833 screening program identifies those who need a little helpMinnesota requires that all students entering kindergarten must be screened — for visual-motor, language and cognition, fine motor, gross motor and verbal reasoning — prior to entering kindergarten in order to see where they are developmentally.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Emmett Poppelman, 5, will be entering kindergarten at Grey Cloud Elementary this fall, but before he can enter the classroom, he first has to prove that he is developmentally where he should be by playing a few games.
Minnesota requires that all students entering kindergarten must be screened — for visual-motor, language and cognition, fine motor, gross motor and verbal reasoning — prior to entering kindergarten in order to see where they are developmentally.
“It’s meant to prepare the district for knowing what the kids bring to the district and the needs that need to be met,” Emmett’s father Eric said. “We don’t have any concerns as a family with where he is, this is just a step that needs to be done.”
District 833 Early Childhood Screening is located at Bailey Elementary. Emmett was one of 52 students who participated in a screening on Aug. 26.
Last year alone, District 833 Early Childhood Screening performed 1,500 screenings.
Mary Twight, coordinator for Early Childhood Screening, said the whole purpose of developmental screening is to look at a child to identify if they are where they should be, or if they need a little extra help in certain areas.
“It takes a snapshot of how kids are developing,” Twight said. “We want to look at children to make sure they are progressing as they should, but to the kids it’s just playing games.”
District 833 does four screenings every month.
During the screening, the students are tested in a variety of areas by performing a variety of tasks and activities.
For example, to test where a child is in terms of hand-eye coordination, they do some drawing and memorization activities as well as play with blocks. In terms of motor skills, a child walks a line and jumps over a line. And in terms of verbal reasoning, the child does some word association and explanation of objects.
Children are also tested in hearing and vision during screenings, as well as where they sit in terms of height and weight.
Even though the activities might seem like games to the kids, screening is very important in identifying whether or a not a child might need some additional help.
“It’s just to check in on them, it’s not to see if they can get into kindergarten — it’s not even a pass/fail thing,” Twight said. “It’s just to look at them to see if they need any extra services.”
Twight said some of the areas where children struggle include speech and socially.
Some of the services that are available for students include school readiness programs, early childhood family education programs, early childhood special education programs, public health programs, mental health services, community social services and speech services.
“Screening is all about catching those kids early who might need some extra help,” Twight said. “But once they’re in the schools, the teachers take it from there.”
More information is available at www.sowashco.k12.mn.us