No – I’m not talking about preparing your student to go back to school. This blog has addressed that subject repeatedly. I’m talking about getting your very little one ready for school – the one who isn’t in Kindergarten yet (or even pre-K).
Too often, I see children in Kindergarten and beginning 1st grade who are already behind. Even stellar pre-K programs do not necessarily equip students for the academic rigor of the following school year. It is up to the parents to provide the extra exposure and practice for the student to be ready for Kindergarten or 1st grade. Many times, students fall behind early just because parents are unaware of the expectations of students starting school. This is the group we are addressing in this month’s blog. (This does not include those students who may need professional direct instruction due to a significant deficit or possible learning disability).
Long gone are the days when Kindergarten focused simply on letter people, sharing, listening to the teacher, and sensory play. With the incorporation of Common Core, many states including Florida have new, higher academic standards for K-3 grades. For public school, students should be able to read short vowel words and Doltch pre-primer and primer sight words by the end of Kindergarten. First grade will briefly revisit short vowel words, but will quickly target words with long vowels, consonant blends/digraphs, and regular vowel combinations at a minimum (a simple Google search will result in some decent practice lists). Although these are state standards, variance still exists across schools – even public schools. I visited a public Kindergarten class in New Tampa targeting second-grade phonetic words. Private schools tend to be even more rigorous than public schools. Various private schools in Tampa expect students to be proficient phonetic readers by mid-first grade!
Whether or not you agree with the new standards or feel that too much is being expected too early from your student, this is the new culture in private, public, and even charter schools (who are held to the same standards as public school or they lose their charter). Unless you plan on homeschooling, which is a great option for some families, your student may run the risk of being held back, placed in the lower reading group, or placed in special education if you do not incorporate focused reading practice at home.
To equip yourself, I encourage you to read the standards. They can be found at http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/. You can be a better support to both your future student and his/her teacher by being aware of the expectations. If you find that you serve better as a parent than a teacher, call us. We would love to help!