It’s that time of year! Kindergarten registration is open…
Many schools are about to have an open house for incoming kindergarten parents. Perhaps your district has already held one of these kindergarten nights, or your kindergarten information night is coming up in the next month.
Whether you are new to kindergarten or a returning for a second, third, or even fourth time, chances are you will hear the same question at your open house. Chances are you are thinking the same thing as the person who is asking the question.
“What does my child need to know before she comes to kindergarten?”
It is the question of kindergarten readiness. The question of “will my child be well prepared?” A question that contains both the hope that parents and guardians are helping their child succeed, as well as the anxiety that they haven’t done enough.
The open house for my school is coming up in a month or so, and it is guaranteed we will hear this question, as we do every year. We anticipate it, we are ready for it, and we understand where it comes from.
These days, there are articles upon articles written about the Common Core. There are Facebook posts sharing the work that children are expected to do. Parents are baffled as to how to help their children with math, even in the second grade. There is backlash rising against these high standards for young children as information regarding the necessity of play, recess, and mindfulness in the early childhood classroom is shared. Families want their children to be as prepared as they can be and have the right tools for learning before they enter school.
I have been teaching kindergarten for a long time, and I am here to tell you that children come into school at all different levels and degrees of kindergarten readiness.
I have taught children who can read chapter books in September, and those who don’t yet know their alphabet.
I have taught children who can write stories, and those learning to write their name.
I have taught children how to hold a pencil, how to sit in a circle, and how to listen to a story.
I have taught children how to build with blocks and compromise over who gets to sit next to who at snack.
So when we hear The Question about kindergarten readiness at our open house, our answer will be what it always is:
We will take your child from where she is socially and academically, and we will move her forward.
If your child can read and write and count to 100, can sit in a circle and listen and raise her had, that is wonderful. If he is not yet doing these things, we will teach him how to the best of his ability.
When children come to school with varying degrees of knowledge and skill, it is our job to take them from where they are and get them to the next level, all while providing a safe and loving environment where they can feel free to take risks. If your child already knows the alphabet and can read and write, our classrooms are differentiated so your child will be challenged. If your child is not yet at this place, then knowledgeable teachers will work to get her there.
As for what your child should know before coming to school, we say this: your child should know that school is a safe place, and one where she can trust her teacher to take care of her, and that she will experience all sort of interesting and engaging curriculum all while having time to make friends and play with those friends. Your child should know that though he may not enjoy everything about school, everything has a purpose.
And if you want to know what you can do to foster kindergarten readiness at home, here are some ideas:
- Read to your child every day! I can’t stress this enough. Studies show that reading aloud to your child every day boosts brain development and the ability to acquire knowledge, among many other important concepts.
- Allow for free play and time to play outside. While there is a benefit to some screen time and using apps to learn, studies show that the young brain develops memory and connections, and can grow larger when given time to play without structure.
- Get your child involved with other children. She will learn how to play with others, navigate social situations, and be ready to be in a group of children.
- Have your child help. Making a grocery list? Have your child help. Counting something? Have your child help. Measuring things while cooking? Have your child help. Not only will the bond with you be strengthened during these activities, but your child can learn letters, sounds, and numbers in the process.