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Do you remember kindergarten?

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My twin grandchildren Cecilia and Rafa, age 5, started kindergarten a few weeks ago.

The school day for them begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. They have homework every school night. Their teacher says they’ll be reading by the end of the year.

I didn’t attend kindergarten. It wasn’t offered in the rural area where I lived at Orondo Elementary School.

My oldest daughter attended kindergarten at Garfield Elementary School in Olympia, Wash. The emphasis was on kids learning how to get along in the school environment and getting ready to learn to read in the First Grade.

However, the two kindergarten teachers had a special theory they practiced. They assessed the readiness of kindergarteners for first grade by a test that included having the student draw a picture of a person. If the child included a belly button on the person they drew, they were considered too immature for First Grade.

What do you remember about kindergarten if you attended? Was it all work and no play?

In kindergarten, the major goal is to help your child become comfortable in school, the article "Kindergarten: What Do They Learn?" on the Web site Family Education reports.

Students will learn to get along with others, follow rules, and some of the basic skills needed to read, write, and do math, the article says. They’ll:

  • Recognize and form uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
  • Match sounds to each alphabet letter.
  • Recognize and use rhyming words.
  • Begin reading words by using initial consonant sounds and such sound patterns as "an" as in fan, man, can and "at" as in sat, rat, pat.
  • Recognize a few frequently used sight words such as: the, and, is.
  • Capitalize the first and last name of a person and the word "I."
  • Count, recognize, and write the numbers up to 20.
  • Identify, draw, cut, and name squares, circles, triangles, ovals, diamonds, and rectangles.
  • Classify and group objects according to such characteristics as shape, color, size, and texture.
  • Understand how people in communities work together.
  • Use their five senses to make simple scientific observations.

Are these types of experiences what you and your children and grandchildren learned in kindergarten? Or was the emphasis on learning to read by the end of the year?

Copyright 2009, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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