What Kids Learn

Updated on March 16, 2012
C.Z. asks from Manning, IA
22 answers

I always thought my son was advanced for his age. By the time he was 2 1/2 he could say his alphabet. He could count to 15 without missing numbers. He knew his main colors. He could also recognise most of his letters. Now that he is in preschool I have found that I should have been teaching him more. They are learing to read. They are learning to write. Most of the kids in his class are very advanced! I thought I was doing good reading to him every night. Working on the alphabet and working on his numbers. I was totally wrong. I mean don't get me wrong he is smart. Smarter then some of my nephews but really? I know in kindergarden I was learning the alphabet still and some basic writing. Like my name and little things like that.

My question is.. What should I be teaching him? I want to help him advance in school. He is almost 4 now. How much do your kids know?

Most of all ... What are your kids learining in preschool?

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answers from Cleveland on

lol, you won't want to hear this but what i wish kindergarteners knew was how to get along and be nice to each other, how to speak up politely if they need something but not interupt every 5 seconds, I wish they knew how to PUT on their own coat and maybe even zip it, how to blow their noses, and how to be part of a group. Don't forget how very very imporant self skill and people skills are.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Eh...they come into PreK and K at all different levels.
By the end of K they've pretty much leveled out.

Read with him and TO him daily.
It does wonders for their vocabulary, reading fluency and reading skills in general, in my opinion.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

Your son, probably has a good memory for rote things or good visual memory.
Then there is actual "comprehension" of abstract concepts and formulations... and analysis of it.
Then there is: fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

All of these things are, abilities "mastered" per the individual and development.

Then there is emotional development and social comprehension.
This is not, having to do with "academics."
But it is also a kind of "smartness" and acquisition, per development.

Reading is taught by phonics and sight words nowadays.
And the parent reading to the child.
All of this, goes hand in hand with each other. As a whole.

Main thing is that the child enjoys it. And that the child's cues, are matched.

All of these aspects, develops, in stages. And does not necessarily occur all together at the same time. Concurrently. Some "abilities" are mastered first, then other abilities.

Doing something, but then having comprehension about it.... are two different matters.
For example: in reading a simple story... of course you are seeing if the child can "read." That is word recognition and sounding out letters/words/word groupings. And then... there is the comprehension of it. ie: can the child "summarize" what the story was about, answer basic questions about the story/characters/main point of it...and the chronology of the story? For example.
These things are taught in stages... per school/grade level/age. And the complexity, is per grade/age level/school curriculum/ability.
Then, there is: can a child/student ASK questions about the story too, or what they read or what was read to them??? In order to find the answer?
And then, per a story read in a book, there is the emotive.... concepts of the story. What IS the story conveying??? What do the punctuations in the story mean... toward the characters and situations in the story????
Knowing that, is also an aptitude and comprehension. Not just rote knowledge.

Then there is: acquiring "vocabulary" AND knowing the definition of it, but ALSO understanding.... what the definition means.
My son for example, though he was only in Preschool and not fully reading yet... he knew and understood and used... big complex vocabulary. And he was, when younger, speech delayed. But he has a very prolific sophisticated vocabulary. And comprehension of stories/vocabulary and its uses.

So there is rote learning and "problem solving" about what they learned. And 'analyzing' what they learned.

But what is also very important, is the non-academic learning. Meaning, the emotional and social development of the child. Knowing how to "discern" people/play mates/social situations, and knowing how to ask for help when needed etc. Whether or not that has to do with academics or not. A child, needs to learn this. Of which, Preschool is the petri dish, for that. Not just for academics.

Some kids, are academically vibrant. But they lack the emotional APTITUDE and social aptitude, for their age.

Smartness is multifaceted.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I REALLY varies.

Just for 2 examples:

1) My son's preschool sounds a bit like yours: Most of the 3yos were reading, and most 4yos reading fluently. Math was + - x / up to 3 or 4 places. Decimals and fractions for sure.

My son's K class... by the END of the year, they wanted kids to know 20 letters. Math wasn't started until THIRD grade (not even telling time).

2) My niece and nephew went to a "play based" preschool, and enterd K in special Ed... because they didn't even know their colors, and their K required 100 sight words, addition and subtraction (single place) to ENTER.

Same state, 2 different districts.


Now... my son IS "gifted", but most of his classmates in preschool were not. They made learning a game/fun and the kids just soaked it up the way that kids do (montessori school, no flashcards, etc.). My neice and nephew are ALSO gifted... they'd just never been exposed to academics before... so into special ed they went.

Remember... how smart you are, and what you KNOW are 2 totally different things.

And count your blessings that you don't have a reading toddler. It's a nightmare to combine the ability to read with no impulse control. Because they DON'T just read books! They read everything. (instruction labels, billboards, trashy magazine covers, newspaper headlines, bathroom grafitti... everything. And it's all equally "valid". No impulse control, and no discrimination.) You can't let a reading toddler out of your sight... or they immerse hairdryers in water, twist and push down to open childproof caps, are coming across concepts FAR beyond their age -genocide, 101 sex tips to keep your man, woman has alien cat baby... you name it. They read it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Dear 2boys4me: My response is for all readers, not just you. No one needs to take my response personally. I believe I see my soap box. Ahhh, Here it is...

At age 4, kids can sing songs, practice writing a name, hold a pencil, recognize letters & numbers, learn colors, learn how to use their bodies (jumping, balancing, etc.), and how to get along with other people. Anything to ensure that they will ENJOY learning about the world. That's it.

When we push a child to learn things they're not ready for, we get a child who doesn't want to learn, and "hate" school. Adopt this attitude too soon, and it can be tough to break that attitude later.

Boys especially. Developmentally, their brains aren't usually wired for reading/writing until age 6 or 7. Doesn't mean they're dumb. They are more interested in other things. But when they're ready to read, they thrive. Did you know that all the Scandinavian countries don't even start school until age 7? They understand that before age 7, kids need to be kids. Being a kid and learning about the world with a child's eyes becomes the critical foundation for all other learning.

The US education system measures children's intelligence based only on test scores. This is ridiculous and has no basis in children's brain development. 20 years ago, teachers focused on reading and writing in 1st grade, not kindergarten, certainly not preschool. Today, kindergarten has turned into 1st grade, thanks to politicians who have too much influence setting academic standards--not educators. Consequently, parents mistakenly believe that their children need to meet these standards. Wonder why so many kids are "diagnosed" with ADD? Because they're being asked to sit still and write too young.

Parents, don't fall into the trap of competing with other kids. So what if your child can't read at age 4, 5 or even 6? I couldn't! Yet when I was ready I learned to love reading and went on to earn a Master's degree in education.

Your kids will be fine. Be a good example. If you want a reader, let them see you read. If you want a good citizen, be a good citizen. Etc. If you want a kid to be a kid, play outside yourself or send him to a daycare where children play outside every day. Enjoy the weather!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You have taught him plenty of basic things.
Preschool is about listening, getting along with other children, being able to sit still for longer than 2 minutes, sharing. At least that's what it SHOULD be about.
Let your kid be 4....he will be going to school for the next 20 years.

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answers from Seattle on

Relax. He is doing fine.

Preschool is when they usually learn their letters, numbers, shapes, etc. and learn how to write the individual letters (often just capitals and often by copying). Older preschoolers (4-5) can often write their names and a couple of other small words, but most don't read or write "for real."

In Kindergarten, they'll learn to read and write.

He'll learn what he needs to know in preschool. Focus on playing with him. If you want to incorporate learning in a fun way, fine. But don't push it. He has plenty of time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You are doing a great job! He does not have to know how to read and write when he enters kindergarten - that's what they learn. If these kids are already writing and reading, they are ahead of the game but it doesn't mean that your son is behind by any means.

Keep reading to him daily and when you do, run your finger under the words so he can start to recognize what they call "sight words". That's how they start them reading these days. No phonics like we learned - sight words first.

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answers from Detroit on

my kids learned to write their names in preschool. they did simple patterns.. counting by 10s, 5s,

My daughter is in kinder.. on day one they start with colors and shapes.. then they move on to letters.. writing A a.. the next day B b...

they start reading by christmas.. very early reading.. "I see a cat. I see a dog"

but really the teacher wants them to be able to zip and button, to wipe their nose,, to tie their shoe.. to sit nicely and listen to play well with others.. that is far more important..

My son is a very smart 4 year old he can read at first grade level. (books his sister brings home from kinder) but he cant sit still doesnt listen. I worrry about him in kinder next year.

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answers from Dallas on

Don't worry about it. By the time he enters Kindergarten everyone is going to even out. Let him have fun in preschool and if he gets the curriculum, great, if not, don't stress, he's going to learn all of it when he starts Kinder anyways.

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answers from Rochester on

Speaking as a reading teacher and a mom of an almost kindergarten daughter, don't worry about it! All kids pick up reading when they are developmentally ready for it. That happens at different times for different kids. We just had our kindergarten tour yesterday and the information that our district has says that to be ready for kindergarten kids should be able to recognize their letters, have a good sense of numbers, be able to recognize colors and shapes, and be able to recognize their names in print. Most kids are going to be able to do more than that. Our daughter's preschool works on shapes and colors, a letter and a number every week. They learnhow to write each letter and number, talk about the sounds of each letter, do what starts with (blank)? activities, play rhyming games, read a lot, and play a lot. In our district, kindergaten students are expected to be able to recognize 81 high frequeny and read simple texts at the end of kindergarten. At home, the best thing you can do is read and talk about books, words, and letter sounds. Play games that involve letter and number recognition. Encourage writing for fun. Don't do flashcards or push workbooks. Don't panic. Many times the students who come into kindergarten ahead of their peers have had more exposure to language and reading. By the end of the year most students are at about the same level. Your son is right where he needs to be.

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answers from Washington DC on

please don't feel pressure to 'teach' your kid a ton of academics! he's only 3! i really worry about the huge pressure to have kids reading and writing so very very young. littles' jobs are to play, explore, and learn life skills like getting dressed and saying please. jamming them into worksheets, flashcards and rote memorization is the quickest way to sour the glorious experience of learning. the push to have 'advanced' kids has set an entire generation back.
littles progress in leaps and bounds, with large gaps inbetween the leaps to process and absorb what they've take in. these gaps are NOT a bad thing! they're natural and necessary. parents need to see steady (and rapid!) progress in all areas but that's not how it works. a kid playing with blocks is learning logic and math, a kid playing with magnetic letters on the fridge is familiarizing herself with the alphabet, a kid pouring water in the sink from cup to cup is learning science.
if you keep strewing your little guy's path with adventures (walks, blocks, trees, books, shovels, buttons, shoelaces) he'll 'advance' just fine. a child that is reading at 3 will not love books or get into a better college than a child who learns at 5.
don't worry, mama! trust your child!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Do not worry! It sounds like your son is doing great and you have prepped him well. The biggest determining factors for kindergarten readiness are ability to sit still and listen, follow tasks, fine motor skills and socialization. The academics come at different times for different kids. My sons went to school reading, but my daughter has some challenges but is still entering kindergarten on schedule. I just thought I would share a list of high frequency words that our district likes the kids to recognize by end of kindergarten: I, the, see, have, are, this, what, here, he, with, wherer, can, like, go, is , for, do,little, was, has, my, we, a, to, play, you, and, said, she, look,me.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I think it's ridiculous that kids in PreK are learning these things. That's one big reason I don't send my kids to it. My oldest is 7.5 and in 2nd grade doing 3rd grade work. He didn't know all his letter and did not how to read when he started K. My daughter is starting K in the fall and actually knows more than he did but that's because he loves to teach her. But I wouldn't worry about it. They'll teach all that in Kindergarten. If you're so worried pick up some preK books and work on them with him.

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answers from Salinas on

Read to him aloud every single day. Read chapter books (Charlotte's Web is a perfect start at his age). Play word games, rhyming games, sing, draw, dig in the dirt, measure things, build things.
Whatever you do do not try to "work" with him to get him to advance in school. If he WANTS to do a little writing or a letter workbook or something that's fine but do not turn it into a chore or something he must do.
He needs to approach learning and academics as fun. The longer you can keep him enjoying learning (hopefully for a lifetime;) the better student he will be.
Four year olds should be playing not doing schoolwork.

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answers from La Crosse on

you have taught him all of the right things.

The only other things our son ( 4)is doing is writing his name ( first name, they aren't worrying about last name yet) and they are learning how to write letters ( upper case only... lower case is in kindergarten) all colors, shapes, rhyming words, matching/ pairs, cutting straight lines, counting to 20 writing to 20. His class isn't learning to read. From what I have realized is prek is now the K it use to be ( like when we went to school)

Keep doing what your doing! Your doing a great job!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't believe in kids having a highly academic experience in preschool. In preschool, my son attended Dodge Nature Preschool for exactly that reason. Preschool should be a time for learning through play and exploration. It should be child driven, not adult driven. Reading and talking with your child is plenty. Play games, sing songs, visit new places, socialize...that is what is important at this age. FWIW, my son is now 8, in 3rd grade, top of his class, still imaginative and creative. The only problem he has is that the school system has almost completely extinguished his love of math. He used to play with and explore numbers on his own, now all the worksheets and computational exercises have turned him off. I have to find more fun things for him.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I think you are doing great! The preschools my kids have attended have been mostly about play. They would work on learning letters and they would do art projects and learn about animals and insects. It was very basic stuff. By kindergarten, he should know his letters and the sounds, numbers to 20, colors, and it is helpful if he can write his name and use scissors. And if he can't- THAT IS FINE TOO. They will do a pre-evaluation at Kindergarten time and see where he is at and it is a no-pressure sort of thing; it is just so the teachers know where the student is at.
Kindergarten is certainly different from when we were kids- you can expect that he will be reading fairly fluently by the end of Kindergarten, these days. For a preschooler, your child sounds like he is doing really well. And every child is different. I have 3 kids- My 8 year old had his ABC's down at 2 and read quite early and did not attend any preschool. My 6 year old stared into space any time I talked to her about ABC's, attended 2 years of preschool, was barely starting to remember the ABCS at the end of year 2, and struggled with writing letters and numbers backward for all of kindergarten. Guess what, she is a SUPER reader now, very fluent, very smart- she just was not interested in learning it at preschool age. My youngest just turned 4 last month and darned if she is not reading and writing. They all are different but I think with how much the schools focus on reading now, they all kind of end up at a similar level by the end of K.

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answers from Chicago on

Honestly, they will learn what they need to know in Pre for Kinder - but if you want to boost it or help it along talk to the teacher and find out what you can do at home that will HELP - not HINDER.

The self help skills that others have talked about are IMPORTANT it's easier for the teachers to teach the "books" if they are not zipping coats, and helping with shoes and bathroom breaks.

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answers from Kansas City on

my son is 5 and will go to kindergarten in the fall, he's in preschool now. i bet by the time your son is ready to go to kindergarten he'll know what he needs to - my son is spelling words to me and reading small words. he knows how to sound out a word to spell it, he knows about "silent e" (omg! HE'S FIVE! that blows me away!). he knows all his color words and is SUPER interested in reading, which blows my mind. other than that i would call the school he will go to and find out what they require. but don't sweat it. he's smart, he'll be fine by then.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

I have what is now an 9 and a 7 year old. We didn't do preschool I taught them from home. Luckily I have a sister who is a principle.

My children could count to 100, say the alphabet, knew colors, shapes, and could read simple books. I was told by her that my children would be on par if we did all that with the children that did go to a preschool.

Well that was and wasn't true in the end. Half the kids were as advanced as my children and half couldn't even write their names! My children pretty much were bored their entire kindergarten year. My son doesn't thrive on boredom and actually was a little naughty. Even landed in the principles office once. My daughter would just come home and tell me how bored she was with everything but art and spent all day at stations because the teacher was working with the other children most of the day. Pretty much their entire kindergarten year was spent trying to catch the other children up to were some of the advanced children were.

My 2 year old I'm already starting to teach everything and I've been told that they are now doing it a bit different, I see it in the 3rd and 2nd grade now already, where they shuffle them around amongst the teachers all day based upon what level they are at. I sure hope so. I really hated kindergarten because I felt like I was sending my children for no reason!

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answers from St. Louis on

contact your local school district & ask for the KG screening guidelines. Not all districts are the same.

**For our district, full recognition & able to write all ABCs, 1-10, & entire name.
**Beginning sounds of each letter.
**& there is a list of sight words, too.
**count to 20.
**independently tie shoes.
**independent with bathroom skills.
**catch a ball & other physical skills. I think walking a line is one, but not sure.
**know home address & phone #s.
**know all colors, shapes, & concept of time/days of week.

& I can't remember the rest! It's quite extensive, & most KG students are reading by the end of the 1st semester. I have heard that the sight word list is 200 by that time, too.... Oh, & our district teaches the ABCs by the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"....to break up the issues with LMNOP.

With my own sons & now with my daycare, I am a firm believer in teaching thru fun, hands-on activities. For example, today the 2 1/2yo boys went thru the local grocery ad. They independently picked out all of the "green-colored" items & we glued a collage together. Another lesson was for the preKG girl....we (all 4 of us) lined up all of the crayons & we counted all of them. Then I gave her an activity sheet (tracing the word "shamrock" & completing a 1-10 dot-to-dot) while the boys separated & broke the crayons up by color. Fun, interactive, & learning all at the same time! The only way to learn....oh, & the teaching method is called Project Construct....if you want to look it up!

Hope this helps!

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