Considerations for Parents Contemplating Early Entrance
Whether or not to start a child’s school career early is an important decision. Families who are considering this option should consider a wide variety of factors before beginning the process. Because this decision can impact a child for the rest of his/her school career, it is important to seriously consider the following:
- Many families are choosing to send their students to school later. It is not uncommon for a kindergarten classroom to have many children who are already six. This means early entrance students can be younger than their classroom peers who are up to eighteen months older than they are.
- Children who enter kindergarten early may have social and emotional challenges related to the decreased amount of time they have had to develop these skills.
- As children age, early entrance students may hit puberty significantly later than those in the same grade.
- Early entrance students may be smaller in size which may be a factor for some students participating in athletics.
- Students entering kindergarten early may enter college earlier and with less time to develop academically and socially.
What does the research say?
- Children who have attended preschool are more likely to be better candidates for early entrance to kindergarten because they have already experienced a structured routine, learned to share adult attention with other children and developed group social skills. [Belin & Blank Center for Gifted Education]
- Early entrance and/or early reading is not a predictor of overall success in school.
- Accelerated students should be expected to achieve, relative to their new grade peers, at a high level. Such students are typically among the top 10 percent in a class, and they should be expected to remain in the top 10 percent throughout their academic careers. [Belin & Blank]
- Students should demonstrate academic skill levels that would place them in the upper range of students in the grade into which they would be accelerated. [Belin & Blank]
- Grade-schoolers who are among the oldest in their class have a distinct competitive learning edge over the youngest kids in their grade, scoring 4 to 12 percent higher on standardized math and science tests. Oldest middle-school students outperformed younger classmates by 2 to 9 percent, and high-school students who were among the oldest in their class were nearly 12 percent more likely to enroll in a four-year college or university. [Dhuey]
For questions about early entrance, contact:
Kindergarten Entrance Expectations
Partners for Student Success, a local organization whose mission is to unite the greater St. Cloud community in the collective pursuit of student success, identifies the following widely held expectations for kindergarten readiness. To be successful in kindergarten, children should meet most of these expectations before beginning school. These expectations are for all students entering kindergarten. Children entering kindergarten early have additional expectations that must be met.
Student Self-Help Skills
- Eats a mix of healthy foods
- Sleeps 10-11 hours per night
- Says full name
- Uses toilet without help
- Washes and dries own hands
- Blows nose, covers sneezes & cough
- Tells others what they need
- Puts on own shoes and coat
Language & Literacy Skills
- Likes books and being read to
- Knows that letters have sounds
- Knows rhymes and sings
- Shows interest in sounds and words
- Holds a book and turns pages
- Knows upper and lower case letters
- Knows words that rhyme and joins rhyming games
- Talks to kids and adults in full sentences
Small & Large Motor Skills
- Holds scissors correctly
- Cuts straight and curved lines with some skill
- Holds pencil, crayon and marker in the right way
- Writes name with only the first letter capital
- Catches and throws a ball
- Gallops and hops on one foot
Social & Emotional Skills
- Listens to adults and follows rules
- Keeps hands and feet to self
- Gets along with other children
- Plays with other children and solves problems with kindness
- Sits and listens for a short time
- Names feelings and controls actions
- Listens to a story without interrupting
- Stays with task even when difficult
- Tries new things
- Knows numbers 0-10 in any order
- Counts to 20 or higher
- Knows basic shapes (circle, square, triangle, etc.)
- Names 10 colors
- Counts a group of 10 objects
- Sees and completes simple patterns (red, blue, red, blue).
Applying For Early Entrance
Confirm Student Eligibility
- Students who are eligible for early entrance turn five between Sept. 2 and Nov. 1. Students who have birthdays after Nov. 1 are not eligible for early entrance.
Schedule and Complete Early Childhood Screening
- Early childhood screening must be scheduled before applying for early entrance. This process is required for entry to kindergarten for all students by the State of Minnesota.
- Register for screening or call early childhood education at 320-370-8251.
Apply Online: Application Deadline - April 15
- Complete online application.
- Every effort should be made to submit applications for early entrance by 4 p.m. on April 15. In order to guarantee that the student will be able to be observed at a Kindergarten Information Night, applications for early entrance should be received by 4 p.m. on April 15. Applications received after that date may affect the ability of a student to participate in all components of the early entrance process.
Kindergarten Early Entrance Process
The kindergarten early entrance process consists of several steps. These include:
- Observation of the student in a simulated kindergarten environment
- Academic readiness screening
- Cognitive assessment
Observation/Academic Readiness Screening is an observation of the student which will occur during one of District 742’s Kindergarten Information Nights or in a district kindergarten classroom. The student will be observed by a current or former kindergarten teacher. Families are notified of which information night to attend. Due to the scheduling of various parties, rescheduling this observation is not usually an option.
If a student currently attends a childcare that administers the TS Gold Assessment, they may bypass the observation component of the evening. Families should contact their childcare provider if they are unsure of whether or not the student has had a TS Gold Assessment. A complete TS Gold Assessment report must be provided by either the families or childcare provider to bypass the observation component of the process.
Academic Readiness Screening will occur on the same day as the kindergarten information night and may be prior to or after the information night.
Cognitive Assessment - Students who meet the observation and academic readiness criteria will move forward in the early entrance process. Students who do not meet these criteria will not move forward and will not be considered for early entrance. Cognitive assessments are administered by a school psychologist and typically take about one hour. Individual assessments will be scheduled with families. Parents are not allowed to accompany children into the testing room, but breaks will be provided during the process for parents to check in with their child.
Parents have the option of obtaining scores from an individualized, standardized test of intellectual abilities from an outside source (also known as intelligence tests, ability tests, IQ test, etc.). The following professionals are generally considered qualified to complete this testing: psychologist including clinical or educational psychologist, school psychologist or neuropsychologist. These professionals have received training in administration/interpretation of intellectual testing and hold a license in psychology (or work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist). If parents choose this option, they assume all responsibility for payment.
A minimum IQ 125 is required for early entrance to kindergarten. A written report outlining the assessment details will be provided to parents after this assessment is complete.
Late April: Families are notified of whether or not their student has met the observation and academic readiness criteria. Cognitive assessments for children meeting the criteria will be scheduled during this communication. Children who did not meet the criteria will not advance in the process.
End of May: Families will be notified of acceptance or non-acceptance into kindergarten. All early entrance students accepted to kindergarten are accepted on a probationary basis. Placements will be reviewed after six weeks and if the placement has been deemed successful, it will become permanent.
All decisions of the early entrance team are final.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there anything I should do to prepare my child for the observation, readiness screening or cognitive assessment?
Please ensure your student has had plenty of rest and has had something to eat before each part of the process. In order to not put pressure on your student, it is important to talk with your child about this experience being similar to a check-up at the doctor with the goal not being about passing, but rather a goal of checking on the child’s progress as a learner. Keep in mind that the goal is gathering information about your child’s readiness for school. Many children who develop normally are not yet ready for kindergarten. Help your child to have a positive experience by keeping calm and avoid creating a sense of “high stakes” for your child.
Why are placements probationary?
Students can have many indicators that they will be successful in the kindergarten classroom and teachers, students or families may find that the placement is not in the best interest of the child. In order to ensure the long-term school success of the child, removal from kindergarten may be best for the child.
If my child is approved for early entrance, does my child have to attend kindergarten?
No, you may decide not to send your child to kindergarten even if your child meets the early entrance criteria.
Why must I follow this rigorous process if my child is only a few days past the kindergarten cut off?
The process is designed to measure whether or not early kindergarten is the best fit for the child. This is best determined by looking at the individual child, rather than determining entrance based solely on a birthdate. Because research indicates that early entrance is appropriate for only about 1-2 percent of the population and that older children tend to perform better at all school levels, District 742 makes every effort to err on the side of caution when placing students in kindergarten who have birthdays outside the normal kindergarten range. Although a child may be only a few days younger than a few of his or her peers, he or she is likely to be several months to a year and a half younger than others.