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Kindergarten Expectations

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My kindergartner is doing great academically but she seems to have trouble doing her work all the time. When it comes to doing her work, she would rather go to the centers to play. We're trying to teach her patience -- she does her work in a hurry and sloppily so she won't be last or miss her place. I have tried time-outs and disciplinary actions, and she does okay for that day. Then, when it happens again, she says, "I forgot." She is reading at the first-grade level, learning her math, etc. What else can I do?

A: What does your daughter's teacher say about this problem? How serious is it? Your daughter is reading above grade level and doing fine academically. Is this her only shortcoming in kindergarten? You don't tell us her age. Is she quite young for kindergarten and not really ready for so much seatwork?

It sounds like your child wants to be up and participating with her classmates in the more hands-on fun activities in the learning centers. Do you blame her? It is not easy sitting in any classroom, let alone kindergarten, when many of the children are doing more enjoyable activities that your daughter can see. It is human nature to want to join them.

You definitely don't want your child to get in the habit of doing hurried, sloppy work in the classroom. However, the consequences for this behavior should come from the teacher -- not from you. It is, of course, appropriate to ask the teacher for suggestions on how you can help resolve the problem.

You are definitely on the right track in trying to teach your daughter patience. She needs to learn how to complete essential tasks satisfactorily before she embarks on more enjoyable ones. This will take time. But what she learns at home will carry over to school, so keep insisting she carefully finish small jobs before playing. Remember that at home there are far fewer distractions and it will be easier for her to complete tasks.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

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