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Kindergarten Years.

Kindergarten! Or as it is often miss-spelled, Kindergarden; don't you just love the idea of little kinders in gardens? I think I prefer spelling it that way! Anyway, many states and countries have different ideas about pre-school education and when is the best time for children to start some formal learning.

Kindergarden in many states is formally part of the primary school system, whereas in New Zealand, where my children grew up, we had the choice of Kindergarten from aged four, and then children started school on their fifth birthday, or Playcentre, which went from birth to school age. I chose Playcentre and this is very different from a day care or any Kindergarden.


The idea behind Playcentre is that children learn best with Free Play; where all basic activities and learning areas are available at all sessions and then specialized activities are run at different times. Children are encouraged to participate, but they really go where their energy is. So it was an ideal "Law of Attraction" style preschool.

The other major difference is that there is a ratio of 1 adult to 5 children, depending on the level of training amongst the parents. It is parent run (with enormous support via a National Association) and there is a huge amount of education and training for parents along the way. Unlike Kindergarten, there is no set curriculum, because there is so much available at any one time, but parents do learn how to extend activities to cater for older children. Three Kindergarten children & Adult with Play Dough

One of the disadvantages, and arguments against kindergarden kids starting at aged four, is that very young children are sometimes disadvantaged when measured against other preschoolers. One of the things I loved about playcentre is that children are measured on developmental stages, not age stages, so there is never any comparison with another child. Kindergarten children are mixing only with their age group, whereas Playcentre children are mixing with a range of preschoolers and plenty of other adults - even some Dads were able to pitch in.

My observations of playcentre kids is they were usually fairly advanced by the time they went to school, and they were far more confident in different situations. So my advice is move to New Zealand for your preschool education years!

Seriously though, do some research in your state/country as to what the alternatives are for kindergarten aged children. Many little kids are simply not ready for the whole formal education system. Nor are they ready to separate from you or be one of 20 other little children in a class, although your child may have already been in daycare, or nursery school if you ended up back at work.

I am sad to see so many of these schools are now creating fairly rigid curriculum where even from a tiny age the little ones are routined into what activities they have to do, and when, and the whole notion of a free and happy childhood has disappeared.

The preschool years are extrememely important ones, and are a large part of what shapes us as adults. Most of our belief systems are built during the first five years, and after that we just collect evidence! So do your research and weigh up what is most important in your family.

We had working Mothers at Playcentre, you had duty days and off duty days, so quite a few Moms were able to work part-time. With the availability of the internet these days, it is easier for parents to have a more flexible working life. Think outside the box. Maybe you can homesource your current job so you can work mostly from the spare room?


Kindergarten Kids:
Four To Five Years

Kindergarten Kid Riding a bike Life is a big adventure at this age, with lots of high energy running and chasing, shouting and laughter.

Milestones for Kindergarten Kids

  • Preschoolers develop aim with a hammer and get more accurate at hitting nails or pegs.
  • A great activity is getting them to thread small wooden beads or buttons onto string.
  • They can throw a ball overhand; and distance and aim are improving.
  • Your kinder kid can hop on one foot.
  • Pedals and steers a wheeled toy with confidence; turns corners, and avoids obstacles (or crashes deliberately!)
  • Your preschooler will love climbing ladders, trees, and playground equipment.
  • They can jump about 6 inches (15cm), jump over objects, and land with both feet together.
  • Kindergarten aged kids run in circles, starts, stops, and moves around obstacles with confidence.

Parenting Tips For kindergarten Kids Build an obstacle course in the backyard, Use cardboard boxes, garden equipment, things to crawl under, climb over, and weave around. Make some paper arrows for them to follow and blow a whistle to start them running. You'll be tired out before they want to stop! A picnic under a tree might be a good break time!

ABCs And 1, 2, 3's

Kindergarden children start to learn the alphabet and can recognize some letters, for example M for Mum (Mom). They can reproduce some shapes and letters. Your preschool child may recognize his own name and by five, with practice, can print it.

Your four year old can count, perhaps up to 20, and can start to recognize differences in amounts, eg, which pile has the most blocks. Concepts like biggest, tallest are starting to be understood.

Kindergarten kids love making shapes and objects out of clay or play dough: cookies, snakes, simple animals. Painting and drawing with an idea in mind, the creation may take a on a life of it's own with an amazing story!

Preschoolers learning

ABC Fun and 123

I highly recommend this easy-to-use, literature-rich preschool curriculum to make learning the ABC and Numeracy, heaps of fun!

Weekly preschool lesson plans to use at home, printable worksheets, easy kids crafts, children's stories, nursery rhymes and more are included.

This downloadable program is excellent, grab a copy for your family now!

Parenting Tips For Kindergarden Kids Try not to ask a child "what is it?" When they have painted or drawn something (you're supposed to be able to tell!). If you don't recognize it they can feel they have failed.

They are starting to realize they can't reproduce a lifelike looking object. Better to say "Wow, tell me about your painting", and you might get an elaborate story about the different colours and shapes. This stimulates their imagination and shows them you are interested in what they can do. My paintings still don't look like anything!



Language Development

By aged four your little kid can say his first and last name, knows his/her gender and may have learnt his telephone number. He produces more complex sentence structures; "The big dog chased the black cat over the fence into the other garden".

By five years, your preschooler will be using past tense correctly; "Mommy went to work", "Daddy closed the cupboard". They love reciting rhymes and singing simple songs. Most four - five year olds are outgoing and friendly and keen to try things.

Parenting Tips For Preschool Children Kindergarten kids delight in silly word play, and you can have heaps of fun making up silly names for ordinary things.

Be aware, funny language often ends up being very body orientated! Bumpoo words we used to call them!

Imaginary Friends

Kindergarten kids enjoy role-playing and make-believe activities. Imaginary (and not so imaginary!) playmates or companions are common; your Kindergarten child will hold conversations and share strong emotions with this so called invisible friend. They can make-up incredible stories, and have the most extra ordinary adventures with this playmate.

Don't underestimate the importance of imaginary friends. Having someone to work things through with is a great way to explore and come to terms with lifes little challenges. Maybe your kindergarten kid does have a guide helping him come to terms with the mysteries of living in physical form. If you think about it, there are a lot of things we can't see with our eyes that are still there, so how do you know your reality is the right one? Preschool children are still very connected to non-physical. They haven't had the years of so called rational thinking to separate from their awareness.



More Child Development Articles

Child Development
This page has links to other stages of Child Development, find out what to expect with school kids, or teenagers.

Too soon for Kindergarten? Check out the Toddler Development pages

Your Young Kids In School
Going to school heralds a major milestone in our children's life. Check out what's in store for you as a parent, lots of tips and information.


Resources for Parents

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These Gorgeous Wall Decals are a great idea to help kindergarten children who are having nightmares. Telling them each night these little Dream Fairies will fill their heads with lovely dreams, so "shut your eyes and wait until the dream fairy comes and kisses you on your eyelids goodnight."
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Parenting Tips For Pre-School Children
This is a great age to begin dreambuilding with your preschooler. Playing games such as "Imagine if you could fly ...... where would you go, what would you do?" "Imagine you had a huge big circus truck, what would you put in it? "Who would come with you?" "What adventures would you have?" What if you could do anything in the world what would you do?"

The more outlandish and incredible imaginings the better! I love playing this game with all ages. We had visitors staying with us last year, and their 11 year old and I were in the back seat of the car as we were tickly touring around. We had great fun imagining all the things we could do, be or have when we grew up! (I don't think I'll ever grow up!)

This is great preparation for problem solving as they get older, once they get the hang of it they can use this technique in any situation they are unhappy about as well as dream building. For example, if they are scared of school for the first day, you can play, "imagine if you had so much fun at school you didn't want to come home?" "What is the funniest thing you can think of that the teacher might say?" "Imagine all the kids wanting to play with you, what games would you play?"

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