You may be busy gearing up for summer, but one thing is certain: It's not too early to start thinking about the fall season – especially if your child will be starting Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade. The Kindergarten and early grade experience is in the midst of significant changes from when many of us parents started elementary school. For that matter, every grade level is going through dramatic changes, but we'll focus on our younger scholars for this discussion.
Kindergarten – A New Kind of "Kid Stuff"
One of the greatest opportunities – and also challenges – of a child's young life is the transition from a preschool into an elementary school environment. For children who are about to enter a new world of academia, this summer will mark the end of an era and the beginning of their "real" relationship with education and learning. Many aspects of Kindergarten will be entirely new for them. The school will be bigger, there will be more time sitting at a table, more focus on letters and numbers, more time handwriting, more time listening, and definitely, a great deal more structure. The days will be longer and there will likely be more independence required as part of the overall classroom routine
Many think of Kindergarten simply as snacks, naps and playtime but, actually, it's significantly more challenging than it used to be. In an effort to help students prepare for a more competitive job market upon graduation, California is joining 44 other states in a transition to a more rigorous academic curriculum called Common Core State Standards, which dramatically affects all levels of education, even starting with Kindergarten.
California lawmakers put the wheels in motion with approval of the new scholastic standards in 2010 – and by 2015, all elementary school curriculum is expected to be well on the way to completing the transition. What this means to your Kindergartner is that she or he will be learning aspects of language, math and reading skills at levels formerly slated for higher grades. Knowledge of these changes has clearly started to reach parents, with many feeling encouraged to ensure their child attends a preschool, Transitional Kindergarten or other appropriate alternative, which will better prepare them for the challenges ahead.
If your child is heading off to Kindergarten this fall, or if your grade-schooler has struggled in any way during the current school year, here are a few tips regarding summer camps that can help your young one to be prepared for school in the fall.
Ultimately, enjoy and get the most out of summer this year. But, along with your family vacation of a lifetime, the epic barbeque cookouts and neighborhood block parties, remember to keep an eye on the new school year and make sure your kids start the journey off in full academic stride.