The kindergarten year is important for several reasons. Your child will begin receiving formal instruction in reading, math and language. This year can also impact your child's overall perception of learning in general. Sending your child to school with some knowledge of academic and social skills will give him a solid foundation that can extend past kindergarten. Children do not have to enter kindergarten with mastery of skills, but teachers will have some basic expectations.
Basic Print Concepts
Knowledge of print concepts is an early literacy skill that is helpful to know when kindergarten begins. The teacher will give the student a book and observe him while handling it. She wants to know if he can tell the difference between the front and back covers. Knowing that words are read from left to right is another important reading readiness skill.
Kindergarten teachers are accustomed to students entering the classroom knowing how to recite the alphabet. Reciting is important but secondary to recognizing the letters when presented in random order and being able to name them. This is one of the main skills that will help your child learn to read.
Along with letter naming, identifying and producing the sounds that the letters make is crucial to the reading process. If your child begins kindergarten already familiar with these skills, she will be ready to sound out words by the second quarter of school.
If you have read nursery rhymes aloud, your child probably will recognize that some of the words sound alike at the end. The ability to hear and isolate the sounds that rhyme in a word indicate reading readiness because it shows that a child is developing phonemic awareness.
Your child should be able to count orally at least to 10 and recognize numbers 1 through 5. When teachers begin math instruction, they usually begin with these basic skills and will start with 0. If your child can count past 10, he will be considered proficient or advanced.
Along with counting and recognizing numbers, it is helpful if your child can demonstrate number sense skills. The teacher will assess at the beginning of the year if students can look at two sets of objects in a picture and determine which set has more or less. This is a foundational skill needed when children learn to add and subtract later in the year.
Your child should be able to name and recognize the primary colors and a few additional colors when he begins kindergarten. Red, blue, yellow, black, brown, purple, green and orange are the eight basic colors he should know.
Most kindergarten teachers expect that incoming students will know the four basic shapes: circle, rectangle, triangle and square.
Kindergarten teachers don't expect children to be writing complete sentences when school begins. They know that children's motor skills, which include holding a pencil, develop differently. However, they do look for writing readiness. Your child can show this by being able to write his first name legibly as well as a few letters and numbers.
Behavioral expectations vary among teachers, but generally they look for certain signs that children are ready to learn. For example, they will observe your child to see if he can sit for 15 to 30 minutes and listen to a story. Teachers also expect kindergartners to interact with peers in communication and play. Social skills like these are important in helping a child succeed in school.
Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.