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3 Common misconceptions parents have about kindergarten

Whether your child participated in a preschool program or not, kindergarten can feel like the first real year of grade school.

You might find yourself buying a backpack and the supplies that fill it, just as you might find yourself attending an orientation at your student’s school. But even after this orientation (or after a classroom visit), you might have questions.

While the exact nature of kindergarten varies from school to school and classroom to classroom, one thing is certain: There are a number of misconceptions about it. If your child is beginning kindergarten this year or next, here are three common misconceptions to keep in mind:

All kindergarten students should know their ABCs

One of the first things that parents teach their young children is the alphabet song. After all, knowing that B comes before D, or that N follows M, is a key factor in early literacy — right? As it turns out — no. If your student is disinterested in learning the alphabet song, or confuses the order of her letters, this does not mean that she will struggle in kindergarten. Memorizing the alphabet song is just that: an act of memorization, rather than true comprehension.

To better prepare your child for kindergarten, choose activities that emphasize recognition. Learning to identify a letter by its sound and shape, with flashcards and audio recordings, for instance, will serve her well come the first day of school.

Academic growth is more important than socioemotional growth

In many states and school districts, kindergarten students are not immune to the reality of standardized tests and standards-based curriculum. They may even receive report cards. This can create the illusion that academic growth is the sole pursuit of a kindergarten classroom.

While children do need to master certain academic skills prior to first grade, there are numerous socioemotional skills that must also be addressed. In kindergarten, students learn to work with one another, whether in teacher-determined groups in the classroom or in informal organic groups on the playground.

They also learn to follow rules, and to persevere in the face of difficulty. Your child is just as likely to be evaluated on these items as she is on math and reading concepts.

All kindergarten students do is play

This misconception may seem to be the complete opposite of the one above, but both are equally common. Kindergarten classes are wonderful places to visit. They often feature comfortable seating, like bean bags or couches, and soft flooring, not to mention water-play tables, intriguing science experiments, like butterflies in cocoons, books galore and a bounty of art supplies.

It may seem as though some kindergarten students spend their days in play, but play is critical to the development of young children. Play encourages curiosity and experimentation, and it allows students to explore the world around them and their own selves.

In some ways, this statement is both true and false — play is present, but it is purposeful, and children also engage in many other activities throughout the school day.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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