Are you sending a smart kid to kindergarten? Maybe they are already reading, adding, and writing paragraphs. Afraid they will not be academically challenged? As a teacher and mom to “one of those kids” (don’t worry, only one out of 3 was like this)
Sending a Smart Kid to Kindergarten
Here are some commonly asked questions and a few thoughts on ways to help make your kindergarten year even more successful.
Q: My kid knows all their letter names and letter sounds. They are reading already. Won’t they be bored when the teacher is teaching the letter names and sounds?
A – Yes, your child will be bored while the teacher is teacher the letter names and sounds. Sorry. There will be times when your smart kid will be advanced for what the teacher is instructing.
In most kindergarten classrooms, the teacher will begin the reading instruction time with a whole group lesson. This is the time when the children sing songs, participate in shared reading experiences, and learn academic concepts. The curriculum builds in focus areas for children to develop phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension skills, fluency, and vocabulary. While your child may be a strong reader already, the good news is that there are so many other things that children are also learning at the same time. These lessons will reinforce what they already know.
Additionally, there are numerous other things children are learning during whole group reading instruction time including:
- being respectful of peers
- waiting turns to answer questions
- participating in group activities
- asking questions for clarification
- listening skills
- staying in your own space
What you can do:
- Talk to your child about learning. Remind them that all children learn to read at a difference pace.
- Explain to them how to be a kind-hearted, respectful learner.
- Model how to give positive encouragement to others when you can see they are trying their best.
- Give specific praise to your child on effort and being able to navigate difficult tasks.
- Ask the teacher how your child will be challenged at his or her own level. Keep an ongoing dialog with your child’s teacher throughout the year.
- Attend all parent-teacher conferences.
- Remember that there is more to kindergarten than learning to read! Focus on a different area of learning that you would like to see your child become stronger in: writing is always a good one!
Disclosure Affiliate links used to Amazon.
Q: If my child already knows everything on the kindergarten standards – how will they be challenged?
A – There are a few schools that have ability grouping for kindergarten or gifted programs. These programs pull academically gifted children out during the learning day for a small period of time. Traditionally, most kindergarteners are not screened for giftedness until the end of the kindergarten school year.
Most kindergarten classrooms however use small group instruction to meet the needs of different ability levels. That means, that during the children’s work time, the teacher brings small groups of students to a work area and instructs them on a topic that is at their instructional level. One group may be working on letter sounds while another group is working on reading sentences.
If you want them to be “challenged” I would strongly recommend enriching the school curriculum with learning activities after school. Your child can have an amazing teacher, but there is just honestly not enough time in the day for them to do it all.
What you can do:
- As the school year begins, give them little daily challenges on your way to school such as: find a word around your room that you didn’t know. Sound it out and tell me what your new word is when I pick you up.
- Plan an educational field trip each week with your child. Visit the museum, zoo, park, botanical gardens, inventors museum, grocery store, local event, or art fair and learn within your community.
- Schedule in science, engineering, and art challenges into your child’s day. Start an art journal and explore famous artists through a variety of mediums, set aside one day of the week for super cool science. Bake or sew with your child.
- Hire a tutor or enroll them in an afterschool program that will enrich their daytime learning. Maybe they can learn French? Delve into coding? Play chess?
Q – How can I keep my smart kid from seeking attention through negative behaviors?
A – This is a tough question and takes careful planning and teamwork between the teacher and parents. There are really two issues at play in this question, keeping the child intellectually challenged and socially navigating the classroom dynamics when there is no challenge.
I have had some awesome kids in my classroom that were highly intelligent but quickly became disruptive, attention-seeking students. They were the students who craved a brain challenge to maintain intellectual stimulation throughout the day. As with each student, a teacher’s job is to find out what their needs are and how to best meet those needs within the classroom.
Think about the strategies that you use at home to help your child navigate the world. Are there special challenges (Sudoku? Chapter books? Riddles?) your child enjoys? If so, let your teacher know this. Ask the teacher if they would mind if you purchased and sent in some extra challenges for your child to have available when they completed their classwork.
Communication between school and home is vital to coming up with a good solution to attention-seeking negative behaviors! Make sure to be open to new ideas and approach each day with a positive attitude.
What you can do:
- Ask the teacher to meet before school begins (or within the first few weeks) to discuss ways that you both can work together to enrich your child’s education. E-mail or phone calls work good as teachers are really busy during back-to-school time.
- ALWAYS send your child to school with a book to read. My daughter always had a chapter book in her backpack. Encourage them to read when time permits.
- Purchase a workbook that is at your child’s independent reading or math level that will provide them with intellectually challenging work when needed. Keep this in a desk or work area.
- Come up with a plan for how a child can receive positive attention .This may be a little hand signal, a picture cue card or a special place in the room.
Here are some of the books we have used in the past. Why 1st grade? because K is probably too easy for your smart kindergartener.