Connect for Children

Heidi Emberling, MA, Parenting Educator and Early Childhood Specialist

Second Grade Standardized Testing July 14, 2011

Filed under: Other Blog Postings — Heidi Emberling @ 5:53 pm

I recently posted on the Thoughts on Public Education website about the possibility of eliminating standardized testing for second graders, a passionate goal of mine. The author of the posting believes we should formally assess children these young second graders, a thought with which I fervently disagree.

Here’s my response:

I was thrilled to hear about Sen. Loni Hancock’s bill to eliminate standardized testing for second graders. The second grade version of the STAR test is given orally, not as a written exam, and there is no leeway for those students who need extra time, as every child must answer every question as the teacher reads it aloud.

As an Early Childhood Educator, working with families with young children birth through 8 years old, I can assure you that second graders are still learning to read and write at their own developmental pace. Why are we rushing to formally assess their institutional “progress” while they are still in early childhood? By third grade, the curriculum advances rapidly and teachers are well aware which children need additional support.

My own son couldn’t sleep the week before testing, anxious from the high stakes pressure-cooker environment of this second grade testing period. These children are still adjusting to the academic environment of formal schooling and should be assessed by the professional teacher in their classroom.

Heidi Emberling, MA,


Science-Based Parenting Post July 6, 2011

Filed under: Other Blog Postings — Heidi Emberling @ 6:36 pm

I recently commented on a post from Science-Based Parenting on allowing our kids to “Fail,” in order to build resiliency and, believe it or not, self-esteem. The premise is that parents are focusing too much on achievement (i.e. “winning”) and less on effort, so children may be avoiding trying new things for fear of failure.

Thanks for this reminder to focus on effort, rather than end product for our children. As the mom of a special needs kid, I’ve struggled with my expectations of what my son may and may not achieve in life. At birth, we imagine the world for our children. We may even envision them fulfilling the dreams we never pursued, accepting the challenges we never could, or taking the risks we avoided. We’re so caught up in the promise of our perfect child, we may miss the fabulous everyday wonder of the baby or toddler right in front of us.

In the early years, we may worry about them missing the opportunity to achieve greatness in a particular activity, signing them up for Suzuki violin lessons or baby gymnastics classes. Never mind that they prefer the garbage man to the symphony. Never mind that the Gymboree parachute makes them scream and they can’t yet tap their rhythm sticks on the beat.

Every year is a new struggle with my son. Forget becoming President; will he ever be able to manage a transition without a battle? Forget Ambassador to Russia; will he be able to put two words together before age three, like his neurotypical peers? Forget traveling the world with a backpack and a Eurail Pass; will he be able to survive a week at sleepaway camp?

My expectations for my son have evolved over the years, and they are still high, but my life improved dramatically when I released him from fulfilling my vision of success, and began accepting him for the amazing, challenging, frustrating, funny, bright kid he was born to be.

Heidi Emberling, MA