Kindergarten Q & A
Q.     My child has been going to nursery school. Doesn't this prepare him for Kindergarten? Do I still have to be involved in preparing him, as well? What can I teach him that his teachers haven't already taught him?
A.     Nursery schools and other out-of-the-house play groups can be wonderful preparation for Kindergarten, but teachers can't, and shouldn't, be expected to do it all. Your involvement in your child's education both before Kindergarten, and all through the school years, is the single most important factor in his school success. Many of the things which make a child ready for Kindergarten are most effectively learned from parents, such as your child's interest in the world around him, his ideas about himself and others, his ability to communicate, and his attitude toward school, teachers, and learning itself. When you become involved in your child's education, it sends a powerful message to your child that both he, and his education, are important to you-- and this is something that he can't learn from anyone else.
Q.     Parents hear a lot about "readiness," but what does it really mean? How do I know if my child is "ready?" How does anyone know?
A.     Being "ready" for Kindergarten means, quite simply, that your child is able to learn what will be taught in the Kindergarten he or she will attend, and can function comfortably with teachers and other children in that setting. Since learning builds on learning, this means that a child needs to have acquired the skills, information, and attitudes that are necessary to do this, and have the ability to get along with others and be part of a group. When parents think about Kindergarten readiness, they sometimes focus too much on academics, but the skills that define readiness are far broader than knowing letters, numbers, and how to count. To be ready for Kindergarten, a child needs to have a positive attitude toward starting school, some understanding of why he or she is there, and be receptive to learning new things and making new friends. The best way to learn what will be expected of your child is to contact the school your child will attend, and speak to the teachers there.
Q.     Why is your book is called The Kindergarten Survival Handbook? How could a child not "survive" Kindergarten?
A.     "Surviving" Kindergarten means that children emerge from Kindergarten with a strong sense of themselves as competent and worthwhile, with positive feelings toward school and teachers, and their natural love of learning intact. To thrive-- not just survive-- in Kindergarten, children need to have experiences there which strengthen their confidence in being able to learn. Unfortunately, many children start school unequipped to deal with the challenges Kindergarten presents. The painful feelings of embarrassment, bewilderment, and the sense of failure that result can have enduring and disastrous effects on self-esteem and attitude toward school. When this happens, children haven't "survived" Kindergarten, and it can affect their future school performance for a long time.
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