Archive for the 'Cedar Valley Parents' Category

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

Oct 13 2008

Let’s Get Ready for Homework for Parents

  • Stop, Drop, and Listen,
  • Unload the backpack/ homework folder with your kids daily,
  • Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes,
  • Play repetitive games with your kids,
  • Ask open ended questions to help your kids communicate,
  • Be involved in school activities and join your PTA/PTO!

451 responses so far

Aug 15 2008

Getting Parents Involved In School

Listed below are suggestions how to encourage and motivate parents to become more involved in school:

  • Ask your child’s teacher how you can help.
  • Offer to read to your child’s classroom.
  • Sign up for field trips.
  • Offer to bake snacks or volunteer to help for school parties:  Halloween, Christmas, Valentine, the 100th Day of School, Easter, Last Day of School, etc.
  • Volunteer to work the lunchroom.
  • Volunteer to be a playground monitor.
  • Join the Parent-Teach Association/Organization (PTA/PTO).
  • Volunteer to write grants and raise money for your school.
  • Ask if you can do work from home: trace projects; make copies; color posters; etc.
  • Make it a point to know everyone’s name in your child’s class.  If you know their name, they are less likely to be a bully to your child.
  • Ask your child about their day and be prepared to actively listen.
  • Make unloading the backpack and going through his/her folder a team effort to keep you all on top of daily activities.
  • Make sure your child completes all homework and if you have questions, write a note together to the teacher and place it back in the folder.
  • Attend school board meetings.
  • Network among the parents of other children in your child’s class.  If you become friends with the parents, it is easier for your child to develop long and lasting relationships too.
  • Ask if your teacher is in need of extra supplies (i.e. cleaning supplies) for upcoming projects.
  • Encourage your child to read by turning off the television and having mandatory reading time for the entire family.
  • Make sure your child is getting 10-12 hours of sleep each night.
    • Make sure your child is eating a nutritious breakfast to start the day.
  • Make sure your child understands that healthier choices at school mean more energy for play.
  • Ask what you can do.
  • Mingle and get to know other teachers or sit in a class to observe other teachers to help you and your child determine the teacher you would like your child to have for the next year.
  • Ask if you can dress up as the Mad Scientist to help promote the Science Fair or dress up as a clown to help promote Fun Fair.
  • Volunteer, volunteer, and volunteer!

Copyright 2008 Cedar Valley Publishing, Stacey Kannenberg; Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Have a story about how you or someone one else got involved and it improved your child’s learning experience, or lit a fire under other parents?  Please share it with us!

401 responses so far

Aug 14 2008

Tips for First Grade Learning

As parents/caregivers, you can help your First Grader learn with ease and confidence by implementing these everyday tips:

  • Communicate concerns and/or expectations with your child’s teacher.
  • Foster independence by giving chores:  setting the table, dusting, putting silverware away, etc.
  • Follow a daily routine to help your child transition smoothly from school to home each day. For example, empty his/her backpack together and review its contents.  Schedule homework, playtime, dinner/conversation, bathtime, shared reading time and bedtime.
  • Write important home/school events on the calendar:  teacher conference, picture day, vacation days, early release days, etc.
  • Volunteer in your child’s class/schoolroom or ask how you can help from home.
  • Support your child by attending school functions.
  • Praise hard work when completing projects and learning.
  • Read various types of books, and discuss the author, illustrator and its content.
  • Nurture, motivate and instill self-esteem in your child by listening to him/her. 

Take an active role in your child’s life and just watch him/her succeed at anything and everything he/she does!

Copyright 2008 Cedar Valley Publishing, Stacey Kannenberg; Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

What’s your favorite transition ritual that you perform with your child each day?  Why?

440 responses so far

Aug 12 2008

Tiny Tips for Kindergarten Lunch Time

Going to lunch with a class full of first time Kindergarten students was an eye opener for me.  It was September of 2004 and I had not been in a school cafeteria setting since my own elementary school days many years ago.  Once I reached middle school, I walked home for lunch every day, so to me it seemed like a brand new experience being in a school cafeteria again.

I met my daughter at her classroom on her first day of Kindergarten. We walked as a class with her teacher.  Her teacher, Mrs. Neitzke was reminding the children of the school policies: no running in the hallways, to walk quietly, and no loud talking as other classes were in session.  We walked in a single file line to the cafeteria with this new group of wide-eyed Kindergarten kids.

There was a buzz of excitement in the air.  The children who had a bag lunch were carrying their shiny new lunch boxes and were told to follow Mrs. Neitzke to their lunchroom table.  Each child who was taking hot lunch for the day followed Ms. Lunch Lady.  They all had a nametag with their lunch number on it and were asked to punch in that number on the keypad with the help of Ms. Lunch Lady.  Patiently, she helped hot lunch children enter their three-digit number.  Then they were asked to take a tray and help themselves to their silverware. 

I was not expecting those trays to be so heavy.  I remember using them in college to slide down the hill after a snowfall, so if they were strong enough to hold my bottom down a hill; one would think it could hinder a Kindergarten student. 

  • Tip #1:  Prepare your child that every day, somewhere in America a child drops his/her lunch by accident.  It is loud.  Everyone stares. Many people will laugh, and most likely the child who dropped it will cry. Unless, however you prepare your child that accidents happen.  There’s no need to cry, try to smile and say “Opps!”, or better yet, laugh too—so the kids aren’t laughing at you but with you.

 Silverware goes on the tray.  Many times it is the first time a child actually has access to a butter knife; so, many kids were excited to be trusted with this huge honor. I observed two boys having a duel with their butter knives and it took less than a second for the sound of clanging silverware to draw the attention of Ms. Lunch Lady.  She sternly reminded the boys that butter knifes are used to cut food only!  

  • Tip #2:  Remind your child about how to handle and use butter knives safely.

Amazingly, there’s a milk carton color system to go along with all the milk options provided by the milk supplier. In our case, we had brown for chocolate, pink for skim fat free, blue for 2%, and red is strawberry.

My daughter was thrilled to be in charge of her milk choice every day. I reminded her that I would like her to rotate between white, chocolate and strawberry.  She agreed. My daughter started saying that the she did not like her white milk at school, only at home. So, I decided to meet her for lunch to see how this could be true. I noticed she selected the pretty pink color carton.  I grabbed the blue carton and while we were munching on our pizza and green beans, I asked if we could switch cartons.  She said sure and I watched her take a tentative sip of my blue carton of 2% milk and then she sighed and drank the entire carton.  She likes 2% in the blue carton over the skim fat free milk in the pink carton. 

  • Tip #3:  As about your child’s lunch, the food and drinks itself. A simple change in the color of a milk carton could solve your problem.

Helpers help the children to the menu of the day items, and assist with carrying a heavy tray to the table.  The teacher helps the children with bag lunches by opening fruit cups; yogurt tabs and opening milk cartons.  

The teacher waits for the rest of her class to arrive and reminds the students that this is their opportunity to eat; and as soon as they are all finished eating, they will empty their lunches in the trash cans and deposit trays and silverware onto the conveyer belt. 

The teacher introduces a team of older students waiting to help them along the way.  She tells them that after they are done, they will go to the bathroom and wash their hands and then go outside for recess.  She stresses that Kindergarten is so much fun, the children have to make sure they eat all of their food in order to have enough energy to play for the entire recess. 

She explains that the Kindergarten class will be getting a small nutritious snack after lunch before they leave for the day, but she reminds the kids that a healthy lunch helps a growing body to function properly.

Many of the kids were too excited to really eat their food – including me!  It was exciting watching them interact up and down the table.  New kids meeting and becoming friends over lunch on their very first day of Kindergarten.   It was loud and fun!  I was so caught up in the excitement of the moment, that I was just as guilty as my daughter, who was too busy talking rather than eating. 

  • Tip #4:  Reiterate the sound advice that my daughter’s teacher shares with your child because I, too, fell victim to the excitement and grossly under-ate!

At home, Heidi is rarely rushed to eat her food.  At Kindergarten she would have to adjust to this new schedule.  She would have to work hard to eat within 20 minutes and still hold multiple conversations with her school friends. 

  • Tip #5:  If your child is coming home starving, you might want to make sure he/she is  focusing on eating lunch at lunch time and not socializing too much. 

Take it from me; it was hard for me not to get caught up in the excitement of “kid watching”.  I was just as distracted as the rest of my new little friends.

Copyright 2008 – Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

What are some additional tips Kindergarteners should know?  How’d you learn about them? 

573 responses so far

Aug 05 2008

Pre-First Grade Skills

Now that your child graduated from Kindergarten, you may be curious what can you do over the summer months to prepare him/her for First Grade.

Listed below are the basic Pre-First Grade skills most schools will assume your child will know as he/she walks through the doors in the Fall:

  • Write full name and phone number.
  • Know upper and lower case in/out of sequence.
  • Know colors and shapes.
  • Know numbers 1-30.
  • Count to 100.
  • Recognize patterns.
  • Skip count by 5s and 10s to 100.
  • Know money (coins and dollars) and its value.
  • Read basic sentences.
  • Know days of the week and months of the year.
  • Understand weather concepts.

Copyright 2008 – Stacey Kannenberg, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Do you have plans for integrating this list into your summer?  What are your ideas?

122 responses so far

Jul 31 2008

Thanking ALL Parents!

I would like to take this moment to thank all the parents…

  • Who volunteer at school and help my child have a better day.
  • Who smile and say, “been there” when it’s my child having a meltdown in the store.
  • Who open the door when they see me struggling to carry multiple kids and an umbrella.
  • Who offer to take a picture so the entire family to be in the shot.
  • Who created the concept of drive thru services for pharmacy, dry cleaning, banking, car washes and food services.
  • Who have invented products that only a parent could appreciate.
  • Who coach our kids in sporting and club activities.
  • Who drive our school bus and treat our children like their own.
  • Who help at the cross walks to keep our kids safe.
  • Who attend school board and Parent-Teach Associations/Organizations (PTA/PTO) meetings.
  • Who make snacks and treats for the school bake sale.
  • Who raise loving and responsible children.

Copyright 2008 Cedar Valley Publishing, Stacey Kannenberg; Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

It really does take a village to raise a child.  Have we forgotten something?  What would you like to thank other parents for contributing? 

144 responses so far

Jul 16 2008

Clearing the Air on Education

Let’s clear the air:  Here is my take on education.  It was only five years ago that Kindergarten teachers were teaching everything you needed to know in Kindergarten, starting at day one.

Now, kids are expected to KNOW things, and are tested on the following within the first few months of Kindergarten:

  1. The upper case alphabet out of sequence or mixed up.  Kids will be asked to name the letters listed, such as: B, D, X, K, J, M, O, etc.
  2. The numbers to 10, out of sequence or mixed up.  Kids will be asked to name the letters, listed, such as:  2, 5, 9, 8, 1, 3, 4, etc.
  3. Kids will be asked to identify basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple
  4. Kids will be asked to identify basic shapes: circle, diamond, rectangle, triangle, oval and square
  5. Kids will be asked to identify basic coins: penny, nickel and dime

As the year progresses, Kindergartener’s will need to know both upper- and lower-case letters and numbers (up to 30), in- and out-of-sequence.  More colors and shapes will be added including hexagon and octagon and more coins such as quarter and dollar.

Children need to know their name, address and phone number and be able to get dressed for outside play and use the bathroom independently, to make that first year a success!

So when the first parent teacher conference happens, your teacher gives you the results.  Your child only knew 5 of 26 letters all mixed up, only recognized the number 1-5 mixed up to 10, could identify basic colors, correctly identified the circle, diamond and a square and was not able to identify the coins, penny, nickel or dime.

Many parents disengage with education at that point – at their first Kindergarten parent teacher conference!!!!  In their mind, they are thinking—why did you not tell me before Kindergarten that this is what kid needs to know?  Coins?  I thought my kid would swallow coins—never thought I needed to teach them that before Kindergarten!

Sadly our early education teachers are not aware of how advantage the Kindergarten curriculum has become.  I do presentations to early childhood teachers who, many times, are not part of a public school system and fall through the cracks.  This is one of the problems with education today.

A parent’s first touch with education needs to be Public Service Announcements and teaching that education for their child(ren) should begin when they are toddlers.

My “Let’s Get Ready” books are what kids will be working on for the entire Kindergarten year, so the more they see it, the more it will make sense when they have that “aha moment”.

It’s like the seat belt law.  If you teach a child to wear their seat belt, they will teach their parents, grandparents, older siblings and family friends to wear theirs.

With my books, the kids will teach their parents that they, too, need to be involved in the educational process for them to succeed!  REMEMBER:  Parents are our children’s FIRST TEACHERS!

And, did you know that there is no standard Kindergarten text book?  Think about that.  No text book for Kindergarten!  How can you build a house without a blueprint?  How can you not not use Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten? 

7 responses so far

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