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Preparing for Kindergarten

A big thanks to Intel for sponsoring today’s post about our new Intel All-in-One PC! #IntelAIO

Wesley is headed to Kindergarten in the Fall–and to be honest, I’m kind of freaking out.1-IMG_2963

Before becoming a mother, I had visions of sitting at the kitchen table with my kids, having fun working on homework together.  We would have lazy afternoon “read-a-thons” just like I did when I was a kid and we would get our homework done well in advance of it’s due date–because, well homework is a blast, right?  I made the “pre-parent” mistake of assuming I would certainly have children who shared all of my interests and passions–children who wanted to read books all afternoon and complete work books, for fun. Then I became a parent…

As Wesley got older it became increasingly obvious to me that he and I had completely different learning styles.  Where I need to “read” and “hear” instructions for a given task, Wesley needs to “see” and “feel” those instructions.  Where I preferred to practice writing numbers and letters, Wesley prefers to paint pictures and create beautiful art. Where I loved the confines of coloring books and their clear instructions to stay within the lines, Wesley prefers coloring on plain white paper or coloring outside of the lines on purpose.  Where rigid rules make me feel safe, they make Wesley feel suffocated. Where I need to sit still and focus on the task at hand in a distraction-free environment, Wesley needs to keep his body moving to help him maintain focus.

Often times, when we sit down to work on a project together I find that he is easily frustrated with me, that he has little patience with my instructions and that he would much rather be doing something else–and to tell you the truth, I felt the same way.  With our learning styles on opposite ends of the spectrum, I realized it was becoming more difficult for me to understand how best to teach him or help him learn most effectively.

It can be pretty scary–to feel helpless when it comes to encouraging your children to learn…which is why, with kindergarten just around the corner, I realize that I can’t expect Wesley to enjoy sitting perfectly still and reading books all afternoon…so I have begun to teach myself how to adapt to Wesley’s learning style.

First, I gathered this information from his school district about the “expectations” for kindergarteners:

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.13.30 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 10.14.13 PM
And then I hyperventilated into a paper bag about how intense so many of these benchmarks seem for someone so young. But I also remembered the important lesson I learned last year–our children are always smarter, more resilient and wiser than we assume.  They can do hard things.  They will surprise us.  And we are their champions for growth–so it’s our job to believe in them even (and especially) if they don’t believe in themselves.

With these benchmarks in mind, I started to put together a “fun” and “light” summer curriculum for Wesley and me to work on each day together.  Because the idea of homework is not fun for Wes, I have decided to turn each of our “lessons” into games, using methods and mediums he responds to most. AIO aps screen shot
TECHNOLOGY: this is Wesley’s favorite, and an effective way I’ve found to engage him in educational games.  He has fun because he’s playing games and I like to think he’s learning in the process. While Wes was at school I did a search of some of the top All-In-One education apps for my Intel AIO PC.

AIO apsSome apps are the “top” because they are the most popular and some are at the top because they have won awards. I downloaded several apps from the “top” list that I thought Wes would enjoy and I took them for a spin myself.

AIO childrens apsThis is the most simple and perhaps my favorite app: Paint Sparkles.  This app allows Wes to express his creative side while also practicing his fine motor skills of writing and drawing shapes.wes on computer
And here are the other apps I have downloaded for him to play over the Summer:1-HP Computer Aps1. Kindergarten8 Lite  //  2. Piano Chords  //  3. Preschool Puzzles: Educational games for kids  //  4. Learn ABC’s for kids  //  5. Kindergarten Mathematics Objects  //  6. Stack the States  //  7. Cookie Doodle  //  8. Planets 3D

Because Wesley also loves art I’ll be putting together a fun list of creative projects we’ll be doing together. As soon as I’ve compiled all of our games, projects, filed trips and reading material I will be putting together a schedule for the Summer.  And of course, I’ll be sharing it as a post for those of you who would like to play along. I would love to hear about any fun learning methods/projects that have worked with your kiddos.

#spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.

 Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support our family.

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  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    As a teacher, there is one important thing that I can tell you, and that is that although the benchmarks are there, not all children are going to meet these at the expected times, and it is nothing to worry about, especially not at this stage. I’m sure Wes’ teacher will have other children who have a learning style just like him, and will be able to accommodate for that style.

    With my son, no matter how hard I tried to get him to sit and write or read before he started school, it just wasn’t happening. I was really worried about it when he started school (because let’s be honest, although I’m a teacher, I was still worried when it came to my own child), but he really surprised me. Yes, he can’t sit still for longer than five minutes, and yes his teacher is constantly telling me that he’s always fidgeting, but in the end, if he is learning and doing the work, then that’s all that matters. For us, a lot of the learning that was done before he started school was done via songs and movement as I found that this was the most effective way as he was actually interested in it.

    It’s a huge change in parenting when they get to the age that they start school, but I’m sure by the end of summer you’ll be prepared for it (as much as you can be as a momma), especially with this plan in place. I can’t wait to read how it goes over the summer and how it pans out when the time comes for him to head to school!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    What a great list of apps! I have a kindle fire and my son will be starting kindergarten in the fall. I will definitely be checking some of these out!! Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Also a teacher/mom, kindergarten is so much about interaction, routine, making friends, gaining confidence and operating in the world! Your dear boy will do fine! And boys and girls learn so much differently. Keep things fun and loose with home instruction. Like other reader commented, not all children finish kindergarten with all the boxes checked on the benchmarks, but they have a foundation laid and will have made great leaps and bounds! Learning is life-long, and all learn at individual pace. No teacher expects child entering class to be proficient in areas as outlined in benchmark guide, that is what we are for! The expectation of child entering school is just to be ready to be there, ready to learn and have fun!

    And oh yes, our children are so much more than we know!
    Best of luck!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I think you are just the cutest, most caring momma! As a teacher, I know those curriculum benchmarks can be scary. One of the reasons we put the curriculum out there is just for parents to get a feel for what the students and teachers will be focusing on throughout the school year. It might seem scary to have them all right in front of you at once, but realize that it is over the course of the school year. Every student will meet (or even not, and that’s ok!) each benchmark in their own way. You are doing a great job preparing your son in a light, and fun way!

    I have just recently discovered your blog and I love it! I am not a wife or momma yet but you are such an inspiration to me!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    My oldest learns the same way as yours, as he has ADHD. He is turning 11 this year, and still prefers those learning methods that you mentioned above for Wesley. The biggest thing I can tell you, from my experience, is to not overwhelm him. At that age, the easiest way my son, Aidan, absorbed learning was through hands-on experiences.

    Take him to various zoos, museums, forest preserves, etc. If you’re at the beach, practice motor skills by building a sand castle and writing in the sand. Head to the library or Barnes and Noble for group story time, where he can practice social behavior within his peer group during the summer and expand his interest in reading. Build Legos and throw in some counting and adding/subtracting pieces while building. have him grow his own garden and teach him the process of how the plants/food grows. And most importantly, have fun and be active!

    Like the other moms have said, just remember that the form is not a one size fits all expectation. Some, maybe even many, of the kids will only be in the beginning of developing some of these. Keep the learning fun and keep him involved in learning experiences this summer, and I’m sure he will do great!

  • Reply
    March 19, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Hey Ashley! My son Aaron is nearly 5 and has been at school in the UK since September. He doesn’t learn in a particularly standard way – he is definitely a kinaesthetic learner like Wesley, and also exhibits some but not all of the symptoms on the autism spectrum. His main problem settling into the classroom environment was his struggle to self regulate and control his impulsivity – he wasn’t great at sticking with a task if something caught his eye that looked more appealing. We saw a paediatrician who specialises in ADHD and autism who said he was unwilling to diagnose anything and that he could suggest some techniques which may help Aaron adapt better to the expectations of the school. We worked closely with Aaron’s teacher and the learning support co-ordinator to come up with a strategy for Aaron and there are two things which have worked brilliantly. 1 – He has 5 minutes 121 time with a teaching assistant at the beginning of the day to outline what’s going to be happening at school that day, and reinforce the behavioural expectations. 2 – the paediatrician recommended we start Aaron on a course of omega 3 supplements. I was incredibly sceptical and have never tried any herbal / natural remedies before but I can honestly say within 2 weeks we noticed a much calmer boy at home with a higher attention span, and within 4 weeks Aaron’s teacher said it was like working with a different child. He still definitely has a quirky side and he will always be an “outside the box” thinker – which we love about him and the school now embrace and encourage. In November last year I was in despair as to how to best help my son, and with the right research and communication we feel we have nipped issues in the bud. Talk with the school openly from the start – with a supportive parent / school partnership I’m sure Wesley will be fine xx

  • Reply
    March 19, 2014 at 2:12 am

    You need to go over and read this post: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/03/18/child-gifted-talented-single-one/

    I think you will find it will soothe your heart and your mama fears the way that it just did mine!

  • Reply
    Amy K.
    March 19, 2014 at 5:34 am

    I am not a teacher, and I only have experience being a mom to two kids, but I think you are way ahead of the game!! Most parents are not able to articulate nearly so well what their child needs. You’ll be giving his teacher a giant head start, as she won’t have to figure all this out about Wesley as she goes. One of my kids does have some special needs, and I have absolutely done my share of worrying, but you are right – they are smarter & wiser & capable of so much more than we realize. Keep praying, and hang in there!

  • Reply
    March 19, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Although, Wes is a few years older than my little Sophie, I’ve learned a few things as a mom as well. Sophie has been in daycare since she was 6 weeks old as my husband and I both work full-time. I was always comparing her to the other kids to see if she was at the same bench mark as the others. For some reason, I always felt like she wasn’t.

    Once she got into the two-year old room (the room she’s currently in now), the teacher asked me one day if she talked at home. I thought this was a funny question. Sophie continuously talks our ear off at home even though you can only understand about 3-4 words at a time in her rambling sentences. I asked the teacher why and she told me she doesn’t talk at school. She doesn’t repeat back anything when they sing, say the alphabet, their numbers, animals, etc. I know she can do all these things because she does them all at home.

    So the paranoid mom in me had to wonder, what is going on? What can I do to help her? As much as I’m ashamed to admit this, I’ve been finding myself using the TV as a tool to entertain her while I try to get things done. Sophie is also a touch and feel kind of learner. One thing, I found to help her learn is some videos off of Youtube. They are educational songs from KidsTV123. She absolutely LOVES, LOVES, LOVES The Animal Sounds Song and can now pretty much sing almost the entire song by herself. She immediately makes the sound to each animal before the song does. These videos have been a great learning tool for her.

  • Reply
    March 19, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I forgot to mention some brilliant phonics apps we use – I checked and one is available for windows – Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc. If you have access to apple or android their Endless Reader app is also excellent. x

  • Reply
    March 20, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Check out allofmeliteracy.com. 🙂

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