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Kindergarten & Parent Involvement

by Karen Hollowell

Kindergarten marks the first year of formal academic instruction for your child. Although preschools do teach many skills, their routines and schedules are usually not as rigid as those found in the kindergarten classroom. In addition, preschools are not required to follow state guidelines regarding curriculum whereas public school kindergarten classes are required to follow them. This makes the first year of school very crucial. Your child must master certain skills by the end of the year. Your involvement in the kindergarten classroom can help him become a more successful student.

How to be Involved

There are many opportunities for parental involvement in kindergarten. You can begin by meeting the teacher. This is the time to inform her about any health issues your child may have. You can also ask questions regarding the curriculum. Although most schools have back-to-school nights, these are usually general in nature and do not provide a forum for parent-teacher conferences. After school begins, continue to communicate with the teacher. If possible, volunteer in your child's classroom. You might be able to read to the children, put up a bulletin board or accompany the class on a field trip.

Why Become Involved

Involvement in the kindergarten classroom has several benefits for the parent as well as the child. According to research conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project, parents who participated in an early childhood intervention program reported that visiting the classroom enabled them to learn much about their child's academic ability and developmental level. Their involvement also provided an opportunity to get suggestions for activities to use at home to help reinforce skills.

When to Get Involved

While you should always be aware of your child's classroom schedule, upcoming tests and progress, there are certain times of the year that parental involvement is crucial. Obviously, you want to be a familiar face when the school year begins so you can establish a relationship with the teacher and learn all you can about how you can help your child at home. As mid-year and end-of-year testing dates approach, you should meet with the teacher to discuss specific skills that need reinforcement at home. Kindergarten assessments, along with teacher observation of classroom performance, are used to determine if your child is ready for first grade.

Long-term Benefits

Family Facts, an online site that reports research findings pertaining to families and religious practice, listed several long-term benefits that resulted from parental involvement in kindergarten. Among them were academic achievement, higher graduation rates and better behavior than peers with non-involved parents. These gains were also seen in minority and low-income students.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

Photo Credits

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