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Kindergarten Readiness: A Joy School Supplement

The Kindergarten Readiness Program was developed to meet a request from parents for an easy-to-teach, structured introduction to some of the academic material that most children are expected to be familiar with when they enter their first year of formal education at around age 5 (often called Kindergarten, but also known as Reception, Year 1, Primary 1, or Preparatory Grade). The basic concepts introduced in this program are as follows:

  1. Recognition of the basic shapes, alphabetic letters, and numbers 1-20
  2. Basic introduction to the sounds made by letters and some letter combinations
  3. Association of numerical amounts with the numbers
  4. Work on fine-motor skills, such as holding and using writing implements, using scissors to cut, and using glue
  5. Basic writing, especially writing one’s own name

These skills are introduced and taught through many methods including games, tactile response, songs and rhyming, and playful repetition. Methods are varied to approach the learning from different angles and to encourage understanding by all types of learners.

During the 20 years that the Kindergarten Readiness program has been in existence, it has undergone updates and revisions based on feedback from educators, researchers, and, most importantly, the parents and children who use the program. Of course, as school requirements and needs vary so greatly in different areas, it is impossible for us to create a program that is just right for every child. But with this program, we have attempted to offer an introduction to universal concepts and skills that are important for preschoolers to be exposed to.

Joy School, Kindergarten Readiness, and State Standards

In the United States, public schools adhere to the standards that their state’s board of education has adopted. Even without the Kindergarten Readiness program added on, Joy School teaches many of the most important things detailed in many state standards. For example, Joy School has always used a variety of methods to teach basics of literacy, such as the rhyming words and syntax taught through music and poetry, making logical inferences, and understanding complex texts and abstract ideas. The discussions, activities, and stories teach important early elementary education literacy and language skills, such as learning to verbally respond to texts, using expanded vocabulary to engage in conversation, actively using question words and responding to them, understanding the nuances of word usage and demonstrating them through conversation, and using context clues to discover word meanings. Joy School also covers in-depth principles of speaking and listening in a way that most preschools, kindergartens, and beyond cannot even touch, partially thanks to the intimacy of a small co-op group.

As far as math and science, the Joy School curriculum also provides a fantastic foundational approach to mathematical and scientific reasoning. For example, there are a number of spacial awareness play activities, color recognition and usage activities, shape-based activities, measurement explorations through cooking, natural world exploration, and, of course, there is an entire unit dedicated to asking questions (Joy of Curiosity) which leads well into the foundations of scientific reasoning.

Joy School also helps children work on their fine and gross motor skills, learn cooperation, practice social problem solving, and participate in structured group interaction, which were the benchmarks of kindergarten before Common Core took precedence.

So, even without Kindergarten Readiness program, with Joy School, your child will be in the process of becoming “Kindergarten Ready”. By adding the Kindergarten Readiness program, you will simply be adding to their comfort with and understanding of material that they will be using once they start school. It is really a matter of time, energy, and the desires of your Joy School group and/or your own family as to whether or not you choose to add on the Kindergarten Readiness Program.

Use in Conjunction With Joy School

Most parents will use the Kindergarten Readiness Program as an add-on to their Joy School day for children in the 4-5 years age range. The Kindergarten Readiness program provides about 30 minutes per session of structured teaching, implementation, and activities.

Most groups add Kindergarten Readiness to the end of the Joy School day so that other parents can come help if needed and children in the group who are too young for Kindergarten Readiness can be picked up before this part of the Joy School session begins. Other groups find that it works better to do their half hour of Kindergarten Readiness at the beginning of the day after Welcome Time. In either case, you may want to schedule a brief rest or play time between Kindergarten Readiness and your regular Joy School lesson to help children have time to “digest” the things they have learned before “switching gears”.

Sometimes parents also need help “switching gears”. If it seems overwhelming to prepare a Joy School lesson and then a Kindergarten Readiness lesson as well, it has worked well for many co-op groups to have one parent come at the end of the Joy School day to teach Kindergarten Readiness only. If you do this method, the Kindergarten Readiness teacher should be very conscientious about showing up on-time (or even early) for teaching that portion.

Often, children who participate in Kindergarten Readiness have had a year or two of Joy School already and are ready for a longer Joy School day. Some groups hold two 3.5 – 4 hour Joy School sessions a week. To increase your Joy School session to 4 hours, you can choose more than one craft and more than one activity (the lesson plans generally suggest that you just pick one of each of these to fit within a 2.5 hour time frame) and add a second session of Free Play time (or lengthen the one Free Play time). Then, at the end, you can add the 30 minutes of Kindergarten Readiness. To make a 4-hour schedule work, you will likely need to feed children lunch, so snack time may need to be lengthened as well.

Preparing the Lessons

The Kindergarten Readiness Lesson 1 gives good information about how to prepare for the lessons and which materials to have on hand. The Joy School program highly recommends having a “Kindergarten Readiness” box in addition to your Joy School box.

We also recommend that each family purchase the wooden Cuisenaire Rods as mentioned, as these will be a well-loved learning tool in your home in addition to being an important part of the Kindergarten Readiness Program.

Many of the lessons ask you to provide manuscript paper or other writing practice materials. These are easy to purchase in big-box office supply stores, but they are also as easily printed off the internet by searching for “kindergarten manuscript paper”.

Some of the illustrations provided in Kindergarten Readiness will not be overly detailed or modern, but do not let this be a concern. Children will be quite thankful for the simplicity of the illustrations. But, of course, feel free to find and use alternative materials.

Kindergarten Readiness Without Joy School

The Kindergarten Readiness Program works well as a stand-alone program and is often used by parents as a daily structured time with their children about 4-6 months before the beginning of their first year in formal school, or even earlier. Some parents do Kindergarten Readiness with just their own child on the days in between Joy School days.

The Kindergarten Readiness program is also used well as a homeschool curriculum and is a good segway from the learning-playtime used during the preschool years into a more structured homeschool day. It is especially fulfilling in that it builds on each previous lesson, providing a nice, arching continuity, even though the individual lessons are relatively short. Kindergarten Readiness is easily taught in conjunction with programs like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, the Easy-Peasy Reading Program, and the Mathematical Reasoning workbooks, just to name a few.

We wish you the very best as you engage your children in the fun and meaningful pre-academic learning of Kindergarten Readiness!

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