I just got back from a conference on testing for Kindergarten admissions and heard the criteria (also arguments for and against) for the various tests including our formidable NYC OLSAT, the local ERB’s WPPSI and the Stanford-Binet 5. I felt very proud of our achievements in the past two years in finding the right mix of materials to help children gain an understanding of these skills and prepare them to tackle the challenge they face to get into the best programs.
Imitation, the Sincerest Form of Flattery?
I hesitate to put too much information on my blog about this because a parent who was a client (Jan. 2009) opened a company a month ago to compete with me trying to copy every last detail of my business. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? I viewed her as a distraction until she decided to send out emails to parents (potential clients) slandering my business and me personally by saying the teacher sent to her home disappeared, among other dishonest statements. She is billing herself as the “only comprehensive” service for this type of prep, like it’s a carnival or something. Do people really fall for that? The fact is, she never complained to us or the teacher about anything because she received top rate service – she even tried to hire the teacher for her own company. Maybe they didn’t teach her this in her MBA program, but the courts take a dim view of her type of “marketing” and I have no doubt that this will very soon come back to haunt her.
What I learned at the conference:
Much of what we already knew. Many of the skills being measured are the same on these tests but presented/assessed in a different manner. They attempt to identify the cognitive level of understanding or development of the child and they assess the child through the concrete operational stages (i.e. seriation, classification, decentering, reversability, etc.). Most of the information the mind processes comes from memory. When faced with a new problem, the brain goes through its memory banks to find a solution in the same manner it solved a problem in the past. In short, preparing for these tests or any other tests helps the child’s brain to learn ways to solve the problems they will have to answer, if not in the test then in the classroom later in their educational life. The brain becomes wired with the new memory of the games and problems we solve in Play Prep and will use this memory. Never having this foundation in the memory puts one at a disadvantage.
Examples of Skills Assessed
Seriation : child must be able to sort objects according to size, shape or other characteristic.
Classification : child must name and identify sets of objects according to appearance, size or other characteristic. This will also include the idea that one set can include another (a mathematical concept that Singapore Math introduces).
Decentering : Child takes into account multiple aspects of a problem to solve it; wide cup vs. tall cup can hold the same amount of liquid.
Reversability : Child understands that numbers and objects can be changed then returned to original state ; If 4+4=8 then 8-4=4.
Conservation : Size, length or number of items are unrelated to the arrangement or appearance ; six large items are the same quantity as 6 small items or six checkers spread out over a large area are the same quantity as six checkers grouped together.
Elimination of Egocentrism : Child being able to view the world through another person’s perspective.
We have been working on these skills with our children and others for the last eight years through game play and workbooks. We have worked with an artist on newly designed matrices and sequencing. These are proprietary and we will not be selling them online. We are in this business because it is our passion – to prepare children for their journey into the world of education. The most important part of this process is to make their introduction a fun one, to develop a life long love of learning.
The NYC pre-K testing information meeting we held May 15th was a success, we had over 2 dozen families in attendance. We plan to hold another meeting in June on the evening of the 26th. The cost is $70, which you can apply to the Play Prep program, which would essentially make it free. We cover all of the information (timelines, etc.) you need to know to prepare for the ERB, Stanford-Binet and OLSAT testing.
See you there,