Monthly Archives: May 2010

First Day Behavior

What are the behavioral expectations for the first day of school? How do these change throughout the year?

For many students the first day of Kindergarten is the first time they have been in a formal school setting. Your child’s Kindergarten teacher understands that children need lots of time to practice not only classroom rules but also the rules for all different areas of the school and that learning the rules takes time. It can be a shock for some kids to realize that all of a sudden they can’t just get up to go to the bathroom without permission or change activities when they feel like it. For this reason the first few weeks of school activities are centered predominantly around getting to know the rules, the teacher, other kids in the class and the school in general. Typically your child’s teacher will be more forgiving with most of the rules for the first couple of days. However, while Kindergarten teachers understand that your child will need time to practice things like raising their hand or walking in line, there are some rules that they will be expected to know from the beginning such as hitting other children is never okay.

Your child’s classroom should have some kind of behavior system set up that is easy for your child to understand. This will usually be explained on a Meet the Teacher Night either right before or right after the start of school. Some examples of classroom behavior systems include, time outs, colors to denote varying degrees of behavior or ticket reward systems. At the beginning you may worry because it may seem as if your child is breaking the rules frequently. Don’t worry as long as it’s few and far between and diminishes as the year goes on. Everybody makes mistakes and learns from them.

As the year progresses your child’s teacher will become tougher with the rules. Only one warning will be given before there is a consequence such as missing a few minutes of free center time or recess. Always feel free to contact your child’s teacher if your child breaks the rules at school. It is helpful to understand what happened from the teacher’s perspective so that you will know what if any consequences need to result at home.


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Peter, Jack, Jill and Little Bo Peep

Are nursery rhymes really that important?

YES! Nursery rhymes really are that important! These silly poems and songs never go out of style. The natural rhythm and pattern of nursery rhymes are appealing to kids and naturally teach the concept of rhyming as well as build the vocabulary of children from infancy on up.  Both are essential skills for learning to read!  Vivid images of Peter’s wife in a pumpkin shell or a lamb at school provide humor and encourage a young child’s imagination. As an added bonus, a great number of nursery rhymes include counting or other basic math skills!

Now that I know, what can I do?

Finger plays. Many nursery rhymes lend themselves to finger plays, which help a child improve their hand-eye coordination and memory skills.  The “Itsy Bitsy Spider,”  “Where is Thumbkin?,” and “This Little Piggy” are just a few examples of well-known nursery rhyme finger plays, but you can also make up your own for some of your child’s favorite nursery rhymes.

Reinforce counting and other math skills. Use nursery rhymes like “Hickory Dickory Dock,” “One, Two Tie My Shoe,” and “This Old Man” to reinforce counting to 10. Many nursery rhymes also teach position words (over, under, behind, etc.), a very important but highly overlooked and often difficult math skill for young children. A great book to check out is Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose by Leo & Diane Dillon. This book uses well known and lesser known nursery rhymes to explore the world of Mother Goose through numbers.

Use them to teach the alphabet. Many nursery rhymes have alliteration in them. “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” is a great example to use to teach the letter and sound of “P.” Other nursery rhymes with alliteration include “Wee Willie Winkie,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

Rhyming. Sing or recite nursery rhymes and discuss the rhyming words. Once your child is familar with a nursery rhyme, try reciting it by leaving out a few of the rhyming words. See if you child can fill in the missing words. For example:

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the _______ .
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport.
And the dish ran away with the _______.

Draw and write about nursery rhymes. To activate your child’s imagination have them draw a picture of a favorite nursery rhyme.  Then have them point out special details that they drew that may or may not be in the rhyme. Use this illustration to write a story about the characters in the nursery rhyme.   Have your child dictate to you or write a story about what Little Miss Muffett did after that spider or what it would be like to be in a tub with a butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

Act out the nursery rhymes. Use your child’s dress up box or everyday household items to act out the nursery rhymes. Not only does this improve your child’s memorization skills but it also allows your child to learn through play. Puppets, homemade or store bought, would also be a fun way to act out nursery rhymes.

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A Day in Kindergarten

When I was in Kindergarten, we mostly colored and sang. That must still be what K is like now. Why does my child have to go all day? What is he going to be doing all that time?

The schedule of a Kindergarten classroom is a very busy one!  Kindergarten expectations have changed throughout the years.  While there will likely still be some singing and art activities in your child’s day, there will also be many other activities that focus on specific academic skills.  Below is an example of a schedule. There can be differences in schools and even classrooms on the same campus when it comes to setting a schedule. This is just how a typical day might run with explanations of what each activity entails.

7:30-7:45 Enter classroom and get ready for the day: The “getting ready for the day” part includes a Kindergarten student hanging up his backpack and unpacking any folders that his teacher requires. We have daily folders that go home each afternoon and return each morning. They are very important as that is the most common way communication takes place as letters and school work are sent home in this folder. Letting your Kindergartener unpack his own backpack builds independence and responsibility!

7:45-8:15 Announcements and Pledge: Some schools do a school-wide assembly for campus announcements and pledge(s). Other campuses use the intercom system while the students are in the classrooms.

Morning Meeting and Calendar: This is a very important part of your Kindergartner’s day. Each morning students meet in front of the calendar area to determine the day’s date, day of the week, weather and more. Students often graph the weather, have a monthly pattern on the calendar and discuss the times and events of their daily schedule. Just some math skills incorporated in this time include the months of the year, days of the week, the day of the week for any given date in a month, counting to 100, ordinal numbers, patterning and graphing.

8:15-9:05 Specials: This time is reserved for enrichment activities such as art, music, theater and PE. Every school has a different schedule but children typically rotate through these activities on a weekly basis but attend PE more frequently.

9:05-9:20 Phonemic and Phonological Awareness: This part of the day is a time for students to develop a deeper understanding of spoken language. They learn how to rhyme, segment sentences into words and words into syllables and sounds. Students make connections between the letters and their sounds and then practice manipulating sounds to create new words. This part of a Kindergartener’s day builds the critical foundation in learning to read.

9:20-10:20 Guided Reading/Literacy Centers: During this time, the teacher reads with a small group of students practicing skills specific to that group. Such skills include: letter-sound correspondence, high frequency word practice, stretching out sounds to read words and much more. The books students use during this time are short readers that are based on reading levels. While a small group reads with the teacher, the other students work in various literacy centers which reinforce prior learning. Be on the look out for an additional post on specific literacy centers.

10:20-10:45 Language Arts: This block is devoted to teaching additional reading skills. Shared reading is a time for students to listen to and share in the reading of a book that is read for at least one week. Generally these are oversized books (referred to as big books) with enlarged print and illustration. Repeated readings give students opportunities to work on vocabulary while building comprehension and fluency. Many of the stories are predictable and the students are able to fill in missing words or phrases. Shared reading allows the students to become very familiar with stories and gives them numerous chances to extend their learning.

10:45-11:15 Lunch: A Kindergartener’s favorite part of the day! Students can bring a lunchbox or purchase a lunch from the cafeteria. Some campuses may have specific rules about where students sit while others may allow students to sit anywhere. It’s so important for students to have a balanced lunch to have enough energy to keep learning for the rest of the afternoon!

11:15-11:45 Recess: The playground area is a place for students to develop their gross motor skills. It’s also a great time for them to be active and visit with friends!

11:45-12:15 Writing: This time includes shared writing activities and journal time. Shared writing is an interactive writing experience with the teacher and the entire class where everyone works together on a particular writing concept: sounding out words, capitalization, punctuation, etc. Journal time provides an opportunity for students to write independently (with teacher assistance as needed) using either a teacher directed prompt or their own topic choice. Look for a future blog post with more details about what writing looks like in Kindergarten.

12:15-12:50 Math This part of the day is devoted to math skills in addition to the ones covered during calendar time in the morning. This time includes teacher instruction with guided practice, small group work, free exploration with math manipulatives and sometimes math center activities.

12:50-1:20 Social Studies/Science Kindergarten is a time where students learn about their world. This means a great deal of time is devoted to understanding concepts about “me” and my community and exploring the world around them. Depending on the theme for the week or month, this time is typically devoted to either social studies or science. As themes change throughout the year equal time is devoted to both science and social studies.

1:20-1:50 Snack and Rest Time Snack and rest time varies from school to school depending on daily schedules and district policies. Most Kindergarten days will involve some type of rest or quiet time. At the beginning of the school year and sometimes longer, this almost always involves your child resting on a towel or mat for about 20 minutes. As the year progresses, children may simply put their head down or have quiet time.

1:50-2:30 Free Choice Centers This is where your child is provided the opportunity to learn through play. Many centers from literacy stations are open again at the end of the day as well as the blocks and kitchen center we all remember so fondly.

2:30-2:35 Closing Routine This involves cleaning up, packing up and some kind of closing with the teacher. Often children will discuss what they learned that day and any reminders they have for their parents. Final dismissal procedures are different for each school.

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