Back to School: Reading skills to nap times, answers to frequently asked questions about kindergartners
Posted August 9
The first day of school is just around the corner and, for many kids across Wake County, that first day will be a big milestone as they begin kindergarten and their grade school journey.
I checked in with the experts at Wake County Public School System and asked some popular questions that I've heard about kindergarten from parents over the years - from what do teachers do with kids who just can't stay seated to how can we help our little ones who are worried about making friends.
Here are those questions and answers from Wake's academics staff. Wake school's website has more information about the all-important kindergarten year.
Q: My child is still taking a nap. Will there be any kind of nap time? How can I help my child transition to this new routine?
A: Offering naptime in kindergarten is at the discretion of the school. Some schools allow naptime for kindergarten students during the first quarter and some schools do not. Usually teachers guage the students’ need for a nap and adjust accordingly. Kindergarten teachers tend to transition from naptime to rest time on the table before eliminating nap time. Parents can help by allowing students to go to bed earlier, which may alleviate the need for a daytime nap.
Q: How can I be involved in my child's classroom? I've heard some teachers don't want parents in there until they establish some kind of routine.
A: Most teachers love having parents involved in the classroom. Teachers like at least two weeks to establish routines until parents are a part of their classroom. Some kindergarten students experience separation anxiety from parents. Teachers like to have time in the beginning of the year to overcome anxiety issues and ease students into a routine before parents visit. If your child has a difficult time separating from you, you will not want to volunteer until they have overcome this. Volunteering too soon could possibly increase anxiety because the child will separate from the parents twice. Parents can help by asking their children questions about their day at school and keeping open two way communication with the teacher.
Q: My child is (or isn't) reading? Is that OK?
A: Yes! It is helpful for rising kindergartners to have some basic understanding of the alphabet, that letters make words and print carries meaning. Kindergarten teachers will meet students where they are and are accustomed to instructing a variety of reading abilities. The joy of teaching is to take students where they are and grow them into fluent readers.
It is most important for rising kindergartners to have had multiple opportunities to engage with books. Parents should read aloud to their children as a way to familiarize them with letters, words, sentence structures and books.
Q: We don't know any other rising kindergartners at my child's school and she's worried about not having any friends there (and leaving all of her preschool friends). How can I help ease her anxiety?
A: Most elementary schools offer kindergarten orientation which presents an opportunity for both parents and kindergarten peers to connect. Additionally some schools schedule a social event prior to the start of school for kindergarten families. The beginning of kindergarten is also spent teaching students how to learn and play together as well, so they will have ample opportunities to make friends.
Q: My child is really active and I'm worried that he won't be able to sit still for as long as required. How can I help him settle down so he's ready to learn? What kind of things do teachers do to help kids like this?
A: Kindergarten teachers adapt instruction to meet the needs of the students. They teach in small chunks of time and incorporate song and movement to keep students engaged and maintain their attention. At the beginning of the year, most teachers keep their students in sitting positions for about 15 minutes. They alternate from sitting activities to active activities. As the year progresses, students build their stamina.
By establishing a homework routine, parents can help their child learn to focus for an adequate amount of time. Reading aloud to your child is a great opportunity to increase your child’s ability to focus and engage.
Stay tuned for more tips for rising middle schoolers and high schoolers.