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Tough Kindergarten Curriculum
Q: My son just started kindergarten. He knows some of his alphabet and numbers, but he's left-handed and seems to have a hard time writing. He brought home a "word book" with ten words that he is to learn to sound/read before next week.
I'm writing the teacher a letter to express my concern about learning to read words when he doesn't even know all his letters, much less the sounds they make. I don't want him to get discouraged right off the bat.
A: Your son's kindergarten sounds as if it is very academic. This approach is only right for a very few young children since most are not developmentally ready to tackle formal instruction in reading, writing, and math.
Rather than writing your son's teacher a note, make an appointment to talk to his teacher about the kindergarten curriculum. Find out exactly what your child will be expected to learn this year and how it will be taught. Most young children need to be in a program that involves lots of hands-on learning.
If you discover that the kindergarten program primarily stresses academics rather than the development of the whole child, consider placing your son in a different school. A kindergarten with a developmental approach or preschool for another year could be a more appropriate placement for him. You definitely do not want him to become frustrated and experience failure before he even enters first grade.
Young left-handed children often have problems learning to write. The problem is that they model their efforts on trying to write like their right-handed classmates. They need to learn to slant their papers in the opposite direction so they can see what they are writing and avoid using a hook style of handwriting. The best way to help your son is to find a left-handed child or adult who can model the correct way for him to write.
As far as learning the ten words goes, the teaching of these words should primarily be done in class. However, if some of these words are sight words, he'll have to commit them to memory, as most can't be sounded out. Also, it is much easier to learn new words from a story rather than a list. Ask the teacher how you can help your son learn this list.
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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.