Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kindergarten Readiness

Soon some parents will be registering their children for Kindergarten for the Fall, which means preschool parents everywhere are starting to PANIC! Take a deep breath! It's scary enough to think about your little one being old enough to enter that next stage in their life, but these days most parents worry whether or not their child is READY.  There is growing pressure in our society to have the brightest and most advanced child, even before they start school.  Most of us aren't even aware why we are so worried.

This article is from The Chicago Tribune, September 2000 It discusses "new" research which shows the importance of a child being socially ready above all else.  I have seen a very wide range of abilities in the children who have left my preschool to enter kindergarten.  There are so many factors that come into play on where a child is at when they leave preschool to enter "big kid school." It is not to say that the answers to any of the following questions are better than others, or that those kids are more prepared than others. It is simply an outline of how very different each child's experiences are by the time they enter school.

  • Are they just turning five or are they about to turn six?
  • Did they enter preschool at age two or four?
  • Are they read to at home?
  • Have they been in social settings from infancy or was preschool their first experience?
  • How much time during the week do they spend in social settings?
  • What are the child's interests?
  • What kind of learner are they?
  • Do they understand simple directions?

Lisa Murphy's House of Higher Learning, emphasizes the importance of play as the foundation for all the learning that follows preschool. At one of her conferences she stated that kindergarten readiness should be determined by whether or not the child can get their shovel back in the sandbox. Problem Solving!

With that being said, most school districts including ours have certain standards they expect children to know when they enter kindergarten. Our district uses one of the many BRIGANCE assessments. Parents of past graduates have been very helpful and open with allowing me to see their children's completed kindergarten screening reports. Here are some of the things that children are "tested" on.

  • First name, full name, age, address, birthday, telephone number
  • Identifies by naming: heels, ankles, jaw, shoulders, elbows, hips, wrists, waist
  • Gross Motor Skills: 
    • Stands on each foot for ten seconds
    • Stands on each foot momentarily with eyes closed
    • Walks backwards toe-to-heel four steps
  • Color recognition: Rainbows colors and also pink, grey, black and brown
  • Copies: x, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond
  • Draws a person with: head, legs, ears, arms, trunk, eyes, nose, neck, hands, mouth
  • Prints first and last name
  • Rote counting to 30
  • Matching numbers with groups of objects (ex. #5 with five marbles)
  • Joins groups of objects for number readiness
  • Recognizes and Number Uppercase OR Lower Case Letters
  • Understandable Speech and Complete Sentences of at least five words
I have had parents call me so excited to report how their child has done, while I have had others show up at preschool in a panic because the scores were "below average." I have had children not score well on areas that they have completed fine while at school. I have not, however, ever had a parent call me two years down the road to tell me that their child is struggling in school, regardless of their screening scores. 

I recommend that you start early talking casually about all these concepts with your child. "Hey did you know that we live on Main Street?" or "It looks like you scraped your Elbow." Its important for parents to talk with their children and also to ask questions that require the child to answer with more than yes or no.


Other fun ideas on how to incorporate some of these concepts into your everyday routines:
  • Count food as your serve it to the child (count 1,2,3 meatballs as you scoop them)
  • Use their full name often! 
  • While they are waiting for you to finish what you are doing, give them simple directions like (stand on one foot, put your hands on your waist, etc.
  • Point colors out everywhere!
  • When playing with pretend telephones, say your number out loud while pushing the buttons.
  • Draw and doodle with your child and talk while you are doing it. 
  • Most of all be silly and have fun. Kids learn so much more through playing!

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentine's Day is a tricky holiday for many people. Some people truly embrace it as a time to show everyone around them just how much they love them. Others (myself generally included) feel that it is a overly marketed holiday. I do however LOVE making homemade cards with the kids to make for their families (and my own too). This was our fourth year celebrating Valentines Day in this fashion. We have built up quite a collection of unique materials and precut hearts, which makes it even more fun! A big THANK YOU for all of the parents who donated supplies!
The kids were so involved with the stickers this year that we never even had time to break out the glitter. I do love the way the glitter looks on the cards, but they are never dry enough for the kids to take home that day.  I did miss it a little, but what I did not miss is cleaning up glitter off everything for the next week. :)

First choose a card and paper hearts to glue on.
Next... Stickers!!!

Decorated bags for delivering
Peeling those stickers really works those finger muscles!

Some of the finished products.

Baby food jars for glue with paintbrushes.
One of my favorite preschool days of the year!