When most parents think of the readiness skills needed for Kindergarten, they immediately think of reading readiness skills. Well that is only the half of it. Let’s not forget about math skills. Many children arrive in Kindergarten and are very proud of their counting skills. Children love to be able to say “I can count to 100!” Now most cannot do this, but they think they can. The beginning of Kindergarten usually teaches and reinforces counting and recognizing numbers. Kindergarten teachers want parents to know that just because your child can count by memory; it does not mean he/she can count accurately when actually counting items. We call this one to one counting and it needs to be practiced each and every day. Just grab a handful of cereal, coins, small toys and let the counting begin. Ask your child to count the items for you and watch carefully to be sure that each item is only counted one time and not repeated in the counting process. Your child must touch one object for each number that is counted aloud. Most 5 year old children get stuck when they get to 14 or 15. Counting and coordinating with the hand movement is tricky but improves with practice. When your child gets stuck, give him/her the correct number and then ask them to count again. This process takes lots of practice but in order to be able to count accurately children must have the opportunities to practice.
Monthly Archives: September 2009
Writing. Your child should be writing every chance that he/she gets. Put a pencil, crayon, marker or paintbrush in your child’s hand and let them explore the writing process. Knowing how to write your thoughts down on paper takes many, many weeks, months and years to practice. Many incoming Kindergarten children know their letters and sounds but they are hesitant to use them when writing for fear of making mistakes. Encourage your child to try and write the first sound that they hear in any sound. If they want to write Mom, have your child sound out the first sound, M. If your child wants to write pumpkin, have your child sound out the first sound, P, etc. If you have a reluctant writer, a child who won’t even give writing a try, then have him/her write the alphabet letters for practice just to be able to put letters down on paper. Writing begins with baby steps and that’s where we are in Kindergarten, learning our baby steps of writing. Please have paper available for your child along with writing tools such as pencils and markers. If you are headed to the grocery store, have your child ‘write’ down your list. If you are preparing dinner, have your child ‘write’ down what you need from the cabinet before you can prepare your meal. Young children will write when they have a purpose, but often will not, when they are presented with a sheet of paper, a pencil and an order to ‘write’. Help get them started and then watch out, your child’s writing will really take off.
My daughter, who is 24 years old, said to me yesterday I have one complaint about how you and Dad raised me. Oh, boy, I thought, what is coming next? She said ‘you taught us how to say thank you’ and that is the problem. Still not quite understanding her, she went on to explain that when you are raised to say thank you at all times, you always expect the same courtesy from others at all times.. and it doesn’t always happen and you end up disappointed that your efforts went unnoticed. How true! Not only are 5 year olds negligent about saying thank you, grown-ups can be guilty as well. Very few, if any of the Kindergartners that I teach say ‘thank you’ when I hand them a paper, give them a sticker, give them a compliment or say anything that should be answered with the words thank you. 5 year olds can write thank you notes for gifts, even if it means that mom and dad write most of it and that they sound out what they can. Children should be taught to say thank you when something is given to them, when someone hands them something, when someone stoops to pick up something that he/she has dropped, when someone moves out of your way to let you by, when someone says “bless you” after a sneeze…the list could go on and on. Please demand that your child show you courtesy and respect by using the words thank you as often as possible and then perhaps that learned social skill will carry over to the classroom with teachers and classmates deserve the same respect.
When someone says ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to you it seems pretty natural to return the greeting. That is if you have been taught to do so. Kindergarten children have to be taught to say ‘good morning’ to their teacher. I stand at my door as the children come into my classroom and purposefully say ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ to each child as they enter the room. Sounds easy, right? The trick is getting these 5 year olds to return the greeting to me. Not one of my current kindergartners says ‘hello’ back to me without some prodding. Some children just stare and say nothing while most just continue walking as if they have heard nothing from me. Every day we go through this ritual and every day I have to remind the children when someone (i.e., your teacher!) says hello to you it is polite to say ‘hello’ back. Parents, please help your child with this skill. Do not let them just walk away from you as you say ‘hello’, or ‘hi’, or ‘good morning’, or ‘good afternoon’. Once again I go back to the thought that 5 year olds live in their own ME world and that they think that the world revolves around them. Since this is not so, it is our job, as the adults in their lives to teach children that in polite society, when others greet you, it is considered polite to answer back. This is a polite way of recognizing others when they have taken the time to recognize you. Take a moment to observe your child when a greeting is given to him/her, see how he/she responds to the greeting and then decide what you need to work on at home. I am doing my best at school, but I can’t do it alone.
Young children crave and need routines in their lives. It makes them feel safe when they know what to expect not only at school but at home as well. One of the routines that often fall by the wayside in homes is discipline. Discipline being teaching your child about right and wrong and what you will and won’t accept from their behavior. By discipline I do not mean physically hurting your child to get them to do what you want only teaching appropriate and acceptable behaviors. Year after year, and this year is no different, there will always be some children who test the teacher at every possible turn. More often than not, these children also test their parents and win! This ‘winning situation’ is seen as power by 5 year olds and they don’t understand why it doesn’t work at school. Some children learn at home that if they push and push and push the adults, eventually the adults will be too tired/frustrated/worn out and will just give in. Sound familiar? Parents will say to me at conferences in November, how do you do it? They won’t listen to me and I don’t know what to do. Parents, you MUST get a handle on your 5 year olds behavior, it takes work, just like it takes lots of work for me at school to get 50 children a day to follow and obey ALL of my class behavior rules. We work day after day after day on the same issues and by mid October MOST of the children understand them and then we are able to pick up the pace on academic learning. Who doesn’t get it? Who is a repeat visitor to the time out table? Almost always a child who exhibits the same oppositional behaviors at home but the consistency needed from the adults to correct the behaviors hasn’t been given. I often hear, ‘this doesn’t happen at home’ or ‘this didn’t happen in preschool.’ Children are very smart and learn quickly what they can and cannot get away with and who they can get away with it from. They also learn quickly which adults will take the time to correct their behaviors and which adults will let them slide and not address them at all. The time to regain control is now, middle school and high school come sooner than you can believe and I can assure you that if you cannot parent your child at 5, you will need lots more than luck when they are a teenager.
Kindergarten students have been in school now for 3 or more weeks. How many friends’ names from class has your child learned? 1, 2, or hopefully more. 5 and 6 year olds live in a very ‘me’ world and do not often realize what is going on right around them, especially in a classroom. I have learned all of my 50 children’s first and last names, the children have learned their two teachers’ names, but can the children name all of the other 24 children in their class? Kindergarten teachers spend a great deal of time in September helping the children to learn their new classmates’ names but no matter how hard we try, it is hard for many children. They will refer to another child as ‘that girl’ or ‘that boy in the red shirt.’ When this happens I stop them and make them go to that child and ask what his/her name is and then come back and repeat it to me. Sometimes, by the time the child returns to me with the name, he/she has already forgotten it and we have to start the process all over. Kindergarten teachers will sing out names of children, dance to names of children, and play I Spy with names of children all in an effort to help our new little class family get to know one another. It is a challenge but we work on it every day. You could help at home by asking your child to name a few class friends each day when he/she arrives home from school. Write the names on a piece of paper and continue to add to the same list each day when you talk about the school day with your child. You could reward your child with a sticker for new names learned and you should continue until the list is complete. You might check with your child’s teacher to find out how many children are in the class and make a pretty big deal when your child finally completes the list and has learned the names of all of his/her new Kindergarten friends.
Deadlines. They even occur in Kindergarten. When your child’s teachers sends papers/forms home to be filled out and returned to school by a certain date, do it. It’s that simple. There is a reason for the deadline. The teachers would like to collect the papers/forms from ALL of the parents and move on. It may seem trivial to you to turn in the forms ‘a few days late’ but what it means for the teacher is that he/she must keep tracking you down until the papers are returned to school. This is a waste of valuable teacher time. Children in Kindergarten are starting to learn about responsibility and getting items turned in on time is one of the skills we stress. It goes for parents too! Just today, my Kindergartners visited our school library where they were allowed to check out a new book. That is, IF the child had returned his/her book that was checked out last week. Again, it may not seem like a huge deal to you, but in the eyes of a 5 year old, when everyone else is getting a new book and the teacher has to explain that he/she can’t, it’s not a pretty scene. When your teacher is collecting items from each child for a class project, help out! Don’t rely on ‘all of the other parents’ to do their share and yours as well. You too can do it. Many notes, forms, and requests for special items will come home this year. Your child’s teacher and your child are expecting your help. Give it and do not make the teacher track you down so he/she can do something special for your child. Do you always honor deadlines and do what is asked of you the first time it is asked? If so, you are a model parent and your child and child’s teacher are lucky!