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Language Arts in Kindergarten

What Your Child Should Already Know
Children's learning in the early primary grades is centered on language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Most other curriculum areas, in fact, grow out of this focus on language. Teachers understand that by the time they start school, virtually all children have learned to speak and listen (which are enormously complex skills. These skills are a strong base. Yet some children have had more experience with language than others. To ensure that rewarding language experiences are shared by everyone, teachers fill these early years with language, paying attention to the children's individual differences.

What They'll Learn about Reading
In the area of reading, the teacher's goals are that the children know that print is talk written down and that it can be read; know that writers of print are authors; become increasingly fond of books and literature (including stories, plays, song lyrics, poems, rhymes, and news stories) and of going to the library; learn to "read" pictures and signs; learn to read the names of colors and common objects in print; recognize the letters of the alphabet in both uppercase and lowercase; learn to differentiate between various sounds or letters; enlarge their vocabularies by hearing new words and engaging in new experiences; begin reading the stories they have dictated; begin reading stories with which they are familiar and begin building an awareness of how language works; and participate in Sustained Silent Reading.

What They'll Learn about Writing
Writing is an extension of reading. At the K-1 level the teacher's goals are that the children put marks on paper (scribbles at first); "write" through pictures, another early stage of story writing; become aware that everyone has ideas that can be turned into stories in print, perhaps by dictation to a teacher, older sibling, or parent; learn to form letters and numerals; begin to write words, using invented or transitional spelling; try to express ideas through print (it is important that parents and teachers applaud the inventiveness and creativity of beginning writers); learn that stories can be changed, expanded, reorganized, and even discarded if they do not work; participate in the writer's workshops; use writing at school and at home, in messages, invitations, lists, letters to friends, and thank-you letters.

What They'll Learn about Listening
Children have been listeners for a long time before they start kindergarten, but in school listening becomes a more conscious activity. The teacher's goals are that children take turns and let other speakers finish before they speak; interact with a speaker by responding to what they hear; listen purposefully to stories, records, tapes, sounds, and rhymes; practice conversation; listen to directions, report them, and follow them; listen to information and pass it along to others.

What They'll Learn about Speaking
As with listening, children have been speaking for some time before they start kindergarten. Because it is closely tied to all the other communication forms, speaking is a matter for study in kindergarten. The teacher's goals for children are that they take part in class discussions; participate in speaking activities such as show-and-tell, chants, songs, and plays; learn numerous nursery rhymes and poems through repetition; use the telephone as a means of learning to speak clearly; visit with friends at school and at home; interact with adults in school and at home.

Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your Kindergartner -- 1st Grader by Vito Perrone, published by published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.

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