There are a variety of skills (or learning objectives) I’ll be working with Nicolas on throughout the school year to prepare him for kindergarten. Some skills we will work on everyday, and other skills we will work on less frequently. This post is about the skills we will work on everyday as we begin the school year. I’ve deemed these initial everyday learning objectives the most important based on Nicolas’ current learning needs. Because every child is different and learns at their own pace, I will be adapting learning objectives and making adjustments to lessons throughout the school year as he becomes efficient in a skill and his knowledge and ability increases.
If you are wondering how I selected learning objectives for the school year, I use and reference Tennessee’s Early Learning Development Standards (TN-ELDS) since we live in Tennessee. Each state has its own pre-k standards that you can find by doing a Google search. For example, to find Tennessee’s pre-k standards I Googled ‘Tennessee pre-k standards’ and clicked on the first link which took me to the Tennessee Department of Education website. These are the standards that all certified pre-k teachers use in their classrooms to teach students in the state of Tennessee.
Skill 1: Count to 100 Using a Number Chart- Counting & Cardinality
According to TN-ELDS children in kindergarten should know number names and the counting sequence, be able to count to tell the number of objects, and compare numbers. As a result, Nicolas counts to 100 aloud everyday using a number chart for reference. I point at each number as he counts and facilitate his counting if he needs it. Using a number chart helps to associate number names with the written form of the number. I also use the number chart to help point out patterns or repetitions in the Base 10 number system. This will help develop his number sense- an important part of acquiring future math skills.
Skill 2: Addition & Subtraction Using Teddy Bear Counters- Operations & Algebraic Thinking
In Tennessee kindergarteners are also expected to understand addition as putting together and adding to, and understand subtraction as taking apart and taking from (TN-ELDS, p17). We use teddy bear counters to practice quantity, one to one correspondence, and addition and subtraction. Right now we’re practicing modeling quantities up to 10 and adding and subtracting numbers up to 10.
Skill 3: Read Bob Books- Reading and Foundational Literacy
Knowing and applying grade-level phonics and word analysis skills when decoding words and reading with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension are required learning standards for kindergarteners in Tennessee. To make sure that Nicolas is ready to read by kindergarten we have been working on foundational literacy skills for awhile now. Specifically I have been working with him to learn letter sounds so that he can decode and read vowel (V), i.e. I and a, vowel-consonant (VC), i.e. on, it, is, etc., consonant-vowel (CV), i.e. go, to, etc., and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC), i.e. cat, dog, bed, etc.) words.
Bob Books: Set 1 Beginning Readers is a great reader set that allows Nicolas to practice these foundational literacy skills. There are 12 books in the set. Each book increases in difficulty and focuses on a specific phonics skill. We practice reading one book together until he can read it on his own, using either his memory, his learned phonics skills, or both. Then we move on to the consecutive book until he can successfully read it on his own. Currently we’re about 2/3 through the set.
Skill 4: Sight Words- Foundational Literacy
I also introduce Nicolas to 3 new sight words each week to encourage reading from memory as a skill. Right now I’m using Trend Enterprises Level A Sight Words Pocket Flash Cards. Success in reading, like any skill, requires repetition and review. So each week he learns new 3 sight words and reviews the sight words he learned from previous weeks.
Skill 5: Writing Name- Foundational Literacy, Writing Standards, & Fine Motor
Nicolas writes his name every day using a standard number 2 pencil and a writing strip. As time goes on we will practice writing letters that aren’t in his name, but I feel like his name is a good place to start. I encourage him to take his time and make sure he is doing his best so that his dexterity, legibility, and writing stamina increase.
Skill 6: Scissor Skills & Gluing- Visual Arts & Fine Motor
Nicolas practices cutting and gluing to accompany the fine motor skills he practices while writing. Arts and crafts is typically a big part of kindergarten so I know that being able to use scissors efficiently will be an effective skill for him to acquire. Nicolas finds Melissa and Doug’s Scissor Skill Activity Pad engaging, and it allows him to practice his fine motor skills by cutting along straight and curved lines.
A Tip for Lesson Planning & Homeschooling for Pre-K
One thing that I like to keep in mind is pacing as I lesson plan and teach. I remind myself that there is a whole school year to practice and learn the necessary curriculum. So I pace my lessons accordingly and check off standards as Nicolas learns them.
On a similar note, while it’s important to offer him chances to learn the necessary pre-k curriculum, I also want to encourage him to have fun, play, socialize, participate in real world and informal learning activities, use his imagination, and be a kid. These experiences and skills are equally as important as the pre-k learning objectives.
All things considered he will learn the things he needs to learn when the timing is right, and sometimes the best things for him to learn are the things that are not listed in state educational standards. I firmly believe that a balanced approach to learning will help him enter kindergarten as a confident student, so Nicolas and I will be approaching pre-k curriculum with this sentiment in mind.