I am always on the lookout for resources to support my work on reading readiness. The Get Ready to Read initiative is such a resource that is usable by both teachers and parents. Although the material is generated from an organization with its primary focus on Learning Disabilities, it is appropriate for all children. There are tools for both classroom and home usage. There is a simple screening tool and information on using the results for the benefit of the child. The available online games and activities are fun while reinforcing readiness skills.
Kindergarten Readiness Questions
It’s that time of year when the question of Kindergarten readiness pops it head up. Every year at this time, I get asked questions from parents about this. How do I know they are ready? How can being the youngest or the oldest affect them? How can it affect later school years? What happens at a screening? How do they place a child? What if we find it isn’t working as the year goes on?
The first answer: Every child is different and thus every situation is different.
For most children, I believe it doesn’t matter when their birthday is in relationship to the cut off date for entering Kindergarten. What I feel matters most is a child’s readiness for this upcoming adventure in the areas of: emotional, social, and cognitive development.
Going to Kindergarten is a big deal for everyone in a family. It can be scary, but some of that can be worked around by visiting the school multiple times, so the school size, bus ride, etc. aren’t overwhelming. More important for me, is how your child handles transitions, responds to adult authority, understands routines and rules. Can your child handle sitting quietly, raise their hand, ask for help, work by themselves, etc.?
There can be as many as 18 children in a Kindergarten class. A big change from a childcare setting or preschool class. These children all come from different backgrounds, with different expectations regarding behavior, experiences and abilities. How is your child on interacting with their peers and adults in authority?
The next big question is: Is your child currently engaged in opportunities they have for learning? If so, with continued positive involvement from home they should do well in Kindergarten. It isn’t about how fast they learn, but that they want to. Children entering Kindergarten have a wide range of academic capabilities. Screening will help teachers find the best placement for each incoming child. It also helps teachers prepare their programs to met the educational needs of the class as a whole and each child as an individual.
We all know that a child can succeed on their own, but with the support of parents, extended family, childcare providers and classroom teachers, they will experience the most success. Once you have made your decision regarding your child’s Kindergarten readiness, make it that positive experience by staying involved.
Kindergarten expectations have changed significantly the last few years. With the expectations now for the early elementary grades it isn’t enough for Kindergarteners to come into school just ready to learn. They really need some academic basics in place. To that end my goal the last few years has been to work with my Pre-K children to develop their ability to:
- recognize upper and lower case letter forms for the ABCs
- recognize beginning letter sounds
- writing ABCs in upper case form
- write and read first name
- understand one-to-one counting and be able to use that to count to 20 consistently
- begin developing the concept of tens and ones for counting past 20
- symbol awareness for numbers through 20
To help children begin to learn the letter sounds, I like to associate a word or words with the beginning sound made by the letter under discussion (Ball, banana, bear for “B”). By these associations children begin to understand that letters have sounds and are connected to specific words.
Now to remind parents on the difference between rote counting and one-to-one correspondence. There is a difference and although children can do one it doesn’t mean the other is in place. Any accomplishment in counting is great, but I personally think the one-to-one correspondence is more important and thus is where I find myself focusing. Rote counting is the listing off of the numbers, like singing the ABC song. It doesn’t mean they have any understanding of the value of numbers. Being ability to touch and count one item at a time is a more difficult skill. After I know the children have a strong understanding of one-to-one correspondence, I start to work on the recognition of number symbols 1 through 20. It is important to remember to work with any symbol (letter or number) out of order or sequence, so we know rote memory isn’t coming into play.
We have worked hard to develop the idea that learning is FUN! I encourage you to continued to stay involved in your child’s educational experience, so they will flourish in this next step in their learning adventure.
Core Standards and Readiness
I have a subscription to Collage which is a resource for early educators. The featured article this month was about core standards and our expectation on children being prepared for learning in a k-12 school setting.
This was the side bar lead in to the featured articles:
“FROM THE EDITOR
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Yeats might have been addressing the situation in early childhood today. What do the new academic standards have to do with the way our children really learn?
In a time when the whole country is struggling over standards in our kindergartens and schools, here are some refreshing voices who know the joy – and the importance – of “lighting the fire” in a growing young mind. We know what our children need, and we can encourage each other to make their early education as rich, active, and play-based as possible.
I hope these articles provide some of that encouragement for you.”
Rachel – Collage Editor
Needless to say it caught my eye. I found the articles interesting enough to pass along for any parent that may wish to read.