What does your child learn in kindergarten? To support and supplement your child's learning, it's good to have an understanding of the educational goals for this period. Kindergarten is no longer the "child's garden" it started out as.
The Basics of Kindergarten
Despite the fact that kindergarten is a much more academic endeavor than it used to be, it's still a year for your child to get used to being in school, and there's more to learn about being in school than you might expect.
A majority of the first few months of school are dedicated not only to learning the academic basics, but also to learning how to follow a schedule and routine. Though your child may be used to that from home or preschool, in kindergarten your child will be expected to gain more independence and perhaps even be able to follow a routine using more of a visual schedule than verbal prompts.
In kindergarten, your child will also learn how to follow different sets of rules, rules that vary with the situation and by the person enforcing them. For children who are used to following Mom and Dad's rules, it can be tough to get used to being accountable to a new authority figure.
Language and Literacy
This year your child's understanding of words and sounds grows by leaps and bounds. By the end of kindergarten, he'll probably even be able to read simple books to you. To get to that point, some of the skills your child will work on this year include:
- Reviewing and learning how to match letters to the sounds they make.
- Gaining phonemic awareness skills.
- Recognizing the environmental print around him and consistently reading a short list of sight words.
- Developing his ability to rhyme and create word families.
- Concepts about print.
Writing serves many purposes in kindergarten.
Learning how to hold a pencil and form letters correctly not only serves your child well in the future, but also helps to work on her fine motor skills. Your child will learn to write the alphabet, both capital and lowercase letters, and her numbers from at least 1 to 20.
As the year progresses, you may find your child is "writing" her own stories, by responding to story prompts or telling about a picture. Although at first, it may be difficult to understand the inventive spelling that she uses, you will get better at decoding the way she fits letters together to make words. She, too, will get better at writing them as she works on ways to recognize, read and write commonly used sight words.
Kindergarten children come to school with varied mathematical skills. Some children can count to 100, while others can only count to 10. Some children can do basic addition, while others can barely use one-to-one correspondence.
This year, math will build on what your child knows, using a variety of manipulatives to help him learn to sort by different attributes, create and complete patterns, and do basic addition and subtraction. Kindergarten students also learn how to read a calendar, name the days of the week, the months of the year and the four seasons.
Since your kindergarten child is still a very concrete learner, the topics he'll learn about in science will reflect that. He'll learn about weather and the seasons, using basic science experiments to visually understand the phenomena. He will work on his data-recording skills as he explores topics by observation and poll-taking. Other topics explored this year may include:
- Nutrition and healthy body habits
- Dental hygiene
- The Five Senses
Kindergarten social studies is all about expanding your child's world. So far, her knowledge of the world is, appropriately, limited to herself and her family. She will master her personal information, learning her phone number and address in lessons that may be tied into knowing how to call 911 and how to behave in other emergency situations.
This focus will expand to learning about other types of families, cultures and community workers. The ultimate goal is for your child to have an understanding of how people work together to create a neighborhood or community.