Last week, over at the Facebook page, many of you shared that you’d like to read a post on kindergarten readiness. Rather than just give you my two cents, I decided to talk to some of the area’s actual 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 developed in Kennewick and now administered by the National Children’s Reading Foundation. 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!
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, but this doesn’t have to mean whipping out a stack of workbooks. Nightly story reading is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your child will be successful in school. Sjolund suggests you also enrich your child’s play time with simple questions. For example, if your kiddo is building a block tower you might ask, “What would happen if we added one more?”
You’ll also want to think about social skills. While I know I spent a lot of time fretting about letters and numbers, Johnson told me kindergarten teachers often tell her that social behaviors are even more important. Kids who enter kindergarten able to follow a routine and focus on the teacher will quickly start mastering other concepts. Sjolund agreed, adding that it’s so important that children learn to use language to communicate their needs and solve their problems.
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
If you’re wondering what programs are available in your district, I have links for most every South Sound school district in the menu bar under, “Kindergarten registration.” If you can’t find the scoop you need, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to help. If you see a question you can answer, feel free to chime in!
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!