‘First Look’: Prepare kids for the rigors of kindergarten

08.08.2014 | The Bakersfield Californian | Laura Liera

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It’s a conversation that happens in the homes of many parents when their children turn 3 or 4 years old.

Should my child go to pre-kindergarten, and what are the benefits?

Friday on “First Look with Scott Cox,” Julie Parsons, project manager of curriculum, instruction and accountability for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, presented the demands of kindergarten.

For starters, less than 50 percent of the children who are preschool age in Kern County actually attend preschool.

“We have a huge population of children who go into kindergarten as their first experience,” Parsons said.

Simulcast host Scott Cox said he has heard parents talk about kindergarten the way people talk about applying to college after high school.

Being academically prepared in high school is critical to how you will do in college, so similarly, what you learn before kindergarten is a stepping stone to how well you will do in elementary school.

About three years ago, the state legislature passed a new grade level called “transitional kindergarten.”

Parsons explained it is for those kids in kindergarten who are not quite ready for that transition.

“It’s a year that really looks at helping those children adjust to a big group situation because a lot of children don’t come with that experience,” she said.

During that transitional year, teachers build a relationship with kids, kids socialize with their peers and they learn about structure and rules.

Kathy Hill, director of curriculum, instruction and accountability with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, said being “ready” for school does not just refer to reading and writing or academics.

“We are talking about having kids learn to work together, having them being able to listen and follow directions,” Hill said. “If they can’t do those then they are not ready to learn the academic stuff.”


While for some kindergarten involved finger painting, creating maccaroni necklaces and playing house, that is not the case anymore.

In a kindergarten class today, kids are asked to describe characters from the books teachers read and must be able to explain the main idea of a book.

“They become critical thinkers and must understand the material,” Hill said.

With the school year right around the corner and many kids strapping on a backpack for the first time, Parsons offered parents simple advice for dealing with the new journey.

“Talk to your children, have conversations with them, teach them vocabulary because that is the indicator of success later on in life,” Parsons said.

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