Kindergarten students across the state are packing their book bags and smiling for first-day photos as they get ready to enter elementary school for the first time.
For Westlake City Schools students, school is already in session.
In Ohio, kindergarten students are given the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment-Literacy test, or KRA-L, to help teachers identify each student’s early reading skills. These tests are not the pass or fail type, and how well a school performs does not impact its state report card. The assessments for the 2010-2011 school year can be found above by district. The tests are used to help teachers know which students need more help and which are a bit ahead of the curve and need extra enrichment opportunities.
To see how well your student’s elementary school did on the state report card last year, check out this database.
The Ohio Department of Education has a kindergarten readiness checklist on its website with suggested physical, emotional and social skills to work on, along with ideas for activities that will help children develop those skills.
Here are some additional tips from local administrators and teachers:
- Julie Troman, principal at Kent’s Holden School, said parents can really help students by remembering to model behaviors and point out learning opportunities in daily life. This may include counting plates and silverware out loud as parents are setting the table for dinner or highlighting what letters are on a sign.
- Reading to children is key, Troman said. Even if children can’t read on their own yet, repeatedly hearing stories helps them make the text-to-sound connection and realize that the words on the pages are the same as the words being said.
- Carla Calevich, the director of curriculum and instruction for Brecksville-Broadview Heights, said one of the most important steps is to help children get ready for being apart from their parents. Children with experience in daycare or preschool may be used to it, but for those whom kindergarten is the first time away, there may be an adjustment period. Troman suggested talking to students about how exciting school can be.
- Calevich suggested parents help students work on basic skills—like using a pencil and scissors and buttoning and zipping their clothes—as well as practice following directions.
- And parents shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to the school with any concerns, before or after school starts. “You don’t ever get another first day of school,” Troman said.
- Lisa Evans, a kindergarten teacher at Gearity Professional Development School in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, also suggested that students come in knowing basic skills like how to zip up their jackets and get their backpacks ready. She also said students should learn how to write their own names before school starts.
- Evans added that if students seem afraid of the first day of school, parents can leave a photograph of the family in their backpack or another comforting item to help them through. Evans also reads The Kissing Hand during the first day of school. In the book, the mother raccoon kisses her son's palm during his first day of school so that he can take that kiss with him for comfort.
*The information in the above database can be found on the Ohio Department of Education's website.