children, children's feelings, empathetic children, Kindergarten, kindergarten words, parents, unkind children, unkind words

Kindergarten Words

Post 59

In school, when a child uses what are commonly called “potty words” or any other “inappropriate language”, I remind them to use “kindergarten words”. We’re all on top of that.  🙂  But what about those other times when your son/daughter says something that makes you stop short? (Is he/she truly that mean? Or is he/she really traumatized by that?)  For example, a student once told me that, “Sometimes I laugh at people who look funny.” “Funny” in this case, meant disabled. Another child was drawing a picture of himself in class after he had broken his arm. He didn’t include the cast. I was concerned that he was embarrassed even though the children had tried so hard to help him. We had even read a book about breaking arms and legs, etc. When I brought it up and asked him (delicately) why he didn’t include his cast in his self portrait he answered, “Oh, I didn’t know how to draw it”!  Lol.

And that’s the whole point. In my experience, with five and six year olds, what you see is what you get. I think I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating. So often, as adults, we tend to project grown up feelings and points of view onto our children. We can’t help it. It’s normal. But children are very honest. The Kindergartener in the above example about looking at disabled people didn’t mean they were funny looking. She just meant that she was aware of their differences and looked at them. (Normal, right?) So maybe in that case, give examples of how to be aware but polite. Look the person in the eyes as you would someone without a disability.  In other words, teach your child manners.

Just be aware that your child is still very young. To most Kindergarteners the world is very black and white. They don’t see shades of gray yet. So, the next time your son/daughter seems unkind or says something that horrifies you, stop a minute and ask yourself if maybe you are giving an adult interpretation to what is really a child’s view. Chances are you really are raising an empathetic child!

Take Care.   🙂

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children, children's feelings, extracurricular activities, Kindergarten, Kindergarten activities, Kindergarten extracurricular activities, parents, school, Spring Fever, Spring sports in Kindergarten

Baseball? Soccer? Dance?…

Post 58

We’re getting into the season of Spring sports and all that entails. Fun but also a commitment….on your child’s part and on yours. So how do you know when and if your child is ready to be signed up for an “extracurricular activity”? And what do you sign him/her up for? There are a lot of choices. Which one is best for your particular child?

First of all, in my opinion, don’t overdo it. It’s very tempting to put your son/daughter in three or four different activities especially if his/her friends are involved. You don’t want your kid to miss out, right? And colleges start sending scouts younger and younger these days so it’s good to start ’em early, right???

Yes and no. Remember, your Kindergartener is still only 5 or 6 and only has so much stamina. (Although I know his/her energy seems boundless at bedtime! LOL) Children also can get burned out if they are run from one activity to another too much. Think about yourself. You can only do so much in a day and get worn down when too much is piled on. Your child is the same. He/she can only handle so much. And, of course, he/she still has school and all that entails.

So, as usual, use common sense. You know your child better than anyone. What are his/her likes and dislikes? Does he/she make friends easily or have trouble adapting to new situations? My guess is that your son/daughter has grown up a lot this year and may surprise you by walking out onto the baseball field with hardly a backward glance. Maybe there is an older sibling who is involved in something that your Kindergartener can’t wait to get into. That’s a good start. Or maybe it would be better for him/her to have his/her own thing. Just realize there is a time commitment, usually during the week and on weekends. Maybe there is a carpool you can be part of that will help with that. This whole thing is supposed to fun, right?

The other thing to consider is how much your child has grown emotionally this year. Does he/she need to learn how to be part of a team and not be too dominant or too reticent? I really think that’s the value of team sports. Everyone has to learn to work together to win. And, let’s face it, very few children make it to scholarships or the pros.(Although it can happen, especial with Title Nine. But that’s really far down the road.) Right now, think about:

a) What your child would like to do,

b) What your child needs to do to help him/her socially,

c) What would be fun to do,

d) What you, as a family, have time to do.

Using your own good judgment, I think you will find this to be a fun and rewarding season with your child.   🙂

Take Care.  🙂

*Any topics you would like covered? Please leave a comment below or email me at pdunn23@optonline.net  Put “blog post” in the subject.

 

 

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children, homework, Kindergarten, parents, school, time management

Time Management in Kindergarten

Post 57

How do you help your child finish his/her work in a timely manner in school when you are not there to hurry him/her along? Maybe your child got a P (progressing) in “Manages Time Effectively” on his/her report card or maybe the teacher mentioned that your child isn’t finishing work on time to you at conferences. But somehow you are aware that this is becoming a problem. You definitely want to nip it in the bud and help your Kindergartener before it becomes a habit that will be harder to break later on.

First of all, as always, talk, write, text or email the teacher. The two of you will be able to map out a plan to motivate your child to get his/her classwork done quicker. Strategies might include moving his/her seat away from close friends (we are all “friends” in Kindergarten 🙂 ). Unfinished work can also be sent home for extra homework. (Please make sure that you check it so your child sees you are holding him/her accountable for completing it.) There could also be a consequence for not finishing work…doing it during playtime, for instance. (I don’t usually give a tangible reward for finishing work at this time of the year. Students are expected to get their work done by now. Of course, I always praise a child for finishing who has been struggling with that.)

You can support time management at home by expecting your child to finish chores, homework, etc. in a certain amount of time. If you need to move him/her along, try a countdown 15, 14, 13…… Another thought would be a sticker chart where he/she can put one on for each task accomplished within the time limit. Or maybe using a timer would help move him/her along. Again, your praise means more than anything else to a 5/6 year old. Remember, you are the most important person in his/her life.

I hope this helps. If your little student is having this problem, please don’t ignore it. It can quickly get out of hand in the later grades.  Any thoughts or solutions????

Take Care.  🙂

 

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children, children's feelings, Kindergarten, parents, Spring Fever

Arguments

Post 56

Sooooo….your child has come home from school and has told you:

a) He/she got “spoken to” for not listening,

b) He/she was sent to time out,

c) He/she doesn’t like his/her previous best friend at school,

d) Any/all of the above or something else out of the ordinary but equally as upsetting.

Relax. This is normal. The correct educational terminology is “they are getting antsy from being stuck indoors all winter”. Lol.  Teachers expect this. Think about it. Twenty-something five and six year olds have been together 7 months now of which at least 3 have been too cold to go outside on a regular basis. Add to that they have been trying very hard to follow behavioral and academic rules and learn at the same time. It’s no wonder they are getting upset with each other and acting out a little. It’s called cabin fever! As adults, we’ve learned to filter our feelings and try to hide them. Kindergarteners have no such filters. What you see is what you get!

What’s the answer? Springtime! It’s amazing how quickly all the tension in the classroom disappears once the children are able to go outside and play regularly. Everything calms down and those sweet natures reappear until the end of the year. 🙂 In the classroom, I also try to shake things up a bit by planning curriculum that allows the boys and girls to move around a bit and try new things. This is the time of year I set up a magnet table to explore, have the class plant seeds and record their growth, introduce new toys and books, etc.

What should you do, though, if your child comes home and tells you one of (a) through (d) above? What you always would, sit down with him/her and try to get the whole story. If it seems like a Spring Fever episode, wait and watch. If it seems more, or you’re not sure, contact the teacher. He/she will tell you exactly what’s going on and if you need to be concerned. Again, we are never “bothered” by a parent who is truly concerned about his/her child. It may be nothing or there may be a problem, but we will always welcome your interest and will work with you.

Happy Spring and as always,

Take Care. 🙂

 

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children, children's feelings, Kindergarten, parents, responsibility in children

Responsibility

Post 55

Responsibie at five?? Yes, to a certain level, your child should be developing responsibility.  In school, we foster it by having a list of classroom helpers posted. The children are expected to look at it and be in charge of that area for the week. Do I go over it during our morning circle? Of course. But after that, if we need the scissors, the scissor monitor gives them out. The same goes for the glue monitor, paper monitor, bathroom monitor (who makes sure the “open sign”…a happy face….is turned around when it should be), etc.

Another way  teachers encourage individual responsibility in school is by expecting each student to take care of his/her own backpack, snack, and lunch when arriving in the morning or leaving in the afternoon. Again, do I help with difficult zippers or flyaway papers? Certainly. But every child is expected to do most of it on his/her own. That’s what we’ve been working toward all year….gradually letting the boys and girls manage their own things.

And once a child can start to have control over daily tasks, that responsibility can carry over into academics. Most of the class now knows that when it is Guided Reading time and I am working with a small group, they are to follow certain Workboard jobs on their own. (Each Kindergarten program is different. In my school, we set up Workboards…a list of academic tasks identified by pictures under each child’s name that the students know how to do independently.) If your school doesn’t employ Workboards, your child’s teacher probably uses some sort of independent activity when he/she is conducting reading groups. And each child is accountable for doing the work and handing it in. The point is that five year olds (or six year olds) are ready to and enjoy being responsible.

How does this carry over to home? Now would be a good time to give your child some chores that he/she can handle. Maybe putting away toys on his/her own, setting the table for dinner, putting his/her dishes in the sink, feeding the cat or making sure the dog has water, etc. You know what’s best for your particular son/daughter. The point is, Kindergarteners love to help out, especially when it’s done in a fun way. So how about making a sticker chart he/she can fill up each time a chore is completed? It doesn’t have to lead to a reward. It can just be for the feeling of accomplishment that he/she will feel upon seeing all the stickers. And don’t underestimate how powerful praise from you is. Just knowing that you are proud of the good job he/she is doing is often more than enough for your child. You are the most important person in his/her life and your opinion is supreme!

So, let your little one help out at home. He/she is more than ready for it, would love it, and may just surprise you with how capable he/sh has become.  🙂

Take Care.

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children, Kindergarten, parents, report cards, school

Report Cards

Post 54

This is the time of year most schools will be sending out their second round of report cards. What should that mean to you as a Kindergarten parent? First of all, read it! Make a big deal about it with your child. If you truly believe that your child’s work at school is important (and you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t) then take the time to go over your child’s report card with your son or daughter. Five year olds love to please and emphasizing that you are interested in his/her grades will lay the foundation for your child striving to do well academically his/her entire school career. I know everyone is busy so do this when you can….but do it. It’s really important.

What should you be looking for? Academically, that your child has all S’s (or the equivalent of “Satisfactory”) or higher. You should be especially interested in Reading, Writing, and Math grades. If a reading level is listed, your child should be at least in a “B” by now…heading for a C or D in June. If it’s not listed, now would be a good time to ask what level your child is on.

Socially, your child should, again, be all S’s. I feel this development is equal to academics in Kindergarten. Your child is learning the basic skills that will set him/her up for life. A number of districts have implemented SEL (Social Emotional Learning) development for their students to foster this. Take a good look at your child’s report.

If all is well….congratulations! You can rest easy tonight knowing your child is on the right track. Keep doing what you are doing at home to encourage him/her.  🙂  And if there are problems (in the form of “U”…”Unsatisfactory”)? Get in touch with your child’s number one school person…..his/her teacher. No teacher is going to be upset with you if you question what you can do to help your child either academically or socially. We actually hope parents will take note of weak areas now and will gladly work with you to help your child to overcome them. That’s part of the reason for report cards.

A quick note here….Some areas on your child’s report card may be marked as “Developing”. That’s tricky. Sometimes it means that it’s a skill that the class is not expected to master until the end of the year. But sometimes it’s a nice way of saying your son/daughter is below level in that area, especially if it is a social skill. If you aren’t sure, check with the teacher. It could be absolutely nothing or it could be an indication of a possible problem. So, find out!

Good luck with report cards! Hopefully, everything is fine and your little student is moving right along. Happy Spring!

Take Care.  🙂

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children, ELA, Kindergarten, kindergarten reading, Literacy, school, Writing

March

Post 53

I’ve mentioned before that March in Kindergarten is a time of great academic growth. This is the time of year that it all comes together. All the drill on high frequency words, all the coaching on how to write, use capital letters, leave “finger spaces” between words, all those guided reading lessons, all the Math practice…it all suddenly seems to gel. It is amazing to see students who, at the beginning of the year, couldn’t manage to walk down the hall in a line, become self assured and able to take control of their work and excel at it.

Of course, this happens in different amounts for each child. The point is, it does happen. As a teacher, it is so exciting to see the children become more independent and able to take charge of their own work. They also become very proud of what they can accomplish. And that pushes them to try harder and accomplish more…sort of a domino effect.

So, how can you encourage and support your child at home? There are a few ways. Give your child a little more responsibility that uses his/her emerging skills. For example, have your child write a thank you note, make and number a list when you are going shopping, read to you or another family member, keep a journal where he/she draws a picture and writes 1-2 full sentences about it. Children sense when something is made up busy work. So make it a real task. This is called authentic learning because it is.

That doesn’t mean you need to change the routines that you have worked so hard to establish with your Kindergartener. Keep up with things like daily reading and doing homework at a specific time. Just see if there are ways to put more responsibility into them. (A quick side note….I recently had a question about reading to a child who is able to read well. Reading together should be a pleasure. If your child prefers to have you read to him/her so that he/she can enjoy the story, do it! There’s nothing wrong with the two of you enjoying a story together just because your boy/girl can now read. If you are really worried, have your child read the high frequency words when you come upon them.)

Enjoy this time of growth with your child. Rejoice in his/her accomplishments. Your Kindergartener has worked hard to achieve them. And so have you!

Take Care. 🙂

 

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