Last week I went a visited a public school kindergarten, and I was amazed at the expectations as well as sad to see the lack of activities that allowed for free choice or play. Instead children were asked to sit and work for almost the entire morning, with the exception of a twenty minute recess. While the children were engaged, and seemed happy, I couldn’t help but wonder, what can parents do to best prepare their child for this world of holding a pencil, paying attention, and read.
The good news is in the state of California there is a new kindergarten entrance date. Beginning this year your child will need to 5 years old by Nov. 2, as opposed to the old rule where they needed to be five by Dec. 2. Then in 2012 children need to be five by October 2, and finally in 2013 they need to be five by September 2.
What does this mean to our children and families? To me it is good news. The movement in education has been to take the play and developmental learning out of kindergarten, and replace it with more academics and longer days in kindergarten. Twenty years ago their were still dress up clothes, blocks and free play in kindergarten. Today that is all gone, being replaced with dittos and educational minutes. While many children enter ready for this, many children and their families are not. What the good news is that we hope with this date change the youngest children will be given a year to grow and become developmentally ready for the kindergarten.
Families need to be aware that expectations, while not always discussed on school tours, are there. The children who are doing well are children that are prepared, hopefully at preschool, for what lies ahead. Here at La Canada Preschool we believe in a curriculum that remains rich in learning through play, and at the same time introduces academic concepts. By that I mean we teach Zoo Phonics, a nati0nally recognized program by which children learn the alphabet phonetically with movement and song. Then we trace and play with our upper case and lower case letters in sand, salt and pudding. In the spring we put pencils to paper and slowing teach how to write each letter. We have calendar time, science experiments, number learning, and number writing, being done creatively.
All this along with a curriculum that emphasizes that when your child gets to kindergarten, they will know what to expect. We have an ongoing discussion of what you will be doing in kindergarten, what the teacher will ask you to do, and how much fun it will be. We believe that if children can spend a year in the Pre-K, still pretending to be a princess or a pirate, and at the same time give them a solid foundation for what lies ahead, then we have prepared your child for this big new world of kindergarten.