As parents start considering enrollment for next year, the big question for many becomes “Is my child ready for Kindergarten?” We recently interviewed veteran Kindergarten and Preschool teacher Julie Childers who offered her insight for parents entering this new, uncharted territory.
When parents ask you the big “Is my child ready?” question, where do you begin?
There are many factors for a parents to consider, but there are a few things I check to help determine students’ readiness:
Academic readiness signs:
Can he or she:
> Write their first name?
> Know their first and last name?
> Know all of the letters of the alphabet?
> Know the sounds all of the letters make?
> Recognize numbers to 10?
> Recognize colors and shapes?
Emotional readiness signs:
Can he or she:
> Sit through the reading of a book?
> Follow basic directions?
> Get along with peers?
Life readiness skills:
Can he or she:
> Zip their own coat?
> Take care of their own bathroom needs?
Is it as simple as checking off the list? What other things do you take into account?
It’s not as simple as checking things off a list, but the list will help pave the way for success. Kindergarten is quite rigorous now, and students really do need to know all of their letters and letter sounds before walking into kindergarten.
As far as other factors, I’ve noticed something as simple as where children fall in the birth order makes a difference. For example, the babies of the family tend to have been doted on more than the others, and sometimes they benefit from waiting a year and growing in independence.
You mentioned Kindergarten being more rigorous. How have you seen Kindergarten change over the years?
Yes, Kindergarten has changed quite a bit over years; reading is a huge focus now along with basic math skills that a decade ago were not the focus. It is definitely more rigorous than when I first started teaching, but I find that most children are able to rise to the occasion when we give them high expectations. Most kids desire a routine and schedule, so Kindergarten is great in providing that structure for students to learn.
If parents decide their child isn’t ready, do you recommend they stay in Preschool or enroll in a Young Fives Program?
Young Fives is a great option for the student that has been in preschool a couple of years but is not quite ready for Kindergarten. Young fives is a melding of Preschool and Kindergarten where students can ease into basic math and reading skills. This option is disappearing in many areas, which is unfortunate, as there are many children who benefit by spending an extra year preparing for Kindergarten.
What about Three-Day Kindergarten versus Five-Day Kindergarten?
Three-Day Kindergarten is another great option to ease students into the rigor of Kindergarten. This option is especially valuable for the child that shows academic readiness but may need more time to emotionally adjust to the long days of Kindergarten. If a parent is home, there is definitely value in the child continuing to be home with the parent a couple of days a week. If a parent works and utilizes daycare, I usually recommend the child shift from daycare to full time school.
What can a parent do to help ready their children?
There are rich benefits to the time parents spend with their children. Involving children in everyday activities such as going to the grocery store and counting the bananas as you buy them, visiting the library, reading together, or cooking together provide a huge benefit to learning that we too often dismiss. These real world experiences lay the groundwork for curiosity and a love of learning.
Julie Childers is currently a Kindergarten teacher at NorthPointe Christian Schools, where her own children attended. Click here for more on NPC’s options of Preschool, Kindergarten, or Young Fives or join us at our upcoming April 11th Kindergarten Round Up.
NorthPointe Christian School’s Spanish Immersion Program, currently Preschool to 5th grade, will expand next year with a Secondary Continuing Immersion Program at NorthPointe Middle School.
As with our current Spanish Immersion Program, NorthPointe’s Secondary Continuing Immersion Program has a strong commitment to excellence and best practices in immersion learning. NPC will continue to use the expertise of add.a.lingua, whose model of immersion is based on thorough research and proven student outcomes. We believe this third party accountability will help NPC reach our program goals of:
<> Academic achievement equal to or greater than monolingual peers
<> High degree of proficiency in both Spanish and English language
<> Increased cross-cultural sensitivity
Ultimately, NorthPointe looks forward to graduating fully bilingual students who are “equipped to impact their world for Jesus Christ.”
NorthPointe’s Secondary Continuing Immersion Program will build on the current PreK-5th immersion model in a move to an English/Spanish split. Students will be with their English language counterparts for the first part of the day; the second half of the day students will learn language arts, history, and Spanish academic enrichment with a Spanish-speaking teacher.
“NorthPointe Christian School is going to build on the solid foundation these immersion students have, and is really positioned to be a leader in the area. We’re thrilled to continue to link arms with them,” said add.a.lingua co-founder Lilah Ambrosi.
Continuing Immersion students will still participate in the other exciting initiatives that take place in NorthPointe’s middle school such as Middle School Marketplace (an intercurricular business creation), J-term, Empty Bowls, our school play, and other school-wide activities.
Middle school principal Megan Willink shared,“We believe adding Secondary Continuing Immersion Program to our middle school is going to not only enable fluency for our Spanish-speaking students but provide enrichment for our English students as the two groups of students merge and partner together in certain classes and school wide events.”
“It’s so encouraging when a leadership team and a learning community see and embrace the power of dual language immersion education—and then take on the challenge of secondary continuing immersion in a way that research shows is best for learners. Our hats are off to the NorthPointe Christian team,” added Stacey Vanden Bosch, add.a.lingua co-founder.