What Happens in Kindergarten?

Kindergarten is the time when kids begin to understand their individuality in relation to other children. They also learn how to cooperate and resolve differences.

Moreover, they will learn to be independent and gain confidence in taking charge of daily tasks such as brushing their teeth or washing hands. This will help them to prepare for the next steps of their life.

Social and Emotional Development

The first year of elementary school is a time when children learn to interact with others in a new social setting. While parents can help to support their children’s academic growth, the development of social skills is also critical.

These skills include forming close relationships, managing and expressing emotions, learning how to play and work with others, and exploring their environment. A growing body of research shows that these early social and emotional foundations contribute to a child’s future academic success and life-long well-being.

For example, if your child cannot communicate their needs to a teacher or their classmates (such as when they need to use the bathroom or when they feel hungry) it will be difficult for them to thrive in kindergarten. Fortunately, there are many resources available to teach preschool and kindergarten children the importance of communicating their needs in a respectful and age-appropriate way. Check out these children’s books that teach the importance of self-awareness and compassion.

Physical Development

Children grow up and develop physically at an incredible rate during kindergarten. Their physical development focuses on the growth and refinement of their muscles. This is a time when their gross motor skills – large muscles in their legs and arms – flourish as they run, jump and climb – while their fine motor skills improve with activities such as threading, cutting, pressing, grasping and pinching.

In the early years, children establish patterns of activity and healthy eating that can impact their entire life. If good habits are established at this age they tend to stick, even if children move up to primary school.

During this year, children gain a sense of independence from their families as they spend more of their day at school. This can be especially difficult for some children who have never spent a full day away from their parents before. Kindergarten helps them to develop independence while learning to deal with separation in a safe and caring environment.

Language and Literacy Development

In kindergarten, children begin learning about the alphabet and the sounds of letters. They also learn about the order of the letters in the alphabet and how they work together to form words and sentences.

They also learn the names of upper and lowercase letters, and they start to write simple letters. Children also learn about high-frequency words (also known as sight words) that are used often in reading and writing.

Literacy development is critical for preparing children to succeed at school and in life. Parents can support literacy development by reading books to their children, encouraging them to talk about the stories and sharing everyday activities that encourage phonological awareness and letter knowledge.

Families should continue nightly shared reading and library visits and ensure that children’s literacy experiences are fun, motivating, and meaningful for them. For more literacy tips, see this NYCU resource.

Cognitive Development

At this age, children are active explorers of their environment. They are curious about everything and their desire to learn is limitless. They begin to organize and analyze their experiences, and they use their imaginations to develop and share ideas.

They can follow one-step directions and know what objects are for (such as a brush or spoon). They recognize some letters of the alphabet, and they begin to read some high-frequency words (like in, of and the) that appear frequently in books.

Research on cognitive development tends to focus on specific aspects of behavior, rather than general increments in memory capacity. The primary concerns in both the structuralist and functionalist traditions are how behavior is organized and how it changes over time. In the structuralist tradition, this typically involves determining whether or not certain behaviors are part of an orderly sequence of logical reorganizations in relatively homogeneous populations. This is in contrast to the functionalist approach, which focuses on information processing and explains behavior through processes that are internal to the individual.

What Happens in Kindergarten?
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