Getting Into Kindergarten Ain't What It Used To Be

Jim Shea
Contact ReporterThe Hartford Courant

I've been trying to remember kindergarten.

It comes back in hazy flashes.

The room was bright and loud and bursting with high-pitched energy. The teacher was always screaming for quiet. The class was made up of mommy-missing, thumb-sucking, crayon-chewing, room-wandering, nose-picking antsy 5-year-olds, along with the occasional pant load.

There was no entrance exam.

To get in you had to be from the neighborhood and had all your shots.

Kindergarten has changed.

I was just reading a story in The New York Times about the intense competition there now exists to get kids into one of the city's "gifted and talented kindergartens."

In my kindergarten, the gifted and talented kids were the ones who could drink milk and make it come out of their nose.

Apparently, this is no longer enough.

To win admittance to one of NYC's exclusive kindergartens, you have to score in the 90th percentile on a test.

It's unclear whether an essay, an interview or letters of recommendations from nursery-school teachers are also required.

The test itself is short on measuring such talents as singing the alphabet or coloring between the lines, and more into things like pictorial reasoning:

"A road is to a car as a track is to a … ?"

Hmm …

OK, if I was taking the test I'd probably skip that one and come back to it later if I had time.

Parents are often on a mission to see that their gifted-and talented offspring get into a gifted and talented kindergarten. After all, if a child doesn't get into the right kindergarten, he or she will never get into the right first grade

To prepare their kids for the kindergarten entrance exam, many parents buy pricey study guides and even hire tutors.

I assume that kids begin looking around for a kindergarten during their junior year of nursery school.

They probably visit kindergartens with their parents and then apply to several. After that they breathlessly check the mail every day to see if they get the fat (accepted) or skinny (rejected or wait listed) letter.

I'm sure most kids have a safety kindergarten, just in case.

Anyway, as far as "A road is to a car as a track is to a … ?" I'm going with suit.

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