Even with PreK becoming the norm, kindergarten is often thought
of as the first classroom a child experiences. It is in this classroom
the child begins to understand the structure that will shape his
or her life for the next 1220 years. Socialization skills, adjustment
to group learning and perhaps more importantly, cognitive skills
are the goals of kindergarten today. Kindergarten teachers are
responsible for giving their kids what they need to grow emotionally
and intellectually. They also need to help them grow physically
by providing time for rest and exercise. The kindergarten curriculum
includes language arts, math, science, social studies and the
Arts. Each of these subjects must be addressed within a context
of the others. A basic math curriculum in a US school would concentrate
on building the foundation skills that will take the student all
the way through college.
The focal points of the National Math Curriculum are Numbers and Operations,
Geometry and Measurement. School boards within the various districts
develop their own matrices to teach these foundation skills, however,
most agree on the final goal. They want each child to be able
to make connections, reason, be able to communicate the results
of their problem solving abilities and be able to design and represent
analyses of their solutions. While that may sound complicated
for a kindergartner, it is really no more than being able to use
a set of separated objects for adding and subtracting or recognizing
what comes next in a line of numbers or colors.
Numbers and operations begin with the child learning to use numbers
to represent quantities or designate position: cardinal and ordinal
numbering. Students are taught to understand the relationship
between numbers and quantities using sets of objects, positioning
and grouping. Patterning, using properties to recognize groups
and comparing the sets are elements that combine to create a working
sense of numbers for the students. Counting, counting by 10's
and counting backwards to 100 are mastered in kindergarten.
Students are taught to identify and describe basic geometric
figures such as squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, hexagons,
cubes, spheres, cones and can compare them to objects in their
environment. They learn how to combine objects to build larger,
more complex figures and learn to use shape and size comparisons
to determine relationships such as smaller than or same shape
as. These comparisons also help in understanding capacity and
differences in height, weight and commonalties.
In learning measurements, students learn to solve problems by
comparisons and by combining objects to achieve different lengths
or heights. They learn the concept of measuring time and units
of measurement of time: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks,
etc. Students are taught the concepts of lunchtime, dinnertime
and bedtime. Instruments used for measuring length, capacity and
distance are also introduced and used in practical settings. Kindergarteners
learn pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and each of their relationships
to the dollar bill.
When all these elements are combined a child has the sturdy foundation
on which to build a mathematical future. By the end of the school
year kindergarteners are able to sort and classify objects, demonstrate
an understanding of time, do some simple addition and subtraction,
understand shapes and their relationship to their environment
and can create and follow simple directional leads such as: run
to the corner, turn left, go 5 more steps. Children have also
learned estimation strategies, descriptive uses of measurements
for comparisons and have begun using mathematical reasoning in
order to strategize problem solving. They can also use their skills
to explain how they solved a problem and can justify their reasoning.
Using ordinal and cardinal numbers, geometry and measurement,
the student now has opened the door to data analysis, algebra
and graphing.
