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Kindergarten: What to Expect October - December (page 3)

Kindergarten: What to Expect October - December

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Updated on Feb 27, 2009

Social-Emotional Milestones

By the end of December, most kindergarteners are making a lifetime leap: they are coming to understand, as New York based teacher and author Kathleen Hayes, author of “Kindergarten Routines that Really Work,” explains that “they aren’t just alone. They have a role in a cooperative group and they take turns.” In the classroom, this means that they can work in small group “centers” and negotiate with others. Conflict is a natural part of this process, Hayes explains; but what’s important is that kids can work it through. As a related issue, kids are also expanding their capacity for focus. By around Thanksgiving, they should be able to still and listen to the teacher. Of course, cautions Hayes, that doesn’t mean that “sitting on the rug for an hour and a half meeting” is to be expected. After all, these kids are still nearly two decades away from a college lecture hall! It does mean, however, that “the rules should be internalized by most kids.” Coats occasionally dropped on the floor? Not a problem. Screams and yells when the teacher requests that they be picked up? Not OK.

If your child is still struggling with these issues, now is an important time to work side by side with your teacher to figure out what’s up. The issue may be purely developmental—with a few more months, plenty of kids will settle right in. But this is also a good time to observe: is your child struggling with any academic issues? Social or physical ones? Talk with your teacher so that home and school send consistent messages. It’s especially important for you, as a parent, to stand by the teacher’s rules. Yours may be different, of course—most families, for example, don’t need to raise hands at the dinner table. But in a classroom, these skills are a huge deal. Your child needs to manage impulses, and choose wisely. “Even if you hate the rules,” counsels Hayes, “They’re still the rules.” You can also help by explaining the reasons behind the rules. Hayes gives the example of a common “no talking in line” rule. Kids benefit when you don’t just tell, but explain, “We don’t want to make too much noise…we don’t want to make it hard for the kids in their classes to work.” 

As the weeks go by, do keep track of your child's learning, while remembering that kids  learn at different speeds; what’s most important is that you see progress. Above all, says Constance Leuenberger, Colorado-based teacher and author of “The New Kindergarten,” “Teachers are there to help.”  Some children will learn steadily; others may seem to stall out and then will advance in a burst.  If it’s Thanksgiving and your child is still consistently struggling with routines, you don’t want him to end up being labeled negatively either by peers or by staff. Don’t hesitate to talk with your teacher—she’ll be just as eager as you are to solve the problem. How fast should you expect change? The answer is as varied as kids themselves. “If you’ve got a kid throwing chairs,” says Hayes, “there’s something seriously wrong, and you can’t wait around.” But in most cases, steady teamwork and gradual improvement will be the winning solution. Quite often, kids just need a little time; if they need more help, your rapport with the teacher will make all the difference. And when your child does settle into a “sweet spot,” do be sure to enjoy the delicious ride.

A late December checklist: Most of the time, your child should be able to:

  • Start the school day smoothly: say goodbye to parents, hello to teacher; put coat and lunch away, join class startup activities.
  • Sit and listen during rug time without touching others or talking out of turn
  • Stay on task during classroom activities
  • Behave in ways that are friendly and safe on the playground
  • List several letters of the alphabet with their sounds
  • Identify 3-5 simple sight words, such as “is”
  • Write his or her own name
  • Open a book, identify the cover, and turn pages correctly from left to right
  • Draw a picture and write a few simple “sound-spelled” words that tell about it
  • Make a simple pattern, such as AABBAABB -
  • Count from 1-10 with 1:1 correspondence between a number and an object
  • Explain to you how some numbers are “bigger” or “smaller” than others.
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