14 things first-time parents need to know before their child enters school

By Jill Flynn on July 31, 2008
1. Junior Kindergarten is not daycare. You will be expected to pick up your child promptly at dismissal time.

2. You will be asked to provide nut-free snacks as the average class has at least one child with life-threatening nut allergies that involve the use of an Epipen.

3. There is a big push for bringing in only healthy snacks. Save the treats that are not on Canada’s Food Guide for home.

4. Since there is no OAC year in high school anymore, the curriculum, all the way down to Junior Kindergarten, has been pushed ahead by one year. What you learned in Grade 1, your child will be expected to learn by the end of Senior Kindergarten.

5. Reading is, once again, taught through the phonics method where each letter has a sound that has a corresponding picture, action and song. One letter will be taught per week, and you will be given all the information to assist you in reinforcing this at home.

6. Math is no longer the number computations you learned as a child. Even as early as J.K. there are five strands: number sense and numeration; geometry and spatial sense; data management and probability; patterning and algebra; and measurement.

7. The parents’ role is to reinforce the skills that have been taught during the week. If you think you don’t have the time in your busy schedule, get used to making this a part of your everyday existence. This is just the beginning of supervising your child’s homework up to at least age 14. The good news is that if you help your child develop good study habits in elementary school, it is an investment for his/her high school/college/university years.

8. The teacher’s job is to talk about your child’s strengths as well as the weaknesses. (What weaknesses? Not my little darling!) Remember, you only know your child at home and not in a large group setting. Any co-operation you give the teacher in finding a solution is going to benefit your child.

9. Ask your child’s teacher to provide you with ideas as to how to help your child at home. (The Toronto Catholic District School Board provides each parent with a comprehensive booklet called, Hometime – Activities to Support Kindergarten Children at Home.) Most boards have similar support for parents.

10. If your child’s teacher contacts you about a behavioural issue, don’t act as though you are your child’s defense lawyer.

11. If you have the time, and your school allows it, volunteer in your child’s classroom. If not, ask to volunteer in the next grade so you can see the next step in your child’s learning path.

12. The teacher’s job is to present the curriculum to the class using varied activities that reflect the different learning styles of the students. The significant point is that you recognize that your child’s teacher is just that, and not your child’s personal tutor.

13. Teachers are not responsible for your child’s marks now, or throughout his educational years. As shocking as this might be to first-time parents.

14. The Ministry of Education sets the curriculum from J.K. to Grade 12. Get a sneak preview of what will be taught by going online to edu.gov.on.ca. There is not a separate document for Junior Kindergarten. The Kindergarten Expectations lists all the skills your child should be able to perform by the end of Senior Kindergarten. PC

By Jill Flynn| July 31, 2008

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