Kindergarten is such an exciting time for kids, and the first day a child feels like a “big kid.” While a parent is a child’s first teacher, kindergarten teachers play such a pivotal role in launching a child’s school education. Here are just a few milestones for a five or six year old student.
-Kids get excited to either pack or buy a lunch at school and ride a bus to school for the first time because it’s the first time they really get to show their sense of independence.
-In kindergarten, children will begin to learn to read on their own, which is a huge milestone for young children. A young child wants to learn to tie their show, ride a bike, and read all by themselves. Kindergarten often marks one or all three of these milestones.
-Children also begin to make new friends and build relationships through group work, stations, and creative play both inside and outside of the classroom. Children should be given these opportunities to learn how to share, socialize, and play with all children.
Both developmentally and academically, kindergarten is a big leap
from preschool. Literacy is a big piece of kindergarten today, and the developmental process of reading evolves throughout the seasons and differs from one child to the next. In the fall, the focus is usually on writing your first and/or last name, recognizing uppercase and lowercase letters, rhyming activities, and learning initial sounds. We also introduce big books to teach the concept of print (directionality of text and one-to-one correspondence). Winter continues with rhyming and learning the initial sounds of letters. We expand on concept of print encouraging children to practice tracking of a text on their own, and we teach sight words. By spring, we have added lots of sight words, provided developmentally appropriate books to match individual reading levels, taught ending sounds of words, practiced word study and the spelling of rhyming words or sight words, and encouraged children to write using invented spelling in all stories, sentences, etc.
Parents definitely make a big impact on a child’s academic success. Here are a few ways to help your kids along the way. Read to your children every night so children learn about the concept of print and what good readers sound like. Ask questions to your child about the story before, during, and after reading. Teach nursery rhymes to your children so they hear rhyme patterns. If your child asks you to spell a word, spell it for them. Once your child starts learning to read and brings home books, let them read to you. Don’t jump in and tell them the “tricky word:” let them figure it out then assist them if they are truly struggling.
Socially, parents can help their children in other ways.Kindergarten students are ready to be a “big kid” and are expected in school to listen, share, follow directions, take care of their classroom, be a classroom helper, and learn procedures. It’s important for parents to ask about their child’s day so they are informed; believe me, your child will tell you every little detail about that day. At home, provide your child with multi-step directions (such as take a bath then brush your teeth then pick out a book to read). Allow your child to make choices such as choosing what they would like to pack for a healthy snack or selecting books from the library. Have your child pack their own folder/backpack, do their own homework (with your assistance or double checking if needed), and clean up their rooms, their dishes,etc. They love to help and can certainly help around the house. It’s also fun for some children to get their first alarm clock so they can set it before school each night. Finally, if you don’t have one already, set an after school schedule (including a snack, homework time, play time, dinner, screen time (computer and/or tv depending on house rules), bedtime, etc.) so children know what is expected. Most importantly, enjoy kindergarten and watch your child grow and learn each and every day!
Ask your child about their day each and every day and talk about what they have to look forward to such as Wednesday is a PE day and Thursday is a library day. Try never to send your child to school upset about something at home since their whole day will be ruined. Work with your child on the skills they are learning in school in a fun way and invite friends from school over to play or to meet at the park.
Every year is new to parents, but in kindergarten, I find parents are very surprised about the amount of independence and responsiblity children have. They walk off the bus or out of the carpool line and into their classrooms on their own (after the first 2 weeks of school of course) and they are expected to learn and follow classroom rules. Sometimes homework is something new to tackle and sometimes peer conflict takes place, but it’s really a year of finding out who your child is as he or she begins their school career. Show your excitement and support to your child each and every day!
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