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Letters to the Editor


Fuel to the Fire

I am very disappointed that your article, “Pre-K Pressure” (October 2007), seems to advocate or endorse several areas – tutoring, portfolios, and testing – which we are trying to demystify with parents in preparing their children for the admission process.

I clearly communicated to the writer that we do not ever recommend tutoring in preparing three-, four- and five-year-olds for kindergarten admission. I feel that the significant amount of attention and space devoted to tutoring agencies and its participants distracts from what I understood to be the intent of the article. At Punahou we cannot overemphasize to kindergarten parents the values of reading to their child, discussing concepts and vocabulary, enriching life’s experiences with a variety of learning opportunities, as they spend and share quality time and have fun with their children. They don’t need to be tutored or attend prep sessions to specifically learn the items listed at the end of your article, many of which are not tested.

I am concerned that the article also heightens parents’ anxieties about both the cognitive test and classroom visits as it describes the “closed doors of the testing rooms and classrooms” as a “mystery, a secrecy”.(which) “creates an information vacuum.” Aside from the name of the test, we would like to make the assessment process as transparent as possible, inviting parents to come in for a conference to review the child’s performance in both the individual and group sessions. Furthermore, the cognitive test and classroom setting are only part of the selection criteria, which also includes more long-term school performance, progress reports and teacher reference reports.

When parents have any questions or concerns about any part of the application or admission process, including any myths, we appreciate when they are advised to call or schedule a meeting with one of the directors or counselors. We welcome you to refer parents directly to our admission office so that they may receive accurate, firsthand information according to their specific needs.

Betsy Hata
Director of Admission
Punahou School
Via email

After reading the article (“Pre-K Pressure”) I am of the opinion that the article not only creates more anxiety for parents by perpetuating myths surrounding the process, but also gives credence to these fallacies.

My main point of contention, of which I take great umbrage, is the fact that during the course of our interview I had explicitly stated that Iolani Schools never recommends tutoring. In fact, philosophically, we would much rather see parents take the time, effort and money that they spend on tutoring and admissions prep programs and instead use it on one-on-one quality time with their child.

I find it reprehensible that you chose to prominently feature tutoring services and highlight them as though they are the panacea to kindergarten admission.
By extolling the “virtues” of a specific prep course as well as giving it its own text box, the appearance of advocacy for this program is glaring.

As an admissions director, I would suggest that parents interested in applying their child for Kindergarten simply call the admissions office of the school that they are interested in and make an appointment to ask them directly what they look for in potential students. Both the phone call and the appointment are free, saving you $66.15 per hour.

Kelly Monaco
Lower School Admission Director
‘Iolani School
Via email

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