OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/14/14) – Before starting kindergarten, it is important for children to know certain things, such as the letters of the alphabet, the ability to count to 10 and be able to focus on simple tasks for 15 to 20 minutes.
That’s the advice of Jana Beth Francis, the Daviess County School District director of assessment, research, and curriculum development.
“The most important thing is for a kid to be able to sit down and listen to a person reading a book,” Francis said as she outlined the criteria educators use to determine a child’s learning rate. “Kids need to know their letters, to know the alphabet. Every kid should know their name. The first letter you should always learn is the first letter of their name. They need to be able to count objects up to 10,” she added. “They should be able to count and point to each one.”
Social development is also important, Francis said. A lack of social skills can hinder a child’s ability to learn, especially if part of that is the inability to focus on assigned tasks.
“If you come to kindergarten behind, we have to focus on how to close the gap,” she said, noting that the curriculum is designed with the expectation of how much a child will grow in a year socially and academically. Children who start without the expectation of skills required “need to grow more than a year.”
Daycare programs and pre-school classes tend to help address those needs, but Francis acknowledged that’s not an option for every parent. She said there are other ways to help children learn the necessary skills that can accommodate those parents. For example, she said, take the child to “Story Hour” at the local library or get involved in outdoor programs such as soccer.
Attending a group setting with other children while an adult reads can help to teach them how to focus on a task.
“That’s going to serve the same purpose,” she said. “It allows your child to figure out who they are independent of you.”
Francis said it’s important for parents to read to their children every day, at least one book a day.
“I can’t understate the importance of sitting down every night and reading to your child,” she said. “If you can’t work on pre-school, there are other things you can do.”
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