Sunday, January 20, 2013

My PreSchool Test Saga

Back in October, I think we peaked with test prep.   So I rolled the dice and signed up.  Little did I know that 10 days later I would find out the test date was November 8.

Normally, I counsel friends to wait until the end.  I think most people could do a lot more, and the increase in ability during the test prep period offsets the age advantage.  The age advantage is that a 4.25 year old can get fewer questions correct than a 5 year old and end up with a higher score.  But in our case, I think we had done enough.

To be on the safe side, I asked a friend to give Jr. a practice test.  I chose suitably hard material and we went to a large imposing school for practice test day.   We tried to make it a close match to the real thing:  professional, dry, and "grim" in the words of the practice test person.

The outcome was a real shock.  Some questions were answered correctly before the question was read (due to extensive test prep) but he just randomly guessed, without thinking, on many questions.   Oh no, a whole year of test prep down the drain, for want of maturity.

My wife and I tried to determine what went wrong, but in the end decided that a shy, slightly introverted 4 year old who won't talk to strangers just wasn't ready for this type of pressure.

What I didn't mention to his mother is that we spent a week right before this time on how to guess and I think that back fired. So we had a long talk about guessing under the heading "Stop Guessing".  Then I gave him 2nd and 3rd grade practice questions - which I'm sorry to say are way too easy - which he got mostly right by concentrating.

So off we went to the test.

Test day was a Thursday evening.  This was good, because Saturday's are like a zoo.   We spent the last few days not guessing at test questions.

I had to sit there and endure poised, mature, outgoing and very talkative little 4 year old girls.   That's why my older son's class is 65% female.  When the time came for the test, a "test person" showed up looking like a 12 year old baby sitter, who was super friendly.  My son looked white with fear, but braced his tiny jaw and marched off with her.

On their return, I tried to read the facial expressions and body language of the "test person" but couldn't.  By the way, you're not supposed to use the term "the test", but we use it a lot in the house, like other people use the term "the big game".

When he came back, we had the usual conversation.

What was on the test?   "I don't remember."  How can you not remember?  It was only 2 minutes ago.  "I don't remember."

"There was this question that I got wrong.  My brain told me to stop thinking.  I just guessed."   That's not what I wanted to hear.  "There were other hard questions, and I got those wrong too."

Normally, the child should say that he got them all right.  What do they know.

"There were lots of easy questions."

Well, on that day back in November,  I joined a large group of parents who will worry until March.  In the mean time, we can take it easy and just enjoy reading, phonics, language terms like homonyms and onimonipias, and lots of normal math.

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