Archive for March, 2009

Mar 31 2009

Let’s Get Ready For Pre-First Grade!

  • Write full name and phone number
  • Know upper and lower case in/out of sequence
  • Know colors and shapes
  • Know numbers 1-50
  • Count to 100
  • Recognize patterns
  • Skip count by 5’s and 10’s to 100
  • Know money and value
  • Read basic sentences
  • Know days of the week and months of the year
  • Understand weather concepts
  • Know letter sounds

14 responses so far

Mar 23 2009

Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten!

Here are the 7 things kids will be tested on in their first Kindergarten assessment test:

  1. Know the uppercase alphabet and name the letters out of sequence or mixed up, such as: B, D, X, K, J, M, O, etc.
  2. Know the numbers to 0-10 and identify the numbers out of sequence or mixed up, such as: 2, 5, 9, 8, 1, 3, 4, etc.
  3. Identify basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  4. Identify basic shapes: circle, diamond, rectangle, triangle, oval, and square.
  5. Identify basic coins: penny, nickel, and dime.
  6. Count objects to 10.
  7. Show how far they can count toward 100.

Make learning this fun!!! Practice this information when driving with your child, searching for shapes, colors and letters to make learning interactive.  Counting is a great activity for bath time.  Shopping with your child is a great time to practice coins.  Empower your child to get ready for Kindergarten!

Some more tips to help include these seven things in your daily living with your youngsters:

  • Pick out shapes, one a day, in a room.  First, print a circle and hang it up in that room and then all day, find that shape in the room and make a list.  Go slow to begin with, perhaps one shape a week.
  • For the grocery store, give each child their own list (around ages 3-5), that they had to pick out themselves, find the price and write it down on their list paper.  If we just had a few things to buy, one child would stand up by the register and read the price of the item as it was scanned – sometimes, the checker even let the kids scan the items themselves!
  • For ABC letters, use the newspapers – a different letter each day.  By dinner, the kids must choose one page and circle all of that letter (upper- and lower-case letters being separate).
  • Kids count change each day when hubby comes home from work – one child counts per day and then have them put the money in a bank that has separate slots for each coin.
  • For colors, take the kids to a fabric shop.  Tell them the colors you are looking for, for a project, and have them go find what they like and talk about the colors and selection options.

1,056 responses so far

Mar 10 2009

Let’s Get Ready to add Fuel to the Fire in Early Childhood Education!

I was speaking at a PreK/Kindergarten conference in Illinois last week, among an amazing group of Preschool and Kindergarten teachers. 

I started quite the hot debate. 

Let’s just say, I had a wonderful tall, strong and capable male teacher come to my second session after a teacher referred him from my first session, to “act as my bouncer” (his words).  He had heard that my Preschool teachers were upset by my pop quiz.  Once again, I asked my Preschool teachers to name the 7 things that kids are tested on, at that first Kindergarten assessment test; and had my Kindergarten teachers provide the answers.  Again the usual response – less than a handful of Preschool teachers got it correct and after hearing what Illinois tests on for their assessment, my answers were much easier that their actual test!  My Kindergarten teachers were horrified!

I will send copy of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! to the first person who leaves a comment with the 7 things I was looking for:  hint – see a prior post from last week!

Okay, now to Fuel the Fire…

I do understand that teachers are worried about pushing children before they are ready to learn. But, recent studies show that SO much learning takes place between 0-5!!!  AND, I get this more and more, so how would you respond to this comment from a teacher in my first session:

I would never give this list (the 7 things that teachers test on for Kindergarten assessment) to parents!  I want these kids to come to me as a blank slate so I can teach them in a fun way.  I mean, if I gave that information to my brother, he would just push his kids before they are ready and take the fun right out of education for them for the future.” – Teacher from Illinois

I was so shocked that I am honestly, unsure what I actually said in response!  But, I am ready the next time and here is what I wish I would have said:

And then when your niece or nephew is 20 ask them who they would have rather practiced counting with, you or their Daddy?

Well, what would you say?

4 responses so far

Mar 06 2009

Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten Roundup!

Education needs to change, and it needs to start at preschool and Kindergarten Roundup.  Kindergarten Roundup is happening all cross the country in February.  Schools say that they are testing our children at Kindergarten Roundup.  They are not testing Kindergarten concepts but are testing fine motor skills to determine if there are any learning issues, but parents are not aware of that!! Kindergarten roundup is where parents should be told about the Kindergarten assessment testing on the Kindergarten curriculum during the first few weeks of school in fall. 

This is not happening!  WHY?

Milwaukee Public Schools has a billion dollar budget and spent $20 million dollars on consultants last year.  That money is not filtering into the classroom.  I could walk into any classroom at MPS and ask the students what is wrong with education and I am sure they would nail it. I asked my second- and fourth-grader that same question about their public school in Random Lake, WI and here is what they said:

  1. Mom, in fourth-grade, we only get one recess for 20 minutes…and they wonder why we are obese.  Note: Our school just received a huge grant to combat childhood obesity at our school.
  2. It was 60 degrees outside last week, and on that day, our elementary principal made an announcement that if you did not wear your heavy winter jacket with hats and gloves you would be allowed to play outside but had to stay against the wall outside.  My kids had to stand against the wall because I put them in a shirt with a heavy long sleeved sweatshirt under a sleeveless down jacket, no hat or gloves.  I personally did not wear a jacket that day because it was 60.  My kids were not allowed to run around on that day and half of their classmates had to stand against the wall because their parents dressed them inappropriately for the weather.  Are you kidding me?  It was 60!
  3. Mom, we only have 10 minutes to eat.  This is a problem that comes up during my workshops.  Many teachers and parents complain that we have a problem with our allotted time for school lunch.  Note to educators, it takes 10-15 minutes to get through the line, leaving only 10 minutes to eat and that is simply not long enough and think of all the food that is being wasted!!!
  4. State testing begins in third-grade.  My daughter tells me in fourth-grade, for the entire month of October she is talking a test twice a day.  No one ever goes through the test with her to tell her if her answer is right or wrong.  So, she wants to know how these tests help her learn, especially since they ask the same question over and over and she isn’t sure if she is answering it correctly over and over.  If she takes a spelling test, she gets the answers back so she learns from her mistake!  Her question is, how is she learning from all these tests?  Good question, Heidi!  Mom does not know the answer!  Do you?
  5. In Wisconsin, we have Sage Funding, meaning schools get money from the state to guarantee that we have a 15-to-1 student/teacher ratio.  Unfortunately, the money was given to schools but schools were not enforcing the sage requirements until last year.  Might this be happening in Illinois?
  6. Education will never change until we start empowering parents and kids into the process.  Case Study:  Harvard, Illinois, Washington Elementary School.  I did a presentation last year to 40 families of which 38 could NOT speak English.  With the help of one of their bilingual Kindergarten teachers, we shared with the kids and the parents what they would need to know for Kindergarten and the school could see a definite improvement in this group.  Some of these families even joined the PTO and became active in their school.  If you teach a child to wear their seat belt they will teach everyone or remind mom when she is not wearing it to buckle up – so if you teach a child what they need to know, like their shapes and colors or count to 100, they will keep reminding their to parents over and over that they need to practice!!  It’s about empowering parents, kids and teachers to all work together to embrace education!

Education needs to change and this story needs to be told! Please share it with all your friends.  How would you change education?

6 responses so far

Mar 05 2009

Let’s Get Ready For Preschool and Head Start

I have uncovered an alarming trend in my preschool and head start workshops nationwide: the majority of preschool and head start teachers that come to my workshops do not know what children are tested on for their first Kindergarten assessment tests!!!  In fact, I started testing the preschool and head start teachers in my workshops.  I wanted them to feel what it feels like to be a five year-old; these little kids come to school expecting to be taught but instead we expect them to take a test – cold, without studying. 

So that’s what I did at the National Association of Head Start Conference in Atlanta in December, and again last week at the Wisconsin Head Start Association Conference in the Wisconsin Dells.  I challenged these teachers to list the seven things that kids are tested on for that first Kindergarten assessment test.  Guess what?  Only FOUR of 250 in Atlanta, from teachers all cross the country (including Illinois); got it correct and not one teacher in 75, in Wisconsin, got it right!! 

That is what is wrong with education!!! And I am not even a teacher, just a mom, inspired by Oprah, to empower parents, kids and teachers to work together in education! 

If our preschool and head start teachers do not know this information how can we expect parents and kids to know it?  AND where are the public service announcements telling parents the seven things they need to know for Kindergarten testing:  the alphabet all mixed up, number to 10 all mixed up, basic shapes, colors, coins, counting objects to 10 and how far they can count to 100?

So, when parents come to that first parent teacher conference and they are told that their child only knew five of 26 letters all mixed up, or was only able to count to 35 on the way to 100, parents feel frustrated and at that point, many feel if they can’t help their child in Kindergarten how are they suppose to help in First Grade, Second Grade and beyond? 

If a family is not involved at day one, they are less likely to be involved later on in the process.  They don’t wake up and say, Let’s Get Ready for Sixth Grade or High School?  They are already out of the loop by then! 

At the Kindergarten conference, many families that I talked to nationwide, opt-out and let the “teachers” teach their children and become disengaged in the educational process.   They feel if they couldn’t help their child with Kindergarten how are they supposed to help in the later years?  It was only 10 years ago that our Kindergarten teachers would teach what kids needed to know for kindergarten in Kindergarten, but that has changed; and sadly no one is telling our preschool and head start teachers how advanced Kindergarten has become!

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Mar 03 2009

Let’s Get Ready For the 100th Day of School!

It usually happens in February or early March, the 100th day of school – only 80 days until summer vacation!!

When my youngest, Megan, was in Kindergarten and they celebrated the 100th day of school she came home upset.  “Mom, I thought when we reached the 100th day we were done with school for the year,” she exclaimed.  It was a bit of a let down for her!!  In the Kannenberg house we make it a celebration!  When they were younger we would practice counting to 100.

Our 5 favorite activities to celebrate the 100th day of school:

  1. Have each child count out 100 food items to make a trail mix snack.  Our favorites are raisins, dry cereal, pretzels, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, m & m’s, popcorn and peanuts.  Thankfully we don’t have any peanut allergies!
  2. Make a picture, gluing 100 items on the page using buttons, dry pasta or our favorite, a snowman using 100 mini marshmallows!
  3. Do 100 jumping jacks!
  4. Read for 100 minutes!
  5. Walk for 100 minutes!

What will you do?

5 responses so far