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March 05, 2009

The Importance of Early Childhood Screenings

I recently got another new student.  Surprisingly, she came from one our kindergarten classes at an elementary school just down the road.  I could sense from the principal and number of specialists I spoke to that school was not easy for Tyra.  The hope was that she could finish out the year in my two-hour a day, four day a week program and then repeat kindergarten next year. 


Throughout her first day, I noticed some typical first day behaviors.  She was exploring every inch of the classroom and pushing some behavioral boundaries.  But, all in all, she had a good and productive day.  She is learning to follow our rules and what her jobs are as a student in my class.  At the end of our time together she was amazed it had gone by so fast! 


What is interesting is that Tyra was five in July of last year.  Based on her birthday, she was eligible to start kindergarten this fall.  However, early on, her teachers were noticing that she was just not ready for an all-day, very cognitively based program. 


In reading through some of her records, I mentioned to a specialist, “Do you have a copy of her Early Childhood Screening records or any information on her opportunities for preschool or early learning?”  There was nothing.  This student has spent the last six months in a setting that is completely inappropriate for her.  Although she is five, she is developmentally, behaviorally and emotionally not ready for kindergarten.  This might have been discovered through a screening or family interview.  Our School Readiness program will hopefully be just what she needs.  She will have an opportunity to learn how to go to school, what the role of student and teacher is and how to be an active member of a community in addition to learning some basic skills that will help her lay a foundation for many years of academic achievement.   


I am puzzled that in a small school system like mine, not everyone knows just what early childhood education is all about or even where to access it.  I say this not to point fingers at those who are not in the know.  Rather, I hope to encourage those in the know to make sure to NEVER stop informing others about the great work that is done with 4- and 5-year-olds all over our nation. 



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