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What You Need to Know About Your Child's Start at Kindergarten (page 2)

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

Your Kindergartener

Five-year-olds tend to be calmer and more independent than four year-olds. But they still need guidance and routines. They may recognize a few letters and words, and pretend to read and write. They love to listen to stories, especially those with a lot of action and repetition. Skills your child will need in order to do well in kindergarten include:

  • Getting along with and respecting others, making friends, and having confidence
  • Being physically strong and coordinated
  • Communicating with adults and other children
  • Noticing the connection between written letters and the sounds they make (for example, how the letter “m” makes the “mmmm” sound)
  • Showing an interest in stories and reading
  • Seeing the connection between a number and the quantity it represents
  • Recognizing color patterns and types of shapes (such as a square)
  • Being able to place items in a certain order (such as largest to smallest)
  • Being aware of the roles of people in his or her family and community, as well as animal and plant life
  • Feeling comfortable expressing himself or herself through painting, drawing, clay, etc.

What Will School Be Like?

Your child’s classroom may look a lot different than the kindergarten that you remember. Instead of desks in a row, there may be special learning centers around the room for activities in art, reading, math and other areas. Activities often differ from teacher to teacher and school to school, but they are always built around the Domains of Learning, with prekindergarten focusing more on language and literacy. Every day, your child will develop his or her own skills while making friends and interacting with others. Your child’s teacher is a trained professional who knows how young children learn, and who also understands that no two children are alike. Think of the teacher as your partner in helping your child to learn. In school the teacher will build on what you are teaching your child at home, and at home you will build on what your child learns at school. Start the habit of staying in touch with the teacher about your child’s progress and challenges. Communication between you and your child’s teacher will be perhaps the most important part of your child’s education!

What Does “No Child Left Behind” Mean for My Child?

The No Child Left Behind Act is a federal law, passed in 2001, designed to improve student achievement. No Child Left Behind requires public schools to make sure that all students reach certain levels of learning at each grade level. No Child Left Behind also has requirements for what students must know before they graduate. To make certain that students meet these federal requirements, schools give statewide tests at selected grade levels in reading/language and math. It is important that your child get a strong start in school right from the beginning, so that he or she can meet these requirements. If your child’s school does not meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind or make adequately yearly progress, your child may be eligible to enroll in another school or could receive free tutoring. Charter schools, magnet schools, and transfers are some of the ways to choose a public school for your child. For more information on school choice, visit: www.ed.gov/parents/schools/choice.

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