Friday, April 18, 2014

Things that your child really does need to know for Kindergarten.

I have a child in the 4th grade.  What, you ask, qualifies me to feel the need to write a post about such things?   Well, I've been there.  Also, I'm at school all of the time and know the struggles that they deal with.  Finally, my brother didn't take my mother's advice and now my niece is repeating Kindergarten.

That's right.  If you thought it couldn't happen, it does.  They DO hold children back in Kindergarten these days.

1.  Name.  Have your child know their name.  What I'm talking about is their GIVEN name.  We have children that come in having been called a cutesy pet family name all of their life.  Their name could be Michael or Jennifer, but they've been called Pookie all of their life.  They go to Kindergarten, the teacher refers to them as Michael or Jennifer and not as Pookie and they haven't the foggiest of who is being spoken to.

2.  Writing their name.  Yes, your child needs to be able to form the letters to write their own name.  Ideally, they need to write their first and last name, but at this point, first would work better than nothing at all.  We had children enter Kindergarten this year who couldn't form the letters to write their own name.  I sang B-I-N-G-O to K to teach her how to spell her first, middle and last name.  (Three different songs.)  It works.  I promise.

3.  ABC's.  They do need to know their ABC's.  They need to know all of them, not just some of them or the ones that just make up their name.  They also need to know them by sight.  More specifically, they need to know the letters out of order.

4.  Sounds.  They need to know those, too.  Yes, this is a skill that they will build upon, but when they start Kindergarten, they start reading.  Yes.  They start reading the very first day.  They don't know their letters and sounds upon entering, they are automatically behind.

5.  Numbers to 20.  We're talking in the same manner of ABC's.  They need to know them in order and out of order.  Throughout Kindergarten, they will need to be able to count to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's without help.  No.  I'm not kidding.

6.  Shapes.  Include diamonds and ovals.

7.  Colors.

8.  Parental names.  Each grading period, I helped K's kindergarten teacher with grading period assessments.  I would sit in the hall and ask them all of the things that I stated above.  It was amazing how many children didn't know their parent's names.  To call you Mom and Dad is great.  They do, however, need to know that you have a formal name outside of that title.

9.  Birth date.  They didn't need to know their birth year, but they did need to know their birthday.  I had one child who was wearing a birthday ribbon on the day that I assessed her.  It was her birthday that very day.  I asked her what her birthday was and she couldn't tell me.  "Are you positive?"  I couldn't tell her that she was wearing a ribbon, had birthday treats and had been called down to the office to recognize it.

10.  Their address.  Yes, they need to know their address, including zip code.

11.  Their phone number.  So often, a child is sick or injured and the numbers on file with the school have been disconnected or changed.  They have the right, in an emergency situation, to transport your child without your permission if they are unable to get a hold of you, but it is good for your child to just know their phone number.  If you change it, teach that one.

12.  How to open their lunch containers.  Stop hovering!  Your child can and should be able to exist in blocks of time at this point without you standing over them and doing everything for them.  Teach them how to open a water bottle, a thermos, a lunch container, a wrapper. . . So often, the kids aren't able to do that.  Sometimes, of course, every child will need help.  We aren't doing a service to them if we always do it for them.  Dare I say it, but we have to let them grow up a bit, yes?

13.  How to clean up after themselves.  I can't tell you how many times I've been at school after K-1 lunch and have seen that the kids just get up and walk away.  So often, it is just easier as parents to pick up after our children and make the mess go away.  At school, you aren't with them and they have to do it themselves.

14.  How to snap, zip and button their own clothing.  Children need to be able to pull their clothing back up and get it all straight without their teacher.  A kindergartner asked me to snap her pants.  I didn't do it.  We sent her down to her teacher.  I hate to say, but so often there are things said that people do and I wasn't willing to be accused of something I didn't do.  Don't stress out about shoe tying.  If they can do it, super.  If they can't, I think I recall being told that it is a 1st grade skill.  K learned in early October of 1st grade.  Just double knot the tie shoes and you'll be good.

15.  How to wipe their own butt.  You shouldn't expect your child's teacher to do this for them.  First, they have a class to attend to.  Secondly, that's just gross.

16.  How to go to class without you.  The less of a big hairy deal you make about them going off to class, the better they will be.  You can't walk them to class all of the time and you shouldn't have to.  Let those apron strings out a bit!  Your child will now be attending school and as such, crying and screaming for an hour or more after they've been dropped off just isn't real conducive to learning on behalf of the other children.  Let them go and let them be a kid with their people.

17.  The world isn't always going to be fair and both of you need to know that.  Gemma may have gotten more marshmallows than Johnny.  I'm sure that it wasn't purposefully, but you need to both know that not everything is split straight down the middle.  Sometimes one child will be picked for something, but not because your child wasn't good enough.  Your child will get a turn.  I promise.

18.  Sight words.  This is not necessary, but extremely helpful.  If you have a kiddo ready for it, go to your local Dollar Tree and pick up the Kindergarten Dolch sight words.  Chop them up.  Put them in a kleenex box and work on a few words a day.  During Kindergarten (or at least in my child's room) they had the "Word Wall."  They had to know all of the words on the word wall by the end of the grading period.  The "Word Wall" was comprised of 100 different sight words each grading period.  Since your child goes in and starts reading immediately, this is a huge help.

In our school district, there is no test for Kindergarten readiness.  The teachers do the KRA-L test with kids when they start, but the kids start at completely different ends of the readiness spectrum.  In our district, by March, the children are to be able to write a 4 sentence paragraph on a topic given to them on assessment morning.  It is to have a topic sentence, 2 supporting sentences and 1 sentence to "wrap everything up."  The spelling doesn't have to be correct, but the correct sounds must be represented, the correct beginning letter and end letter must be there, the correct number of syllables represented in each word, correct punctuation, and capitalization.  My child, incidentally, goes to a city public school.

My niece was not ready at the beginning of Kindergarten.  She is sassy and strong-willed and determined to do as she wishes.  She can be an ornery kiddo.  She doesn't like to learn, but it isn't quite an option.  She'll be repeating Kindergarten and hopefully, it'll work out better the second time through.

For parents with experience, did I miss anything vital?


Rach said...

As I so often tell folks, Kindergarten is NOT the K of your youth, it's what first and second grade used to be. It's insane the things kiddos need to know to have a good start in school. It's even more insane what they expect them to be able to accomplish once that year is over.

ChupieandJ'smama (Janeen) said...

I think you did pretty well with the list. I have a family that will be sending some children to K next year. She is in for a HUGE surprise. Kindergarten has changed so much and IMO, not for the better. M was stressed out his entire Kindergarten year (he had a totally crappy teacher though). Fun and games are not the norm.