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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Screenings help answer questions on school readiness

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Aubry Sullivan, 3, stacks shapes during a screening.
SIKESTON -- Three-year-old Aubrey Sullivan didn't hesitate when asked which picture represented something "cold."

Immediately she pointed to the picture of an ice cream cone.

"Very good," said her tester Elizabeth Ayers, who went on to quiz Aubrey about which items showed empty and full and smallest to biggest.

Aubrey was one of several children participating in the Sikeston Early Childhood Center and Parent as Teachers' preschool screening Wednesday.

Aubrey's mother, Cindy Sullivan, said she had learned about the screenings through Parents as Teachers.

"This is the second year we've done the screenings," Sullivan said. "And I've learned a lot about how she's doing for her age."

March typically marks the time when many school districts offer free preschool and/or kindergarten screenings for area children.

Sikeston Kindergarten Center Principal Jenny Hobeck said screenings are good because they give parents an idea of where their child is at developmentally.

"And it's good for them socially and to see how they will do," Hobeck said. The screening process includes health, vision, developmental and speech/

language/hearing areas. Within each area, children participate in different activities such as stacking blocks, skipping, jumping up and down and others. Weight and height checks as well as a tympanogram to check for fluid in their ears are also conducted. A counselor goes over the results with parents at the end of the process.

"A lot of parents have questions about speech, and some parents get really concerned if their child is 2 and 3 years old and isn't saying things correctly. It's just a really good update for them," Hobeck said.

Although Sikeston's kindergarten screenings aren't held until May, they're similar to preschool, Hobeck said. The difference between the two is kindergarten gets them enrolled for kindergarten and helps with classroom placement for the upcoming school year, she said.

Crystal Morrow, an elementary counselor, noted the screenings give some sort of baseline for parents.

"It's one day in the life a child," Morrow said. "It's not a true reflection on all that they know."

And sometimes if children don't perform well it's because they will act shy, or they may be getting sick, Morrow said. Plus it's a new environment, and there are many things that can affect a child's performance, she said. Hobeck agreed.

"It's a one chance performance, and some kids just don't do well performing for other people. It could be this is how they did today, but it doesn't mean they don't know," Hobeck said.

When this happens, the counselors have to explain this is where a child was weaker at or may have a potential delay, Hobeck said.

Parents should remember the results of a screening are just suggestions, Morrow pointed out.

However there are several things a parent can do to help their child's progression. They can read to them and talk about language. Some suggestions include labeling things in a child's bedroom and pointing out items at a grocery store, such as apples and oranges.

Morrow encouraged parents to be involved in their children's lives, especially early on.

"Parent involvement is vital," Morrow said. "Schools and parents form a team, and we see success in parents who are involved in their children's lives."