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Going to School

Grade-by-Grade Learning: Kindergarten

What They Learn | How Kids Learn

What Kids Learn in Kindergarten

kindergartenThe Basics
Most kindergarteners want to learn all about the world and how it works. Kindergarten teachers often build on this enthusiasm by offering projects that encourage children to delve deeper into the areas that interest them. Children may make life-size tracings of themselves as they learn about the human body, or study animal habitats by researching information about the class pet.

Many kindergarten classrooms offer more formal learning and traditional school experiences than preschool. But kindergarten is still intended to stimulate children’s curiosity to learn more about the world around them. It’s the job of the kindergarten teacher to help children become comfortable working in a classroom setting and to introduce some basic literacy and math-related skills in the midst of their important discoveries.

Language & Literacy
Kindergarten children notice that words are all around — in books, at the supermarket, at the bus stop and in their homes. They play with language by creating silly rhymes and nonsense words. While this is usually great fun, it is also a very important step in learning to read.

Teachers read a variety of poems, stories, and non-fiction books aloud to children. Kindergarten children learn that letters and sounds go together to form words, and how to identify alphabet letters and their sounds. Many kindergarten children are expected to read words by the end of the year.

Parents may receive their child’s first poem, as kindergartners will be asked to do more writing than preschoolers. Your kindergartener’s journal may look like a combination of letter strings and scribbles to most people, but it carries a most important message — that he can write to create his own stories, to tell about his experiences, and to share information.

Counting cubes, number rods, and other math materials help kindergartners work with a larger set of numbers. Children also begin to use physical materials to solve simple addition and subtraction problems, like how many cookies they’ll have left after they’ve shared some with a friend. They’ll learn about time, using tools like clocks and calendars regularly in the classroom. While they’re not fully able to tell time or even realize exactly what a month or a second is, they’ll begin to understand that one measures a longer amount of time, and the other a short amount.

In kindergarten, children learn about plants and animals and explore the weather and seasons. Teachers use simple science experiments to introduce children to the process of scientific inquiry. Kindergarteners are now capable of remembering more information and using it to make connections between things. They can separate toy animals into groups, such as those that are found on the land, sea, or sky; or animals that hatch from eggs and animals that do not.

Social Studies
Kindergarteners are ready to expand their world beyond their homes and classrooms to the larger neighborhood or community. They learn more about the rules that help people get along with each other. They may begin to form opinions on issues and understand that others may have different points of view — noticing that a classmate didn’t get a turn during a game and letting the teacher know by saying, “That’s not fair!”

How Kids Learn in Kindergarten

kindergartenGrowing & Changing
Kindergarteners have grown a lot since their preschool days. They’ve grown bigger and are becoming more graceful and coordinated. They’ve grown intellectually and can focus on tasks for longer periods of time. They’ve grown socially and have a better handle on the skills needed to make friends and work in a group. They’ve become complex thinkers and are better able to understand detailed answers to the many “why” questions they have about the world.

A Sense of Wonder
Kindergarteners learn best by active, hands-on exploration and discovery. They make sense of the world by experiencing it physically.

“Rachel Carson may have said it best,” says Nancy Roser, Ed. D., Professor of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. “Carson described children as learning from a ‘sense of wonder.’ This sense of wonder allows kindergarteners to become absorbed in the puzzles that surround them. They attempt to figure out those puzzles by exploring, constructing explanations, and asking more questions.”

Follow & Focus
Kindergarten children often wonder about complex abstract concepts that they may not be ready to fully comprehend. They may look at a globe and wonder why people don’t fall off the bottom of the Earth, because they aren’t able to really understand gravity. They may imagine that it’s possible to stand on a cloud, even though they know that it’s made up of water droplets.

Children in kindergarten are becoming more mature in both their thoughts and actions. Your kindergartener can usually follow directions from his teacher and focus on tasks. While a preschool teacher may have let children play freely at the block center, a kindergarten teacher knows that she can ask children to complete a related assignment, such as recreating on paper a pattern that they’ve begun with blocks. Experiences like this help kindergarten children gain basic skills. They’ll use these basic skills later in their school life when they’re asked to solve a math problem, conduct a science experiment, read a book, or write a story.

  • Pingback: Grade-by-Grade Learning . Education . PBS Parents | PBS

  • Pearl Newell

    this is cool:)

  • POOP


  • Zahara Zucha

    My wolf cut-out likes Kindergarten math. He also likes Kindergarten reading. I entered Kindergarten when I was six. My older sister entered Kindergarten when she was five. I was a six-year-old girl in 1993. I was born in 1987. My older sister was born in 1985. My zebra cut-out likes Kindergarten curriculum. My zebra cut-out is seven months old. My wolf cut-out is also seven months old. I was in second grade when I was eight and nine. When I was in second grade, my older sister was in fifth grade. My coyote/Dalmatian cut-out likes Kindergarten curriculum. He also likes preschool curriculum.

  • cassie

    My kindergartener is learning so much more than what is stated in this article. They have already learned 2D and 3D shapes. They have learned to count to 100, can write their numbers to 100 and can count to 100 by 10s. At the beginning of the school year they were given 220 sight words to learn to read them and then to spell and write them. My daughter already knew how to read all of the sight words before starting kindergarten. She is now spelling most of them and writing them. In class they are writing sentences about pictures they draw. By the end of kindergarten they are expected to be able to write a short paragraph and to be reading on a level D. They are learning addition and subtraction. They have learned all of the seasons, all of the months of the year and have learned about other countries. They have learned letter sounds, their vowels and can spell words by sounding them out. They have been taught about silent letters and how two words can sound the same yet be spelled differently and have different meanings. This article really should be updated to reflect the new common core expectations which are so much more advanced than the things stated in this article.

    • ler

      Your daughter sounds like a genius, however the article does not ouline criteria sweetie, its called an overview, please play mom and not teacher, we know better than you thanks!

      • Tom

        What a condescending attitude! Parents make pretty good teachers. They are a child’s first teacher and should have an active voice in a child’s education. Get off your high horse!

      • John

        Omg. Give me a break! You are a kindergarten teacher. You may feel very high and mighty because of this but most parents could easily teach their child what you do even without your education and special training. Sorry but not impressed…

      • spitfire

        “please play mom and not teacher, we know better than you thanks!” What a self righteous and self important comment! When I was A CHILD in school I frequently, and successfully, proved my teachers wrong on work that they had incorrectly graded and I’m not a genius.
        Plus, I can’t tell you the number of times that my child’s teachers sent home misspelled and grammatically incorrect notes. Just because someone is a teacher doesn’t mean that they know better!
        I do have to agree though, that her child does sound very advanced.

      • Teaching is awesome!

        Weird response. Sounds like ler is not a professional. I am a teacher and would never respond like that to a parent or anyone for that matter! Very disrespectful. Cassie sounds like a teacher’s dream as she seems very involved in her child’s academic progress. Makes me sad to read that ler :(

    • Mag

      What your describing is the standard curriculum for kindergarten which you can view the detailed outline on your states educational website..this here is meant to be an overview and to give you an idea!

  • Ami

    Poor baby :( let your kid enjoy being a kid! :(

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