South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center

Home learning resources, and strategies to connect schools, families and communities.

You do not have to be a South Dakota resident to take advantage of this great website to support early learners. The South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement Center (SD SFEC) has partnered with other education agencies to create early learning kits.  For South Dakota friends (teachers, families, and childcare providers) you can request early learning kits for young children. However, for non- South Dakota residents there are 24 Kindergarten Readiness cards that can be downloaded on its website. 

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

 

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Kindergarten Behaviors to Start School

Kindergarten readiness starts at home.

It’s funny the things you think of at big moments in your life.  I remember very clearly what I was thinking my first day as a K-5 principal when I went out to meet the children.  As they enthusiastically came off the buses, I’m sure none of them knew that their new principal was thinking “ready or not, here they come”.  They arrived and although I questioned myself many times over that year, I finally came to terms with my readiness.

For years, future kindergarten parents have questioned whether their child “would be, is, or was” ready for kindergarten.   The typical flightiness of 5-year olds, gives some parents cause for sleepless nights. 

Parents often try to get a head start on academics with their preschooler.  However, if you ask a group of kindergarten teachers what skills are the best predictors of success in kindergarten, the answer may surprise you. Although I had taught Kindergarten, it was when I became the principal of a K-2 school that I REALLY saw these behaviors ring true. 

Kindergarten Behaviors to be “Ready to Learn” (alphabetical order) 

  • adapts easily to change
  • follows classroom rules
  • learns independently
  • organizes belongings
  • pays attention
  • persists in completing tasks
  • shows eagerness to learn

Kids, like adults, are imperfect.  So when looking at your future kindergarten students, think “big picture” when looking at the traits.  Think how your child does overall with those characteristics.  If you see an area, that they need additional support, try to find opportunities to practice these skills at home over the next few months.  

As a kindergarten teacher, various readiness levels are a “given” in a classroom.  Sharing your concerns and working together with your child’s teacher will help support your child’s success. 

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

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Readiness and Kindergarten Screening

Is your child ready for kindergarten. Check out a list of readiness skills.

Ready or not for Kindergarten
Readiness for Kindergarten is learned over time.

I’ve been struggling to write this post for some time. My struggle has been how to balance giving parents information about readiness skills without causing fear about Kindergarten Screening. So, to get in front of this, this post is meant to be a simple check up to see how your child is progressing.  All the skills below can be learned by spending time with your child doing activities and are learned over time. Many of them can be done through simple play.  

As a principal of a primary school I’ve talked to many parents about their child’s kindergarten screening results.   Kindergarten screening tools are intended to see if your child is “ready” for kindergarten.  In other words, is your child socially, emotionally and academically “ready to learn”.  For some parents their goal is to “ace the kindergarten screening”.  For those parents I give them 100% on enthusiasm.  However, please remember that children develop at different rates and perfection on kindergarten screening should NOT be the goal.  Real results help teachers plan appropriate programming for your child.

It’s important to remember that kindergarten screening results give an overview of how a child performed on “that particular test, on that particular day”. Therefore, it may not be an 100% accurate on your child’s abilities. It is for this reason that your child’s kindergarten screening SHOULD NOT be the only thing that a school looks at when assessing your child’s school readiness. Your knowledge along with preschool teacher evaluations are also important.  Although your child’s school may have done thousands of screenings, they have only done 1 screening on your child. Don’t be shy to share your observations about your child with the school.

Kindergarten Ready or Not?

So, if you are wondering if your child is ready for kindergarten take a look at the list below. The items below help you to look at your 4 or 5 year old’s physical, social, emotional and academic development.

You may find that some younger kids can do some of the items on the list. That is perfectly fine since learning occurs over time. However, the list, in its entirety is not intended to be used for children younger than three. For my enthusiastic friends, consider it as “Coming Attractions”.

Readiness: Letters and Words

  • Identifies and names at least 10 letters of the alphabet.
  • Matches a letter with the beginning sound of a word: for example, matches the letter “h” with a picture of a house.
  • Recognizes rhyming words such as mouse and house.
  • Begins to write some of the letters in his or her own first name.
  • Recognizes his or her own first name in print and some of the letters.
  • Understands words such as top, bottom, big, little.
  • Identifies words or signs he or she sees often, for example: McDonalds, Wal-Mart, stop signs.
  • Draws pictures to express ideas and tell stories.
  • Can recognize and name at least five colors.    

Readiness and Speaking

  • Answers simple questions: who, what, when, where?
  • Shares and talks about his/her own experiences in a way that can be understood by most listeners.
  • Follows directions with at least two steps, for example: “Pick up the book and put it on the shelf, please.”
  • Initiates and joins in conversations with adults and children.
  • Asks questions about how things work in the world around him, for example: “Why do babies cry?”
  • Says and/or sings familiar nursery rhymes.    

Book Readiness

  • Shows growing interest in reading and being read to.
  • Holds and looks at books correctly: for example, holds the book right side up and turns the pages one at a time from front to back.
  • Tells a story from the picture on the cover or in the book.    
  • Retells a simple story after listening to it while looking at the pictures in the book.
  • Makes simple predictions and comments about a story being read.      

Math Readiness (Numbers and Shapes)

  • Recognizes and names 4 shapes: circle, square, rectangle and triangle.
  • Counts out loud from 1 to 10 in correct order.
  • Identifies written numbers from one to ten.  
  • Puts written numerals in order from 1 to 10: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
  • Counts at least 5 objects such as 5 pennies.     
  • Sees the numeral 3 and understands this means 3 objects, such as 3 cookies.    
  • Adds and subtracts familiar objects such as stickers.  
  • Uses familiar objects, such as chips, to show concepts of more and less.    
  • Draws a line, circle, rectangle, triangle, X and + .

Same, Different and Patterns

  • Matches two pictures that are alike.  
  • Looks at groups of objects and says which are the same shape, color or size.  
  • Tells things that go together, for example: a spoon and fork are for eating and a fish and a boat go in the water.
  • Repeats a pattern you start, for example: blue, blue, green – blue, blue, green.   
  • Puts three pictures in order, for example: 1. Child puts on boots 2. Child point to a puddle 3. Child jumps in puddle while laughing.

Growing Up: Are They Ready?

  • Takes care of own needs such as toileting, washing hands, dressing and trying to tie his or her own shoes.  
  • Tells full name, address and telephone number.
  • Uses pencils, crayons and markers for drawing and writing.
  • Cuts safely with scissors.
  • Tells if he or she is a boy or a girl.
  • Tells how old he or she is.
  • Adjusts to new situations without parents being there.
  • Runs, jumps, hops, throws, catches and bounces a ball.
  • Rides a tricycle.
  • Goes up and down stairs using both feet (Left, Right, Left)
  • Attempts and completes tasks, understands it’s okay to make mistakes.  
  • Remembers to say “please” and “thank you”.
  • Resolves conflicts with playmates and others appropriately.
  • Responds appropriately to his feelings and the feelings of others.
  • Uses words to express feelings, “I’m angry”, “I’m sad”.  
  • Takes turns, shares and plays with other children.
  • Initiates positive interaction with peers.  
  • Puts puzzles together.

Health & Safety Readiness

  • Asks for adult help when needed.  
  • Follows a set routine and schedule for preparing for bed, personal hygiene and eating meals. 
  • Uses good habits, for example uses a spoon to eat, closed mouth when chewing, covers nose and mouth to sneeze and washes hands after using the toilet and before eating.  
  • Is aware of and follows simple safety rules.  
  • Recognizes potentially dangerous or harmful objects, substances, situations and activities.  
  • Participates in vigorous physical activity daily.
  • Remember that your child will grow tremendously in kindergarten.

Take some time to enjoy the journey!

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

DayByDayNY: Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar that features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills.

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar that features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills.
Daily Calendar to support Kindergarten Readiness

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is a great resource for young kids. Parents or guardians in ANY state or ANY country will find information to help their children learn. Great resource. Take a look!

DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar is an early literacy calendar developed by the New York State Library Association. The calendar features daily activities to foster kindergarten readiness skills. It also contains wellness information and resources to encourage daily reading.

The homepage is updated daily and includes songs, videos, crafts and an eBook that reads the text aloud. The pages can even be set to turn automatically. Parents can download the One More Story app to have it available on their mobile devices too. Daily links also include health and literacy information.  

If families spend a few minutes together a day on these activities your time will be well spent. However, if you still aren’t sure if it’s worth a look check out the DayByDayNY link.

Please share this site with others.  They will Thank you for it!

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Hello Kindergarten: Great Resource

Kindergarten transition is important.
Kindergarten transition is important.

Two more of grandkids are going to Kindergarten in September. While we are all enjoying our summer, fitting in some academics can easily be done with the Hello Kindergarten toolkit. For those parents looking for a good resource the Hello Kindergarten toolkit is a great online option.

The toolkit contains a variety of resources to help families through kindergarten transition. The resource was developed by a partnership between the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood and the Connecticut State Department of Education.  Although it was developed for Connecticut families, this is an excellent resource for ALL families looking to support their “soon to be” Kindergartener. 

The toolkit includes multiple topics on transition such as: 

  • What your child should know and be able to do before her/she goes off to school,
  • How to give your child a healthy start, and
  • How the registration process works.

Even if you think your child is ready for Kindergarten; it certainly is worth a look.  Enjoy this special time with your child!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Other posts related to this topic:

Books Before Kindergarten: 1000?

Reading to kids is important. Try setting 1000 books before kindergarten and get reading.

Is  reading to young children important to you?  If your answer is YES!, perhaps the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program is a good goal for parents and preschool teachers. 

Research shows that as many as one in five children have trouble learning to read. As a result, reading has been linked to academic success. Unfortunately, formal school does not usually start until ages 5-6.  Therefore, parents and preschool teachers take on the important role of being first teachers to children. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenges parents and preschool teachers to read 1000 books to young children before they enter Kindergarten.

Take a look: https://1000booksbeforekindergarten.org/

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Strategies to Help Kids Organization

Organization is key for student success.

Working with teachers for over 30 years, I have learned many strategies to try to help students be successful. Some worked and some did not. Since all students learn differently it is important that teachers build a “strategies toolkit” to be ready for each child who enters their classroom door. 

What Are Academic Intervention Strategies (AIS)?

When a student is having difficulty learning a teacher must try a variety of ways to help them be more successful. As adults we all learn things differently and kids are no different. An advantage of an extensive “strategies toolkit” is that many kids can benefit from the special strategies in day-to-day learning. The Individuals with Disabilities, Education Improvement Act (IDEA) supports interventions and requires teachers to identify strategies implemented and their outcomes prior to special education services being approved.  

Organization Strategies

  • Provide structure and consistency by establishing a daily routine.
  • Use a timer.
  • Reduce distractions.
  • Reward small successes
  • Teach unspoken social rules.
  • Give clear, specific directions.
  • Provide assignment notebook.
  • Help student keep daily & weekly goals list.
  • Help students keep materials in a specific place.
  • Preferential seating, make sure student can see you.
  • Give extra time.
  • Give “warnings” or “reminders” of deadlines.
  • Direct teach organizational skills every day.
  • Model organization and point out how YOU keep yourself organized.
  • Consistency is key for kids organization.

Using specific Academic Intervention Strategies can sometimes prevent the need to refer a student for additional support programs or Special Education services. Knowing the best way to reach individual students can make a big difference in a child’s educational career.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Other posts related to this topic:

Academic Intervention Strategies: Handwriting

Academic Intervention Strategies can help kids with handwriting.

Working with teachers for over 30 years, I have learned many strategies to try to help students be successful. Since all students learn differently it is important that teachers build a “strategies toolkit” to be ready for each child who enters their classroom door. 

One area that is often overlooked in the “age of word processing” is handwriting. However, not all kids will have computers 24/7 so a child’s handwriting must be legible so teachers can assess student learning accurately.

What Are Academic Intervention Strategies (AIS)?

When a student is having difficulty learning a teacher must try a variety of ways to help them be more successful. As adults we all learn things differently and kids are no different. An advantage of an extensive “strategies toolkit” is that many kids can benefit from the special strategies in day-to-day learning. The Individuals with Disabilities, Education Improvement Act (IDEA) supports interventions and requires teachers to identify strategies implemented and their outcomes prior to special education services being approved. 

Academic Intervention Services: Handwriting

  • Ask the school nurse to check student vision.
  • Reward quality.
  • Remind students often and consistently of using good penmanship.
  • Clearly explain what is acceptable to you.
  • Allow students to use paper with their choice of line width.
  • Directly teach letter positioning, directions & spacing.
  • Provide a handwriting model.
  • Allow pencil grips.  Try different types.
  • Reinforce an honest effort.
  • Shorten written tasks.
  • Allow extra time to complete tasks.
  • Use tape to keep paper positioned.
  • Try different sized pencils. (Golf pencils (shorter) allow a better grip)
  • Teach correct pencil grip & proper writing position.
  • Give students a visual reminder of where to start and end.

Using specific Academic Intervention Strategies can sometimes prevent the need to refer a student for additional support programs or Special Education services. Knowing the best way to reach individual students can make a big difference in a child’s educational career.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Other posts related to this topic: