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Tips for Teaching Early Learners

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By Stacey Kannenberg & Melonie Kennedy

Teaching Early Learners

Some families begin homeschooling beyond the elementary years and after their children have already gone through the basic process of "school readiness" – either through formal instruction or by simply picking things up at home in an environment with an involved parent. Those of us who choose homeschooling during the preschool years may not always have a checklist in front of us issued by the kindergarten or first grade teacher to help us prep. While many of us agree with author Rahima Baldwin Dancy that we are our "child's first teacher", it is sometimes helpful to know what is normally expected for children in the early grades. It helps us assess where our children stand already, and helps us set goals for the upcoming year.

Stacey Kannenberg has pulled together a list that makes it easy for parents of preschoolers to get a quick assessment of where their students are and where they need to get them. Some homeschoolers attest that "once they are reading on their own, it all gets easier"; but how do we prepare them for those often-times pesky phonics lessons? Those of us who still have toddlers can, and do, start on many of these well before the "official" kindergarten age of five or six years old. Handy for all ages!

7 Things Kindergarteners Need to Know

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 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.

During the year, Kindergarteners will need to know…

  • Both upper and lower case letters, in order and out of sequence
  • Numbers to 30, in order and out of sequence
  • More colors and shapes, including hexagon and octagon
  • More coins, such as quarter and dollar
  • Their name, address, and phone number
  • How to get dressed themselves for outside play (coat, hat, etc)
  • How to use the bathroom independently

…in order to make that first year a success!

In general, be sure to introduce and practice these "building block" skills:

  • Share, take turns and listen quietly
  • Wait patiently and use words to communicate
  • Recognize and know your full name
  • Know your parents' first and last names
  • Dress yourself
  • Know how to zip, snap, tie, button and fasten your clothing
  • Recite and recognize alphabet letters
  • Recognize your left and right hand
  • Know basic colors, shapes and numbers 0-20
  • Recognize a penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar bill
  • Use positional words (over, under, up, down)
  • Print your first name, uppercase for first letter only
  • Know your address and phone number
  • Know how to use a pencil, crayons, glue and scissors

Stacey Kannenberg is the Award-Winning Author & Publisher of the Let's Get Ready Series with Let's Get Ready For Kindergarten!; iA Prepararse Para Kindergarten! & Let's Get Ready For First Grade! Cedarvalleypublishing.com.

Melonie Kennedy is a military wife, homeschooling mother of two, and freelance author/editor. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Griffon, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, SEEN Magazine, and more, as well as numerous e-books, books, and blogs. Catch her blogging now at Wandering Quail Road.

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