Your Six Greatest Worries About Kindergarten, and What to Do About Them (page 2)

Your Six Greatest Worries About Kindergarten, and What to Do About Them

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Updated on Aug 30, 2013

For now, if your kid writes “bot” for “dot,” your best bet is to relax.

More writing: Markers? Pens? My kid hates that stuff and gets tired in about five minutes. I know that fine motor work is important in kindergarten. What should I do?

“The kindergarten curriculum of today is the first grade curriculum of the 1980s, and the biological clock of children doesn’t always understand that,” says Cindy Middendorf, longtime kindergarten teacher and author of Differentiating Instruction in Kindergarten.

Sandra Schefkind, pediatric coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association, agrees. “Some children are scribbling on paper at twelve months, but typically, a five- or six-year-old is just learning to copy a triangle or write her name,” she says. “What we forget is how many skills it takes to be able to manipulate a pencil or scissors.”

Break down a task into parts, and allow your child to conquer one part at a time. Sitting straight, without swinging feet or draping body over the table? A crucial first step! Holding a fat pen? Some children may work better with a smaller pencil. Break up the intervals with gross motor activities like running around or swinging.

Above all, she advises, look for progress, not perfection. “Concentrate on what the child can do.” With steady, constructive encouragement, those fine motor skills usually come along just fine. And if your child still struggles by the end of the year, there are professionals who can help, Schefkind says. First grade is not too late to keep working on these skills.

Math: I saw state standards that said kids would start addition in kindergarten, but my kid’s just getting comfortable with counting from 1 to 20. Are we behind already?

Absolutely not, says Constance Leuenberger, teacher and author of The New Kindergarten. Rote counting is never a goal in elementary math. “We want kids to recognize what a number means, that it represents real things,” Leuenberger says. So kindergarten fall curriculum works extensively on recognizing “one-to-one” correspondence—how the number five, for example, shows five gummy bears.

“Forward and backward counting is also really important,” she says, so that students understand that numbers appear in clear sequence. Leuenberger urges parents not to skip this phase of conceptual learning. Count at home as often as possible. This is a crucial time for children’s math understanding, as their grasp of numbers becomes intuitive and automatic, and it makes for fast learning later. Remember that if your child is moving steadily along, she’s right on track.

Focus: The teacher wants everyone on the rug for story time, but my kid only wants to pet the guinea pig and build blocks. Does my child have an Attention Deficit Disorder?

ADD and ADHD may seem like an epidemic. But if your kindergartener comes home saying he’d rather not sit for rug time, don’t rush to dire conclusions! Chances are that this is just an example of “RLKB”—Regular Little Kid Behavior.

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