The Thinking and Engagement Assessment, or the T&E, is a Zoom-based assessment for New York City private school kindergarten admissions 2020-2021. A list of schools that require the T&E as well as other important details, can be found on the Parents League Blog.
What are some things you can do to help your pre-kindergartener get ready for the T&E?
OPTIMIZE READING TIME
Reading together allows your child to think, discuss, and engage! Reading can help improve attention, vocabulary, conversation, grammar, critical thinking (including inferencing and memory), knowledge of letters and sounds, and other phonological awareness skills.
Begin with a discussion about the cover of the book and the title. Pose questions such as:
Where (and when) does this story take place?
What do you think is going to happen in this story?
Who do you think this story is about?
Talk about the author and illustrator of the book, and what these jobs entail. When your child reads another book by the same author or illustrator in the future, this connection may allow for a discussion of similarities and differences between the stories/characters/artwork.
Ask factual questions. For example, in The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom, ask questions such as:
- Who is going to ride the bus?
- What color is Mama’s pocketbook?
- What is running next to the bus?
- What time of day does this story start? When does it end?
- Where did the girl and her Mama run errands?
- What is in the girl’s pocketbook?
- What did the dry cleaner give the girl?
Follow your preschooler’s lead! If your child comments on a picture or the text, help expand this thinking.
Talk about vocabulary words as they come up in any book. Essential words in The Big Green Pocketbook include:
- driveway (especially for city kids)
- flag (as in “flag the bus”)
- punched tickets
When your child is ready to jump to more involved questions, try three of the following probes for each book you read, adapting the items as necessary to the level where your child finds success and enjoys the experience:
- Setting: Talk about when and where the story takes place.
- Connections between the text and your child’s life. Say: “Remember when you…” or “This reminds me of…”
- Discussion: Find meaningful details in the pictures, chat about favorite parts of the story, ask, “What if?”
- Pretend to be confused so your preschooler can solve a problem: Why do you think…?
- Can you make a prediction – what do you think will happen next? What do you think will happen in the end?
- Inferencing: What clues do the pictures or words give us to figure out something the story doesn’t say? For example, in The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino: “How do we know Cynthia cares about the goldfish?” or “Why does Cynthia name the goldfish Marigold?”
- Feelings: How do you think the character feels? Why?
- Central Idea: What was the most important point of this story? What was the problem in the story?
- Character: Who was your favorite character and why? What might the character do next? (inference)
- Actions: What do the characters in the story do to solve the problem?
- Summary: Have your child provide a simple summary of the story with details and a resolution.
- Sequence: During your child’s summary, are the details in a reasonable order?
- Memory: In a book such as The Big Green Pocketbook, encourage your preschooler to recall the items the girl placed into her pocketbook.
- If you feel like you’re asking too many questions, try thinking aloud: “I was wondering how the boy was going to let Jeremy know the pie he was about to eat could be dangerous.” (Enemy Pie by Derek Munson) or “I am trying to figure out why Cynthia is so good to the goldfish.”
Below are great books to use with children ages four and up for these types of involved questions/discussions.
Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming
White Water by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein
My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza
Anansi & the Talking Melon retold by Eric A. Kimmel
A Turn for Lucas by Gloria Averbuch
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
The Empty Pot by Demi
The Forever Garden by Laurel Snyder
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman
Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman
Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco
Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe
Doctor De Soto by William Steig
Sally and the Limpet by Simon James
Tops and Bottoms adapted by Janet Stevens
The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino
Don’t forget to read non-fiction with your preschooler! Choose topics with your child, and try out these series:
- Scholastic Welcome Books
- Scholastic Rookie Read-About
- National Geographic Kids
- True Books
Wordless Picture Books will encourage your child to describe pictures with detail and so much more.
Take advantage of basic print concepts while reading together:
- Demonstrate how we read left to right and top to bottom
- Point out how sounds/words you say match sounds/words on the page and words are put together to build sentences
- Point out capitals, punctuation, and spacing
- Encourage your child to fill in predictable or rhyming words and point out how the endings of these words have the same letters
HELP YOUR PRESCHOOLER BUILD CRITICAL THINKING & LANGUAGE SKILLS
Critical thinking is about knowing HOW to think and how to go beyond talking about and memorizing facts. Demonstrating critical thinking skills reveals your child is capable of original thought, problem-solving, and creativity.
Play category or compare/contrast games. Complete household chores together (sort laundry (by family member, by type of clothing or by family members type of clothing (e.g., dad’s shirts on the bed, mom’s socks on the dresser, etc.), or encourage your preschooler to clean up after a messy playdate by placing each type of art supply into its respective bin. Some parents prefer a more structured task.
Ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions (instead of yes/no questions or choice questions), so your child can formulate meaningful verbal responses. For example, “Why is it important to brush your teeth?” “Why should you eat healthy food?”
Define everyday words together. For example, “What is a cup?” or “What is a blanket?” Playing a vocabulary and word reasoning game such as Hedbanz can be motivating and fun.
Practice analogies. Pose this to your child: Lemon is to Sour…as…Candy is to_______. This analogy game will help with language-based (vs. figural) analogies, but if this is too difficult, help your child understand how and why things go together with a “What Goes Together” puzzle. Learning about opposites may be a helpful step in learning analogies as well.
Practice similarities and category naming. Have your preschooler name three items for each of the following categories:
- Sweet things
- Parts of the body
- Things you can read
- Things you can eat with a spoon
- Salty things
- Things you can write with
List three items and have your child figure out what the items have in common/how they are similar:
- brush your teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed (things you do in the morning)
- car, boat, bike (things that go, something you can take a ride on, vehicles)
- nose, ears, mouth (parts of the face)
- grass, spinach, frog (things that are green)
- Monday, Thursday, Friday (days of the week)
- chair, bed, desk (furniture)
- circle, triangle, square (shapes)
- slide, swing, sandbox (things you find at the playground)
- socks, shorts, jacket (things you wear)
- rainy, snowy, sunny (types of weather)
Practice following directions. All the activities listed here come with instructions, which is perfect to work on following directions. Challenge your preschooler by requesting something familiar be retrieved from another room and build up to three items. For example, “Please bring me a diaper for the baby, put your book back on the shelf, and hand me my water bottle.”
If you’re looking for guidance in helping your preschooler get ready for the kindergarten T&E Assessment, cooperate on Zoom, and improve general kindergarten readiness, please contact Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, speech and language therapist at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!