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Kindergarten Readiness

Back in the day when I was a kid, kindergarten was quite different than it is now.  I remember going to school and coloring the letters of the alphabet, doing fun crafts, and getting to play in centers (the sand and water table being my favorite).  Fast forward 25 years and things have changed drastically.

Now that I have actually worked as a kindergarten teacher, it’s amazing to see how things have changed, and continue to change over the years. Nap time is no longer a thing in most kindergarten classrooms.  Centers and play time is a thing that is occasionally crammed into the end of the day if there’s any time left, or if the teacher is just done trying to teach the poor, exhausted children anything more for that day. 

Kindergarteners are now expected to be reading by the end of the year.  And I’m not talking about reciting a memorized story.  They are expected to actually sound out and blend words to figure out what they say.  They have to be able to read sight words such as “what,” “where,” “do,” and a very large list of others.  They are also expected to be able to write sentences.

The first week of school often seems to leave parents in quite a shock and fluster when they realize that their child may be starting kindergarten “behind.”  I’ve had several students enter my classroom being able to sing the alphabet and their parents think they are fully prepared for kindergarten.  It’s a harsh reality when they come to find out that their child is in fact not fully prepared for the rigorous standards kindergarten now entails. 

As a former educator and now parent, I can’t express enough the importance of working with your child before they ever enter an actual classroom.  Kids that enter kindergarten with prior knowledge and an educational foundation have a much higher probability of being successful in school than those who do not.  I have had several children come into my classroom and really struggle with their first year in school because they have not had their parents or anyone invest the time or energy into their education.  These kids struggle and instead of having a fun, enjoyable first year of school, they are just trying to play catch up the whole year. 

It’s so important for kids to enjoy the learning experience, and in order to do that it is absolutely necessary for them to feel successful.  Working with your kids and showing them that they are smart and are able to learn, is vital in creating a foundation for them to not only build their education on, but also their self-worth. 

The purpose of The Preschool Box is to give parents the tools to be able to easily work with and teach their kids the fundamentals of reading and math.  It’s a great way for them to work with and show their children that they value their education and want to spend quality time with them as well.  Whether you are an active subscriber to The Preschool Box or not, find ways to spend time with your kids doing fun, engaging, educational activities.  It’s super easy to plop our kids in front of a tv and let that do our job of educating, but it’s so much more meaningful and effective when the effort comes from Mom and Dad.  And the kids know it!

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My Three Year Old Plays Videogames and I think I’m ok with it

I like to teach my son Owen lots of things.  At the age of two I taught him all the letters and sounds of the alphabet.  We’ve worked on numbers, counting, sight words, digraphs, and all sorts of other math and reading skills.  He’s currently 3 and we continue to extend his learning in many different areas.  I’m very proud of how smart my little guy is.  I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for teaching him all these things at such an early age.  But, there is one thing I’ve struggled to be proud of, and that is this.  My three year old plays videogames.  And he does it well.

Before children, my husband Tim enjoyed playing various videogames in his downtime.  He still enjoys videogames, but now with three children, this whole “down time” doesn’t really exist in our family.  One way that he has bonded with Owen is that he has taught him how to play videogames, not just on one console, but on 3… the Xbox One, the Nintendo 64, and the Game Cube.  Thankfully, since Owen knows his letters, he is able to follow simple directions such as “Press Y to do this” or “Press B to jump.”  (You’re welcome for that by the way Tim).  Slowly but surely Owen was able to make his characters in the games actually do stuff and go places.

Lately Owen has been able to do a lot on the games.  So much in fact, that I don’t know how he knows how to do certain things on his own.  He will often ask me for help with a level that he is doing, and quite frankly I have no clue how to help him.  He has really impressed me with his critical thinking skills when figuring out different puzzles and activities in these games.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think videogames have been an ok thing in our house.  It is definitely something that has to be utilized in moderation, because let’s be honest here, he would be on it all day everyday if I let him. I am totally guilty of using it as a crutch this summer after welcoming baby number three.  We were stuck in the house for about two months to keep germs at bay as much as possible.  Since then, we have created a schedule for days and times that he is allowed to play.  So far, this has worked nicely.  In my opinion, videogames has been slightly better than just allowing him to watch Tom and Jerry all day on the television.  He at least has to use some problem solving skills and is practicing his fine motor skills using the controller.

All in all, there could be much worse things than letting my kid play videogames.