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Kindergarten FAQ

FAQs about Kindergarten with Centennial


Based on information from Kindergarten Teacher Panel, December 2017/January 2019

Is my child ready for Kindergarten?

According to state statute, in order to be “ready” for Kindergarten, a child must be 5 years of age by September 1st of their Kindergarten entry year and must complete Early Childhood Screening. Early Childhood Screening is a FREE check of a child’s health and development, and it is a state requirement for Kindergarten enrollment. Students can be screened through the Centennial school district or any other school district in Minnesota, Head Start, or your local clinic. For more information and to register for a screening appointment, visit www.isd12.org/ecs.

When it comes to academic, Kindergarten is not the same as it was when we were students - there is a higher academic rigor and students may be expected to know more when they enter school. But when it comes to academic, social, and emotional “readiness,” you know your child the best. Every child is different, and depending on their academic, social, and emotional skills, Kindergarten may or may not be the best fit at that time. If you have concerns, we encourage you to contact your child’s preschool teacher or daycare provider, or to contact the Kindergarten teachers at your child’s school - they can provide additional support and insight.

How rigorous is Kindergarten?

Today’s Kindergarten is more rigorous than Kindergarten was 10-15 years ago. By the end of the year, children will be expected to achieve beginning reading and writing skills, in addition to having other academic skills. However, Kindergarten is a year of major growth for kids no matter their skill level at Kindergarten entry.

What academic skills should my child have to be successful in Kindergarten?

Your child will be learning so much in Kindergarten, so try not to stress out if they don’t have many academic skills before entering Kindergarten. There are a few basics your child should be able to accomplish before Kindergarten, but know that these skills will continue to develop during their Kindergarten year:

  • Identify the letters in their name

  • Write their name (all uppercase is okay)

  • Know the difference between letters and numbers

  • Count from 1-20

  • Knowing that words are made up of sounds

 

Sometimes boys are not as excited about learning academic skills as girls; this is relatively normal. Spend time with your child reading, writing, and playing, and that excitement for learning will come!

What social/emotional skills should my child have or be developing to be successful in Kindergarten?

Children develop these skills at different rates. Your child may still be working on these skills upon Kindergarten entry, and that is okay!

  • Sharing

  • Turn-taking

  • Waiting their turn/patience

  • Social interaction with both adults and children

  • Following a routine

  • Walking in a line

  • Being able to sit for a period of time and listen without interruption

  • Following 2-step directions

  • Being able to share the teacher’s attention with classmates

 

Ask yourself, “If my child was alone, could they do this on his own? Could they ask for help if needed?”

What self-help skills should my child have to be successful in Kindergarten?

There are some basic skills all children should have before entering Kindergarten:

  • Bathroom skills (wiping, washing hands properly, etc.)

  • Asking to use the bathroom if needed

  • Following 2-step directions

  • Being able to wipe own nose/face

 

Ask yourself, “If my child was alone, could they do this on his own? Could they ask for help if needed?”

There are some skills that we know students are still working on at Kindergarten entry. We don’t expect mastery, as these are skills the teachers will continue to work on with your child. Encourage your child to try these skills before asking for help.

  • Zipping up coats

  • Tying shoes

  • “Order of Operations” when it comes to winter clothes: first snow pants, then boots, etc.

 

As a parent/guardian, what can I be doing at home to help my child prepare for Kindergarten and to support them once they are in school?

  • Identify areas where your child struggles and work with them on those skills, even if for a few minutes per day. Break it down into manageable parts to minimize frustration. For example, if your child has a hard time sitting for long periods of time, start by reading a book for three minutes, and the next day try five, and so on.

  • Set up situations at home where your child needs to wait. Help them with techniques on how to pass the time. For example, if your child asks for a snack and you are washing dishes, ask your child to wait until you finish. Say, "You could count to 20 or think of all the animals that live in the ocean."

  • Read, read, read! Read to your children every day and show them that you enjoy reading, too.

  • Give your child exposure to structured environments (preschool, daycare, community ed classes, church programs, etc.)

  • Practice saying, “Try it first, and then ask me for help” instead of doing self-help tasks for them

  • Practice fine motor skills by cutting, gluing, and doing other hands-on activities (even though they might be messy!)

  • Volunteer at school/daycare if you can

  • Get excited about school to show your child that school and learning is fun!

  • Remember that who your child is at home may be different than who they are at home. They may act differently in one setting or another.

  • Trust your teacher - we love our students and want the best for all our kids!

  • Limit screen time! Screens have changed how kids learn and respond to others. Instead of screen time, give kids a notebook or coloring book, play word games, lookout the window, and share conversations!

  • Make sure your child is getting enough sleep!! This is incredibly important for their health and learning.

 

What is “learning through play” and why is it so important for my child?

Play is an important part of the day. Through play, children learn important skills that help them learn in their Kindergarten classroom. They learn problem solving, conflict resolution, and trial and error. They practice their literacy, math, and language skills. They learn how to work with others and how to socialize positively with their peers.

What does “learning through play” look like in the Kindergarten classroom?

It may vary from classroom to classroom, but learning outcomes are often integrated into play even though there is a high level of academic rigor. For example, a child may enjoy the grocery store in the dramatic play center, not even realizing that they are learning math, counting, and literacy skills. Social-emotional skills like problem solving, cooperation, and independence are also developed through play. Play is really the vehicle for learning!

What does a typical Kindergarten classroom look like?

While it may vary from classroom to classroom, all Kindergarten classrooms in the Centennial school district have dramatic play centers, a building area with blocks, a class library, and lots of manipulatives (the physical tools used for teaching, like blocks, puzzles, markers, etc.). Students sit at tables, not desks, and may have standard or more flexible seating options. Students experience time with specialist teachers and have physical education, “cybrary” (computer lab), music, and recess time. Often times “brain breaks” are embedded into the day to give students a break. There are a lot of transitions during the day because teachers understand that students need to move! Teachers may also offer “quiet time” for independent, quiet work during the day. Depending on the classroom, there may also be time for snack.

How much is technology used in the Kindergarten classroom?

Technology is used in Kindergarten classrooms, but only as a purposeful tool for learning. The amount of technology used in the classroom, and when it is used depends on the teacher. However, teachers know that there needs to be a balance when it comes to technology use and understand that many students have access to technology at home, too. In the “Cybrary,” students are learning how to use a traditional desktop computer, mouse, and keyboard. Classrooms may also have iPads with learning tools and apps such as “Preschool University” used during structured learning time.

What supports are available in Kindergarten if my child needs help?

Each elementary school in the Centennial school district has supports in place to help struggling children. Some kids are slow to warm up and may need time to show what they know. However, if concerns remain, teachers complete follow-up assessments and will discuss results and next steps with the parents/guardians. If a child needs additional support, they will receive help during specified time of the day, usually during literacy “blocks.” Students may also work with specialists during this time (for example, speech clinicians). Specific interventions can be put in place throughout the school year, and teachers/school staff work together to develop the best plan for each child. During small group instruction, teachers may also group students with others who are ready to learn the same things at the same level. As students move through grade levels they will be reassessed and there will be continuous progress monitoring. Mental health services are also available for students who may be struggling with anxiety or other needs. Trust that there are safety nets in place - we won’t leave your child behind!

Are there any gifted & talented programs for my Kindergarten student?

Services are given within the classroom environment. If teachers identify a student who may benefit from more challenges in the classroom, they consult with the Gifted and Talented teacher and will bring resources back to the classroom for that particular child. For example, the child may participate in a specific reading group or may get higher-level discussion questions.

Remember, there are lots of ways for students to grow in Kindergarten. While a student may be gifted in reading, his/her writing or social skills may need more work. Teachers will work with children where they are at in order to best serve them.

What does parent-teacher communication look like in Kindergarten?

Teachers regularly communicate with parents using a variety of methods. Many teachers utilize technology, like apps or Schoology, to send updates to parents on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Expect more updates at the beginning of the year as students start that transition from preK to Kindergarten. If a parent has a question or concern, please contact your teacher to initiate a conversation! Teachers may not respond right away, especially if it’s during the school day because they are focusing on their students, but they will respond as soon as possible. Teachers might send a “talking point” each day as a way to ask your child specific questions about their day. Paper communications (calendars, flyers, etc.) are also sent home in student folders. There are also two formal conferences throughout the year, but families are always welcome to request additional conferences. Two formal report cards are also sent home throughout the year. If you want to be a “superstar” parent, do your best to read what it sent home! Teachers send home important information and announcements and want every family to be informed.

Will my student get homework in Kindergarten?

This will vary by classroom. In general, teachers do not want to give students much homework. They would rather have students read, play, and socialize to develop these skills. However, teachers may send home optional structured activities that are developmentally appropriate. Often times Kindergarten students want to do “homework” like their older siblings! But, teachers do not want a homework battle and instead keep things fun and not frustrating!

What will my child be learning in Kindergarten? What should he/she know by end of the year?

By the end of Kindergarten, children will be able to:

  • Identify upper and lowercase letters

  • Identify common letter sounds

  • Use inventive spelling

  • Blend sounds together

  • Pick out beginning and ending sounds of words

  • Identify and use words that rhyme

  • Identify site words

  • Recognize numbers up to 31, count to 100

  • Use basic addition and subtraction

  • Be able to sort in multiple ways and use patterns

  • Understand “one more” or “one less”

  • Understand basic shapes in 2D and 3D

 

...and much more!

Should I send my child to Kindergarten or not?

Parents may wonder if they should hold their child back for another year, especially if they have a summer birthday. You know your child the best, and all kids develop at different rates. When deciding whether it’s the right time to send your child to Kindergarten, consider all aspects of development: social, emotional, physical, and academic.

Early Childhood Screening is a requirement for Kindergarten. Trust the results of this screening and whether or not there were concerns. If your child is in preschool or at a care center, ask your child’s teacher for guidance. You can also call the Kindergarten teachers at your child’s school for additional insight.

Remember that the transition to Kindergarten is huge! It will cause a lot of stress for your child, even if they are “ready.” Expect your child to come home tired and possibly a bit crabby the first couple months of school. We encourage families to keep a consistent sleep schedule for their children.

What are some good things to know about Kindergarten at Centennial?

  • Kindergarten starts at 9:05am

  • Kindergarten starts school one day later than grades 1-12

  • All Kindergarten students get a free hot or cold breakfast every morning

  • Class sizes range from 18 to 23

  • Transportation information will come about a week before school starts

 

And remember that the transition to Kindergarten can be difficult for everyone, but especially your child. They may not be sleeping, behaving, or eating like they used to as they become familiar with the new school routine, and that is normal. Just give it some time and be there to support them. If your concerns continue, be sure to contact your child’s teacher.

My child is not ready for Kindergarten. What are my other options?

The Centennial School District has two preschool programs available for your child:

  • School Readiness Preschool offers part- and full-day preschool classes for children aged 3 and 4, and all classes are offered on a sliding fee scale. For more information, call 763-792-6120.

  • KC Preschool offers full-day, full-week or part-time classes for children aged 4 and is tuition-based. For more information, call 763-792-6193.

 

There is also a variety of local preschools, child care centers, and daycares in the Centennial area.

What if my child begins Kindergarten but is not ready after all?

Teachers and school administration will work with you and your child to develop a plan that works for everyone. Sending students back to preschool is NOT the first choice. After exploring various options, a student might try half-day Kindergarten, although this is not ideal since students will be missing half a day of core learning content. If you have concerns about this, we encourage you to contact your child’s elementary school.