Kindergarten is notwhat it used to be.Many parents remember kindergarten as a timeof finger-painting, playing with blocks and eatinggraham crackers. While these activities stillhave a place in the kindergarten classroom, a lothas changed over the years. With increasingnumbers of children attending preschool andschools across the nation instituting Pre-K andfull-day kindergarten programs, students are notonly entering kindergarten more prepared tolearn, but also have more time in which to do so.
Kindergarten is a muchmore academicallyrigorous environment thanmany parents remember.Your kindergartener will be learning much morethan how to share and use classroom materials.Be prepared to see your childs reading skillsblossom and her mathematical mind challenged. In addition to learning the alphabet and thesounds of the letters, your child will learn torecognize Sight Words, read books withrepetitive themes and even write down her ownthoughts. Shell also learn basic math skills,including numeral and number recognition andsorting, which serve as building blocks for later,more complex math skills.
Academic skills are onlypart of kindergartenreadiness.Sure, its great that your child knows the entirealphabet, recognizes all the numbers up to 20and can even read a little bit, but these skills areof secondary importance in the eyes of manykindergarten teachers. There are a number ofother readiness skills that will give your child aleg up in the classroom.Ask yourself the following questions to get abetter sense of your childs readiness:
Academic skills are only part of kindergarten readiness. • Does my child have the oral communication skills to make her needs/wants clearly understood? • Can my child separate from me for hours at a time without distress? • Is my child able to follow one- and two-step directions and adhere to rules? • Can my child sit still and pay attention for at least 10 minutes? • Does my child get along well with other children? (i.e. Is he able to cooperate? Does he hit, kick or bite?)
Academic skills are only part of kindergarten readiness. • Does Is my child able to complete personal need tasks independently or is she willing to try? (Can she button or snap her pants? Zip her coat? Use the toilet without help? Wash her hands?) • Does my child know how to use crayons? A pencil? Scissors? Allowing your child ample opportunity to explore and use supplies during creative play better prepares them for the academic requirements for school. • Can my child state his full name, address and phone number?
Volunteering in the classroom isnt the only way you can help out. Kindergarteners do a significant amount of hands-on learning and projects, meaning teachers often have a lot of prep work and non-budgeted expenses. • provide the materials for a project or sending in staples like re- Many parents think the closable plastic bags, paper cups, only way to help in their childs napkins or tissues can save a classroom is to actually be in the teacher huge out-of-pocket classroom helping out. I know expenses. that many parents work and arent able to be there during the • cut out or assemble project day. Luckily its not the only way pieces at home. you can offer assistance.
Learning is a full-timeendeavor and you areyour childs primaryteacher. Learning doesnt begin at 7:45 and end at2:45. Your child is going to learn a lot and beexposed to new ideas in school, but at the endof the day its up to YOU to keep that learninggoing. In fact, teachers rely on parentsreinforcing newly learned skills as a way topromote ongoing scholastic success. Ask him toshare what hes learning with you and find waysto extend that learning. It can be as simple asfinding books at the local library to explore atopic deeper, playing a game of "Sorry" to helphim keep up on his counting skills or readingwith him daily.
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