View Full Version : WOT- Kindergarten VENT (kind of long)

06-11-2007, 11:33 AM
So DS is starting Kindergarten this August. I just found out that his school EXPECTS all kindergarteners to KNOW "sight words" (words you just know by looking at them). The list of words are:

the - have - you - my - I - can - in - like - a - see - and - it - on - is - look - what - where - that - at - your

So i'm upset because...arn't these the words THEY'RE (the school) suppose to teach your child so that the child CAN recognize them. I remember when i was in kindergarted these were the words i was taught...I learned that "th" made a different sound than just the letter "t" alone and just the letter "h" alone. And how the E at the end is silent yada yada yada... I looked at other schools in other areas and even other states (i'm in illinois) and these are the things the kids are suppose to be learning IN kindergarten. Am i just over reacting or should i be as upset as i am right now...and i'm really UPSET :!!!::grrr::!!!::grrr:. When i read this in the packet the school sent me i felt like the message was...teach this to your child before kindergarten because were too lazy to teach it to them ourselves.

For those of you who have gone through this with your child...how did your childs Kindergarten class go about it....and for those who have not gone through it what do you think? Good and Bad opinions. thanks

06-11-2007, 11:58 AM
I'm with you... that's what shcools are for. Although a lot of school systems expect kids these days to have been to pre-school and already have some learning.

When my kids started kindergarten, (my youngest is 12) they barely knew how to write their names and did not know any "sight words." They were given a sort-of "test" at round-up to see what they knew and what class they would be in. These were simple tests though, like if they knew how to hold a pencil correctly and if they could use scissors. All of my school age kids make the honor roll every 9 weeks (with the exception of my freshman, who got a C in algebra the first 9 weeks this last year)

I wouldn't worry about it because they can't deny you're son entry into school if he doesn't know what they expect him to know. I'm sure there are several kids out there that don't know these words either....

06-11-2007, 12:23 PM
There are so many things wrong with this.

1. Sight words should be words that don't have phonological spellings; they exceptions to the rules. The words you were given like "at", "can", "in", "like", and "see", all follow spelling rules and can be sounded out. They are high frequency words, so it does increase reading fluency if the child recognizes the words instantly, but they are not sight words.

2. This is part of the problem with the school systems-they are pushing the kids too hard and too fast without giving the kids time to really learn. Yes, they should learn the sounds the letters make before reading!

Just tell the schools when you arrive that your son did see these words in the rich literary experience you provided this summer!

06-11-2007, 12:38 PM
I think the basic teaching in kindergarten today is far more advanced than it was when I was a kid. While I learned to glue macaroni to cardboard in grade K, my kids learned to add and subtract 4 digit numbers.

I dunno, I'm on the fence on this one. Maybe your school district starts out more advanced that you expected? Take the summer and make some flash cards to teach your son some basic stuff, but don't stress over it either. They can't turn him away because he doesn't know what "WHERE" means.

06-11-2007, 12:43 PM
Call someone at the school and very nicely ask if you are interpretting that information correctly.
When my son was in the primary grades I felt like I taught him a lot at home and that I had to to keep him on track. But with my daughter she keeps herself on track and she has learned most everything at school. Yet my son could have read some of those words before kindergarten, but not my daughter-maybe just a couple. They are very different learners. My son had half the kindergarten bench marks aced at the start of the year and my daughter did not. But now in first grade my daughter is totally on track-right where she should be at the end of first grade. My son was either on target or ahead or even behind depending on the subject matter. And he is still that way. My daughter I'm sure will have an easier time with school than my son has had so far. We still have to work keep him on track and he is 12! Which just goes to show that knowing how to read early isn't everything.

06-11-2007, 12:48 PM
When my daughter was in Kindergarten last year, she had a very similar list of words that they called "star" words. However, she wasn't they created the list over the course of the school year and the kids weren't expected to know the words until towards the end of the year.

While school in general is much more advanced than I recall it being when I was in school; I think that EXPECTING kids to be able to read a certain list of words upon ENTRY of kindergarten is a bit much.

That said, I wouldn't worry a bit about that list...as a matter of fact, I would file it :shifty:


06-11-2007, 12:54 PM
Both of my children went to preschool, and they were taught some of that in preschool because the preschools knew the kindergarten teachers would require it. They were actually expected to be able to write their name and know the alphabet and certain words before they got to kindergarten. My youngest is 9 now, so it's been a while, but elementary schools these days seem to be teaching a lot more at younger ages than they used to. If I can find anything online, I'll post a link. I'm just talking off the top of my head now, though. Even in third grade, my daughter is doing math that I don't remember having at that age, and the amount of homework she has had seems a lot to me. Our elementary schools put a strong emphasis on reading as well, and they LOVE kids who read higher than their grade level. That's like something they actually push for around here. Also, our schools are big on parent help. Parents come in to the class (we get a schedule) on a regular basis to "help out." We help plan and carry out class parties. We are asked to do quite a bit. I don't remember my mother ever at my school unless we had a music program or a parent-teacher conference!

06-11-2007, 12:58 PM
I understand your frustration, but I also understand the school as well. Thing is, the amount of knowledge kids must acquire these days is a lot more than it used to be. Whether we like it or not, this means that kids must learn things earlier than before. For instance, my dad learned things in University that I learned in high school. And I learned things in University that didn't even exist when my dad was studying. :teehee:

Perhaps in the future, kids will have to start school earlier. I think in some countries children start at 3 years old.

06-11-2007, 01:18 PM
Speaking from the standpoint of a former ECE, I am so gainst the changes that have come across our educational system in the last decade. Because technology is so readily available we are bypassing the core concepts that were of such importance years ago.

I am against homework in more than 1 subject. I am against homework more than 3 nights per week.

BUT-from a teacher standpoint I saw many parents who would never have spent 5 minutes with their children during the day if an assignment that required there attendtion was not sent home daily.

Even though it was not my position to do so, I found myself frequently informing parents that the dishes will keep, the laundry can wait. Your babies will only be babies once.

Here is the big question... IF test scores are the best way to judge our educational system then why are our children being left behind? Why are we losing our creative thinkers, and why are other educational systems surpassing ours?

Sorry... This topic frustrates me. I feel sad for our kids who are subjected to a "think within the box" educational system, I feel bad for our teachers who can no longer encourage children to explore, experiment and ask question regarding things that are not within the "allowed curriculum" and I feel our country as a whole is showing the illeffects of how our system has taken a turn for the worse.

06-11-2007, 01:21 PM
Hi there! I'm a retired primary teacher who did a lot of special ed work in grades two and three. I really don't understand the expectation for your little one. Children learn to read when they are ready, and kindergarten should be for lots of getting ready to read activities. It's easy to programme for the ones who already know how, and every grade should be programming for all ability levels. (my pet peeve as a sped. teacher!) Unfortunately, with so many kidlets in daycare, the expecations for kdgn have increased. All across our ed system, here in Ontario, the expectations have increased. I don't think it is such a great idea, myself, to be rushing children so much. My oldest taught himself to read at 3 1/2, by asking about words on signs and in books we read to him. He was a sponge and easily generalized the sounds in these words, and then used them to make and to read others. He was the kid who announced one morning that he "needed" to learn to tie his shoes and could I show him. He spent four hours perfecting his technique and did them himself from then on. My youngest didn't care about much besides playing trucks in the sandbox, and went to kdgn just beginning to be interested in what signs said etc. He did fine, although he really wanted to play with the toys in kdgn and the teachers were always after him to do seatwork. He was a December baby, and I was prepared to keep him home a year before kdgn, but he was reading ready, so off he went. I doubt that the school can insist that any child know certain words. Kids learn when they are able to, when their brain development , eye tracking and so on are ready. Every teacher should be designing learning for all the levels of reading readiness or ability in his/her classroom. I hope your little person has fun at school! samm (getting down off my soapbox now....)

06-11-2007, 02:19 PM
Thanks everyone:hug:. I was already upset with the way the school district placed the new students into school...long story short you have to "apply" not register "apply" to go to school in the district then they stick your child into whatever school in the district (not neighborhood...district) that has an opening so some kids end up going to school across town and of course if they take the bus the ride can actually be an hour long with all the stops:grrr:. Now i have to find out about this :!!!:. I would understand if it were the words you can actually read and sound out every letter my son can actually do that (thank goodness) words like in, at , and, on, but the other words where certain rules apply like the, like, where, there, i can't explain that too him. my DS actually argues with me that " I'M " reading it wrong because thats not the sound that letter makes:teehee:. well at least he was paying attention when i told him every letter has a sound. :shifty:

06-11-2007, 02:29 PM
The school systems are requiring students to know and learn things at a faster and higher rate due to the Presidents law (No Child Left Behind). All students take federal mandated tests where they have to show a specific degree of inprovement every year. If students don't test at a certain rate, the schools are faced with government takeovers, closers, and firing of all staff (they would have to reapply for their jobs). Because of the new law schools have been forced to raise student expectations so that students test well. These laws even apply to special needs students. As a teacher, I know and experience these pressures daily. If student entering kindergarten don't know how to read (most don't) they won't be turned away.

06-11-2007, 02:48 PM
Wow. I've been dealing with these issues all year. My oldest son is in 1st grade and they did the "sight words" for the 1st half of the year. Noah would bring home a newsletter every Monday and it had a list of words that he was expected to know by sight by Friday. In addition, he also had 6-10 spelling words every week. He was also behind in reading after the 1st quarter, but we've been working with him and he's now up to where they say he should be, which I still think is kind of a high expectation for a 6 year old. Still, our school didn't introduce the sight words until this year and it was done at school but reinforced at home. Caleb starts Kindergarten in the fall and I feel more prepared for the assessments than I was with Noah. I had no idea that you should know "vertical" and "horizontal" and all the parts of a sentence, etc. in Kindergarten.

I can't imagine "applying" though. Or just being put into a classroom wherever they had room. Crazy. Good luck with everything. :hug:

06-11-2007, 02:51 PM
UGH! I feel for you. When my daughter was in kindergarten, they taught her to read not using phonics but rather a weird memorize the word phonics method. She doesn't understand how to sound out her words now so until this year (5th grade) she couldn't read a book by herself. But something clicked this year and she's read several books...I'm so proud of her!

Anyway, this is ridiculous that the school expects this of your son before he even begins kindergarten. Last I checked, pre-school wasn't mandated by the states so perhaps the teachers should prepare to teach the kids rather than expect them to already know everything.

06-11-2007, 03:01 PM
Last I checked, pre-school wasn't mandated by the states so perhaps the teachers should prepare to teach the kids rather than expect them to already know everything.

Thats what i'm talking about!!! I thought teachers were there to teach not review them on what they, apparently, should already know. I guess i got myself a little too excited about my son just starting kindergarten in general that when i actually started to whole process i started to get really dissapointed and really upset about how this particular district and the schools in the district do things. It's a total first for me. :pout:

06-11-2007, 04:26 PM
I'm kind of surprised by that one. It's so hard to know what kindergarten is actually like these days. My oldest won't start until next fall, but I'm already concerned about how she'll fare.

I have been under the impression that reading was not required pre-kindergarten knowledge. I do wonder how things will be evened out between kids who went to preschool and those who didn't. :??

06-11-2007, 04:39 PM
I'm a teacher and as frustrated as parents are. Many times dictates come to us from our state and federal governments, many times from individuals who don't even understand how children learn or when they are able to learn certain skills. Unfortunately, until more parents do something about it, there is not much we teachers can do. The teachers have been trying over the past years, but for some reason they aren't listening to us. Even though I work in public education, my little girl will go to a private school. I wish I had something more inspiring to say. :cry:

06-11-2007, 06:17 PM
Hmmm, those sound like the sight words Kindergarteners need to know by the end of the school year, at least in my school district. I think that if they're going to require it before Kinder starts, they're in for a rude awakening.

My sister teaches 1st grade, and she will usually get one or two students in the middle of the school year who did not attend Kindergarten and who do not even know their letters yet, and at that point the rest of her class is already reading. It's frustrating for her because Kindergarten isn't even mandatory in California and those kids who start school halfway through the 1st grade year, knowing next to nothing, usually just end up repeating 1st grade because they cannot catch up. (Parents are too proud to put them in Kinder because the kid is already 6 or 7 at this point.)


06-11-2007, 06:20 PM
Well still having the pain of school still fresh in my head (it's been 13 years already) I am of the opinion not to expect the schools to teach your child anything, rather, as a parent, to partner up with the schools to help teach the child. Obviously, neither party can do it all, and either party gets upset when something sensitive comes up and is or isn't taught.

While I also think the schools should not set so high a standard as this really does leave children behind, I would also expect parents, (myself included) to be able to help the schools teach what the child needs and wants to know.

06-11-2007, 06:46 PM
My daughter is finishing up Kindergarten right now. Unfortunately I was not here for the beginning of the year, we came here in December but she has had no problem with their expectations. He "homework" is reading a/few book/s that she chooses everynight. They are age appropiate books so they are not too hard for her, she reads them and I write the name of the book on a little notebook for her. So far she has read almost 200 little books! Most of the time she is able to read it by herself, if she needs help, I try and get her to sound it out (which works most of the time!) or I will read the word for her. I am not sure if it matters but she has been in the school system for maybe 3 years (she is 5) due to a speech problem. The schools in CA wanted to make sure that she was caught up with the rest of her peers by the time she started school so she would be behind and it has worked!:cheering:

06-11-2007, 07:09 PM
I'm suppose to have taught him this BEFORE kinder and i haven't...so what does that say about me and others in my same position...That we're failing as parents or our teachers/ schools are failing at teaching. No parent wants to know or think that they were the reason why their child is behind.

Phretys thats what i thought too...that this was the stuff they were suppose to know by the END of kindergarten. And when i researched other districts in the area and even other states that IS how it is... that the children will learn this stuff in kindergarten not they should know it before.

06-11-2007, 07:09 PM
As a preschool teacher, I feel that there is a lot that I have to prepare my students for, but I haven't ever taught them any sight words. As far as I know, that isn't a requirement here. By the end of the year, they all know how to write their names, have a good grasp of their letters, numbers and shapes, they can cut well and hold scissors and pencils, they know quite a few opposites and are able to start rhyming. They are also able to recognize everyday things that they see all the time, like the M for McDonald's or that our milk comes from Tops (a local grocery store).
They've all had their Kindergarten screenings and all have done very well. I have heard however that out here, kindergartners are suppose to be able to read simple books by the end of the year.
A lot has changed since I was a kid. It seems to me that kindergarten is more like 1st grade and preschool is more like what kindergarten was when I was little.
Good luck Kblue, I'm sure your son will do just fine!

06-11-2007, 08:49 PM
I'm continually amazed as I talk to other parents (my DD just finished kindergarten) by how different the requirements and expectations are, even within the same state (I also live in IL). It absolutely confounds me.

Our experience was the polar opposite of yours -- they were spending a lot of time reviewing letters and sounds for the first half of kindergarten and my poor DD was bored to tears because she's been reading since she turned 4. They were good about trying to accommodate her, but pretty often she'd come home saying that the only part of school she didn't like was that they spent a lot of time doing things that she already knew how to do.

But at the same time, parents a few towns over are always talking about how their kids hardly played at all in kindergarten, it was all academic, etc. :??

The words that you listed -- in her classroom they were called "word wall words" and the kids learned 1 or 2 of them each week throughout the year. I think that in general, it's a reasonable expectation that your child be taught to read in kindergarten. If they come in with a head start, great, but it seems odd that they would issue that kind of prerequisite for kindergarten. :shrug:

06-11-2007, 09:58 PM
what's so sad about this is that my friend teaches 1st grade in a poorer community. Her kids don't know anything...

I can't believe that they want your son to know all of those words before K. that's crazy.

06-11-2007, 10:02 PM
Well, Kblue, what I said wasn't meant as an attack, merely how I felt. No, it doesn't mean that you're a failing parent, you do the best you can with the information that you have, and very few can expect any better. I know this personally, only because I've dealt with Wealth and Helfare over my own child. It's only common sense if you know the subject.

Though, since you do know that your child is expected to know these things, is there a possible way of getting with somebody to teach them before they go into Kindergarten? The only thing that I'm trying to bring to light is a solution to the problem. I'm sure there are others, but if you don't know that you don't know, how are you supposed to find out, hmm?

06-11-2007, 11:13 PM
Ah, kindergarten! I remember playing with blocks, coloring, drawing, learning to spell my name, the alphabet. I remember having so much fun learning in kindergarten. I think the fun is being taken out of learning. It seems that little ones are expected to know more these days. I don't have kids, but my niece just finished kindergarten this year. She was working on a computer and learing a whole lot of other stuff I don't remember until later in school. I understand that this may be necessary knowledge in these times, but gee.... shouldn't kids have a chance to be a kid without the pressure of having to be brainiac? Not every child learns as the same speed. If a child is expected to know certain things, and they do not, I would think that would make them feel inadequate or not as smart as their classmates, when in fact it just hasn't clicked for them yet. I dunno, just my 2 cents.

06-12-2007, 01:11 AM
I'm not saying that the words chosen by the school are the important ones, but your comment that 'it's like they're saying teach your kids this because we can't be bothered to do it ourselves' made me wonder if you think the kindy should teach the kids basic stuff maybe even including letters because it's not your job. I think they are stating such a high requirement in the hopes that parents will teach their kids the basics, if they only say they require the kids to know the alphabet for example you will end up with many kids whose parents didn't even bother teaching that. I think it's not purely the school system's job to educate children even at that age, by the age they can attend kindy and learn letters there they are obviously usually at the point where they can learn letters. Once a kid has reached this stage I think that parents should teach letters etc. to some extent. It's not just the kindy's job. Remember if your son doesn't know them all well he is unlikely to have a disadvantage. However I think that being a bit ahead of other kids in learning - even if it's just that he's already familiar with the concepts they cover in class, not *necessarily* knowing things by heart - will be a big advantage. I have always been lucky to be a fast learner and I think it's because I could read so early, when I first went to school and we were learning the letter 'a' I couldn't wait for playtime when I could read all the books at the back of the room! I think this meant I was always up to what we were learning and usually a bit ahead and my reading a lot has always meant I found classes and learning easy right up to my adult years.
The most important thing is that your son knows as much as possible (not to the point of undue pressure of course) and you teaching him these things will help with that! And knowing them from home when they are being taught at kindy, he will already know a lot of it, this will make him proud of his learning, enjoy it, and enjoy school more because it is less difficult! That mindset will last for a long time, as opposed to if he has a hard time learning entirely new things he has to struggle with at kindy, it won't be so much fun for him, kindy and learning will be a chore and that idea may persist for a long time.

06-12-2007, 03:15 AM
Oh wow. I remember kindergarten as being a place where I was supposed to learn how to tie a bow (didn't learn until 3rd grade), write my name (was unable to grasp the concept of the letter K for a few years), and learn how to be social (only two other kids I got along with). That was it. The academics were saved for later, and they wanted to concentrate and letting us children actually be children.

Which is a teaching style I approve of. Learning to read or not doesn't matter in kindergarten. I didn't learn to read until 1st grade, but I still had a college reading level by 2nd grade. But, what I've noticed a lot of lately is children who don't know how to get along with other children simply because they were forced more into books that play groups. It's horrible.

And ugg, don't even get me started on the children who have been baby sat by a television their whole lives. It's miserable, and they REALLY don't know what appropriate social interaction is. They usually only know what has been taught to them by the television.

Sorry for the rant. I guess I, too, grew up in a completely different time. Where I walked both ways uphill in the snow to school every day, and was happy for it. :roflhard:

06-12-2007, 09:11 AM
kblue, do not take the school "requirements" too personal. :hug:I am absolutely convinced you are not the only parent who didn't teach this! I think you simply have to see it as a "suggestion" to start looking into it with your child, nothing else. Perhaps the way they said it wasn't very diplomatic. But from now on, you will have to pair up with the teachers to make sure your child gets the best education possible. They might ask you to do things with your child and focus on some notions. But it's not to help them. It's to help your child!

06-12-2007, 11:16 AM
Well, Kblue, what I said wasn't meant as an attack, merely how I felt.

Oh no i wasn't feeling attacked or offended by what you said:hug: I'm sorry if i sounded like i was feeling that way. Reading what you all have to say is actually making me feel better. I've calmed down about the whole thing because you guys are right they're not going to turn him away if he doesn't know all these words and all i can really do now is to try and help DS get to know these words so he might have that leg up on them when the school year starts. You guys have all been a BIG help with my vent thanks :muah::heart::muah:

06-12-2007, 02:21 PM
heh, easy for confusion to reign when inflection doesn't translate into text, you know?

06-12-2007, 03:23 PM
Retired primary teacher here too...
Yes, school has changed and yes, what they do now in kindergarten is what they used to do in preschool. But the fact remains that MOST children are not ready to read (by sight or by sound) before they enter kindergarten.
As someone mentioned, recognition of name, knowledge of address and telephone number, basic knowledge of letter sounds, motor skills like scissor control and holding a pencil, other PRE-reading skills are taught in preschools and are expected by kindergarten. But frankly I would be at the school board meeting complaining if they really expect a child to be sight reading a set list of words before they even enter the classroom.