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What to Look for in a Kindergarten Class

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

Q: What should I look for in a kindergarten class? I went to look at our Catholic school and was not impressed with the rigidness of the program. Am I wrong to expect my daughter's first school experience to be a fun one as well as academic?

A: You must look for a program that will fit your daughter. All children entering kindergarten are not developmentally at the same place. You know your daughter best so keep her needs in mind when you look at different kindergarten programs. Some children need a more structured program than others.

Currently, there are two different approaches to kindergarten education. Academic programs stress the development of intellectual skills through formal instruction while developmental programs are concerned with the development of the whole child. However, you are most likely to find programs that emphasize one approach and include elements of the other.

When you're observing different kindergarten programs, remember that most young children learn best from hands-on activities. You will want to avoid programs where your daughter would be required to do a substantial amount of seatwork. A five-year-old needs to be moving around a lot and enjoying a wide variety of individual and group activities.

Also, is your daughter ready for a full-day program or is a half-day one more appropriate? Studies show that children who participate in full-day programs do have a more relaxed school experience and also perform better on basic skills tests in the first three grades than those who attend half-day programs.

You're right to want your daughter to enjoy her first school experience. This is very important to her future success in school. Your daughter is very lucky to have a mother who is doing so much research to make sure that she is placed in the best possible kindergarten program for her.

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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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