The GDO-R is an assessment tool created by the Gesell Institute of Child Development. It simply (or not so simply) helps educators understand the developmental age of a child. “Developmental Age” refers to or indicates where along a developmental timeline a child is generally behaving socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually as compared to the typical behavioral characteristics of that given age. It also includes skill levels related to language and learning. Many, if not most, children do not experience an even growth rate across these various areas of development. Some behaviors may be ahead and some behind those assumed to be typical of a chronological age.


A child’s developmental age may be different from his or her actual age in years. Kindergarten is the first year of formal schooling and some specific behaviors in all of these areas can be expected. These behaviors may or may not be consistent with your child’s natural, developmental stage at this time. His or her developmental readiness to meet these demands is closely connected to how successful he or she will feel in school.


Consideration of behavioral age is important when determining school readiness. Coping with school routines requires a child be able to achieve some level of self-reliance, adhere to rules, listen to and follow directions, wait one’s turn, work independently, and much more. Children are ready to start school when they can cope with the complexities of the school environment and learn at the same time.


One cannot push a child to develop more quickly; however, a large variety of enriching experiences can enable your child to grow more fully in skill and confidence at his or her developmental stage. By reading to your child often, encouraging imaginative play, by talking with your child and using everyday tasks as learning opportunities, you can make valuable contributions to his or her progress.