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Setting Cognitive Development Expectations for Kindergartners


Tips from Teachers

Insights and Ideas from Smart Love teachers and tutors on how to help your children have a successful school year!

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Homework: If kindergartners have homework, they may need a little break after school before they can begin, which is okay and expected. It can be easier for children to start their homework knowing that there is a fun activity waiting for them when their work is done. To avoid bribing, use "when" instead of "if", for example, "When we are finished with your homework, we can play your favorite game together." Parents can make homework time a positive experience by sitting with their child and being available if they need help. Parents can be curious about their child's day and use this time to learn about what their child is doing in school. If your kindergartner gets frustrated or becomes tired, take their cue that they need a break. If this behavior is happening frequently, reach out to their teacher and see what is going on. Perhaps your child needs more support in a certain subject or they are feeling lost and frustrated, their teacher will want to know this information so they can better help your child. Let your child know that their effort and willingness to try are the most important part and that you love and appreciate them no matter how much they know or how well they do on an assignment.


Executive function are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember, and keep track of multiple tasks. Parents can help to strengthen their child's development of executive functioning by giving them ample opportunities to make decisions for themselves. This can be practiced even outside of school related topics by using I wonder statements like, "I wonder what you'd like for lunch?" or "I wonder what you'd like to wear to the park today?" These opportunities to make decisions requires logic and reasoning and as they mature they can apply these skills to prepare for their school day and school work. Parents of kindergarteners can also narrate what they are doing and ask children to participate when possible in order to help them become familiar with routines and practice completing tasks with support. For example, parents can say, "Here are the things we need to go to school - your backpack, your folder, and your lunch box. Can you help me put your folder and your lunchbox in your backpack?" By supporting young children in this way, kindergarteners begin to learn executive functioning skills but are not yet expected to perform complex tasks completely on their own.


Communication Skills: Kindergartners are still developing their language skills and learning how to express their wants and needs in school. Continually helping children to identify their feelings and needs at home assists them in learning how to communicate their needs at school. For example, if at home your child gets upset because their crayon is broken, parents can model communication and problem solving skills. Even if you know what the problem and solution are, help your child think about and communicate what has happened, how they feel, and what they need or want. It could sound something like, "Can you tell me what happened? I see you're frustrated." Try to help your child communicate the problem even if you know what it is. In this example, it could sound like "What happened to your crayon?" Parents can repeat what their child says to help them feel understood, "Your crayon won't work!" Parents can help them problem solve again with using "I wonder" statements like, "I wonder how we can fix this?" If your kindergartner isn't able to come up with some solutions, which is okay and age appropriate, parents can offer some ideas, like "Maybe we can tear some more paper off of the crayon? Or maybe we can sharpen the other end of the crayon? Or maybe we can get another blue crayon? What do you think we should do?" By modeling how to communicate and problem solve at home, children will be able to utilize these skills inside the classroom.

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