Monthly Archives: November 2009

Ask If You Can Share Any Of Your Holiday Traditions With Your Child’s Kindergarten Class

Many of our Kindergarten students and their families are busy preparing for the upcoming holidays that will happen in December.  Our classrooms are becoming more and more diversified and we must not overlook other holidays that occur not only at this time of the year but during the other months of the year as well. Many times during the school year, I invite any of my Kindergarten parents to come into my classroom and share any family holiday or tradition that they have at their house. For many children this may be the only opportunity that they have for learning about holiday traditions from other cultures.   Young children are a captive audience and eager to learn about their friends and what they do at their homes.  If you have a holiday or tradition that your family celebrates, contact your child’s teacher to see if you can come into the classroom and talk to the children about your holiday. Kindergartners are good listeners and really enjoy when you bring in clothing, food, pictures, or items that represent your heritage or culture.  Let’s give ALL children something to learn about and what’s better than learning all about their Kindergarten friends and the holidays and traditions that they celebrate with their families.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents

Keeping Routines For Your Child During The Holiday Season

Thanksgiving has come and gone and many families are now preparing for even more holidays in December. This is the time of the year when daily routines are difficult to follow as there are a limited amount of hours in a day. Even though you are busy shopping, cooking, rushing around or attending parties, remember that your 5 year old needs a routine now more than ever. School doesn’t stop in December but there is a marked increase in children coming to school tired due to late nights because of changes in routine. These tired children are cranky and not ready to learn. Please help your child be ready for school (and family) by:

• Ensuring that he/she has a bath and story at the same time every night

• See that he/she goes to bed at the same time each night

• See that your child gets up at the same time every morning

• Give your child three healthy meals and three healthy snacks every day

You know what your child is like when he/she is overtired and you try to get him/her to do what you are asking. Now imagine that same child at school trying to pay attention to the teachers. This is a very tough teaching month and an even more difficult learning month for Kindergartners. December is a good time to introduce play dates to your child. He/she has been in school over 50 days now and is learning the names of friends in the classroom. Find another parent that you can swap children with while each of you takes a turn shopping/cooking/wrapping without young children around. Everyone benefits from these few hours. Your child will enjoy playing with a friend and you will enjoy alone time to get your errands done.

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Learning In Kindergarten During The Cycle of Holidays

Fall is a very busy time in Kindergarten.  Once the children get acquainted with their new teacher and classmates, the first round of standardized testing began. Then came fall festivities to include getting ready for Halloween and going out trick or treating.  The excitement of being 5 only escalates in November when Kindergartners everywhere are busy learning about the first Thanksgiving and making Pilgrim and Native American Indian costumes. Then it’s off to Grandma’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.  Now that the children are coming back to school on Monday, December and more festivities are just around the corner. Whew! Will the excitement level of the first four months of Kindergarten every settle down and even out? The answer is yes and it will happen in January.  In January nothing is happening outside of school.  There are no major holidays that involve dressing up and collecting candy all of the neighborhood, no holiday that involves making costumes, learning songs and having a feast of some sort, and no major holidays that involve gift giving and the receiving of gifts.  Ahh, Kindergarten teachers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief when January finally arrives.  This is when we can teach and know (not hope) that these young minds are actually focusing on and listening to the instructions.  We will start introducing sight words (words that good readers instantly recognize without having to decode them), learn to put spaces in our writing and will even introduce simple addition and subtraction.  Parents hang in there, the attention levels of your children will worsen in the next few weeks before they get better, but trust me, January will be here soon and then the real learning will begin.

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On Thanksgiving Kindergartners Can Write What They Are Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving to all Kindergartners and their families! Today you might ask people at your Thanksgiving gathering to either write down or talk about 3 things that they thankful for.  A 5 year old might need an adult or older brother or sister go first, but once he/she gets the hang of it, expect some precious thoughts straight from the heart. Ask your child to write down what he is thankful for and then ‘read’ it at the dinner table. Enjoy this special family day and if thankful thoughts are written down, put them in a special place to review again next Thanksgiving when your child is older and will have different thoughts.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Writing

Learning To Count On

Many Kindergartners do not realize that in Kindergarten we are doing math all throughout the day and just because we aren’t calling it math, it doesn’t mean it isn’t math.  Every day we count to a pattern of clapping and snapping how many days we have been coming to school, we count on the calendar to find out the date and we choose the picture to complete the pattern on the calendar, we review number recognition every morning on the carpet, we may line up in patterns, (boy, girl, boy, girl), we make talking graphs on the bulletin board and we graph almost daily.  We are learning to do some math with our daily ritual of taking attendance.  Every day when we take attendance I will count the children who are present and then say to the children, “We are supposed to have 25 children (or 26 in the afternoon) and today we only have 22 children” “Is 22 equal to 25?”, then I wait for answers.  Once we have decided that 22 is not equal to 25, we have to figure out how many children are missing.  To do this we are learning to “count on”, a type of mental math done without paper or pencil.  I teach the children to start counting at the next number beyond 22, in this case 23. So the children say, 23, 24, 25 and learn that they had to count up 3 times to get to 25. They now know that 3 children are missing.  You could do this type of ‘counting on’ at any time with your child.  Just give them any number and then ask them how many more they would have to ‘count on’ to get to another number. (i.e., if you had 7, how many more would you need to make 12) the child would start counting at 8, 9,10,11,12 and realize that it would take 5 more to get to 12.  This is a great math activity for car rides, bedtime, or any time throughout the day when your child might need a quick brain developing activity.  Some Kindergartners are now able to count on and many more are learning, try this with your child and then continue working on it every day to increase those mental math skills needed for math at school.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Math

Which Children Do Teachers Remember Long After The School Year Is Over?

Teachers teach many children every school year.  I am teaching 52 children this year and when you think that I have been doing this for over 30 years..that’s a lot of children that I have taught.  I have seen every type of personality walk through my door and some types I see over and over again with each new school year just on different faces.  Some children come into school ready to learn and always do what they are supposed to do, while on the other extreme others come into school more ready to test the establishment and the school rules. I will say that the children that teachers remember long after they have left our classroom are not the children with the highest grades, or the ones who could ready chapter books before coming to Kindergarten, but teachers remember the children who are happy children, respectful of others and their teachers and are very good-hearted people.  Take a look at your child’s personality. Is he/she happy? (Believe me we don’t see this in every child) Is your child respectful of others? (I don’t see this in all children either) Is your child good natured and a good friend? (This isn’t a personality trait of all 5 year olds) If your Kindergartner is not happy, find out why.  If your child is not respectful of others, it is time to change that.  If your child is not good-natured, work on that and help to develop that personality trait.  If you want your child to be remembered by his/her teacher many, many years after leaving Kindergarten, take a good hard look at your child’s personality and start now to work on behavior and personality traits that may need to be fine tuned.

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Filed under First Grade, Kindergarten, Parents, Social Skills

Kindergartners And The Thanksgiving Table

All the Kindergartners that I know are very excited about Thanksgiving.  They all know that they are going to eat turkey and lots of it.  They all know a little about the Pilgrims and a little about the Native American Indians.  Many are traveling to visit friends and family and many will have ‘sleepover’ guests at their house.  It is hard to contain this type of excitement but one thing that your child could do is to help set the holiday table.  5 and 6 year olds can:

  • make place cards for each person at the table (use a handprint to make a turkey, decorate it and add a name)
  • Decorate a paper placemat for each person at the table
  • Put a large piece of brown wrapping paper on the children’s table, add crayons and let the children decorate their own tablecloth
  • Count the utensils needed, find the appropriate number of forks, knives and spoons in the kitchen and place them where they belong on the table
  • Fold the napkins (more folding practice) and place the napkins on the table
  • Make a list of things they are thankful for and ‘read’ it at the Thanksgiving table, invite others to do the same
  • Most Kindergartners have learned many Thanksgiving songs at school, enlist your child to put on a show after dessert is served.

Children want to be part of the festivities and although it takes a few extra minutes to explain things to them, in the end, they will be much happier and you will enjoy all that they have done for you.

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Filed under Kindergarten, Parents, Social Skills