Midterms For Preschoolers

An interesting thing happened at Chinese School a few weeks ago.  The teacher gave the preschool class a written midterm exam.   I knew that it was midterm time for the school. I, however, had no idea that they expected the preschool class to complete a midterm as well.  Seriously, a midterm.

The preschool class, which they call the kindergarten class,  is composed of children 5-years old and younger.  Most of the class are 4-years olds and there are a set of twins who are 3.  None of the children in the class can read and I'm only aware of one that can actually write.

The exam was about 20 questions long.  The questions were written in English. The exam required the student to circle the correct character or write in the missing Chinese character.  It also covered numbers 1-100, because this is what they have been learning over the last few weeks.

The teacher passed out the exams and I had a small panic attack.  That nightmare about getting an exam you are completely unprepared for came true.  My hands were even getting clammy.  My daughter the test taker, however, was fine.  She wasn't phased in the least. She picked up her robot pen and asked me what question number one said.

Over the next 20 minutes we muddled through the exam together.  The parents were allowed to assist each other and the children. We were also allowed to ask questions to the teacher.  The children are still little after all.

Midterms for preschoolers actually turned out to be a wonderful idea.  The children really seemed to enjoy working on the questions and showing off all their newly obtained knowledge.  Sure, they couldn't answer all the questions on their own or even read the instructions. That, however, didn't stop them. They were so little they had no fear about being unprepared.  They just jumped into the exam like they would any other project a teacher has placed before them.

That day I learned three valuable lessons:

1) Language acquisition is for the young. I am embarrassed to admit this, but my 4-year old daughter knew the answers to several more exam questions than I did.  My old brain is obviously now filled with useless information and I am therefore unable to retain anything  new.

2) My first instincts are not always right.  Even though it might be a little unusual to give a preschooler a midterm that doesn't make it a bad idea.

3) Preschoolers aren't afraid of exams.  Most of them actually find the exercise pretty fun. I am, however, still petrified of  being unprepared for an exam.

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I always figured the purpose of preschool was to teach children to enjoy school before they have to worry about performance. Looks like this is exactly what's going on.
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