Kindergarten classrooms are busy places: there are areas designated
for exploration, reading, painting and drawing, writing, science,
dramatic play and quiet time. Within all that busy-ness is a goal
and that is to prepare each child for a lifetime of learning.
Kindergarten provides some structure to a previously unstructured
world for most children. It is a transition time that should maintain
a balance to ready a child for the rigors of first grade without
Kindergarten Language Arts starts at the most basic level in order to allow
every child to participate and grow. The classroom is colorful
and bright and there is artwork and words everywhere. The alphabet
is on the walls in upper and lower case and everything is labeled.
There are plenty of books available to the children and even more
hidden away to be brought out later. Children learn to recognize
books and should be able to demonstrate knowledge that written
words and pictures are meaningful and representative of oral language.
They track text from left to right and top to bottom. They should
recognize that a book has a front, back and title page and that
it contains information. Also, kindergarteners are able to "judge
a book by its cover" and predict the contents by the art or photos
on the cover. They recognize familiar stories and can relate stories
to real life. Students can tell the stories using their own words
Children in kindergarten should be able to distinguish between
letters and words and recognize that sentences are made up of
words, words of letters. In kindergarten the children learn to
recognize and name all of the letters of the alphabet in upper
and lower case. They recognize familiar sight words, will know
rhyming words and can read simple words. Kindergarten students
learn the sounds the letters make and can match the consonants
and short vowel sounds to the appropriate letters.
In addition to recognizing the letters of the alphabet, kindergarteners
should be able to print their names, the alphabet and some vocabulary
words using the left to right style of writing. By the end of
the school year, some punctuation rules such as capitalization
at the beginning of a sentence and a period at the end of the
sentence should be recognized and followed. Students should be
able to dictate or write journal-like entries describing family,
friends, pets and events. Drawings are used to create meaning
and labeled with phonetic attempts at spelling.
Work is done in groups, individually and one on one with a teacher.
At group time, children hone their listening skills and practice
their speaking. Participation in singing, sharing time and daily
events such as discussing the weather and learning the calendar
is excellent practice for learning to speak clearly. It is also
important in group time to listen to others and pay attention
to what is being said. While working individually the students
are practicing independence and self-entertainment. In small groups,
a sense of cooperation develops and there is time for sharing
experiences and differences. Teachers working one-on-one recognize
individual needs and are able to adjust the curriculum accordingly.
There are universal signs signifying a good kindergarten class.
A bright, cheery room decorated with students' artwork with every
child represented is important. Every child should be playing
or working at something either alone or in groups. Books can be
read any time and aren't restricted to story time. Dramatic play
areas, science tables, blocks, structural toys and puzzles should
all be available for play throughout the course of the day. Children
should be able to experience a variety of activities individually
or in small groups as well as within the entire class. Outdoor
play is crucial. Most importantly, there is a happy group of healthy
children who enjoy going to school with a teacher who looks forward
to each day.