Next month, close to 10,000 Alaska children are starting a new chapter in their young lives: kindergarten. They will be a mixed bunch. Some will have attended Head Start or other classroom-based program, some will have stayed at home with a parent or other caregiver, and others will have been cared for in a family child care setting. And, because of the pandemic, some may have had several of these experiences over the past 16 months.
These 5-year-olds will have one thing in common though – a mix of emotions and responses. They are likely to feel excited about going to the “big school.” They might be worried about making new friends or meeting the teacher’s expectations. They may find themselves in a classroom full of kids they know or be one of the new kids in the group.
They might have an understanding of “going to school” that is different from ours. This cartoon still makes me laugh. In the first frame, a parent asks how the first day of school went and the child answers “fine.” In the second frame, the parent talks about getting ready for the next day, and the child, with a horrified look on her face, says, “You mean it’s more than one day?”
Some families may elect to keep their children at home for kindergarten due to concerns about COVID-19 or for other reasons. Whatever families choose, most have questions about what to do right now to be sure their child has the best chance for success in kindergarten.
Best Beginnings can help! We created an early learning activity guide called On to Kindergarten just for parents with children going “on to kindergarten.” This 12-page booklet provides real-life tips and guidance for parents.
To best guide each child and support their learning, kindergarten teachers assess their new students on five areas called learning domains. These learning domains can be described as “building blocks for success” and include many activities parents are already engaging in with their child every day.
For each domain, the booklet answers these questions:
- What are teachers looking for?
- What does this look like in my kindergartner?
- How can parents/caregivers help?
Parents are often reminded that they begin preparing their child for kindergarten soon after birth – but it’s never too late!
On to Kindergarten can be downloaded or a print copy can be ordered here.