Questions Parents Ask About Schools
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Getting Ready for School

What should I do before my child starts school?

  • Before the school year begins, find out as much as you can about the school your child will attend. Schools—even schools in the same district—can differ greatly. Don't rely only on information about a school from other parents—their child might have different needs and expectations from a school than yours.

  • Ask the school principal for a school handbook. This will answer many questions that will arise over the year. If your school doesn't have a handbook, ask the principal and teachers questions such as the following:
    • What teaching methods and materials are used? Are the methods used to teach reading and math based on scientific evidence about what works best? Are science and social studies materials up to date?
    • How much time is spent on each subject such as reading, math, science and history?
    • How does the school measure student progress? What tests does it use?
    • Does the school meet state standards and guidelines?
    • Are teachers highly qualified? Do they meet state certification requirements?

  • Children develop positive attitudes toward school when they see that their parents and families value education.
  • For children beginning kindergarten, ask: What areas are emphasized in the kindergarten program? How focused is it on academic instruction?

  • If you have not seen it, ask to look at the school's report card. These report cards show how your school compares to others in the district and indicate how well it is succeeding.

  • Find out if the school has a Web site and, if so, get the address. School Web sites can provide you with ready access to all kinds of information—schedules of events, names of people to contact, rules and regulations, and so forth.

  • Talk with your child about school. Let her know that you think school and learning are important.

What will my child's kindergarten teacher expect of my child?

  • Although teachers' expectations vary, here are some social skills and behaviors generally expected of children entering kindergarten:
    • Children should be able to follow school and classroom rules.
    • Children should be able to listen attentively to and follow instructions.
    • Children should be able to concentrate on and finish a task.
    • Children should show self-control.
    • Children should respect the property of others, share and take turns.
    • Children should do as much for themselves as possible, such as taking care of their personal belongings, going to the toilet, washing their hands and taking care of and putting away materials.

  • Kindergarten programs with clear expectations and goals are effective in helping children gain the knowledge and skills they need for future learning and school success.
  • The academic skills and knowledge expected of beginning kindergarten children will depend on the kind of curriculum offered by the school and on the standards that students are expected to meet by the end of the school year. Here are some achievements that are commonly expected of beginning kindergarten students:
    • Children can recognize and name alphabet letters.
    • Children can recognize print they often see such as their own name, various logos and signs.
    • Children understand that words in books convey meaning, are able to recognize the parts of books, and know that words run from left to right across the page and from top to bottom.
    • Children notice and can work with the sounds of spoken language, for example through rhyming, and can recognize when a series of words begin with the same sound.
    • Children use spoken language to express their thoughts and ideas, tell a story about an experience and learn about themselves and their environment.
    • Children produce circles, lines, scribbles and letters as part of their early writing.
    • Children are able to recognize numbers and understand that numbers tell us about quantity, order and measurement.
    • Children can recognize, name and manipulate basic shapes and understand that shapes can be transformed into other shapes.
    • Children know how to hold and look at a book and are beginning to learn to read.

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Last Modified: 08/26/2005