What to Expect in Kindergarten

Dear Parents:

I would like to personally welcome you and your child to Kindergarten at Oakwood School. This first formal experience in school is a great adventure for children and is a very important stepping-stone to future achievement in school. We hope to instill in your child a love for learning and a desire to strive for excellence in all endeavors.

This information has been prepared so that you may help your child make the best possible adjustment to Kindergarten. We believe that the information presented can help us become partners in guiding your child through this transition. Of course, I cannot anticipate all of the questions that you may have, so please feel free to call your child's teacher whenever you have a question during the school year. For general information about our school or programs, please feel free to contact me and I will try my best to meet your needs.

Again, welcome to Oakwood School! Always remember that your participation in your child’s educational program is valued and appreciated. I look forward to sharing this journey with you and your child in the months and years to come.

Sincerely, 

Kelly Zimmerman
Principal

Why Kindergarten?

One of the most exciting days in your child’s life is the first day of Kindergarten. It is a program geared to make the transition from home to school as smooth as possible and to make your child's first formal experience with school a successful and happy one.

The Oakwood School teaching and support staff strive to provide an environment which nurtures each child’s capacity to learn. The District 113A Kindergarten curriculum is taught by capable, sensitive and conscientious teachers. Our Kindergarten program is designed to help develop a strong self-concept by providing each child with many experiences of achievement. Kindergarten children will learn to work independently and to cooperate with others in a group. Our Kindergarten program will provide opportunities for academic, social and emotional development inspire language development and expand physical and mental growth. The teacher’s role is to assist each child to work toward his/her full potential.

Important Reminders About Child Growth and Development

As you know, children are alike in many ways. However, while each child goes through the same stages of growth, each child is different from others in some ways.

In most instances, Kindergarten children start school on the basis of their age. However, all five-year-old children have not reached the same level of development by the first day of school. A child's developmental and motivational levels are products of his/her maturity and experiences. The attitude that a child develops during the early elementary school years will help or hinder his/her ability to learn throughout his schooling.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

While there’s no perfect formula that determines when children are truly ready for kindergarten, you can use this checklist (developed by Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.) to see how well your child is doing in acquiring the social, motor and cognitive skills which will help him/her succeed.

Young children change so fast – if they can’t do something this week, they may be able to do it a few weeks later. Do not worry if your child has not mastered all of these items; progress will come in time.

  • Recognize rhyming sounds
  • Identify rhyming words
  • Identify the beginning sound of some words
  • Identify some alphabet letters
  • Recognize some common sight words like “stop”
  • Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
  • Look at pictures and then tell stories
  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
  • Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
  • Count to ten
  • Show understanding of general times of day
  • Bounce a ball
  • Cut with scissors
  • Trace basic shapes
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers           
  • State name, address and phone number
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed task
  • Begin to share with others
  • Start to follow rules
  • Separate from parents without being upset

Objectives of Kindergarten

Language Development:

In Kindergarten, great emphasis is placed on listening activities and language development.

  • to develop ability to talk with others
  • to become more expressive and to improve vocabulary
  • to use verbal skills to solve problems
  • to exchange ideas and ask questions
  • to become familiar with nursery rhymes, stories and poems
  • to identify and distinguish between rhyming words
  • to listen to others without interrupting
  • to listen to stories and directions and retell same
  • to improve ability to recall (remember) and sequence (order) information

Social and Emotional Development:

  • to develop a positive self image
  • to follow directions willingly
  • to develop a sense of responsibility
  • to increase self-reliance
  • to develop self-control
  • to display good manners
  • to enhance curiosity

Speech Development:

The development of speech is a continuous process. Speech sounds are acquired slowly, and perfection in speech is developed gradually. For your information, the following guidelines are provided:

  • sounds most four-year-olds can make: p, b, m, h, w, n, k, g, and f
  • sounds most five-year-olds can make: v, t, d, ng, and y
  • sounds most six-year-olds can make: j, sh, ch, and l
  • sounds most seven-year-olds can make: r, wh, and th
  • sounds most eight-year-olds can make: s, z, tr, and sl

Academic Growth:

The Kindergarten curriculum takes advantage of the child’s level of development, keen interests, natural curiosity and enthusiasm. Programming is designed to develop a zest for learning and a healthy self-esteem that inspires children to believe that they are competent and worthwhile. Additionally, the curriculum is designed to stimulate children to think, analyze, predict and draw conclusions. The curriculum is organized so that children can choose and plan activities and thus feel confident and successful when they complete them. Our goal is to help our students to master the necessary readiness skills and basic concepts in reading, language and mathematics.

Readiness skills are pre-reading skills that must be mastered before formal instruction begins. These skills include:

  • perceptual and auditory skills (visually seeing differences in objects or letters, and listening to and hearing differences in sounds)
  • motor skills (general physical coordination and fine eye-hand coordination)
  • language skills (organizing thoughts and relating them to others)
  • listening skills (paying attention and following directions)
  • number knowledge (understanding names of numbers, number order, number-object correspondence, differences in sizes and shapes, etc.)
  • a desire to read (fostered by enjoying reading readiness activities at home and at school).

Our Kindergarten students will learn to recognize, print and pronounce alphabet letters (upper case and lower case). Later in the school year, the students will learn some basic sight words and how to use their phonetic skills to read. They will write sentences using their own "temporary" spelling (i.e. developmental or Kindergarten spelling). Kindergarten students are also introduced to the writing process. They will be keeping a journal, making class books and writing individual stories at their own developmental level.

In math, the children will strive to master numeral recognition, number formation, counting to 100, one-to-one correspondence, and solving problems using drawings or concrete objects. Other concepts that will be introduced include: size and quantity comparisons; telling time to the hour; interpretation of graphs; classification; patterning; measurement and geometric shapes. Students will also learn to express mathematical ideas to peers, teachers and others.

Our Kindergarteners will do a weather report and discuss calendar concepts including the date, days of the week, months of the year, and yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Kindergarten teachers also try to include a children's literature experience (story time) each day. To strengthen fine motor skills, a student will practice printing (see Handwriting Section), coloring, tracing, pasting and cutting. Additionally, students physical education is integrated into their daily activities.

In addition to the subjects and activities listed above, science, social studies, physical education, and art concepts will be integrated into the program each week.  Music classes are taught by another teacher outside of the regular classroom and play an integral part of our Kindergarten experience.

Handwriting:

Most children have had handwriting experiences by the time they come to Kindergarten. Parents and/or pre-school teachers have taught children to print letters and names. When children first learn to print, they often print their names in all capital letters. In Kindergarten, only the first letter of a name will be capitalized. Additionally, the teachers will continue to teach proper letter formation throughout the year. In order for the students to be able to talk about letter formation in a common manner, we use the following words to help the students to visualize the placement of letters on lined paper:

Sky-Line        _____________________________________________________

Clothes-line  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ground         ______________________________________________________

Cooperation Between Home and School

Cooperation between parents and teachers is very important during your child's first year at school. Parents and school personnel are partners in the total education of the child. Any concerns that may arise during your child's Kindergarten year should be brought immediately to the teacher's attention. If your child develops or already has a particular fear or dislike, it may be overcome more easily if both the parents and the school are informed and work together to achieve common goals. Please do not hesitate to call your child's teacher with questions or concerns; we want to develop a positive and trusting relationship with you. Please remember that no question or concern is unimportant when it comes to your child.

Transportation

If there is a change in routine at home or in the method of transportation that your child typically takes to/from school, please send a note to the teacher to prevent confusion for both the child and the teacher. Please do not rely on your child to deliver a message orally to the teacher. Between home and school, that message may be forgotten or may become confused. Please write any information the teacher should know and send the note with your child in his/her school bag. If no written communication from the parent is received by your child's teacher, your child will be sent home in the usual manner. This procedure is followed to ensure the safety of your child. Without a note from a parent, there is no way for the teacher to confirm that the child is expressing his parent's directions to use an alternate method of transportation or his own desire to "walk home today!" Please note that children are only allowed to ride their assigned bus. They may not ride with another child unless the Director of Transportation has approved this change.

Money for Purchases

Whenever money is sent to school, please place the money in a sealed envelope. Print your child's first and last names, amount of money enclosed and purpose for the money on the outside of the envelope. Also, please discourage your child from bringing toys or valuables to school. Too often they are misplaced or cause distractions. We do have a "sharing time" once in awhile in which we take time to simply talk and share ideas. If someone has something very special or educational to share with the class, the teachers will make every attempt to find time for the special sharing; however, parents are encouraged to make prior arrangements with the teacher in such instances.

Home Learning

Young minds should be stimulated at home as well as in school. School and home must cooperate to help and support each other during the critical and formative years. Home learning should be a happy time; a time children will look forward to sharing with their parents. By setting aside time to go over the work that your child brings home from school each day, parents let their children know that they care and believe that school is important. Let your child tell you about what occurred in school that day. This ritual not only serves to keep you informed about school activities but also reinforces the school lessons in your child's mind. High expectations are important in fostering intellectual development. Students tend to learn as much, or as little, as we (parents and teachers) expect of them. Because you have more influence on your child than anyone else does, we hope that you will join us in teaching and encouraging him or her to do his or her best at all times.

Self-Help Skills/Skills From Home

It is very helpful if your child knows how to tie, zip, button and snap items of clothing. Each student is also expected to know his/her full name, address and telephone number.

Please write your child's first and last names in a permanent way on jackets, gym shoes, boots, and school bags.

Attendance and School Hours

Your child should attend school each day that s/he is well. Every absence, even for part of a school day, interferes with your child's progress at school. Each subject is taught in a sequence to build a broader understanding and develop correct habits for studying. In order to be ready for new steps in learning, your child must have mastered the previous steps and be sufficiently ready to profit from new materials.

Please visit our website for school hours. Students should not arrive at school more than fifteen minutes before the start of classes. Before that time, no supervision will be provided and students’ safety may be compromised if they are left unattended.

We follow a special schedule when there are half-days of school for the other grades. Students from morning and afternoon sessions may attend field trips or special events together. Parents will be notified of these scheduled changes in advance.

Health Records, Health Guidelines and Reporting Absences

All completed health and immunization records must have been submitted to the school office. State law now also requires a chicken pox vaccine or proof that your child has had the disease. It is also required that your child have dental and vision exams.

If your child needs to have medicine administered at school, a form must be completed by the doctor and submitted to our nurse. There is also a special form for students who have asthma or severe allergies. Please contact the school nurse at extension 1102 for details.

Each child has a permanent Health Record on which pertinent health information is recorded. Please notify the school nurse/health aide of any health problems experienced by your child. Of course, all such information is confidential.

For the protection of your child and others, please do not send your child to school with these symptoms:

  • an upset stomach
  • red, itchy eyes with discharge
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • rash
  • swollen glands
  • diarrhea
  • ear ache
  • persistent cough
  • other communicable illnesses

Please use our call-in attendance hotline to notify the school about the reason for any absence. The number is 257-2286 Extension #1. You may call the attendance line 24 hours a day. If a child is injured or becomes ill at school, parents will be notified either by phone, note, or email, depending on severity. Please check your child’s folder daily. If neither parent is available, then the person designated to be called in the case of an emergency will be contacted. Please be sure to keep the school informed of any changes in telephone numbers, email addresses, work locations for parents, and emergency contacts.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned elsewhere in this booklet, all of your questions could not possibly be answered in a few pages of print. During August, Oakwood School kindergarten teachers will conduct a Meet and Greet/Curriculum Presentation for parents. At that time, you will learn about the procedures and expectations that will apply specifically in your child's Kindergarten class. Additionally, you will learn about the Kindergarten curriculum, activities and "traditions" that will occupy your child's life for several hours each day. If you still have a question after the Meet and Greet event, please call your child's teacher. She is your partner for this most important year. Together, we all can make a positive difference in your child's life!