As a follow-up to our story today on efforts
to promote learning among preschool children, I share with you
here the Washington
Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills. This
state-endorsed list (attached below) shows 22 skills that children
should have mostly under their belts by the time they finish
Children are assessed in the fall (by October 31) through
observation and looking at samples of students’ work. Schools that
receive state funding for all-day kindergarten are required to to
the WaKIDS assessment, which is used by teachers to figure out
where individual students need help and by state and local policy
makers, who study the aggregate data. Other schools can voluntarily
participate in WaKIDS.
The state is phasing in fully-funded, all-day kindergarten,
starting with the most impoverished schools. Because there are more
schools added each year, you can’t compare data from one year to
The assessment used by WaKIDS evaluates proficiency in 22 skills
in six areas of learning: social and emotional, physical, language
and cognitive development, literacy and math. Under
social-emotional, for example, one question asks if the student
“regulates own emotions and behaviors.” Under mathematics, you’ll
find, “explores and describes spatial relationships and shapes.”
Problem solving, the ability to carry on a conversation, identify
letters, sounds and words … there’s a lot on the list. And, experts
say, children entering kindergarten should have been working on
these skills long before they’re enrolled in public school.
On the Kitsap Sun’s Facebook link to our story, “Districts start
early to ready students for kindergarten,” there was a debate among
readers about whether this push for early acquisition of skills is
positive for children or just too much pressure.
While current policy on early childhood education (including the
value of all-day kindergarten) remains open to debate, the
importance of a richly stimulating environment during each
developmental stage has been well documented, including by the
Foundation, a Kennewick organization that hosts the national
Ready! for Kindergarten program. The program, in which South
Kitsap, Bremerton and Central Kitsap take part, educates parents on
ways to foster intellectual and social growth from birth on up.
data from the 2013-2014 school year shows that 80 percent of
the 38,443 kindergartners assessed already had physical skills that
are “widely expected” by the end of kindergarten. In literacy, too,
roughly 80 percent already had a good grasp. Social-emotional
confidence and cognitive skills had been mostly mastered by about
75 percent. About 70 percent had good proficiency in language
skills, but only 50 percent were end-of-kindergarten skilled in
One school official I talked to said kindergarten teachers must
address the needs of children with a wide range of skills, from
those who are able to do some things typical of an 8-year-old,
while others are struggling at a 3-year-old level.
Let me repeat that these are skills tested on children at the
beginning of the school year that experts say they should have
fully mastered by the end of kindergarten.
If you are the parent of a child entering kindergarten, you may
want to take a look at this list (below). The big take-away that I
heard from teachers and early childhood experts while researching
the story is that “each child develops at his or her own pace,” so
don’t panic if they’re not hitting it out of the park in all
categories. Read “Leo the Late Bloomer,” for a pick-me-up, if this
is the case.
Finally, I’d love to hear how you take advantage of
opportunities to foster learning in your preschooler, toddler or
infant… what they call those “teachable moments.”
P.S. This is a picture of my son Alex, who turns 30 on Friday,
proof that time flies. This photo is not available for copying or
reproduction. Thank you.
Share on Facebook