How to be Ready or NNAT for the OLSAT

How Does Gifted Test Prep for Kindergarten Work, Exactly?Choosing to enroll your 3 or 4 year old in a G&T Prep program is a completely personal decision. Some believe that freedom outside of a structured learning environment gives kids the creative thinking skills to excel in life. Others believe that being taught concepts and vocabulary associated with problem solving can  help kids achieve more. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, if you live in NYC there’s one thing that you have to think about when your child is 3 or 4 years old and that is the Gifted and Talented test. That leaves a lot of us questioning if our kids will be ready for NNAT for the OLSAT. Those are the two portions of the exam that kids have to take the January before they enter kindergarten if they want to be considered for the NYC gifted programs.

G&T programs each have their own pros and cons but most have better track records than the majority of the regular public school programs in the 5 boroughs. So, then you have to ask yourself if you want to subject your 4 year old to a standardized test where only children who score in the 97 – 99 percentile get accepted. How do you treat a situation like that? Some say that test prep classes are a solid way to help improve your child’s chances at admission to one of the coveted spots in a citywide G&T program. But, how does gifted test prep for kindergarten work, exactly? Do they have to sit and do drills? Are they made to feel badly for not achieving greatness at 4 years old? The short answer is, NO. But, I interviewed the people at Bright Kids NYC about their program and their beliefs to help parents understand what NYC kindergarten G&T test prep looks like and to help you make the best choice for your family.

Bright Kids Explains How Their Program Helps Kids be Ready or NNAT for the OLSAT

What is Bright Kids?

Bright Kids is a full-service tutoring and publications company specializing in test preparation and subject tutoring.

We focus on a high-quality service paired with advanced technology to produce an unforgettable experience. We currently have 2 full-time tutoring centers in Manhattan and one seasonal center in the Upper West Side each fall. We also provide out-of-office tutors and school services. 

When did Bright Kids start & why was it started?

Bright Kids was founded in 2009 by a mom who wanted a better option for her children. She wanted a high quality institution to cater to young children who need admissions-based test preparation. Founder, Bige Doruk, has always wanted to create change and there is no better way to create change than beginning with our children. Ms. Bige Doruk received her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M, and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. 

 What is unique about Bright Kids’ approach to Gifted Test Prep vs other companies out there?

Bright Kids has a dedicated Curriculum Department that utilizes years of our internal data and successful strategies paired with our own materials vault to ensure that every child is given individualized and custom materials for each session.

Our programs typically begin with an assessment or diagnostic to determine a student’s strengths and areas of improvement. While this diagnostic is a useful reference for parents, it is vital for our Curriculum Department to ensure that the correct fundamental milestones are reached at the correct times. 

 The student’s progress is monitored throughout tutoring using session reports and progress tests, that align with our in-house materials. 

Another factor that we think helps the younger students learn the test-taking process is changing teachers throughout the program. Once of the most common issues students face is separation anxiety. Getting them used to coming into a center, and interacting with unfamiliar faces for a set period of time prepares them for what is to come. 

How do you help children learn to manage their frustration and emotional reactions to challenges?

Many of our students are around 4 years old, so this becomes a very important factor in their learning process. Our Curriculum Department staggers challenging sets of materials with easy sets. Teachers provide students with mental breaks during sessions. Another tactic our teams use is integrating student learning styles and interests into sessions/instruction.

What are some examples of things that you work on in your Gifted Test Prep sessions?

We practice visual spatial skills to address NNAT specific content. Pattern Completion, shape recognition, shape orientation  (rotate, translate etc), pattern recognition, figural analogies. 

As far as OLSAT content, for Arithmetic we implement finger and pencil strategies (when appropriate) to navigate simple math concepts such as counting, comparing quantities and performing operations such as addition and subtraction. For the other OLSAT sets, we work through problems that practice memory, and abilities to follow directions.

With all OLSAT sets we emphasize the importance of tracking the answer choices as the prompt is being read, listening to the prompt is read to completion, and critically listening.

Our teachers are given manipulatives and other resources to ensure the most out of each tutoring session. A great short guide for parents to making the most of our tutoring sessions at Bright Kids can be referenced by visiting our How to Help Your Student Love Bright Kids blog post.

What are the benefits of Gifted Test Prep?/ Are there any draw backs to Gifted Test Prep?

This is a tricky question, because there are many cases for and against this kind of test prep. When I speak to families with other admissions directors around New York City, the biggest benefit is the ‘edge’ that test prep gives a student during the testing and admissions process. 

One of my good colleagues always asks parents, “Ask yourself — if you took a test, would you do better with no test prep or some test prep.” What we do at Bright Kids is give students an opportunity to interact with the types of questions they might face on testing day. We give them the confidence and comfort they need to walk into the testing day knowing what to expect. 

Is there any benefit to starting gifted test prep earlier? What’s the best timing?

Our yearly studies have pointed to the fact that little increments of learning over a longer period of time is what works best with the younger students. Our account managers advise parents to work on foundational skills like counting, colors, shapes, etc. until about age 3.5. 

Bright Kids offers our Foundations Skill Builder program for students between 3-4 years old that we tell families to begin in the spring/summer prior to their fall/winter testing season. This program will help transition children into worksheet-based and test-specific content that replicates their testing experience. 

Our official test preparation programs begin in August before January G&T testing. The biggest point our team tries to emphasize is ensuring that families avoid burnout. Students should be gauged and never over-prepared. The last thing a family wants is their kid to lose interest/engagement/excitement with the content!

What does the ideal Gifted Test Prep program look like at Bright Kids?

The ideal G&T test prep option would be our comprehensive 16 session G&T Bootcamp. It is comprised of an initial diagnostic, 2 Progress tests, a mock test, and 12 instructional sessions. It also comes with an exclusive workbook to take home for extra practice.

What does that ideal program cost?

An all-inclusive package with books for home and a concluding mock test experience costs between $2,366.25 and $2,725.00.

What is your most popular program & its cost?

Our most popular G&T option is our G&T structured Bootcamp which ranges from about $1,695 to $2,725 depending on how many sessions are purchased. Anything that we deem a “Bootcamp” is simply our value option. This means the session must take place in one of our offices, sessions are (45) minutes each, the package includes a diagnostic session, and publications are given for home.

What is its success rate in getting kids into the coveted 99th percentile?

About 30% of our students score in the 99th percentile. About 90% of our clients qualify for some sort of Gifted and Talented program. 

Do you offer in-home sessions? Why/why not?

Yes we do. There are benefits to prepping at our offices but we want parents to have other options at their disposal if they are not able to make the commute on a weekly basis. Our at-home prep is extremely beneficial and we use our most experienced tutors for those situations.

Are your Gifted Test Prep sessions 1:1 or group? Why?

Our Gifted and Talented tutoring is offered only 1-on-1! Individual prep guarantees students get the attention they need to ensure they are focusing on the areas that need the most work. As young students can only maintain focus for so long it is also important that no time is wasted during a tutoring session. 1-on-1 sessions are the only way to ensure this!

New York City is and will always be one of the most competitive cities in the world. The fact is, parents with the resources to do so ARE preparing their children to succeed. If you are not, you are at a disadvantage. 

For more information on Bright Kids’ programs visit the Bright Kids tutoring website . Mention that you read about them on Metro Mom Club and you might just get a discount, too!

We also recently covered preparing your child for kindergarten full of tips and tricks that you can have fun doing at home leading up to the big 1st day of kindergarten.

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