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Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

  • 1.  Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-27-2019 12:14 PM
    I am very excited about starting a position in a pre-k classroom. I currently teach in a preschool classroom (3-year-olds). I will be teaching sight words, early reading, writing, and math (basic addition and subtraction) to pre-k students. I would like to know what specific standards/concepts should I stress to prepare students for kindergarten. Example: should the children only learn numbers to 20 or higher? etc.

    The students I will be teaching in the fall are not very advanced. Many do not know how to write their names and other basic skills. This is why I am very interested in specific standards/goals for children who will be entering kindergarten. I want to make sure that I prepare them for their future schooling in the best way possible.

    I am also interested in appropriate learning materials/curriculum, (such as workbooks), I can use to provide a bridge for kindergarten skills. I would like to begin using the Handwriting Without Tears workbook for Pre-K. I used the preschool version at a previous position and would really like my director to buy a book for each child.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!


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    Jennifer United States
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  • 2.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 12:47 AM
    First, I'd say to go to your state's board of education to find the early learning standards for your area and age group. Then I'd think about what is pushing you to do such a strictly academic approach with four year olds. It should be clear that NAEYC's positions on curricula in preschool is based on the research and developmental data that show young children learn best through child-initiated, teacher-facilitated play. Unless your assessment on each child shows they have moved through all of the previous stages of early literacy, of math, of symbolic thought etc, these students will not benefit in the long run by across the board worksheets. I wouldn't use them at all unless one or more individuals have shown solid understanding of text concepts, have adequate fine motor, and have the desire to write emergently. Even with that, I would individualize worksheets so that they relate to things each student's wishes to write, and for what purpose, be that a letter to a friend, labels and signs for play, or creating a storybook to be read to the class.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 01:34 AM
    Why sight words? They really aren't developmentally appropriate until Kindergarten.

    As far as standards go, each state has their own. You should be able to use a search engine, like Google, to find the ones for your state.

    ------------------------------
    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 10:51 AM
    Hi Heather,

    I was told by my director that I should begin to teach the children sight words and early reading. I am getting an entirely new class of children because the previous class is moving on to kindergarten. The previous teacher was teaching them numbers, letters, sight words, early reading, subtraction and addition and so on. I am trying to take her lead as far as teaching is concerned.

    At my school, this class uses a lot of worksheets (even if it is not developmentally-appropriate). I just want to prepare these children as best I can.


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    Jennifer United States
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  • 5.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-29-2019 08:33 AM
    My predecessor, who is now the Kindergarten teacher at my school, also taught sight words and made sight word books for the kids to read. I will not teach them unless my students demonstrate the ability to handle them. In the 4 years I have taught at my current school, that includes 5 students. My job has been to educate other teachers and parents  (especially the parents) about Developmentally Appropriate Practice and why it's so important. I've also been reading anything I can get my hands on the explains reading and writing in preschool from a developmental standpoint. NAYEC has 2 great publications, Learning to Read and Write, and Much More Than the ABCs. Additionally, I've been reading I AM Reading by Kathy Collins and Matt Glover. There is also a book by those  authors rhat talks about writing, and I don't have it near me right now. I've been sharing these books and articles with my principal, and have her full support, and with the Kindergarten teacher. She still teaches more academically than I do, but she understands where I am coming from.
    Congratulations on your new position and have fun with your students. There are 2 teachers you could follow who do make "academics" playful; Pocket of Preschool and Pre-K Pages. Both have websites/blogs. Both sell items on Teacher pay Teachers. Both have Facebook pages.

    ------------------------------
    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-29-2019 11:48 AM
    Hi Heather,

    Thank you so much for your help and your book suggestions. I will look into both of these. I will not start the school year off with sight words. I will first assess the student's knowledge and proceed accordingly. I will start the school year teaching basic letter and number knowledge and slowly work up to sight words.

    I too enjoy the work of Pre-K Pages and Pocket Of Preschool. They are both excellent resources. I have used them in my previous classrooms and will continue to use them in my pre-k classroom.

    Thank you for your congratulations. This will be a wonderful experience!

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 23 days ago
      |   view attached
    hello  from Canada, Jennifer!
    I am the Government of Manitoba's Early Childhood Consultant for our provincial department of Education. I found this thread to be very interesting because it epitomizes the reality that so many early years educators work within. What do we do when we know in our hearts what is right, and have studied child development and the research about how young children learn best, but centre or school policy or government standards seem to require something very different? I feel so glad that there are no specific standards for pre-K in my Province and that our Kindergarten expectations recommend a play-based approach (and that we do not introduce subtraction until Grade 2!)

    I wonder if you printed out this very rich thread with so many thoughtful comments, and shared it with your director she might be influenced by the weight of opinion shared here about what is developmentally appropriate? In Canada, our Council of Ministers of Education (representing the departments of Education of all our provinces and territories) issued this Statement on Play Based Learning several years ago. I find its very powerful to share it with principals and directors as well as parents because it highlights the importance of play-based learning. I always make a little joke that when the Ministers of Education say that this is the recommended approach, then we should ALL pay attention.

    best wishes,
    Debra

    ------------------------------
    Debra Mayer
    Manitoba Education and Training
    Winnipeg MB
    ------------------------------

    Attachment(s)



  • 8.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago

    ​Dear Debra and Jennifer, I almost responded to today's post but it is such a heavy problem I just couldn't bear to get involved again.  But then Debra, you responded with words that spoke to me.  I have been teaching professional development courses for MN where I am trying to help make the standards called ECIPS (Early Childhood Indicators of Progress) more easily accessible to educators.  Basically, the standards support what educators should be observing naturally in the children as the children play. I help educators see value in children's play and how through play, children are actually developing along the lines of the ECIPS.  I think one of the problems here in the United States is that many do not fully understand the value of play or the content of state standards.  The standards are there to support the children's growth and development.  They follow solid understandings of brain development and human development of other domains. The standards should not mold the children.  Educators should not use the standards to find what is missing or wrong with a child.  Rather, we as educators should ALWAYS look for strength and build from there for ourselves, and the children and families we work with.  The children will learn.  We should not be so busy that we miss seeing it happen.  We should not be so focused on what they don't know that we don't see what children do know.  I could keep going but I will stop here as I think my point has been made.  Thank you so much Debra for responding in a way that shook me out of my complacency. Thank you, Jennifer, for not being afraid to ask this important question.  Finally, thank you to the mother who wrote in concern to Jennifer's post.  This entire post should be share with directors who are sometimes responsible for putting pressure on educators or who miss the point in working with young children.... children are not taught.... they learn.  They learn through spiritual moments in time, space, in relationships, in and with nature, through big questions, and less by what is said to them; more of what is modeled.  [Spirituals here means wonder, awe, joy, empathy, relationships, developing a strong sense of self, etc.) I paused here because now I am going into the power of reflection but I have things to do today.  Hope these words are helpful to someone out there.
    Deb
    Growing Wonder



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    Deborah Schein
    instructor and consultant
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 9.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 05:34 AM
    Congratulations, Jennifer on the opportunity you will have to work with pre-k children. I enjoy children at this age because they are interested, engaged in activities and curious about the world around them. I am curious about the curriculum you will be using to guide you in preparing the learning environment for and with the children. How did you arrive at your thinking about what it is you will be teaching the children. I found as a teacher of young children, I followed the lead of the children as they explored Interest Areas I created based on observations I completed of each child and a review of materials I received from the child's former teacher to know where the child was in their development, how they learned and what were some things they were interested in the past that I could use to begin to design the learning environment.

    My current thinking about how to prepare the learning environment for young children in influenced by the thought to start with the strengths of the child and prepare experiences to support the child to move forward in the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. I use continuum of typical development of children as a guide to the journey I support for each child in their development and am consciously focused on wanting to build a child's confidence that together with me, they "can do" and accomplish so much that leads to them having the foundation they need to succeed in school and life.

    I found the children enjoyed handwriting experiences in the Dramatic Play area when they would write down foods they wanted to buy at the store or wrote letters to family members and friends.

    As I now have the wonderful opportunity to serve as a coach for Pre-k teachers, I approach this work from a strength-based perspective as well. I consider each teacher I work with as capable and having knowledge and skills to prepare the environment for the children to learn. I am their "guide on the side" helping them think about and improve their ability to teach and learn from the children.

    I suggest you read the draft NAEYC Position Statement and think about how it can apply to your role as a Pre-k teacher.

    Best wishes for a wonderful year as a Pre-k teacher.

    ------------------------------
    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 11:02 AM
    Hi Robert,

    Thank you so much for your congratulations. I have taught infants to preschool previously. I wish to enter a more academic-based environment that the pre-k at my school offers. I really enjoy the more hands-on, academically-based classroom environment and style. I do not get to do as much hands-on teaching with the 3's as I would like and find that this is a happy medium.

    As far as curriculum goes, the school does not have one. I am used to either using the Project Approach or Creative Curriculum. I wish that the units were longer than a week so that I could use the Project Approach to the best of my ability. I love the in-depth and rich nature of this curriculum.

    I plan to individualize the environment as much as I can. I want to make sure that each child learns each concept fully.

    Thank you so much for your tips.

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
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  • 11.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 12:13 PM
    Hi Jennifer, I spent many years teaching pre-k and I would simply like to remind you that young children are always learning.  Again, according to research and developmental standards, children learn best while playing in stimulating environments while exploring questions that emerge from their own thoughts.  I also teach for Champlain College and I help guide masters students in early childhood education to see the value in naturalistic play.  This is play that is open-ended and guided by children and not by teachers.  I try to help educators see the learning that happens during such play.  In fact, more learning takes place during such rich play experiences than learning that occurs during teacher guided activities.  Now that you are in your new position I invite you to become a teacher researcher.  Observe closely to see what types of learning occur during play vs teacher guided lessons.  I would suggest you use a larger lens than academics for viewing learning.  Look for resiliency, kindness, moments of wonder, empathy, risk taking to name a few.  Let us all know what you see.  I wish you much success.
    Deb
    Growing Wonder
    Facilitator of the YCSIF
    Instructor for Champlain College

    ------------------------------
    Deborah Schein
    instructor and consultant
    Minneapolis MN
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-29-2019 07:47 AM
    Creative Curriculum has Studies that can last at least 6 weeks. Have you tried them?

    ------------------------------
    Laura Mykel
    Marion NC
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  • 13.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-29-2019 11:52 AM
    Hi Laura,

    I am familiar with the Creative Curriculum and used it briefly in a school that I taught in. We only used basic elements of the Creative Curriculum in our teaching. I will definitely look into this curriculum and see if I can increase the amount of time spent on each unit.

    Thank you for your suggestion. It means a lot to me.

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
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  • 14.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-01-2019 12:16 AM
    Creative Curriculum units can be training wheels (if you choose a pre-made Study) or wings to fly with (using the CC template to flesh out a detailed lesson plan that relates to significant interests of the students.  When you use a Project Approach, even when written via Creative Curriculum, you are able to teach "deeper" instead of "wider."

    Concepts of all academic skills are learned through meaningful, relevant activities in preschoolers. Without really grasping the concepts of things like "letters make sounds, groups of letters make words, many words make sentences, and text conveys meaning," children are rote learning -- they are memorizing meaningless data, maybe even a lot ("wider") but they may not grasp the fundamental purpose of all of it.  Worse is the likelihood that Sight Words will teach them that reading is a chore, a mechanical process that sucks the joy out of whatever the words actually mean.

    A language-rich, print-rich environment is really the best way for 3's and 4's and 5's to begin learning about reading and writing: it suggests and invites them rather than commands them.  Why not start the year off with a Library Study, visiting the local library, observing what parts of it the children like or have questions about, recreating a Library in your Dramatic Play area, and inviting all students to create the books for the library themselves?  Have all of your direct instruction tools out, but let them explore them individually and extend their interests towards choosing their own special words to spell and put on the covers. There is room for every child to begin and participate, and there will be room for each to grow at their own pace with this method.  Children who are resistant to join in can be observed in play, and new opportunities can be found or created to entice them to write something: a sign for their Lego creation, a "Missing You" card for the sad child dealing with Separation.

    In a play-based classroom, you have the freedom to see HOW they best approach various skill areas, and you have the time to tailor the curriculum to unique needs.  * This is a gift that no other grade level classroom can ever truly offer them!  Don't waste their big chance to develop a genuine LOVE OF LEARNING.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-01-2019 08:10 PM
    Hi Mars,

    I do understand what you mean and enjoy the process you are taking to preserve the play aspect of learning, but sight words and early reading are required parts of the pre-kindergarten program at my school. I can't go against my director's wishes. Many of the children seem happy to have learned basic reading skills and some are beginning to read very simple stories (such as the Bob books series)

    I have decided to create a Project Approach curriculum for the children. For our Under the Sea unit, we will be talking about our prior knowledge of the ocean and sea animals, taking a virtual field trip to an aquarium, drawing our favorite sea creatures, graphing whether we have ever been on a boat, and investigating sea shells and discovering if they are univalves or bivalves and so on.

    I am still an advocate of Handwriting Without Tears and will try to get my director to purchase this early handwriting program.

    I thank you and the others that have answered my questions. You have all been very helpful.

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
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  • 16.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 04:32 PM
    I will never forget the kindergarten teacher who said that "kindergarten readiness" should be defined as social emotional readiness not academic readiness. She preferred children who had been to a play based preschool for that reason. The Massachusetts "Preschool and Kindergarten Standards in Social Development and Approaches to Play and Learning" which are available on the mass.gov website are an excellent resource.

    ------------------------------
    Margery Heyl
    Chicago IL
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  • 17.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-28-2019 06:56 PM

    Hello Everyone,

    I thank you and respect all of your ideas and concerns over the academics in the Early Childhood Environment. I do understand the need for play and social-emotional skills. This is the environment I need to work with due to what my director and previous lead teacher have set forth. They want curriculum and academics in the classroom. I am expected to teach sight words, early reading, subtraction and addition. I do not have a choice in this matter.

    I do read to the children and speak about the stories we have read. I create hands-on science experiments and learning materials. My room is set up into very simple centers that never change with themes. The children are constantly playing and interacting with one another in imaginative play experiences. Most of their day is play-based. Only short bursts of time are spent in circle time and teacher-directed learning.

    I have read many books on Early Childhood Development and the importance of play. I am not able to change my school's academics or the way it is run. I enjoy teaching and wanted to work with older children so that I could interact and teach for longer periods of time. I do not want the children to feel overwhelmed by curriculum, but they are expected to know how to write their name, recognize simple sight words, know their uppercase and lowercase letters, and basic number concepts by the end of pre-k. This is expected by my state's educational standards. I will do all of this to the best of my ability so that they will not feel "academically-stressed" by the time they reach kindergarten.

    I have read and heard many kindergarten teachers state that many of their children do not know how to hold a pencil properly or how to use scissors by the time they reach this grade. They also are having difficulty writing properly (beginning to write from bottom to top instead of top to bottom). They find this very upsetting and wish that pre-k teachers would focus on these skills. Many kindergarten teachers feel that they are spending too much time correcting handwriting, pencil grip, and scissor practice. I do not want this to occur in my classroom. This is why I am very interested in curriculum and appropriate teaching practices. This way, I will avoid added stress on the teachers and children in the future.

     



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    Jennifer United States
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  • 18.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-30-2019 08:19 AM
    Jennifer,
    I'm just curious what state you are in?

    ------------------------------
    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-29-2019 06:05 PM
    Jennifer, you've opened a good topic here, with passionate and reasoned replies based on what is best for children in Pre-K.  Just chiming in to add to Margery's comment.  Every Kindergarten teacher I've ever talked to has said that they aren't needing children to come into their classrooms with any of the academic skills you're calling "curriculum".  They want kids who can be in community, know how to interact with others, have some self-regulation skills, problem-solving skills, and are creative thinkers.  Those are the children who are ready to learn and are appropriate Pre-K skills.  That doesn't mean that you don't do pre-reading and reading and writing with them.  Rather that those, like science math, are best learned as part of play and fun inquiry.  Skill-and-drill, worksheets, and flashcards aren't appropriate.

    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-29-2019 11:42 PM
    Hi Aren,

    I have spoken to other kindergarten teachers that have a differing opinion than this. I believe it all depends on the mindset of each teacher. Some may have no problem with children not being as academically prepared, while others may become frustrated that they do not know how to write their name, know their letters/numbers, or know how to properly manipulate scissors.

    I am following the rules set forth by my director and the children's previous teacher. This is how this school feels that children should learn and be taught. This is what the school expects from the incoming teacher.  You can still make learning fun with hands-on activities (that I do on a daily basis).

    I do not feel that teaching a child how to properly use scissors, correct pencil grip, early writing concepts, and basic math developmentally-inappropriate. This school favors worksheets as long as they are used sparingly. The current teacher uses them and I will continue this process. I can not go against the wishes of the director or the school. I am also basing my lessons on my state's standards.




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    Jennifer United States
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  • 21.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-31-2019 10:45 AM
    Every semester I have at least one student (and recently it's been several students) who -- when they realize what they are being asked to do is developmentally inappropriate -- quit their jobs and find a place where they can do what they have learned is right for young children.  The NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct informs us that we should not do anything that harms young children, and we know that a developmentally inappropriate curriculum will harm children.  It might not harm all of them, but it will certainly harm some children in ways that won't show up immediately.

    The students who end up quitting and finding a better program struggle with this decision, believe me.  It's not easy for them to make that move.

    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 07-31-2019 01:31 PM
    I think what Aren is saying is that when children have an opportunity to develop the social and emotional skills either at home or in a quality early childhood program they arrive in kindergarten feeling confident about taking the next step. Children can learn the academics when they feel good about themselves. I too have spoken with many kindergarten teachers and they say that when children know the basics of community living they are more likely to ease into the standards of kindergarten.

    ------------------------------
    Joyce Daniels
    Adjunct Instructor
    Sierra College
    Fair Oaks CA
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-01-2019 07:24 AM
    Hi Jennifer,

           Please know I completed my Hello account creation to respond to your question because I felt for you so deeply when I first read it. I could recall a slight familiar frustration as I flashed back to my first center experience as a teenager.

         What I'm saying is, I have been in your shoes. Do your best. I really think tasteful environmental literacy can help here, if you haven't already considered. Things such as labelling the containers with pictures of the contents and the title. I would do "door" and "window" but you also don't want to overwhelm children with too much.

         This may not be appropriate for a Reggio based program, so it might not be right for you but I would consider looking into it. If you have bilingual children in the room, including the word in their home language would be a great cultural inclusion practice, again with care not to be overwhelming.

    I wish these forums had "like" buttons. So many excellent post! You've got this Jennifer! I can tell because you cared to ask : ) (smile)


    Kayleigh F.
    Student
    Indianapolis, IN

    ------------------------------
    Kayleigh Francis
    Ivy Tech Community College
    Indianapolis IN
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-01-2019 09:45 AM
    Hi Kayleigh,

    Welcome to Hello! Thank you so much for answering my question. I already have environmental print in the classroom, but I appreciate your suggestion. My director is insistent about me teaching sight words, early reading, and subtraction/addition. I will do my best to make this learning experience as fun as possible for all the children.

    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-01-2019 10:29 PM
    Good luck, Jennifer. I hope you'll continue to ask questions about various preschool approaches. A reflective attitude is super helpful here, making sure you have clarity of what you believe as well as facts. I say this because it seems like you had asked for the best way to begin Literacy work, but when positions contrary to your own were raised, you returned to your director's position as non-negotiable. I think this forum is a beautiful place to ask for ideas and knowledge, especially when highly experienced and educated teachers offer their knowledge. I hope this discussion did deepen your understanding in some way.
    Happy First Day of School!

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-02-2019 01:09 AM
    Hi Mars,

    Thank you for your well wishes! I want to let you know that I do have a reflective attitude towards developmentally-appropriate learning, I also understand that there are different and new approaches that are being suggested by you and other teachers. I am new to this classroom. I need to follow certain learning objectives that are currently in place at my school.

    I never wanted this discussion to turn into a right way/wrong way argument. I just simply wanted to know what Pre-K learning standards needed to be met and the different curriculum choices that were effective for this age group.

    I have decided that I will be using the Project Approach as my curriculum. For handwriting, I will be using Handwriting Without Tears. 

    I feel as if some teachers are suggesting that I should walk into my director's office and tell her that what she is doing is developmentally-inappropriate. Please take a moment to think about my position. I am a new teacher to this room, I am coming from a younger preschool room, and I am following direct instructions given to me by my superior.

    I will not risk my employment because I do not like how our program is being run. Sometimes, we need to work as best we can with what we are given. This is what I am currently doing and will continue to do for now.


    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
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  • 27.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 08-02-2019 08:01 PM
    Oops, sorry that I sound adversarial on the printed page. It's just because of my passion for creativity in this work. I hope you are able to offer new ideas to your director, slowly perhaps, over time.

    What state do you live in? That's the best way to look up Learning Standards that she is concerned with. I'd be happy to look them up and maybe by email can offer a few other activities designed to meet those Early Literacy Standards and Early Math Standards. Feel free to email me privately. Maybe you will like adding some additional activities, maybe within your theme, to deepen the literacy and math.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    Dear Jennifer:
    I understand your reluctance to confront your superior with information about how best to teach 4-year-olds and what they should learn in order to be ready for kindergarten but this does begin to sound like a question of ethics with which you are grappling. If you cannot discuss your teaching beliefs and back it up with research to the director, this may not be the best place for you to be working. I feel sorry for you and for the children whose parents have enrolled them in your school.

    Just to be clear, the Project Approach is not a curriculum. It is about the how of teaching, not the what. Handwriting Without Tears, from what I have seen in the Exhibition Hall at NAEYC's annual meeting, is a how-to teach handwriting - a method for teaching the skill of handwriting. You still have the problem of "what" to teach. Except for the emphasis that you are placing on sight words that some children may be able to handle and others will not, I do not get a sense of what you see as appropriate curriculum for 4-year-olds.

    There is a new book out, The Knowledge Gap, that discusses why a skills-based approach to teaching will not lead to what I believe your director believes and wants - later high assessment scores on standardized tests. Children need to be exposed to content, integrated with skills, and exposed to it through interaction with you and other children and direct hands-on experience.

    Does your director have a college degree in any field connected to early childhood education? It does not sound like it from what you are being asked to do.

    I am also wondering whether you are genuinely afraid of something connected to your job. Rather than sign your posts with your name and location - not necessarily your school - you have just listed yourself as living in the United States. Why?

    This is a reckoning time for you. It is the beginning of the school year. There are many jobs posted that would provide you the type of experience that would allow you to become or be a great preschool early childhood teacher. The fear I read in your posts has led me to believe that continuing in this position will eat you up inside.

    I wish you had shared the State in which you work. I do not know of any place in the United States that says that 4-year-olds should be taught sight word reading as a goal in preschool.

    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hi Nora,

    Thank you and everyone who answered my questions about Preparing Pre-Kindergarten children for Kindergarten. I appreciate all of your help and your viewpoints on this matter. I have no problem letting everyone know that I live in Illinois. My director does have a degree in education and is fully aware of the ins and outs of ECE. I am not fearful of anything relating to education or my school's beliefs.

    I like my job and look forward to working in my pre-k classroom and integrating both the Project Approach and Handwriting Without Tears theory of handwriting. I asked my director to be moved into the pre-k classroom from the 3's classroom because I wanted a more challenging environment where I had more time to teach hands-on and fun learning experiences.

    I would have never asked the following question if I had known that it would cause such an uproar on whether teaching sight words was developmentally-appropriate or not. This is what is required of me at my school and I plan on doing my best by both the children, their parents, and my director's wishes.

    All I wanted from this discussion was a basic overview of what the majority of pre-k teachers taught in their classrooms. I have looked at my state standards and am implementing the standards into my curriculum.

    I plan on staying at this school. I am finally in a position where I am the lead and only teacher in the room and have full control over the running of my classroom. I have worked very hard over the years to obtain a pre-k teaching position.

    I understand that teaching sight words may be inappropriate, but when these students enter kindergarten and beyond they will have a basic knowledge of early reading concepts, handwriting, and so on. Many of the children are excited to begin reading simple books such as the "Bob" books and so on. Some of the children have started reading simple stories with their parents at home. I myself, was reading simple stories before I entered kindergarten.

    I will individualize all my lessons to each of the children's levels and pinpoint their individual needs. Again, I thank all of you for being so helpful and taking your time to answer my questions. I very much appreciate your encouraging words.


    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
    ------------------------------



  • 30.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 21 days ago
    Illinois has great early learning standards! Lillian Katz wrote a great into and caution about how they should be used.
    https://www.isbe.net/Documents/early_learning_standards.pdf

    ------------------------------
    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
    ------------------------------



  • 31.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 21 days ago
    Play
    Opportunities for children to explore, investigate, and discover things about their world and themselves. Play requires an interesting, well-organized environment and ample time for children to get deeply engaged. Teachers act as facilitators and coaches as children play.

    Play-based Curriculum
    Curricular practices that incorporate a significant portion of the day for children to play with materials and with other children while teachers facilitate and guide the play so it is beneficial and full of learning opportunities for the children. A planned and organized environment is an important part of play-based curriculum with interesting and engaging materials and clear purposes for their use (e.g., dress-up clothes for dramatic play, blocks for building, art materials
    for creating).

    (Above is from definitions section of Illinois Early Learning Standards at the State Board of Education.)
    I'm concerned about how many centers continue to denigrate play-based learning in ECE. At my agency's summer In-service  training this past week, we watched video of a Nature-based, explore/play-based center in Southern China. The teachers carefully selected a variety of real life materials in big quantities each morning, arranged them in huge outdoor spaces, and allowed the children to explore, construct, design, create, try, fail, retry, collaborate and play for 2 to 3 hours each morning. It was an incredibly independent use of play -- the teachers encouraged and observed, they did NOT direct at all. Then it was lunch, nap, and when they arose, they came to tables to reflect on what they did by drawing and writing (symbol systems at their individual levels) then as a community they discussed what they had done. Teachers asked questions to deepen student thought on what occurred that morning socially, mathematically, scientifically, etc. They discussed, acted out, displayed drawings of their earlier work outside. The engineering feats and gross motor skills and socialization and scientific knowledge displayed in their work in the morning was astounding!

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 32.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Hi Jennifer,
    You need not be apologetic about causing an "uproar" in this forum over instructional differences of opinion. This is exactly the place to turn for practical and evidence-based advice, and it is not unusual for very informed educators to disagree. That's all part of the process.

    You have been offered many recommendations; hopefully you view them as the growth opportunity they were intended to be and not as an attack on you (or your director). Yes, many had strong opinions about the way you are expected to introduce early learners to literacy. Since you had the wisdom to seek advice from this group of educators in the first place, I assume you will thoughtfully consider them as you grow into your position.

    Since you have already heard lots of suggestions from the group, I will only add that this doesn't need to be an either/or situation. You can integrate the goals you and your director have for early literacy learning into play-based, developmentally appropriate experiences. Children learn literacy best (including sight words, etc) in meaningful ways, such as interactive read-alouds and child-initiated writing. Continue to think about how to meet your content requirements in ways that also match what EC research shows to be promising for encouraging lifelong literacy and not just to meet artificial benchmarks.

    i wish you good luck in this venture!

    ------------------------------
    Sherry Sanden
    Illinois State University
    Normal IL
    ------------------------------



  • 33.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 19 days ago
    I do not want you to feel defensive about what you are about to do in terms of how and what you are teaching in your prekindergarten. I want you to think about it in view of the research that is out there and the impact on the majority of 4-year-olds who will not be ready for learning sight words at that age. This is really important. The fact is you will do what you will do. Many of us who have responded to your post are offering advice that you should move in the direction that you are considering with caution. Most 4-year-olds will not be ready for acquiring the ability to recognize the Dolch sight words, which is why so many of us are calling it an inappropriate practice.

    I have been in the field of ECE since 1967. My own children went to a cooperative nursery school and then entered kindergarten, one in 1979 and the other in 1982. There was one student who was already reading in my daughter's kindergarten. Did it give her "a headstart"? No, the others did as well as the child who was the early reader. The other children in the classes in which my children were students were given experiences and opportunities that were developmentally appropriate. They were taught letter sounds and developed through their writing activities a "sight" word vocabulary. More importantly, by being read to a lot, both my children developed strong, extensive vocabularies, which served them well throughout their education in public school. They played with blocks, etc. which developed their math, physical, and social skills. Both children went to very good colleges and universities. I am hoping that you will rethink how you are planning to develop sight word recognition with your children.

    The description of what will happen in your class sounds more like a late kindergarten/first-grade curriculum. Here is a link to New Jersey's the draft of newest guidelines for prekindergarten that were recently developed: https://www.nj.gov/education/ece/guide/2018PreschoolGuidelines.pdf. Also, to help you think through how you can include sight words in your prekindergarten classroom, I am including a link to NJ's prekindergarten learning standards: https://www.nj.gov/education/ece/guide/standards.pdf.

    In 1972, I taught kindergarten in the United Nations School in Geneva, Switzerland. The children came from all over the world. For some of them, English was not their first language. The school followed a British Integrated Day approach. We were required to have each child keep a journal (remember this is kindergarten, not prekindergarten) where they were asked to draw a picture on one side of the page and on the other dictate a story to me about the picture. I wrote down what they said. They read back what they said as I pointed to each word. Enough space was left between lines that the students could then copy the words under the words that I had written. Because the Dolch sight words is a list of common words seen over and over in books, the students began to recognize those words without formally introducing them one at a time. Again, it is important to remember that this was kindergarten.

    When I returned to the United States in the Fall of 1973, I went back to my position in a very low-income neighborhood in the South Bronx. I had learned a number of unusual ideas from my year in Geneva that I brought back to my kindergarten class in NYC. To the journal story-generating activity, I added an additional part: I integrated an adaptation of Sylvia Ashton Warner's ideas about "organic vocabulary". I viewed the words in the stories that the children generated as their personal vocabulary/reading words. I put each word from their stories on a card that was stored in the back of their journal. The students could then learn to recognize those words independently of the sentence they had generated. They could also match them to the stories they had dictated. They could copy them. This was very effective but it was effective because the words came from them and they were 5 to 6 years old and not 4 years old.

    I hope you will think deeply about how you introduce and use the Dolch Word List with 4-year-olds and in so doing, review the research on how children of this age learn best. Good luck.


    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 34.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    It's very concerning to hear that 3 and 4 year olds are being taught sight words in an explicit curriculum. As a mom and early childhood educator of 30 years, I'd be stirring clear of such goals and it would be my first clue that the educators don't understand early childhood development . As a special education teacher, early interventionist- In my play based approach, I've certainly seen plenty of kids who start reading early but plenty of others who do not show interest in symbols until they are 5 or 6. Early Interest in symbols (letters and number) is not linked to intellect. I'd recommend reading "crisis in kindergarten " which is posted on alliance for childhood website. Early skill based curriculum is linked to more behavior problems and expulsion and especially for young boys.  We need a broader view of academics - what should young children be doing with their hands? Pencil and paper work is only a very small piece and really best for older. Holding paintbrushes, digging in sand boxes with shovels, molding clay with fingers, manipulating blocks - all these experiences are linked to literacy and math and build a child's prewriting skills. If early childhood educators do not defend play and preserve play- who will? Training a preschooler to memorize sight words can be done! But for what gain? It may satisfy the adult who has a false view of children and their train ability versus their intellectual capacity for expression and thinking.   What is your view of yourself as a teacher? If you cannot hold a professional view of yourself while sitting on the floor facilitating play, or holding a child on your lap, or singing nursery rhymes during transitions, but only consider teaching to be when you are teaching letters and numbers or conducting a "lesson" you are missing the essence of early childhood. Children have a life time to learn facts and skills and only a short period to be a young child full of wonder, rich with imagination, seeped in a sensory world of direct experience. Our pedagogy can be intellectually stimulating and rigorous and founded in evidence which supports play, song, story, relationship, caring rituals, movement, as highest quality early education.

    ------------------------------
    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
    ------------------------------



  • 35.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 22 days ago
    I agree.  The NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct states that -- above all -- we will not harm children.  This is one of those things that can harm some children.

    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
    ------------------------------



  • 36.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 21 days ago
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to this discussion, Carol! You said it all and so eloquently. Those of us who share these beliefs and approaches need to repeat and repeat these points loudly and clearly.

    ------------------------------
    Jill Witherell
    Johnstown PA
    ------------------------------



  • 37.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 21 days ago
    Beautifully stated, Carol.  Thank you.

    ------------------------------
    Laurie Donnelly
    Winter Garden FL
    ------------------------------



  • 38.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago

    Children should be interacting and engaging eith the teacher and their peers. Site words are not appropriate for three and four year olds.  
    --

    Patricia Ward, EHS Manager

    200 Dent Street Rocky Mount VA 24151

    (P) 540-488-7026

    (F) 540-483-0640 



    Our Mission: STEP, and our partners, facilitate solutions that empower people to overcome their barriers to economic, educational and developmental success within the communities we serve.






  • 39.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Or even most five-year olds!  Remember, children didn't use to go to school and learn to read until age six or seven!  And that's when most kids are ready!

    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
    ------------------------------



  • 40.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    I am concerned about a blanket statement that "sight words are not appropriate for 3s and 4s". Does this mean we don't use them in our oral language, sharing them in ways that support their authentic use in classroom conversations? Do we stop ourselves from pointing out "juicy" words in read-alouds, the best possible early exposure to print? Are children restricted from creating pieces of writing that include their creative attempts to spell "sight words"?

    I'm sure this isn't what you mean; I'm sure we agree that a hyper-focus on and formal, direct instruction of sight words isn't appropriate for early learners but our language matters. When we say "sight words are inappropriate" at any age, we may inadvertently send the message for early-career teachers that they can't provide exposure to sight words in the ways that actually does support authentic opportunities for children to learn them in meaningful contexts. This message, I fear, leads to the very kind of inauthentic direct instruction experiences that we agree we want to avoid.

    ------------------------------
    Sherry Sanden
    Illinois State University
    Normal IL
    ------------------------------



  • 41.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Let's distinguish the different ways of teaching Sight Words. People usually think this means a wall full of Dolch words on index cards, with a teacher pointing to one at a time asking students to identify each. I call that inappropriate for preschool.

    But how about a word.wall? How about if it begins in September with placing each child's photo under the first letter of their name -- then as time goes by photos are replaced with names? And as a Study delves deeper and new vocabulary arises, words already meaningful to students are added? In that situation I would expect students to be engaged to look at those index cards and say what that word says, often spontaneously. And that is a beautiful type of developing Sight Words.

    It's possible that a phrase like Sight Words (like "Learning Through Play") means an inappropriate thing to one person but a totally good method to another. Possibly our original poster, Jennifer, and her director should make sure they both mean the same thing by this phrase.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 42.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 20 days ago
    Hi Mars,

    Thank you for your full explanation of the use of sight words in the preschool classroom. My director wants me to teach Dolch Sight Words to the children through a curriculum she created. One of the ways she would like sight words taught is through building sentences using sight words. This will occur after several sight words are learned. Another way is through practicing how to write the words using tracing worksheets, find the sight word sheets, and so on. This was implemented by the previous teacher.

    Some of the ways I will teach the children are by creating sight word matching cards, a sight word hop game, sight word play dough mats, building sight words using plastic letters, and so on.

    I will try my best to create meaningful and fun learning experiences for each child while teaching the skills required of me by my school.






    ------------------------------
    Jennifer United States
    ------------------------------



  • 43.  RE: Learning Standards For Preparing Pre-Kindergartners for Kindergarten

    Posted 19 days ago
    J