Monthly Archives: April 2010

The White Glove Test

How can I help my child learn to clean up after herself?

Resist the urge to clean up after your child when they complete an art project, read a book, or play with their toys. Insist that your child places caps on markers and pens, gently turns the pages of a book and returns all items in their original condition and to their original spot when they are finished using them. Your child is never too young to set these expectations!! Kindergarten students are expected to clean up after themselves whether it be when they are working at their desk, working in a small group, participating in free centers or in a large group setting. When your child works as part of the group to keep their area clean, they develop respect for their environment and items that may or may not belong to them.

Now that I know, what do I do?

Make everything a game! You can make almost any clean up activity into a game. Challenge your child to see how many toys they can pick up in two minutes. Use a song as a cue. Many Kindergarten teachers use a song to cue students that it is time to clean up. There are dedicated clean up songs but you can also use one of their favorite songs from a CD or the radio. The clean up time will fly by when they are singing along to their favorite tunes. You can also have them race against the song to see if they can clean up before it is over.

The white glove test. Give your child a white glove and a magnifying glass. After they feel they’ve cleaned up, they can use the white glove and the magnifying glass as props to inspect their work. Watch out or they might notify you of those dust bunnies under the couch!

Host a toy car wash.  This idea was shared on the TV program A Place of Our Own  and not only is it a great sensory activity but it also reinforces the importance of keeping things clean. Gather a bunch of toy cars along with bikes and trikes and host a car wash. Provide lots of different cleaning brushes, sponges and towels along with soapy, bubbly mixtures. Then have your child start cleaning! They’ll find it fun and won’t even realize their cleaning. During or even after the car wash discuss the entire experience and why it was important to clean the toys.

Be consistent! Make sure your child cleans up every time .  That does not mean only at home. That means you should check every time that they visit a friend’s house, go to Mother’s Day Out, attend a birthday party, etc.

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Sharing

My son has difficulty sharing his toys. How can I help him learn to share?

Just as your child’s Kindergarten year will provide multiple opportunities for them to practice taking turns it will also provide opportunities to develop sharing. Kindergarten students are expected to be able to share without hitting or throwing a fit and to share fairly without adult intervention. This will result in the mastery of yet another one of those skills that will stay with your child throughout their entire life. Sharing is definitely a tough concept for children to master. The best way to make sure your child has plenty of opportunities for sharing even before they enter Kindergarten is to enroll them in some kind of activity that involves play with others of their age whether it be a Mother’s Day Out, Preschool, or simply the children’s class at your place of worship.

Now that I know, what do I do?

 
Practice! This is the number one activity you can do with your child. Sharing is really a hard concept to teach if you don’t allow time for your child to practice this skill from the beginning. This can be easy if your child has siblings but even if they don’t you can help your child practice. Play with your child and then ask to share a certain toy. If you’re met with resistance develop a plan that you both can agree on. “I’ll let you bounce the ball twenty more times and then it’s my turn to bounce it twenty times.” Make sure you discuss and emphasize sharing fairly.

Divide things evenly. Practice dividing toys evenly with your child. You might want to start with something extremely obvious at first. Using a pile of blocks or something else your child has an interest in and give your child only a few while you get the rest. Start a discussion about why that wasn’t fair.

Provide opportunities for free play as much as possible. Along with the above mentioned enrolled, weekly activities, be sure to take your child to the park, playground, swimming pool, play group, or wherever there are other kids! Remember to allow children to attempt to come to a solution for sharing on their own. If they can’t, model sharing and develop a fair system for play. For example: “Bella can swing for five minutes while you push her. Then you can switch places and she’ll push you on the swing for five minutes” or “There are other children on the swings right now, so let’s go play on the slide until someone leaves.”

Provide positive feedback. Catch your child sharing and then praise them! Children love to know you’re proud of them and this reinforces the positive behavior. It’s a win, win!

Also consider:

There are also times when it’s not okay to share.  (toothbrushes, lunch money, etc.)   It’s important to discuss these times with your child as well and even role play some scenarios.

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Voice Level

What will the noise level expectations be for my child?

The truth is it will depend on what area of the school your child is in.   An important and difficult lesson your child will need to learn is that each school area has different expectations for noise level and that even the classroom can have many different expectations for noise level depending on the activity.  The playground obviously has a much different noise level expectation than the library.

Ultimately, Kindergarten students are expected to be able to determine the appropriate voice level for the environment and alter theirs accordingly. This becomes a little tricky because everyone has a different voice level that they use. We’ve all sat next to someone at a restaurant that you cannot but help overhear every current detail of their life because they are speaking so loudly. Maybe you are even that person! Yet, your child needs to understand the voice level that they should strive to use in various situations. As with so many other social skills, some of the best ways to learn are through modeling and allowing time for practice.

Now that I know, what do I do?
 

  • Practice using various voice levels. Play a game where you sing a song at various voice levels.

 

  • Use various instruments. Gather various musical instruments, nothing expensive, tambourines, kazoos, even drums made out of old oatmeal containers will work. Then have your child play the instrument as loud as the can, then as softly as they can.

 

  • Inform your child of the voice level appropriate for the environment. Every time you go into a new environment tell your child what voice level you will be using and then model it for them. Pretty soon they’ll be pointing out children who were too loud at the library or even those who were not speaking loudly enough at a basketball game.

What to expect:

We often assume that when we are discussing noise level, we mean that your child shouldn’t be too loud for the situation. However, you don’t want the opposite to occur either. If your child is particulary shy or just doesn’t like speaking in front of a group, you will want to work with them on this as well.

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Expressing Feelings

How can I help my child express their feelings in a positive way?

Children experience the same feelings as adults, but often don’t understand those emotions. That can be a scary position for your child as she tries to express herself. It is important for your child to know that everyone experiences the same feelings. The emotion itself isn’t bad, but we all have to learn how to react to those feelings. Below is a small list of books that give names to the emotions your child will experience and provides children with real examples on how to best deal with that feeling.

Summaries taken from Amazon.com
Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail. Sometimes Katie loses her temper. She uses her feet and her fists instead of words. When
Katie is this mad, she’s just not herself. Sometimes, she’s Bombaloo. Being Bombaloo is scary. But a little time-out and a lot of love can help calm Bombaloo down and help Katie feel like Katie again.
Readers of all ages will appreciate the warmth, humor, and keen insight Rachel Vail and Yumi Heo bring to an issue all families experience. This reassuring picture book is perfect for sharing with all the little (and big) Bombaloos in our lives. -Publisher Review

How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods by Saxton Freymann. “Amused? Confused? Frustrated? Surprised? Try these feelings on for size.”This is a book that asks all the right questions. And leaves you feeling great no matter what the answers are!”Who’d have dreamed that produce could be so expressive, so charming, so lively and so funny?…Freymann and…Elffers have created sweet and feisty little beings with feelings, passions, fears and an emotional range that is, well, organic.”-The New York Times Book Review

When Sophie Gets Angry– Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. Everybody gets angry sometimes. And for children, anger can be very upsetting. In this Caldecott-honor book, children will see what Sophie does when she gets angry. Parents, teachers, and children can talk about it. People do lots of different things when they get angry. What do you do? -Barnes & Noble Overview

Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis. With tickling verses, and through the 13-mood span of a saucy little redheaded girl, Curtis affirms that whatever we’re feeling inside is okay. Her playful rhymes encourage us to express our feelings — from excited to grumpy, cranky to joyful. -Barnes & Noble Overview

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss    The late Dr. Seuss saw his original text about feelings and moods as part of the “first book ever to be based on beautiful illustrations and sensational color.” The quest for an artist has finally ended–after the manuscript languished for more than two decades–at the paint brushes of husband-and-wife team Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher whose stunning, expressive paintings reveal such striking images as a bright red horse kicking its heels, a cool and quiet green fish, a sad and lonely purple dinosaur, and an angrily howling black wolf. Using a spectrum of vibrant colors and a menagerie of animals, this unique book does for the range of human moods and emotions what Oh, the Places You’ll Go! does for the human life cycle.   Here is a wonderful way for parents to talk with children about their feelings.  With Johnson and Fancher’s atmospheric, large-scale paintings bursting off the pages, Dr. Seuss’s vision is brought to life. This rare and beautiful book is bound to appeal to both the innocent young and the most sophisticated seniors.

When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman* Anger is a scary emotion for young children, their parents, and caregivers. As this little bunny experiences the things that make her angry, she also learns ways to deal with her anger—ways that won’t hurt others. –Albert Whitman & Company

When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman* Young children often experience anxiety when they are separated from their mothers or fathers. This newest title in “The Way I Feel” series features a young guinea pig who expresses her distress when her mother and father go away. “Missing you is a heavy, achy feeling. I don’t like missing you. I want you right now!” Eventually the little guinea pig realizes that sometimes she and her parents can’t be together. When that happens, she knows that others can help. “They can snuggle with me or we can play. It helps me to be warm and close to someone. They remind me that you’ll be back.” –Albert Whitman & Company

*Cornelia Maude Spelman has a large series of books on feelings. We have listed just two examples.

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain  The zany characters who sniffle, soar and shriek through this book will help kids understand the concept of such emotions as joy, disappointment, boredom and anger. “The Way I Feel” will also show kids how to express their feelings with words.

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Books for Kindergarten

Are there any good books to read to get my child ready for Kindergarten?

Yes, there are numerous books that you can read with your child that have Kindergarten-aged characters or take place in a Kindergarten classroom. In fact, we highly recommend reading some of these with your child. Not only will your child benefit in countless ways from reading with you but they will also be able to learn and ask questions about Kindergarten in a setting where they are comfortable. The authors and illustrators have done a great job accurately portraying Kindergarten and the feelings many Kindergarten-aged students may have.

All summaries below were taken from Amazon.com. 

Picture Books:

The Night Before Kindergarten  by Natasha Wing. It’s almost the first day of school, and kids all over town are getting ready for it. What will Kindergarten be like? Will the teacher be nice? Will they still get to play? Anticipation and excitement are in the air as they head off to school, where they discover just how much fun Kindergarten really is!

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten  by Joseph Slate . It’s the first day of Kindergarten and Miss Bindergarten has to get the classroom ready for her students. She puts the books on the bookshelf, organizes the toys, and hangs the alphabet chart. Meanwhile, the students are waking up, brushing their teeth and getting ready to start their first day.

Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come  by Nancy Carlson. “Perfect for parents to share with their children, and the endearing Henry will offer reassurance to even the most hesitant pre-kindergarteners.” –Booklist

Countdown to Kindergarten  by Alison McGhee. Everyone knows there’s just one thing you need to be able to do before they let you into Kindergarten–tie your shoes all by yourself! So what is an almost-kindergartener to do when she can’t…though she tries and tries and tries again?

Kindergarten Rocks  by Katie Davis. Dexter already knows everything there is to know about Kindergarten. His big sister, Jessie, went there too, and she’s told him all about it. So Dexter is not scared. Not even a little bit. Nope. Not at all. But his stuff dog, Rufus, is scared.

Ms. Bitsy Bat’s Kindergarten  by Pamela Duncan Edwards. Groundhog, snake, possum and the rest of the class are excited on their second day of Kindergarten. But when they get there Mr. Fox isn’t there. They have a new teacher–and she’s a bat! Apprehension abounds, but little by little, Ms. Bat soothes each student’s fears, in this reassuring introduction to Kindergarten.

My Kindergarten  by Rosemary Wells. Join Emily, Roger, and all their classmates as they embark on their amazing journey through the Kindergarten year. Every day Miss Cribage has something for them to do: learn the alphabet, count up to 10, make best friends, sing songs, recite poetry, read stories and more. And at day’s end, there’s so much for the Kindergartners to bring home and share with their families. It’s s a celebration of the first important year of a child’s education.

Jessica  by Kevin Henkes. “There is no Jessica,” said Ruthie’s parents. But Ruthie knew there was. She ate with Jessica, played with Jessica and read her favorite books with Jessica. When the first day of school arrived, Mom and Dad hoped Ruthie would find a real friend. Were they in for a surprise!

Go Home, Mrs. Beekman  by Ann Stampler. Emily Beekman has a problem. School is starting and she doesn’t want to go. Nothing can change her mind until Mom promises to go with her–every day, forever and ever. To Emily’s surprise, she discovers that school is fun. … By snack time, Emily is ready to say good-bye to her mom. But Mrs. Beekman has other ideas, as day after day she tries one silly way after another to keep her promise and remain at school…until Emily finally comes up with a new plan that works perfectly for mother and daughter. A reassuring comic antidote for any kid — or parent! — who has ever had first-day jitters.

Miss Malarky Doesn’t Live in Room 10 by Judy Finchler  A first-grade boy is shocked, then pleased, when he discovers his teacher has a life away from school. 

Chapter Books:

Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Parks
Ramona series by Beverly Cleary

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Writing Name

My child can find his name, does he need to be able to write it too? He’s not really interested in learning how to write it.

The fact that your child can recognize his name is wonderful! It will make his transition into Kindergarten much easier. Being able to locate his name in the room will give him confidence in finding his seat, cubby, and other assigned items and areas.   On the first day of school your child will be asked to write his name.  The Kindergarten teacher will do this to assess how well he can properly write his first name.   By the end of Kindergarten the expectation will be that your child write his first and last name with correct capitalization and letter formation (plus no letter reversals). There’s a good bit of ground to cover between recognizing one’s name and actually getting the letters on paper correctly. Don’t stress! There are lots of ways to give your child the practice he needs to ensure he is on his way to writing his name the right way!

Now that I know, what can I do?

Let your child experience the fun ways to write his name! Using a pencil and paper might not sound like much fun to your child. Try one of these new ways to get your child on board: Let your him practice writing his name in shaving cream; Use sidewalk chalk to write his name colorfully; Playdough is a wonderful tool to use to practice spelling one’s name. (It works those fine motor skills too!) Write your child’s name in glue and allow him to cover the gluey letters with cereal, buttons, glitter, etc. Use chocolate chips to spell his name on the next cake you bake together. Bath time brings about a wonderful chance to use bath crayons to practice spelling his name too!

Practice Makes Perfect! The best way for your child to independently write his name is through practice. But remember that the tools he uses to practice writing his name are very important. Allow him to use chubby pencils and crayons rather than thin ones. They are much easier to grasp. Transition into the thinner pencils and crayons as your child develops those fine motor skills.

Also consider:
Pre-K students typically write their name in all capital letters so a child transitioning into Kindergarten may be writing in all caps. That is perfectly acceptable. The capital letters are much easier to form so encourage and model using those capital letters to write your child’s name.

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Alphabet

My child can recite the alphabet. Isn’t that considered knowing your ABC’s?

Your child has been able to sing the alphabet song for years, doesn’t that mean she knows her ABC’s? It’s definitely the first step, but no, it does not mean she has a full understanding of the alphabet. Children who start Kindergarten able to identify the names and sounds of the letters, in both their capital and lowercase forms, and in any order have a huge advantage when it comes to reading. Yes, it used to be that Kindergarten was all about learning your letters so you’d be ready to read in first grade. Expectations have changed! Children now need to be able to leave Kindergarten reading at least simple patterned texts (think Dr. Seuss). Since most teachers will start reading groups with their classes by early fall, January at the very latest, that leaves little time to devote to letter/sound identification. Though, of course, it is addressed regularly in just about every activity in the typical Kindergarten classroom.

Now that I know, what do I do?

Practice identifying the letters in your child’s name. Again, not in the same order. If your child’s name is Cole, we want them to be able to pick out the letter “e” and then “o”, etc.

Take Advantage of Car Trips. When driving in the car, call out things you see and ask your child what letter he hears at the beginning and then identify that letter. For example, McDonald’s starts with the sound /m/. What letters makes the /m/ sound?

Magnetic alphabet letters. Your child can use the magnetic letters for exploration, to copy words he sees or to work on letter and sound identification. You can also have them sort the letters into groups such as: ones with curves and ones with only straight lines, ones in their name, etc. A great tip for busy parents is to use the letters with a cookie sheet. This way your child can play with the letters wherever you are, in the car, at the doctor’s office, sitting in the grocery shopping cart, etc.

Rainbow letters. Have your child write a letter in red. Then have him write it again on top of the red letter only this time in orange. Continue with all the colors of the rainbow.

Shaving cream. Spread shaving cream on the kitchen counter, bathroom mirror or any flat surface that you don’t mind cleaning later. Then let your child write letters in the shaving cream.

Play-dough. Have your child make their play dough into long snakes. Then have them use the snakes to make different letters.

Letter Songs. Sing songs like the “Apples and Bananas” song that change letters. This one is especially great because it changes vowel sounds with Opples, Bononos, etc.

“I Spy.” Play “I Spy” only instead of spying colors spy things that start with a certain letter or sound. If you are spying something that starts with the letter “b” but your child guesses something that starts with a different letter, use this as an opportunity to discuss the letter and sound of the object your child guessed.

Art Supplies. Use all sorts of different art supplies to write the letters. Bath crayons, sidewalk chalk, scented markers, finger paints stamps the list goes on. After practicing writing different letters have your child then draw a picture of something that starts with each letter you practiced writing.

“What to Expect”:

Don’t forget that your child needs to know that vowels have two sounds. Both short and long sounds are important! Children also often confuse the sounds of letters “u,” “w” and “y.”

Point out different fonts to your children when the opportunity presents itself. Letters like a and g often look different depending on the font used.

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