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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preschool and Kindergarten: What's the diff?

There is still confusion about these two programs here in our great commonwealth of Kentucky. Many parent's do not even want to think about either because it means their child is growing up. An event we all wish we could use a slow motion button on but alas, it is inevitable. 

Preschool is a state funded program of which only as certain percent of children qualify. It is based on income and certain needs of children. Pre K is NOT mandatory and it is not required for enrolled students to attend every day. It is only a half day program in our area. Pre K focuses on learning social skills and basic knowledge for the appropriate age group. A child can be as young as three years-old to enter Pre K but only if certain qualifications are met. This is a great way to introduce a child (and new parents) to a school setting. Preschool teachers are required to have an Early Education Degree in order to teach preschool and they have a different set of benchmarks to follow than regular schools do.

Kindergarten students must be 5 years-old before October 1st of the school year in order to be enrolled in Kindergarten. K is just like any other grade. It is mandatory. You may keep your child from going to Kindergarten if he or she will turn six during the school year (that is the way I understand it). If you feel your child is not ready or mature enough for Kindergarten talk to a teacher. Chances are you are correct. I always urge parents to follow their gut instinct. Kindergarten students go all day. Absences are counted. District and state policies are put into place for those with frequent absences and tardies.  Some schools have opted out of nap time or phase it out by mid year. Kindergarten teachers are required to have an Elementary Education Degree. This means they can teach K-5 grade in Kentucky.

For your child to begin Kindergarten it will be helpful to him or her to know the alphabet, count to at least 10 orally and by rote, know their colors, shapes, and how to spell their names. These things are not required but as a parent and an educator I think these things will help your child in the long run. Kindergarten is not just about coloring anymore. Since KERA and all the new core demands it has came a long way. Most Kindergarten students are reading simple CVC words and some sight words before they move on to first grade. Kindergarten students learn geometry, addition and subtraction, logical reasoning, sequencing, and other things in math. In science they learn about life cycles, rocks, plants, etc. They learn many things about social studies, life skills, and arts and humanities. By mid year they should know their alphabet and the sounds each letter makes and they need to know how to count to 100, at least. They will know their days of week, months, and seasons. These things are just a drop in the bucket of what students learn. They still have time to work on their social skills too. Students work to achieve "I can" statements as they do in all grades now that correlate with the Common Core standards in reading and math. We will also be seeing changes in our science content in the near future.

As always, this blog consist of my opinions and common knowledge. Thanks for letting me share!

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