Program goals in a kindergarten classroom are ever changing. What once consisted of sand and water tables and playing pretend has morphed into a year full of academic rigor. The Common Core State Standards Initiative has set national goals or standards for kindergarten students, including in reading, writing, math, speaking and listening, and language.
Basic Program Goals
In its purest form, kindergarten instruction should be designed to develop a child's self-esteem, teach cooperation and inspire curiosity. According to Scholastic, an ideal kindergarten classroom should expand a child's ability to learn through problem solving activities. It should include both teacher initiated and student initiated activities so the child feels as if she is a stakeholder in her own learning. Large group sitting and listening activities should be minimal so that children are engaged through play-based and hands-on instructional activities. One of the most important hallmarks of an ideal kindergarten program is that it generates a love of books, and literacy in general. Once these goals are established, the Common Core can be addressed.
Program Goals in Reading
The Common Core State Standards Initiative separates reading goals into three categories: foundational skills, informational text and literature. Foundational skill goals include basic concepts of print, such as reading from left to right and turning the page, and basic phonological awareness skills including an understanding of sound symbol correspondence and the ability to use this knowledge to decode basic unknown words.
Informational and Literature text skills expected of kindergartners include the ability to answer questions about both fiction and nonfiction texts, describe relationships between illustrations and the words they represent, and actively engage in group reading activities.
Program Goals in Mathematics
Common Core math standards are divided into five categories. They are counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, base 10 number operations, measurement and geometry. Under the counting standard, students are expected to count to 100 by ones and tens and begin to understand the relationship between greater than, less than or equal to. In the algebraic thinking strand, students must demonstrate the ability to add and subtract within 10. The base 10 standard asks students to represent numbers from 11 to 19 into groups of 10 and ones. In the measurement standard, students must be able to tell whether an object is taller/shorter, heavier/lighter, etc. In geometry, kindergarten students need to understand the meaning of above, below, beside, in front of, behind and next to. They must also correctly name shapes.
Program Goals in Speaking and Language
The Common Core expectations in Speaking and Listening include participating in conversations and describing familiar people, places or events. In the Language strand, students must use upper- and lower-case letters, understand question words, spell simple words and determine the meaning of grade appropriate words.
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