The BASIS Charter School Curriculum has been raising the standards of student learning to the highest international levels since the network’s first school opened in 1998. Our co-founders knew that augmenting expectations is a key to learning at a high level and sustaining academic achievement. The passionate teachers at BASIS Charter Schools, coupled with our unique curriculum, compel students to achieve more than traditionally expected.
It’s critical that kindergarten students are prepared to be developmentally ready for the classroom, to set them up for success every step of the way. Our kindergarten curriculum begins with that preparation, along with the appropriate basics. It then moves kindergarten students beyond kindergarten to grade 1 material. Starting in kindergarten, and then into the primary grades, our curriculum prepares students to take on concepts which are generally a year or two ahead of their grade and age. BASIS Charter School students therefore succeed because they are taught to believe they can, and shown that that is true. They succeed because they are equipped with the academic, organizational, and social-emotional tools that success requires.
Social and emotional readiness
Most education experts believe that social and emotional skills are the most pertinent factors in determining whether a child is ready to start school. Around age four, children typically begin to build on certain behaviors that will allow them to succeed in a classroom setting. It is not necessary that they show these behaviors consistently, but they should begin showing comfort in the following areas:
- Separating from their family
- Transitioning between activities
- Displaying curiosity about the world and other people
Dr. Jeni Riley, author of The Teaching of Reading, claims, “It is common to find within a kindergarten classroom a five-year range in children’s literacy-related skills and functioning.” Children start kindergarten with various experiences and skills. Consequently, some children are not yet prepared for the classroom learning environment and risk falling behind.
This “readiness gap” is not an indicator of a child’s intelligence, Dr. Riley explains, but rather missed learning opportunities during the early years of life. Because the early learning that occurs from birth to age five is the most rapid development period in a human life, much of a child’s early learning begins at home, where parents can influence their interests and behaviors. For example, reading to your child can inspire a love of reading. By asking questions after reading a story, your child will be more familiar with classroom discussion. Sharing and taking turns while playing games models good sportsmanship that will help them to interact socially in school.
Kindergarteners who are familiar with the alphabet and numbers when they start kindergarten may have somewhat of an early advantage, but education consultant Alina Adams stresses that, “Teachers are less concerned with what children know coming in, and are more concerned if children can come in, sit down, and follow multi-step directions.”
The practice of redshirting traditionally refers to college athletes who don’t compete in varsity games for a full year, thereby extending their eligibility for another year. The additional year allows players to grow in size and skill, to give that player an athletic advantage.
The trend to “redshirt” children entering kindergarten has grown significantly in recent years—up 300% since the 1970s. Advocates believe that an older student will lead in the classroom, and the resulting confidence and skill will snowball, relaying an advantage in life. Academic redshirting is most common among parents who want to help their child excel in sports, holding them back from academics to allow them to both grow physically and develop better motor skills. Many parents, particularly those whose children have summer and fall birthdays, choose to put kindergarten on hold, to give them the potential advantage of a full year’s growth and development.
We believe students can be motivated by the maturity and performance of older peers. In fact, a joint study conducted by researchers at Dartmouth College and Northwestern University concluded that “having older classmates on average improves educational outcomes, increasing test scores up to eight years after kindergarten and raising the probability of taking a college‐entry exam.”
Age does not determine readiness, but children tend to reach developmental benchmarks around the same age. To enroll in kindergarten at a BASIS Charter School in Arizona or Texas, children must be five by September 1 of the year they wish to start, or by September 30 in Louisiana. Arizona students who turn five between September 2 and December 31 may apply for early admission consideration, and if space is available, the campus’ Head of School will determine readiness through individual evaluation of items including maturity assessment, interviews, and academic diagnostic testing. Arizona state law prohibits enrolling kindergarten students who will not turn five before January 1 of the school year they enroll in kindergarten.
Many school districts set a minimum age requirement for attending kindergarten. Now with the growing popularity of redshirting kindergarten students, and concern over any actual benefit to a child’s readiness or effect on potential growth, some districts around the country have set a maximum age requirement to enroll in kindergarten, in order to serve the best interest of each child.
How do I know?
You know your child better than anyone. As our educators continually tell prospective BASIS Charter School parents, trust your judgment. Allow them to try, and don’t be afraid to let them fail. Making mistakes is a necessary part of the learning process, appropriately paced growth, and early and eventual academic success. As Albert Einstein notably observed, perhaps even of kindergartners, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
BASIS Charter Schools promote achievement and growth at every grade level. We teach students to be curious and to ask questions easily, as part of the learning process. We begin instilling success strategies like organization, communication, and time management in kindergarten, on day one, to prepare students for the challenges ahead. Caring and supportive teachers lead class with creativity and intellect, inspiring students to love learning. Our co-teaching model places one Lead Kindergarten Teacher, an early education expert, and one Teaching Fellow, who assists with all aspects of lessons and learning, in each classroom. This model creates a comprehensive learning experience and ensures that each student’s needs are met. The robust curriculum and collaborative community support current and future learning; the students who start the BASIS Charter School program as soon as they are ready to do so often have a significant advantage.
Explore the BASIS Charter School kindergarten program today. Visit enrollBASIS.com.