculum. For education to have a positive, long-range impact on a child's life, parents and teachers must work as a team in the best interest of the child. A quality program recognizes that parents, schools and the child are equal parts, each having something to give and learn from the others.

Parents can best support their child by providing a rich environment beyond the classroom, by keeping in regular contact with teachers and counselors as to their child's progress, and by attending conferences and workshops that assist them in understanding and relating with their chiId and with the school.

Most important, parents can respect their child's unique characteristics and capabilities. Children need to feel accepted and valued for who they are. Avoid sibling or friend comparisons that judge your child. Allow your child to progress at his or her own rate, and consistently support the child's efforts.

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