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Supplementing public school Kindergarten - testing standards.


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Hi - my wife and I want to supplement our 1st born son's public school education at home.  He'll be entering kindergarten in Baltimore City (not known for its quality education).  Has anyone else gone this route of supplementing an average public school with success?  Any general tips?

Our goal is to get him into the "gifted and talented" program at the school.  Apparently (this is all new to us) a test is given yearly that dictates entry into this program.  I believe the test is either the NNAT3 or CogAT for kindergarten.  Has anyone navigated this process before?  If so, was there a certain curriculum you created to help your child succeed here?  

Many thanks!

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You might check out the afterschooling board.

For me, the big thing before I let the school have my kid was to get a phonics-based reading program for at home.  Schools are dismal when it comes to explicit phonic instruction. 

The rest, you really just want to give opportunities to the kid.  Play with them, take them places, do puzzles together...read to them and do fun things.  I'm not a huge fan of explicit academics for kindergarten, but I am a proponent of giving kids time and space to explore and learn how to make connections.

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14 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

For me, the big thing before I let the school have my kid was to get a phonics-based reading program for at home.  Schools are dismal when it comes to explicit phonic instruction. 

All the agreement here about phonics. @Baltimore Brian, there are a number of options depending on your son's maturity level, comfort with a pencil and paper, etc. I think a lot of people do "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and "Phonics Pathways," you might look those up. My daughter (now 14) shakes her head and "tut-tuts" about how abysmal her public-schooled friends' spelling and reading skills are. She knew how to read already from public kindy-3rd grade but we did All About Spelling to remediate spelling, starting in 4th. The same "All About" company makes a reading program too, All About Reading. If your son is verbally gifted, though, those programs might be annoying to him because they teach in extreme baby steps. You could start by just buying the "Bob Books" and seeing if he picks up the phonics rules naturally from learning to read the books. They come in sets like "short vowels," "long vowels," etc. Then, if that approach is frustrating to him, grab 100 Easy Lessons and see if that clarifies things.

And read to him. Get The Reading Aloud Handbook and read to him from the books on its lists!!! Read the Introduction to the handbook for some staggering data on the effect of a daily read-aloud hour on students' overall academic abilities.

I don't have any knowledge about the tests! Hopefully somebody can chime in and help 🙂

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17 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

For me, the big thing before I let the school have my kid was to get a phonics-based reading program for at home.  Schools are dismal when it comes to explicit phonic instruction. 

The rest, you really just want to give opportunities to the kid.  Play with them, take them places, do puzzles together...read to them and do fun things.  I'm not a huge fan of explicit academics for kindergarten, but I am a proponent of giving kids time and space to explore and learn how to make connections.

I so agree with this.  Too many schools go too light on the phonics, and even teach techniques that can encourage kids to guess in stead of sounding things out.  And I agree on the play too.   Anything fun and playful is good.   And read to your child a lot, because that builds up their vocabulary and knowledge, which will help them in so many ways.  

For phonics, the free readers and mini-lessons at ProgressivePhonics.com is really good for an afterschool thing because it's short and so easy to do.  But they are better after you child knows most of his letter sounds (a few odd ones like z and q that aren't useful), and can blend very simple words.   This site has a good list of what a child needs before they can sound out words and some good activities to do to help them get there.     https://www.themeasuredmom.com/reading-skills-kids-need-theyre-ready-sound-out-words/

Another good activity is just taking short sounds like -at and putting different letters in front of them.   First you demonstrate how they sound and then you have your child try with different letters.   Doesn't matter if it's real words.  

But whatever you do, keep it light and short and fun.   Kids get home and they are exhausted.   They need to play...they need a lot of it.   So I would play for just 10-15 minutes a night at first.  If it goes well you could stretch it out to 30 but I wouldn't do more than that for a kindergartener.

Oh, side thing...play school is your friend.   If your child likes to play school you can do real lessons in it.   And if they just want to be the teacher, you can use this as a way for them to review things they know by teaching it to stuffed animals and toys and you.    😉   Pretend play can be powerful with those little ones. 
 

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