January and February bring kindergarten open houses and the question of, “What should my child know before entering kindergarten?” The new academic year doesn’t start until September in Minnesota, but there’s no time like present to consider how you can support your child through their upcoming transition.
Over the last month we looked at several important facets of kindergarten readiness, including life skills, self-regulation and attentiveness, and social-emotional competency in addition to the Montessori approach to kindergarten.
This week, in our final post in the series, we will look at the academic skills a child should have before entering kindergarten.
Kindergarten: a transition year
Kindergarten was designed to be a child’s first introduction to academics and a transition year for a child to become prepared for the traditional schoolwork that starts in first grade. (Read a fascinating short history of kindergarten here.) While kindergarten provided structure and routine, it also incorporated play, music, nature, and stories into learning. After all, the word kindergarten literally translates as “garden of children” – a beautiful metaphor, says author Angie Sancho Passe, for what happens there, a place where children to grow “like flowers and plants, nurtured by a positive environment with good soil, rain and sun, as well as an attentive gardener.” (Angie Sancho Passe) (This is the environment fostered in Sonnet Montessori’s Children’s House classrooms, which encompass ages three all the way up through kindergarten.)
Over the decades, kindergarten began to incorporate more academic learning, and with that, the expectations for what a child “should know” before kindergarten changed. Having said that, Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards recognize the importance of the development of traits such as persistence, curiosity and inventiveness, over academic learning in the pre-kindergarten years, stating that children with these skills are “better able to regulate their learning experiences, and more quickly acquire general knowledge and cognitive skills.”
Knowing that kindergarten is a transition year may help relieve a first-time kindergarten parent’s mind as they worry about whether their child will know “enough” to do well.
At the same time, there are academic skills that can help your child make a smoother transition. These skills are naturally and almost effortlessly achieved and surpassed by children in our Children’s House classrooms as they work with the carefully designed and fascinating Montessori materials! In a recent parent education event, during which parents explored the mathematics materials, all of them were astounded by what their children had been learning and what they were capable of!
What a child should know before starting kindergarten
Many kindergarten teachers and school districts across the nation recommend that your child have some basic academic knowledge, which is outlined below. Considering each child’s growth is unique, and that the months separating a “young” and “old” kindergartener can be developmentally significant at that age, remember that these are suggestions.
- Be able to recognize and count 1-10
- Begin writing and copying numbers
- Recognize colors
- Recognize patterns
- Understand more than/less than
- Recognize basic shapes
- Recognize units of time such as day, night, week, yesterday, today, tomorrow
- Comparison: taller/shorter, bigger/smaller, heavier/lighter, etc.
- Recognize and write their own name
- Use clear sentences and express needs and wants
- Able to listen to stories and navigate books correctly
- Ask and answer questions
- Recognize rhyming words
- Recognize some of the lower- and upper-case alphabet, beginning to understand phonetic sounds
- Able to say full name and birthday
- Able to say parent/caregiver’s name and phone number
- Recite days of the week and months of the year
- Talk about weather
- Use words such as night, day, sun, moon, stars, cold, hot to describe their environment
- Notice and describe seasonal changes
- Understand living and non-living (living things need food, water and air)
- Describe how things are alike or different
- Recognize parts of the body
How Can Sonnet Montessori Support My Child?
Sonnet Montessori’s program is holistic and hands-on in nature. Through the senses and experiences in the environment, children absorb knowledge in mathematics, language, culture, arts, science. Our program can help give your child the skills they need to make a smooth transition to kindergarten or first grade.
We do have extremely limited openings in our Children’s House classrooms, so if you are considering putting your child in a part- or full-time program to support their kindergarten readiness, contact us today!