or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Gesell testing for kindergarten readiness?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Gesell testing for kindergarten readiness?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Do any of you have any experience with the Gesell testing? The school where we were thinking of sending ds for kindergarten does this test in February/March for prospective incoming kindergarteners. It is supposed to give a "developmental age" (rather than a chronological age); based on the developmental age, children are recommended for kindergarten or recommended to wait a year. The test is supposed to gauge motor, language, adaptive, and personal-social skills, but not academic skills. This particular school seems very intent on the notion that children, esp. boys, with late spring/summer birthdays often benefit from waiting a year and starting K at age 6. And, in fact, many parents at this school do start their children later, prob. based on the results of the test and to give them an advantage (real or perceived). DS did the test, and while I do not have the results (i.e., "developmental age") yet, the tester did tell me that he scored "young" in some areas - mainly based on pencil grip/writing and staying on task - he initiated conversations about other topics & told several stories while he was to be doing the tasks, I guess. This was noted to be a "young" trait. The test was about 30 minutes long.

Prior to this, it had never dawned on me that he would ever be perceived as not being "ready" for K. If anything, I think he has already mastered most, if not all, of what is taught in K, besides improvement in writing skills. I have always perceived him as being very bright and likely "gifted," although I'm not sure how to define that term exactly. He has been learning to read for some time, recognizes many sight words & sounds words out phonetically, has an excellent memory and vocab., etc. (If he is doing this now, what will he be doing a year-and-a-half from now if he enters K at that time?) But yes, he is also very energetic, social, talkative, fidgety, does not like to wait for his turn to talk, etc. He is strong-willed, high-spirited, intense, and "on" all the time. He is both charming and challenging. Now I find myself actually wondering if, in this particular school, he would be better served to wait a year, esp. since he would prob. be the youngest boy in his class. The K teachers paint a sort of doom and gloom picture of "overplaced" children who are not "developmentally ready" for K and who never catch up to their peers, etc. They also state that parents never regret waiting the extra year. Ultimately, it is just a recommendation, and ds could enroll if we wanted him to, but now I am actually a little torn. I've come across studies showing that children w/ summer birthdays tend not to fare as well as their peers with fall birthdays, etc. Of course, I realize that we know him better than someone who met with him for 30 minutes, but I have heard that schools put a lot of faith in the results of this Gesell test and feel that it is a good prediction of how the children will do in the school setting. Something that struck me as a little odd is that while there is a lot of emphasis on the dangers of "overplacement," I've heard no discussion on the dangers of "underplacement" -- i.e., isn't it also detrimental if the subjects taught in the grade are really nothing new or challenging to the child? And which is more detrimental? On the other hand, since ds is so social, I think he would enjoy the social interaction a lot and would not really be concerned (at least in K) that the material is not challenging.

FWIW, this is a private school, & I'm sure many of the kids come from very good, traditional pre-school programs. I'm sure a lot of the children are very bright and that the parents are also bright and "competitive." DS' preschool is primarily play-based and not very structured.

Sigh. Sorry for the long post, but I am just trying to think through all of this. Before anyone asks, YES, I have thought about homeschooling in the past, but I WOH part-time during the week, have a toddler, and just not sure that it would work out. I've also thought about Montessori options and will explore those as well.

I've cross-posted this in the Parenting the Gifted Child forum.
post #2 of 23
I'll respond by saying that I haven't seen a school formally do a Gesell assessment for kindy, but I think it's worthwhile information to have. I am a big fan of the Gesell Institute books, and I assume their school readiness checklist is related to your schools assessment. I really haven't found Gesell to be off base, so I couldn't personally argue with their ideas about school readiness.

We chose to have our late summer b-day boy start kindy at just barely six, rather than just barely 5, and he does fit the scenario of moderately gifted. However, it was clear that "youngness" in the classroom wasn't going to do him any favors, and would probably make school frustrating for him. This far into the year I can say I am incredibly glad we waited, especially when I volunteer and see some of the really young for their age kids in the classroom. It's not to say their school experience is totally negative-it's just different from my son's who was equiped with that extra year of maturity. It makes being in the classroom a positive experience. I know many other people have different experiences-that's just mine, FWIW.

I don't know that it means that you should hold your child back--lots and lots of kids on the young side enter school and make it through. I think Gesell tries to get at readiness from the perspective of what's optimal for the child. Obviously that means that there has to be a good alternative if parents choose not to enroll their young 5's in kindy, so that they are enriched and met in a developmentally appropriate way. I don't know if you have a good option?
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
karne - Thanks for sharing your experience. This seems to be the consensus for many who have children with summer birthdays. As far as a good option for if I don't send him to K, I would prob. put him in a full-time pre-K program, as I think he is ready for the structure and stimulation. That's why it's such a difficult choice- b/c I think he is ready for this academically/intellectually. Now whether he would be the most compliant child in the class is another question... Also, his fine motor skills (writing) could def. use some improvement -- but is that more important than cognitive ability in terms of deciding whether to start him in K or not? These are the questions that I have....
post #4 of 23
If you haven't read it already, you may find this thread interesting:

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
fadedgirl - Thanks - I hadn't seen it (should have done a search!) but just posted a response to that thread.
post #6 of 23
Many years ago when I taught 4 and 5 year olds, I went to a course to learn how to administer the test. I actually am looking for someone to assess my DD. I do believe it gives a good idea of where your child falls. Its scaled as young 4, older 4, young 5, etc.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by m9m9m9 View Post
Many years ago when I taught 4 and 5 year olds, I went to a course to learn how to administer the test. I actually am looking for someone to assess my DD. I do believe it gives a good idea of where your child falls. Its scaled as young 4, older 4, young 5, etc.
I would love to hear your insight on what is actually tested and how it is scored, etc. (if you recall).Do you think it is a more accurate predictor of success than more "academic" skills?
post #8 of 23
I don't know anything about the readiness test, but I wanted to share a story about the "dangers" of underplacement.

My brother's birthday is Sept. 7 and he started school where the cut-off was Sept. 1. They were completely inflexible and so he started K just as he was turning 6. He was always very smart and never felt challenged in school in the least and had a hard time making friends because he was so much more mature than his classmates. He ended up graduating from high school a year early and says that's the best choice he's ever made. He struggled in college at first because he had never had to learn time management or study skills because everything came so easy to him in high school.

He is now a successful PhD. student, so everything worked out in the end, but holding a kid back is not always the right option (my DD has a late Sept. birthday in a school system with a Sept. 30 cut-off, and my brother has said he will never forgive us if we hold her back).
post #9 of 23
freeman - on the question of success - I don't know the answer to the question regarding the test, but thought I'd throw a couple bits out there to ask yourself: what do you mean by success - short term or long term? Are you wanting your son to ace K or is finishing all the requirements for passing K enough?

One thing you might do is find out what the end-of-year requirements are for passing K at that school. Surely they have a list. (for our school district it's easy - all such things are posted on their website but for a private school I'd guess you'd have to ask the K teacher.)

As an example, my ds who's getting OT for fine motor has already met the basic academic requirements for passing K (this is a kid who could *barely* write the three letters of his name one year ago at the end of preschool). The only ones I'm not sure about, naturally, have to do with writing, though the teacher says he's very much on track. The writing requirements are as follows, and I don't know what they all mean:
0.3.1 Writes a simple sentence focused on one idea.
0.3.2 Uses written words and details in pictures to express unique self.
0.3.3 Conventions
• Uses writing conventions outlined in kindergarten Scoring Guide
Level 6
• Writes first name correctly and last initial
• Writes and spells all 7 key words correctly

Maybe the private school has more onerous end-of-K writing requirements. Either way, it may be difficult to predict what your son will be capable of in a year.

anyway, more food for thought. gotta run
post #10 of 23
I wish we had done this test for my ds. It would have really shown us that keeping him home for another year would have benefitted him. Hes in gr 1 and on an IEP (i'm sure he would be on one nomatter what) but he prob would have done better if he went into K last fall
post #11 of 23
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
I would love to hear your insight on what is actually tested and how it is scored, etc. (if you recall).Do you think it is a more accurate predictor of success than more "academic" skills?
Personally, I do think it can provide better information for how a child will fit into a classroom with their peers developmentally and that can translate into academic success or failure. For example, if a child is chronologically 5.5 but the test reveals the child is really a "young" 5 or even an "older" 4, one has to consider what will happen when he is in a room with children chronogically older and developmentally older.

The test is really a serious of tasks. The test is scored based on the way the child completes or doesn't complete the task. The answer the child gives is what helps the tester understand their developmental age. So for each task, the tester records what the child does and then compares it to a pre-established list of tasks that correspond to an age. So this is a made up example to give you a better idea, the tester says write the letter "A", and the child makes some parallel lines and then tries to put the middle line in but doesn't quite get it, the tester records that and then looks at the guidelines and discovers children who write a letter A in that fashion are at the age of a young 3 developmentally. They do that for all the tasks and then look at where the majority.

Hope that helps....
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
m9m9m9: - Thanks so much for the info!
post #13 of 23

I'm going through the exact same considerations...  I think it is crazy that they test six months prior to school starting to begin with.  I was thinking of asking the school we are talking to to re-test in the fall, but I'm not sure if that's the right way to go either.

post #14 of 23

I'm just curious. Since it is now 2011...  What was your decision and do you regret it?  I'm now in the same position as you were and would like some advice.  Thanks.  Allison

post #15 of 23

I completely agree with you.  My daughter scored age 6 on most of the intelligence aptitude, but 4 1/2 on some of the fine motor skill items.  They suggested we "give her the gift of time."  Why?  My concern is that she will be so frustrated with being put with "babies" that she will be cause a behavior problem...  Her birthday is in April, so I think that 6 months is plenty of time to catch up on fine motor. 

post #16 of 23

My two were given a similar test (called the DIAL) when they were 4.5. Academically, they were very very ready (both were reading and doing simple math and writing). In that state they would have attended K at 4y 10m. (cut off Dec). They both scored fairly high--- except one DD had low fine motor and low social skills. She was  on an IEP at the time for those delays.


Both girls were suggested to do K. (vs developmental K--- kind of a PreK program for age eligible kids that dont do K)



That said--- there is little academic on the testing because, even if a child is ahead academically--- if they are unable to sit, listen, follow directions, be independent (bathroom, clothing, etc), and/or complete the fine motor tasks asked, K may be a very frustrating place.


Developmentally-- they need to be ready to participate with 20+ other kids. That takes maturity and some self-control that developmentally 'young' kiddos just have a hard time with.



Then we moved to a new state, different cut-off date. my DDs have to wait to go to K. I have mixed feelings about it.




I can say that right now I teach the 3 yr old preschool class (the kids start and 3 and most turn 4 by the end of the year). I have a very very very bright little guy that was started 'early' (he is one month past the cut off date) due to his parents request and being a preschool we are flexible. He knows all his letters, all his sounds, has a lot of 'starter K' stuff memorized (colors, shapes, sounds, numbers 0-20, letters, reads name, etc) and I would not be surprised if in a few years he ends up gifted since he has a one of the largest knowledge bases in a young 3 yr old I have ever seen. BUT---he will be repeating the 3 yr old program next fall. He really really struggles with fine motor (cant hold a pencil tripod, cant string beads, difficult to do puzzles, etc) that his peers have now mastered as we reach the end of the year , he has very weak social skills (still parallel plays), and it is very difficult for him to function in a group (wants to wander away, short attention-- even for a 3 yr old). He simply would be set up to fail if we moved him forward-- the 4 yr old class has shorter free play times, more focused group work, student write their names, circle time is much longer,etc. 


I think that some K 'academically' ready kids are the same way. They have the knowledge needed, but due to uneven development--- they may have trouble attending, following, and participating in a larger group setting. K kids are expected to be able to work independently for portions of the day (while the teacher works with small reading or writing groups), sit in circle time, complete fine motor tasks (cutting, writing, etc).  If the child is young or around the cut-off it may be beneficial to wait. In the long run, it may lead to then getting more out of K (vs struggling with behavior or fine motor tasks).


Does your area have the option for kids that start K to 'skip' to first mid year? Our area does and can skip 'old' K kids forward if they are age eligible ( 6 yr olds) to 1st if they have mastered the material. For some kids this is a good option. They gain a year in maturity & attention span-- then start K and thrive, gain some more social skills-academics are ahead....mid year they can moved forward.

post #17 of 23

I just finished a meeting with my son's teachers. He is considered 4.9 y old and they recommended to hold him back one year. We argued about it, since he does knows the alphabet, counts up to 100, spells words, write his name, dressed himself, button himself, and so on...Our school gave us no option to enroll him in K. He has to either repeat PreK or find another school. The weird thing is when I start reading some of the question of the test his score was: he answered 100% all 16 questions for age 4-5 and 53% for age 5-6. But he is only 4.9. And they failed him.


I have never heard about this test until today. I was the youngest in the class and glad that I was. The motivation is much higher, the competition is higher too. I wasn't the first in class, but now I ended up as a PhD in Physics. I think it is crazy at such young age to reject a child just because he cannot button his shirt but he can count and do math in his head. What really upset me is that we have NO choice beside holding him. I think it should be our risk whether we push for him to go to K and not the school.


We went to talked to the school director, and even if we win, I think our only choice is to move him out of that school. How can he survive in a class with a teacher who now will be against him and do everything she can to prove that WE were wrong and she was right....


So sad!  And

And he is only a 4 y old kid....

post #18 of 23

Definitely not a good idea to send him to that school. Mind you, he's far enough along that if the school is convenient to you you could go in and see what the FIRST grade teacher thought (maybe for next year). =D


Is the buttoning thing to demonstrate fine motor control at a certain level? Surely that's something that could be worked around with limited modifications so the student's physical capabilities don't hold them back??

post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by aawb69 View Post

I'm just curious. Since it is now 2011...  What was your decision and do you regret it?  I'm now in the same position as you were and would like some advice.  Thanks.  Allison


aawb69: I just noticed your were asking about this thread from Feb. 2009. If you are still reading, I did send ds to kindergarten "on time," and he was/is the youngest in his class. I have not regretted it. I did send him to a different school than the one I was posting about here. Academically, he has always been pretty far ahead and has continued to be so, despite his age. At the time, I was concerned that he wouldn't be challenged enough if I didn't send him on time. As it is, I have still had to ask for more advanced materials. His handwriting skills still aren't stellar but have improved. I guess if I had waited, he would have better handwriting and fine motor skills in comparison to peers, but that wasn't the deciding factor for me. His personality is still the same (talkative, energized, fidgety), but that would probably be the same regardless of his grade....actually, it prob. would have been more of an issue had I waited. I recommend listening to your instincts. Yes, the academic demands of kindergarten are more rigorous these days, but if you feel your child is ready, that's a pretty good indicator.


Edited by Freeman - 5/15/11 at 5:26pm
post #20 of 23
I wish that we would have done the Gesell test for my ds. It would have shown us that having him home for another year would have helped him a lot. He is almost the youngest in his class. I am hoping he excels. *crosses fingers*
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Gesell testing for kindergarten readiness?