Friday, June 8, 2012

Preschool Graduation, Kindergarten Prep!

Today we experienced our first graduation, and have our first graduate! Marin graduated from preschool. She has been in preschool for two and a half years. We have loved our preschool experience, learning to work in community, going from letter recognition to the beginning stages of reading. 

Our little graduate

Marin draws herself graduating in her end of the school year Psalm in Sunday School
As we leave preschool I have been spending a lot of time and energy on preparing our graduate for the next stage, KINDERGARTEN!  

Kindergarten Prep Part 1
One of the ways I have been doing this is by asking lots of questions. I ask every "professional" I meet (her pediatrician, other teachers, parents, etc...) "How do we get ready for kindergarten?" "What should I be teaching her?" "What does she need to know." The most common response I got was, wait for it...


No joke, of all the things, wipe. Yep everyone said that. Know your letters? How to count? No everyone just said "wipe". But you know me I won't take that as the only answer. So I sent a friend who taught kindergarten for many years a letter asking very specific questions. Here are my questions:

1. What can I expect when my child enters school?
2. What did you find parents worried about?
3. As a teacher what frustrated you the most? (In relation to what kids needed to know from their parents)
4. How can I advocate for my child's teacher?
5. What can I help my child learn between now and school starting?

Below are her answers:  

I loved being a kindergarten teacher! You get to see such growth in the course of nine months. Children come in a bit tentative...they have to learn all the ropes of a new school, a new teacher, a new set of friends, and by the time they leave, they have such confidence.

First off, I think it is a really good idea to visit Marin's school. Maybe you've already done this. Try to meet teachers, and if there is one you connect with or one you've heard great things about, go ahead and request her or him. Some parents seem to hesitate to request teachers, assuming that they'll get the label as being "high maintenance". Teachers and administrators don't really care. Of course, in some unique situations, requests can't be made, but in general, pairing your child with a teacher that you think will "get" them is such an advantage. Plus, the teacher will be flattered!

 I had one room mother who always made me fill out a little questionnaire at the beginning of the year...questions like "what do you like to do in your free time?", "your favorite takeout lunch?", "what is on your wishlist for your classroom?". Then, for any kind of appreciation gift, she would go to these answers. Sometimes, she would just surprise me with a lunch. I cannot tell you how appreciated I felt by her. It was just little things, but they meant so much.

As far as what Marin needs to know or do by the time she enters kindergarten...I would say to work on these things:

1. tying shoes (teachers have to tie an insane amount of shoelaces)

2. zipping up coats (same explanation as number 1)

3. cutting paper and gluing (crafts are not as prevalent as they once were in kindergarten, so this is a skill that kids need to work on at home)

4. holding a pencil correctly

5. having some letter recognition (kindergarten will be when most children start reading and writing, so a familiarity with letters is quite nice to have upon entering kindergarten, but not required)

6. writing his/her name...letter formation in general is something to practice at home as well...especially lower case letters.

7. other basic skills - knowing colors, shapes, rote counting to 20

8. the ability to leave your parents this one is hard! but, maybe a little class could help or a Sunday school class. or preschool, of course.

9. this one is also a bit harder, but the ability to use words to talk about problems as opposed to crying/screaming or hitting/pushing


I know this is a lot and really, it is rare to have a kid come to school with all of these. So, do not stress, just do the best you can.

The only other thing I'd tell you is to try not and linger on the first day of school. Get her settled, take a photo, give a hug, and then's so much easier on, the kid, the teacher. 

This letter was very helpful. I hope it is helpful to anyone else getting ready for school. I will write a second post about this topic and the other ways we are getting ready for kindergarten. In the meantime Happy Summer! School is OUT!!!! 

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