Fredrich Froebel was the German educator who “invented” kindergarten, literally meaning, “Child’s Garden.” And that is exactly what a good kindergarten is: a vital place for kids to grow, carefully tended by knowledgeable expert gardeners (educators) who water and fertilize young minds to blossom into eager and ready lifelong learners.
Five year olds are busy, curious little people. It takes a skilled teacher to know how to run a kindergarten classroom with finesse. Programs that take into account all of the strengths, interests, needs, and cultural backgrounds of the kids that sit at circle time are considered “developmentally appropriate” and offer a variety of experiences that are educational, fun and interesting. Besides the intellectual development (basic scientific and mathematic concepts such as problem-solving and prediction, reading and writing basics like letter recognition and handling books), kindergartners are working on social and emotional development (sharing, cooperating, collaborating, rule following), physical development (climbing, skipping, hopping, holding pencils, manipulating puzzles and other items requiring fine motor skill) and…language development.
Notice I mention language development? Your child is in Kindergarten, which does not automatically mean she is done developing language. It is still in progress. Don’t despair if you are sending your 5-year old to school and her speech is not perfect. The good news is her teacher will continue to infuse the day with speech-rich opportunities. Teachers explain unfamiliar words and actively introduce new ones through projects and assignments. Your kid will soak is up. Plus, she’ll engage her students in what they are doing and thinking. Your little learner will continue to develop language skills through problem solving and idea sharing.
Keep in mind that a “good” kindergarten doesn’t typically teach subjects in segments. What that means is a teacher likely won’t teach writing at 9:15am and reading and 9:30, followed by math. Rather the curriculum is integrated across subject areas. Child development is closely taken into consideration. Kids are constantly working and learning in all areas to develop reading, writing, math, social studies, and science within a personally meaningful context. Therefore your child’s kindergarten teacher is particularly skilled at pointing out—and providing opportunities–that incorporate all academic subsets.