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What You Need to Know About Your Child's Start at Kindergarten

— State: Maryland State Department of Education
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Welcome to one of your child’s biggest adventures ever: starting school.

Prekindergarten and kindergarten provide a safe, happy place for your child to grow, learn and discover. It’s a place where your child can feel confident and secure while he or she constantly explores. Your child will probably have many questions about school. So will you.

What Will My Child Learn?

These are the years when your child learns the foundational skills he or she will need to succeed. When you meet with your child’s kindergarten teacher, he or she may talk about the seven “Domains of Learning.” What the teacher means is the areas, or “domains,” in which your child learns. Each of these seven areas has its own important skills. The teacher will pay attention to how your child performs in class in each of these areas.  Every child is different. Not all children learn things at the same ages. The kindergarten teacher will evaluate your child in the first few weeks of school, and talk with you in your scheduled parent/teacher conference about your child’s skills and abilities in the Domains of Learning. Here are some things to think about now as you prepare your child for school:

The Seven Domains are:
  • Social and Emotional Development: Does your child get along with others? Follow rules? Start an activity, work on it, and finish it?
  • Physical Development: Does your child run, jump, climb, play ball? Button a shirt? Zip a jacket? Use scissors? Trace? Draw? Use good health and safety skills?
  • Language and Literacy: Does your child alk and listen to adults and to other children? Speak clearly? Understand stories? Love books? Know some letters and numbers?
  • Mathematical Thinking: Does your child sort things by color and shape? Can he or she count?
  • Scientific Thinking: Does your child explore? Look, listen, touch, smell and taste to get information? Talk about how things are alike or different?
  • Social Studies: Does your child talk about himself or herself, the family and the community? Talk about how people are similar and different?
  • The Arts: Does your child dance? Draw? Paint? Sing? Make music? Play make-believe?

Your child's teacher will talk with you about your child's strengths and weaknesses, and work with you to support your child's learning in each of these areas.

Your Prekindergartener

Four-year-olds tend to be busy and active. They like to test limits on their behavior. Children at this age need help in understanding the difference between right and wrong, and in cooperating and making friends with others. Some things your child should know and be able do before coming to prekindergarten include:

  • Choosing and following routines, such as hearing a story before bedtime
  • Beginning to recognize his or her first name in print
  • Knowing how to ask an adult for help
  • Recognizing a favorite book by its cover
  • Being curious about letters, words, numbers, and counting
  • Repeating parts of rhymes or some words from songs
  • Following basic two- or three-step directions, such as, “Please get your coat, put it on, and stand by the door.”
  • Listening to a story when read aloud
  • Handling books carefully
  • Knowing and following basic rules, such as putting away toys
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