How Much and What to Teach 4 Year Old Going into School?

Updated on March 30, 2011
T.S. asks from San Antonio, TX
14 answers

As a single mom, I feel I don't have much choice has to whether I can homeschool or nbot, as a disabled single mom, I don't feel I can buy him the superior education I want for him. I just want the best advantage I can give him going into public school. I want him to be in the gifted programs like I was or offered them as I was. ost homeschoolers say enjoy time with your 4 year old and you can start school later, but this my be my only opportunity to give him an advantage in his education.

Does anyone have any advice as to what to teach him? Our what skills he might need? I know listening skills and attention span stuff helps, but what else? My son is very bright and I just don;t want to miss any opportunity to help him advance in life. Maybe I watched to many shows on what a child needs to be the among the advanced but its important.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great responses. As for response 2 and 3, you make it sound as though I tie him to the chair and force him to memorize stuff and seem as though if he does not go into a gifted program that I will take it out on him...SO NOT TRUE. I just want to help him. I will keep reading and playing with him with his alphabet toys and other learning toys. He like the basic worksheets and so I will continue those. Plus plenty of real world experience at the local musuems and kids activities. Thanks.

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answers from College Station on

The most important thing for him right now are social skills. The academics are not a key issue at this point. He will be going to school with kids that have been in day care, mothers day out and pre-k and they will have all or most of their social issues out of the way so that they are ready to learn.

Kinder is not like it used to be. Those kids have to be ready to write (so maybe some fine motor development like play dough or bead stringing), sit still, listen, line up (BIG one) and some even start reading, so letter recognition and phonics.

But, as a former pre-k teacher, I would say that the social skills are the big one. Get him around as many kids as you can with you not there. They really do act differently when they are apart from you.

Good Luck!

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answers from Houston on

Why is it so important to be in the gifted program? Is it for him, or for you? Just because your son is smart, doesn't make him "advanced". Just because a child IS "advanced" doesn't give them any advantages later on in life. All it does is give the parents something to brag about.

Sorry if that seems harsh. The truth often is. The first thing to do is examine YOUR motives. Next, look at the Pre-K programs at your local elementary.

You say "this may be my only opportunity to give him an advantage in his education." What advantage? By second grade, no one will be able to tell who was home schooled, and who wasn't. The only grade that really makes a difference in is Kinder. And, believe me. The teachers can tell who was home schooled. Those are the children crying for the first month because they aren't used to being away from Mommy!

Stop stressing youself, and your son, out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

At this age, let him lead but give him choices and encourage to go "beyond the box."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

The big thing they'll be looking for when starting kindergarten is the ability to write upper and lower case letters, write his name clearly, and recognize basic shapes, colors and numbers.

Whether or not he's in the gifted programs will depend on his natural abilities as well as other factors, many of which may be out of your control (for instance, how many openings they can fill or how well he performs during exams). Keep in mind that even if he doesn't pass the exam in elementary school, he may further down the road.

I wouldn't stress at all about whether he gets in. His future won't depend on whether or not he's in GATE. My husband is an extremely smart guy who was never in GATE but graduated college with honors and now owns a successful business. I was in GATE and I'm glad I had the opportunity, but other than earning college credits in high school (which allowed me to get out of college in four years, in a time of severe budget cuts/limited classes), I don't think it defined my future.

ETA: Don't see how I'm implying you're tying your child to a chair to learn things or forcing GATE on him. Sorry it somehow came across that way. Just sharing my personal experience as a mom of an older child who's been through kindergarten and as someone who's been through GATE personally.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Google "kindergarten readiness" and RELAX! He's 4! Good luck!

Also--we all have high expectations for our kids, but not all kids are exceptional--will he be able to handle that kind of pressure?

Kindergarten starts with cutting, printing, counting and basic reading. Knowing his address and phone number, etc.

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answers from Columbus on

Just enrich his enironment; he is 4. Potential is neurological, he is either gifted, or he is not, you cannot get him education so that he will absorb more education than he has the potential to. If you read, he sees you read, you read to him, you use an enriched vocabulary well in good gramatical structures, you challenge him to be courious and provide age appropriate expereinces, you will do everything you need to do.

Average children need good mothers just as much as gifted children and educationaly deficient, and good mothering does not produce giftedness, nor does poor mothering produce children whose intelectual status is on the left side of the bell curve. If your son is already bright, you don't really need to do all that much, and there is not much you can do to stop a child from being gifted if they already are.

Good gifted programs do not begin until 4th or 5th grade. Many children who learn to read and write very quickly and easliy will find reading and writing to learn more difficult, and will be more average in their academic persuits than many might have thought early on. This is why it is important for you to not just enrich your child's envioronment with vocabulary and instill how highly you value education, but to also be flexible enough to accept him as he is once you can make the measure that matters so much to you. By the time you get there, if he is, or is not gifted, it should not be a disapointement to either of you if he is not. Many more people are average than are gifted...and they do just fine. What you want is for him to be a happy, well educated person who lives up to his potential. Failing to live up to a mark that his mom finds too important will not help him in that regard, so I would let the gifted idea go, and just concentrate on helping him be all that he can be, instiling good values and giving him the gift of a large and rich vocabulary because you use it and you both read about it all the time.

Good luck,

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answers from Chicago on

I think going into any LakeShore learning type store is great.

It's easy enough to get him a kindergarten workbook and start there. They will usually start by ensuring he learns/knows how to read and write his letters and numbers, upper and lower case, organize shapes, sizes, simple math concepts, etc. Also, if he's at home with you all day now, make sure he gets socialized! I think some parents go overboard on the "school smarts" and forget how important it is for kids to play, interact with others, share toys, etc.

Best wishes

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answers from New York on

My son is 5 and I just started reading up on a curriculum called Tools of the Mind. It focuses on self discipline and critical thinking skills for preschool to primary grades.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

check with your local school district for their KG expectations checklist. Working from this list will help focus your efforts.

When teaching your child, I find it always works better if presented from a hands-on, fun approach. Methods using rote/memorization tend to bore most children! Avoid worksheets.....use lots of books & story boards to teach important elements. ABC puzzles, foam ABCs, & ABC blocks are all easy ways to teach letter recognition. A lot of these supplies can be bought 2ndhand...which really helps. Your local church bulletin is a good place to advertise your needs!

& please keep in mind, regardless of how bright your child is, not all children are offered placement in the enrichment program in public schools. There are many children & only a few spots available. Be ready to offer enrichment at home!



answers from Dallas on

phonics and socialization skills. my child was in a wonderful k3 & now in k4 & she can read!! he should know all his alphabets and the sound of the alphabets.hooked on phonics is a SUPER SUPER tool to use and reinforce the above.


answers from St. Louis on

ABC's capital and lower case. Letter sounds. Practice writing his first and last names. Colors and numbers of course. Count to 30. You could work on some basic reading words with him too. Buttoning his own pants!! Zipping his own jacket.



answers from Odessa on

Keep reading to him. That as much as anything has an impact.


answers from San Antonio on

to correct what Amy A said, you want the TEKS not the TAKS. The TEKS are what they learn. the TAKS is the test they take starting in 3rd grade.
Click here Scroll down, click on Kindergarten and you'll see all the fine-print of what they will be expected to know by the END of Kinder. BTW - it's not always taught in the order listed. Each district is different in the order they teach the TEKS.

My almost 3 yr old knows all his ABCs and can count to 20 sometimes. He knows about 30 sight words. I thank the following for that:
- Meet the Sight Words, Meet the Letters -- DVDs from (cheaper if you buy them from
- Between the Lions tv show on PBS
- Super Why tv show on PBS
- We go to the library every week
- I read to him every day.
- I enourage him to get out his 'reading finger' and read with me. I also expect him to read the words that he knows (I know which words these are b/c I watch the Sight Words videos with him and talk to him about them. We even make up sentences for each sight word (they're animated to look like certain things). ie: "be" looks like a dog. So we say "BE a good dog!". "are" is a guy lifting weights. Our sentence is "You ARE strong."



answers from Waco on

Take a look at the TEKS for Kindergarten children in the state of Texas. That will give you an idea of where to start and some things to focus on. My daughter is currently at a private Pre-K that has a classical curriculum. They have focused this year on numerous things, but their main focus has been on phonics. Her teacher told us at the beginning of the school year that she was more concerned that the children left Pre-K knowing the sounds the letters make, rather than knowing the letters themselves. In other words that the letter A makes the long A sound, the short A sound, and the "Ah" sound. So that is what they have focused on all year. What has been amazing to see, as a parent, is how quickly she has picked it up and how easy reading has come to her. She isn't even five yet and can read like a first or second grader. If she finds a word that is "harder" she will sit there for as long as it takes and sound it out using what she has learned this year in Pre-K. I didn't learn to read phonetically so this is just amazing to me.

Lastly, don't be too hard on yourself or your son. Every parent wants their child to excel, but whether or not he is gifted depends on his natural abilities, not really what you do over the course of the next year. Most gifted programs don't even begin until the later elementary years so he's got a long way to go. Just work with him and try not to sweat the small stuff. Your job as his mom is to help him be the best "little Johnny" he is capable of being. That means whether he is gifted, has special needs, or somewhere in between.

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