It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost time to be registering your little learners for kindergarten! If you’ve got a first timer, or one you’re on the fence about, I think you’ll enjoy this mini series I did last year with the help of some of this area’s experts!
Cindy Johnson is an Early Learning Specialist in the Franklin Pierce School District. Laurie Sjolund is the Early Learning Coordinator in the Sumner School District. They were both very generous with their time, and gave me lots of great tips to share with you.
First, if you’re the parent of a 4 or 5 year old who has not yet started kindergarten, be on the lookout for information about Ready! for Kindergarten classes. Most every district offers some kind of kindergarten registration event, but Ready! for Kindergarten (look for the exclamation point) is a special program. If you participate in the class you’ll learn fun ways to work on early learning skills with your kiddos (flashcards not required), and you’ll walk away with free toys and educational materials you get to keep. Score!
I’ve heard from several readers that these are excellent. I know Puyallup has some coming up. If you want to check for one in your district, you can head here to the Ready! for Kindergarten site , and plug your zip code into the box towards the bottom. If you see a link for your district, but it leads to something with really old dates, I would call. It probably means they offer the program, but they haven’t updated the site.
If you aren’t able to take one of these classes, you can still make sure your preschooler is ready to learn. Both Sjolund and Johnson talked about how important it is for parents to be their children’s first teachers from birth on, by doing simple things like nightly story reading and block play.
You’ll also want to think about social skills. While I know I spent a lot of time fretting about letters and numbers, both educators told me kindergarten teachers say that kiddos who enter with the ability to follow a routine, listen to directions, and use their words to solve problems, will quickly grasp new ideas.
Want some more specifics? The Ready! for Kindergarten program has a list of learning targets for each age. Johnson also shared a few specific suggestions with me. I’m guessing most of you will find that your preschoolers have already mastered these. Yours is probably going to be just fine if she
- Knows her colors
- Knows the names of the letters in the alphabet and maybe half the sounds (try starting with the sounds in her name).
- Can hear beginning and ending sounds on words
- Enjoys being read to
- Can count to 20 and in quantities to 10.
- Can recognize her name
- Can concentrate on tasks
- Can sort objects into groups
- Can use comparing words
For specific questions about programs available to your family, it’s best to contact your local district. I’d also love to hear about your experiences, so don’t be shy about leaving a comment.
If you have a preschooler with a spring or summer birthday, you may be wondering whether to start him or wait a year. I got both of the educators I spoke with to weigh in on this, and I’ve got some thoughts for you, too. You can look for that post tomorrow!