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Helping Your Child Start School

Some paragraphs from Chapter One

The intellect makes its most rapid advances in the first five years of life. In most children, it is a time of spontaneous learning. They just cannot help but learn. They are like great sponges with all their senses continuously soaking up an exciting world they have never seen before. The world has plenty to offer them. It bombards them constantly with information and entertainment and impressions, all in incalculable confusion.

If their natural excitement is not stifled, if their particular environment does not shut them down, they manage to sort out all the confusion. How? By asking questions and getting answers. The result, increasingly packed away in their brains, is knowledge. Without thinking about it, and without being forced, they learn. They know.

They learn something about knowledge. They learn it is not permanent. It is never final or definitive. It is always subject to change. What your child knows is not only constantly increasing, it is also continually being revised as new information comes in.

Under the never-ending bombardment of new impressions and information, your child's concepts of space and of family have been revised thousands of times to incorporate new factors and concepts. They range from the social to the economic to the geographic. They give your child an undertanding of visiting, traveling, and moving. They establish knowledge of the supermarket, the pediatrician's office, the mall, or McDonald's. They install in the five-year-old mind a clear understanding of buying, selling, and "too expensive."

Much of this knowledge has come through verbal interchanges. Our highly verbal civilization has given your child a mass of symbolic material. You saw it the first time your three-year-old stood up in a shopping cart, reached for the shelf, and shouted gleefully, if not demandingly, "Jell-O!" The child was, in fact, reading.

Your child learned to read from television, which has given your child more than an early reading experience with supermarket words and Big Bird. Television . . . is happening contemporaneously with the event itself, whether the event is a live broadcast of a basketball game or the showing of a movie that is forty or fifty years old. . . . Whether you know it or not, or intend it or not, or like it or not, your child has learned through television to perceive an experience instantaneously, as it happens, and all his or her senses have learned that they can be involved.

Your child's senses want to participate. They seek involvement. They are eager to learn. Your five-year-old, a complex of perceptual and motor skills, of accumulated information and refined conceptual knowledge, is reaching for his own physical, social, mental, and emotional maturity--and he is ready to disappear through a doorway into an entirely new environment.


PART I: Getting Ready for School
1. In the Fifth Year
2. What Is Kindergarten All About?
3. Your Child's Development and How You Can Help
4. How Much "School" Before Kindergarten?
5. Going to School

PART II: The Learning Experiences in School
6. The Kindergarten Day
7. Experiences with Creative Materials
8. Experiences with Language and Literature
9. Experiences with Social Studies
10. Experiences with Science and Nature
11. Experiences with Number Concepts
12. Experiences Involving Music
13. Experiences Involving Health, Safety, Physical Ed
14. The Integrated Curriculum
15. The Mainstreaming Experience

PART III: Staying Tuned In to Your Child
16. Play, Habits, and Health
17. Your Child's Teacher--and You
18. Moving Up

. Epilogue: Some Things to Think About
. Suggested Reading for Your Child
. Suggested Reading for You
. Index