Security Check: Teaching kids about stranger danger

Children rely on adults to help them with many things. Their innocent trusting nature is sweet, but parents also need to teach children to be safe. Unfortunately, there are people who would harm children if given the chance. It's a tricky balance to help kids understand safety without making them wary of everyone they meet. Many parents don't know exactly what to say. Young kids can be frightened if you don't choose your words carefully. And they can misinterpret well-intentioned warnings about strangers, secrets, and other safety issues. So it's smart to establish specific rules and explain them in a nonthreatening way. If you're feeling tongue-tied, our advice can help get the ball rolling.

Defining “Stranger.”
The simplest definition of a stranger is “someone you do not know.” Children need to know this definition, but they also need to know about “safe” strangers. Safe strangers are teachers, police officers, firefighters and other adults who work with children. They might know these people only by sight, not personally. Emphasize the importance of seeking help from these safe strangers in public places. It's never a good idea to enter the home of a stranger alone.

"The concept of a stranger can be hard for a young child to grasp," says Nancy McBride, safety director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, in Alexandria, Virginia.

"For instance, your kid may see the clerk at the bank more often than he sees his aunt who lives across the country." So rather than relying on a 4-year-old's interpretation, McBride says it's best to have your child get permission from you before he strikes up a conversation or goes anywhere with any adult other than his parents. You could instruct your child to ask if it's okay or to look at you and you'll nod or shake your head.

It's practically impossible for a scared child to be able to make a judgment about whom to trust, so kids will sometimes look outside the store for their parents, says Joselle Shea, director of children and youth initiatives at the National Crime Prevention Council, in Arlington, Virginia. Be very clear that you want your child to remain in the building and ask someone who works at the store to help him find you. The next time you're out together, play a game to see how many employee name tags your child can spot -- and point out that they'll usually be on workers by the cash registers. Go one better: Start teaching your child his first and last name, his parents' first and last names, and the family phone number so he can give them to the employee. "Most kids can begin learning these facts at age 4 and master them by age 5," says Shea.

"Kids this age are very literal," says Dr. Shubin. "So when you warn them not to accept candy, they're not likely to interpret it to also mean that they shouldn't take a balloon or crayons." So it's best to tell your child to check with you before accepting anything. To make sure your kid gets it, role-play a few scenarios. For instance, pretend to be a stranger who asks your child if she wants a cookie. Even if your daughter says "No thanks," see how she'll react when pushed. Counter with "I asked your mom and she thinks it's okay" to see whether she'll give in or hold firm.

"When you ask some children who wandered off from their parents why they strayed away, they'll tell you they thought their parents could still see them," says Michelle Lubahn, health and wellness coordinator for Children's Hospital of Orange County, in Orange, California. That's why kids need specific boundaries. "If you're at the park, for example, you may tell them 'You can play on the swings and slides here. But if you want to go elsewhere, tell me and I'll come with you,'" says Lubahn.

Some parents use the two terms interchangeably -- and that confuses kids. If you tell your child to keep a secret about Daddy's birthday gift or Grandma's party, you are undermining the rule that no grown-up should ever tell you to keep a secret from your mom or dad. At this age, especially, you want to send the unambiguous message that Mom and Dad have a right to know everything anyone says or does to him.

Don't Send Mixed Messages

Be careful not to undermine the safety lessons you've taught your kids. Take these three precautions:
  • ·  Avoid talking to a child you don't know. Address the parent instead. Otherwise, your kids might think that it's okay for strangers to talk to them.
  • ·  Even though it's cute, resist monogramming your child's name on his backpack or clothes. If a stranger addresses your kid by name, he may think he knows the person.
  • ·  Don't push your preschooler to give a hug to anyone -- even relatives. Children need to realize that it's okay to say "no" when they feel uncomfortable.

What learning style does your child have?

Many children do badly in school because their learning styles are different from what is used in their school. The problem today is that most schools adopt a ‘one size fits all’ policy, where they give standardized tests and assessments that aim to test only one way of learning: mostly learning by listening. Those children who have a different learning style do badly in such an environment.

As parents what we can do is, first of all, to know the learning style of our children, and see if their school has teaching methodology and tests aligned to it. The following are the chief learning styles of children.

The seven styles of learning

Visual/spatial learners prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to learn new information. They have a good spatial sense, and will be good at directions.

Aural learners remember words of stories and songs very well. They learn best listening to stories, and from songs and rhymes. They have a good sense of pitch and rhythm. They can usually sing, play a musical instrument, or identify the sounds of different instruments. Auditory learners gain new information best by hearing it.

  1. Verbal/ linguistic style of learning : Verbal learners learn best from the written and the spoken word. Verbal learners are good at expressing themselves, both in writing and speaking. They may be good at public speaking, and writing essays and stories in school.

  1. Physical/kinesthetic style of learning : The physical/kinesthetic learners use their body and sense of touch to learn about the world. They like making models of things. While learning about the parts of a machine, they are likely to pull the machine apart and put it back together, instead of reading or looking at diagrams about how it works. Typically, such learners cannot sit still listening to a talk or lecture. Teachers may label such kids as ‘hyper active’. In fact, they are just physical/kinesthetic learners.

  1. Solitary/intrapersonal style of learning : Solitary learners like to be alone and learn by themselves. They may dislike learning in groups and prefer ‘self-study’. Their time with an instructor or teacher is just to clarify what they cannot understand by themselves. They are independent learners.

  1. Social/interpersonal style of learning : Social/interpersonal learners like to learn in groups or classes, or like to spend time with a teacher or instructor. They enjoy studying with other children. Such children would typically stay back after class and talk to others. They like social activities and games, such as board games, and team sports such as football or basketball.
  1. Logical/mathematical style of learning : Logical/ mathematical learners are good with numbers and can perform complex calculations. They are good at creating to-do lists, and typically like brainteaser, backgammon, and chess. They may like PC games such as Dune II, Starcraft, Age of Empires, Sid Meier games and others.

How parents can change the Attitude of Children

There are many children who have had quite a difficult upbringing, but were never exposed to it, due to the sacrifice of their parents. Although this may not be the case with all of us, there are many who can identify with this sort of childhood.

Mentioned below is a small story that highlights the importance that parents play, in their children’s upbringing. While this is supposed to be a true incident, I cannot personal vouch for the genuineness of the same.
A young man, who had just completed his Graduate Degree in Management applied for a managerial post in an established company. He had passed the initial screening and interview stages, and was waiting to meet the Managing Director of the Company for the final interview.
The Director called him in and discovered that his records were outstanding, and he had won several medals throughout his career for academic excellence.
The Director also noted that he came from a very poor background. He paused after he read that, and asked the young man, whether he had obtained any scholarships, while at school. The young man replied in the negative.
The Director was intrigued. Coming from such a poor background, how could this young man get through college without any external financial help? He paused again, and then asked the man who had paid for his school and college fees. The young man replied that it was his parents.  The man was beginning to wonder whether his upbringing would be a negative factor for the post.

The Director then asked the young man where his parents worked, and how did they earn the money to send him through school. The young man said he came from a community of laundry workers. He said that with a pride, for having got to where he was now. His parents went from house to house, collected people’s dirty laundry, washed, dried and ironed these clothes and returned them by evening.
Did they have a Laundromat or was it all labor intensive, asked the Director. The youth said it was labor related as it was all done by hand. The Director then asked the young man to show his hands. He showed a pair of hands to the Director that were clean, smooth, and well-manicured.
The Director then asked the young man whether he had ever helped his parents with the laundry during his holidays. He again replied in the negative. The Director further queried as to why he avoided helping them. The man said that his parents insisted that he got involved in other extracurricular activities or read more books, so that he made good use of his time.
The Director then asked the man to return home, inspect and clean his parents’ hands, return, and meet him the next morning. The man thought that he had failed in his interview, and returned home dejected.
However, he did as advised. He went home and told his parents about the interview. He then requested them if he could clean their hands. Although his parents were a little taken aback, they permitted him to do so.  He slowly began to clean his parent’s hands. It was the first time he had ever done so. It was then he noticed how calloused and wrinkled their hands were. There were also so many bruises due to years of cleaning clothes. They even winced in pain, when he cleaned their hands and applied some antiseptic.
It was then the man realized that how much suffering that they would have gone through, so that he could get through school and college. After washing his parent’s hands, the man went and washed the remaining clothes for his parents. He then sat with them and had a long talk. That night he wept a lot and did not sleep well.
The next morning, the man went straight to the Director’s office. The Director noticed that there were tears in the man’s eyes, and that he appeared tired due to lack of sleep. He asked him what he had learnt from yesterday’s incident. The man narrated about what had happened and acknowledged that he would not have been sitting there, if not for his parents’ hard work. He also realized the importance of helping one’s parents, which he should have done a long time ago.
The Director was pleased with his reply. He said that was what he was looking for, in a manager. He wanted a person who will not only help others, but will also value the help of others. He wanted someone who knows the suffering of others to get things done. Monetary benefits should be second priority to such a person.
The young man was hired.
From the above incident, it is clear that we should stop becoming over-protective parents. Don’t destroy your children through love and over protection. If you are washing plates or cutting grass, let them experience it. Make it a practice to let them wash their plates after a meal and clean their own clothes. Make them more independent rather than hiring a housekeeper.
The most important thing that your child will learn is how he copes up with the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done. This would change their entire attitude as a child.
We need to be better and behave better.  What we have seen here is a constrained example of parenting. In addition, we must be aware that we are also accustomed to a certain level of chaos, both internal and external.
The child should also know from a young age that respect is the basic foundation to love, and that it is their duty to take care of their parents, when they become old.
In other words, what is truly valuable is often underrated.

Why Are Positive Role Models Important for Children

More than 75 percent of America's children say family members, family friends, teachers, coaches and community leaders are their role models, according to the 2008-2009 State of Our Nation’s Youth survey by the Horatio Alger Association. Fewer than 25 percent say entertainment figures, artists, sports figures and national or international leaders are their role models. No matter how much television your child watches, he's most likely watching you or another familiar adult more closely to decide how he wants to lead his life.

Positive Effects of Role Models
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Service conducted a study in 2002 to “examine the relationships between role model characteristics, psychosocial functioning and health-risk behaviors.” The results showed that 56 percent of the adolescents identified with role models. Those who identified with role models they knew personally showed higher levels of self-esteem and stronger academics.

Who is Your Child's Role Model?
It is easy to assume, in a media-driven culture, that your child’s most influential role model is his favorite musician, actor, athlete or political leader. But according to the State of Our Nation’s Youth survey, only 13 percent of high school students claim their most influential role models are entertainment figures or artists. Fifty-seven percent say role models are family members. Of those, 36 percent say their mothers are their role models. Twenty-eight percent identify with their fathers. The other 36 percent identify with other family members.
Although your children are busy with school, extracurricular activities and friends, they are still watching you and taking mental note. Two of the most important aspects of being a good role model are leading by example and keeping open communication. In leading by example, parents help their children make healthy choices. By keeping communication open, parents can help children deal with issues such as peer pressure and other negative influences.

Teachers and Coaches as Role Models
Teachers and coaches can be a positive influence in their students' lives. Teachers exemplify the value of education and intellectual curiosity. Coaches are important, as well, according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. They instill the values of fitness, team effort and fair play. For young people who are not fortunate enough to have positive role models in their families, teachers and coaches can have a lasting and important influence.

Tips for a Positive Role Model
If you are one of the many parents who wants to be the best role model possible, offers some tips. Treat others with respect and kindness. Talk about your values and morals. If you take prescription medications, do so responsibly and talk about it with your child. Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation and discuss the consequences of abusing alcohol and other drugs. Talk with your children about school, activities, their friends and anything else they wish to discuss. Most important, show your love for your spouse, children and other family members and close friends.

Why Do Athletes Make Good Role Models?

As many as 59 percent of adolescents can identify a role model in their lives. The fact is, not all athletes are positive role models. Unfortunately some athletes engage in negative behavior, but overall, the athletic lifestyle lends itself to a position of positive role modeling for adolescents.

Engaging in Physical Activity : To stay on top of their game, athletes have to engage in regular, vigorous activity. In a relatively sedentary culture where much of life revolves around TV shows and video games, athletes model the benefits of physical activity to children and adolescents in a very real way. Athletes make a living from being fit, healthy and strong. Just by hitting the field or the court, athletes give children the opportunity to see that physical activity has the ability to pay off.

Confidence : One of the reasons girls should play sports is for the boost in confidence they receive, according to the TeensHealth website. You can see this confidence in action when watching professional athletes. On the field and off the field, athletes embody a sense of confidence in themselves and their team. This sense of confidence is one of the reasons that athletes make good role models -- they show youth how important it is to believe in themselves and those around them.

Work Ethic : Athletes have to work hard to stay on top of their game. The time baseball players dedicate to the sport goes well beyond the two or three hour daily practice. They spend time stretching, watching tape and working on their swing. Then they hit the gym and lift weights or hit the field to work on their speed. They may spend six-to-eight hours a day just on baseball, plus the time traveling on buses and playing in doubleheaders on the weekends. Adolescents who see athletes as role models learn to mimic the work ethic that it takes to become a top athlete.

Education : Athletes learn early that if they want to play the game, they have to make the grades. Even as early as middle school athletics, a failing grade will prevent an athlete from being allowed to play. When youth look to high school, college or professional athletes as role models, they understand that those athletes had to make a commitment both on and off the field to excellence. High school athletes won't play if they don't make the grades. Colleges will only recruit athletes that can get accepted into their school, then athletes can only play if they pass their classes. And while some professional athletes get drafted straight out of high school, most still have to prove themselves as college athletes to get a look. It's a chain that requires at least some dedication to academics to succeed as a money-making athlete.

Is your child an Introvert or an Extrovert?

Take this quiz from Quiet Power: The Secret Strength of Introverts to find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. There are no right or wrong answers. Just note the descriptions that most apply to you.

-They prefer spending time with one or two friends instead of a group.
-They had rather express my ideas in writing.
-They enjoy being alone.
-They prefer deep conversations to small talk.
-Their friends tell them that they are a good listener.
-They prefer small classes to large ones.
-They avoid conflicts.
-They don’t like showing people my work until it’s perfect.
-They work best on my own.
-They don’t like being called on in class.
-They feel drained after hanging out with friends, even when they have fun.
-They’d rather celebrate my birthday with a few friends and family than have a huge party.
-They don’t mind big independent projects at school.
-They spend lots of time in my room.
-They are usually not a big risk-taker.
-They can dive into a project, practice a sport or instrument, or engage in something creative for hours at a time without getting bored.
-They tend to think before I speak.
-They had rather text or e-mail than talk on the phone with someone They don’t know very well.
-They don’t feel totally comfortable being the center of attention.
-They usually like asking questions more than I like answering them.
-People often describe me as soft-spoken or shy.
-If They had to choose, They had prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
Keep in mind that this is an informal quiz, not a scientific personality test. The questions were designed based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by researchers.
The more often these descriptions applied to them, the more introverted they probably are. If only a few descriptions fit them, they are likely more of an extrovert. They may also fall somewhere in between, in which case They are probably an ambivert.

How to Motivate Your Unmotivated Child

“School is so boring.”

“I don’t feel like doing anything.”
“I don’t want to go, I’d rather play Xbox.”
“I just don’t care.”
“It’s too hard. I’m quitting.”
I’ve heard some of those things from my kids over the years. Have you?  Words like these indicate a lack of motivation. So, what should you do? Well, author Joe White provided me some invaluable insight in putting together this list. Here are the first 5 ways to motivate your unmotivated child.

  1. Have realistic expectations of your child.  Not every child will make straight A’s or start on their sports team. Not every child will go to college and get their MBA.  “Type A” driven moms, and dads like me, need to be really careful not to impose their personalities on their children and expect they will be just like us. Also, we should not try to make our dreams, their dreams.

  1. Be a model of motivation.  Your personal example is key to motivating your child. If you are glued to the tube, you can’t expect your child to want to go out in the back yard and play sports. If you constantly complain about work, what message is that sending to your child? Your child needs to see you loving your work, exercising, and celebrating goals achieved.   Parents Can Be a Role Model for Kids will help you to be the best model you can be for your kids.

  1. Make sure your child breaks a mental and physical “sweat.”  Your child may think, “Why do chores when the housekeeper will do them?” Or, no need to mow the lawn. We’ve got a lawn guy to do it.” Or, “Why should I write the paper when mom will do it for me?” A well-developed and motivated child needs to do some physical labor around the house. He also needs to learn how to think on his own.
4. Choose which door you want to enter. Imagine two doors. Door number one is for the parent who wants to get their kids motivated and do the right thing in life: Get up, go to school, get their work done, be successful. Door number two is for parents who want their kids to be self-motivated to do those things. They want to influence their child to work toward the things they’re interested in. To not only do the right thing but to want to do the right things?
Which door would you enter? If it’s door number one, then the way to achieve that goal is push, punish, beg, nag, bribe, reward, and cajole. If you decide on door number two, then you’ll reach that goal by asking different kinds of questions. Rather than, “Did you get your homework done?” you might say, “Why did you decide to do your homework today and not yesterday? I noticed you chose not to do geometry yesterday, but you’re doing your history homework today. What’s the difference?” Be an investigator, exploring and uncovering, helping your child discover his own motivations and sticking points.

5. It’s not your fault. Remember, your child’s lack of motivation is not your fault, so don’t personalize it. When you do this, you may actually contribute to the underachieving by creating more resistance.
Look at it this way. If you look too closely in the mirror, you can’t really see yourself—it’s just a blur. But when you get farther away, you actually see yourself more clearly. Do the same thing with your child. Sometimes we’re just so close, so enmeshed, that we just can’t see them as separate from us. But if you can stand back far enough, you can actually start to see your child as his own person and start to find out what makes him tick—and then you’ll be able to help him understand himself as well. When you step back and observe, you’ll know what works for him, why he’s reaching for certain things and what really gets him moving. There will be things he’s never going to be motivated to do but is still required to them. He may hate doing his chores and try to get out of it, and that’s when you give him consequences.
The goal is to influence your child when he has to do something he doesn’t want to do, and get to know him well enough to figure out what his own desires might be. As a parent, you want to strengthen his skills in defining what’s important to him. You want to help your child define for himself who he is, what’s important to him and what he’s going to do to make those things happen. Our responsibility is to help our kids do that, not to do it for them. We need to stay out of their way enough so they can figure out who they are, what they think and where their own interests lie.

Ready your Child for Kindergarten

Every parent wants their child to succeed, and every parent wants to know how to help their little one get as ready for their first day of kindergarten as possible. Unfortunately, there is no simple to-do list which will definitely ensure that your child will have all the skills he needs for kindergarten. Kindergarten readiness involves developing many different skills in many different areas, such as academic skills, social skills, and physical skills. Some of these skills can be taught; others can only be gained when your child has reached a certain stage of his natural development.

Regardless, there are several things you CAN do which will certainly give your child a significant advantage as he prepares for the transition to kindergarten.

1. Explore Written Language with Your Child
By the time your child is ready to start kindergarten, you've probably already spent a great deal of time reading him books. Now, it's time to start deepening his sense of written language. This involves not only reading the books to him, but helping him understand how books are conceived, composed, and created. Let him hold the book for himself, teach him the correct way to hold a book, to identify where the front is and where the back is, and how to correctly turn the pages left to right.

When you read to him, follow the written text with your finger as you read it. This will help him understand that the text and the pictures are actually different parts of the idea, and that the little symbols on the page represent the sounds and ideas that are coming out of your mouth. Once he's comfortable with this idea, take the concept a little deeper. Help him understand that the text is made of small parts (words) that are, themselves, made of smaller parts (letters). By exploring written language in this way, your child will develop literacy skills and phonemic awareness at a much quicker pace than if you were to simply read out loud to him.

2. Explore Spoken Language with Your Child
Children's brains are wired to receive and absorb spoken language, and simply conversing with him regularly will help him develop conversational language skills. However, by the time your child is preparing for kindergarten, you can take the process a little further. Try to avoid speaking down to him, or speaking in a baby voice--this will only encourage him to do so for much longer than is appropriate and helpful. Talk to him about your schedule, your thoughts, and ask him what he's thinking about and experiencing. Expose him to new vocabulary words, new ideas, and new concepts as often as possible, but be mindful when he feels overwhelmed.

Another helpful exercise: ask your child to perform a task, and to talk his way through the task as he performs it. This will accomplish a number of things. It will help him develop the language skills to explain his movements and actions, it will clarify his thought process, and it will reveal to you what problem-solving strategies he's using to perform the task. Knowing your child's individual problem-solving style will be very valuable, especially when he comes home from school needing help with an assignment.

3. Help Your Child Develop His Fine Motor Skills

At kindergarten, your child will be expected to write with pencils, pens, crayons, and markers, and will need to cut out simple shapes with scissors on a regular basis. Many parents are too afraid to give their children scissors before they go off to kindergarten, but it really is a disservice to them if you don't give them a chance to practice. Buy a pair of child-safe scissors (the kind you find in a typical kindergarten classroom), some crayons, pens, and markers, and a pad of paper.   Make sure you teach him how to hold these tools correctly! Sure, you'll likely end up with an enormous mess of paper shreds, but your child will develop crucial skills for his upcoming kindergarten transition in the process.

4. Help Your Child Get Used to Being Away from You
One of the biggest obstacles children face during their transition to kindergarten is separation anxiety. Chances are, they've never needed to spend much time away from Mom and Dad (or their caregivers), and suddenly they're expected to go to school, by themselves, for hours at a time! This anxiety can seriously impede your child's progress, if it prevents him from participating in class activities, trying new things, or interacting with his classmates. Luckily, you can smooth this transition by getting him used to being independent before his first day of kindergarten arrives.

Play dates are a great way to do this. You can take him to his best friend's house and simply drop him off instead of staying nearby. You can also take some time for yourself, and leave him with a babysitter a little more frequently than before. Additionally, there are many community activities which allow parents to drop their children off for a period of time. Lowe's Build and Grow Workshops, as well as Home Depot Kid's Workshops are great examples of these activities. By helping your child develop his own sense of independence, you'll be setting him up to succeed in kindergarten.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

It's common for parents of kindergarten-aged children to feel some anxiety before their little one takes that first step into the kindergarten classroom. After all, kindergarten is a big step forward, and children are expected to develop certain skills by the time they take that step. This guide is designed to help you assess where your child stands in terms of skills and general kindergarten-readiness, and to clarify where he or she may need a little extra help before the first day arrives.

Don't worry; it's perfectly fine if your child hasn't mastered every skill outlined here. This is simply a broad overview, to help your child become as prepared as possible.

Self Help Skills

By kindergarten, children should be fully potty-trained, and should be able to independently complete the associated bathroom hygiene tasks. They should be able to independently dress themselves, including zippers, buttons, and snaps. They should also be able to say their full name and their age.

Language Skills

Language skills apply both to expressive language (speaking) and to receptive language (listening and understanding). Kindergarten children should have fairly developed skills in both areas.

In terms of expressive language, kindergarten-aged children are generally able to speak in complete sentences (typically 5 or 6 words long), and to declare their wants and needs verbally. Adults should be able to understand what they say the majority of the time. Additionally, these children should use words (rather than physical movements and actions) to express anger, frustration, and other emotions.

In terms of receptive language, kindergarten-aged children should be able to understand and follow two-step directions. They should also understand prepositions and words that describe positions in space (under, above, between, etc.).

Emotional and Social Skills

By kindergarten, children should be able to separate from their parents/caregivers without becoming terribly upset. They should have some empathic awareness (the ability to recognize what other people are feeling, and to respond appropriately). They should know basic manners (such as saying "please" and "thank you") and should use them consistently. Kindergarten-aged children should be able to wait their turn and share with other children. They should also be able to stay focused on an adult-directed task for 5 minutes or more.

Gross Motor Skills

Kindergarten-aged children are typically able to run, skip, jump (with feet together), and hop on one foot. They should be able to walk up stairs while alternating feet, and should be able to walk backwards. Additionally, they should be able to bounce a kickball, and attempt to catch it with both hands.

Fine Motor Skills

By kindergarten, children are expected to know how to correctly hold a pencil or crayon (not in a fist). Similarly, they should be able to use scissors in a decently controlled and intentional way, and should know how to carry them safely. They should be able to trace dotted lines and simple shapes, and should also be able to draw some basic shapes and figures (such as squares, triangles, or straight lines) without a guide.

Literacy and Phonemic Awareness

"Literacy" refers to an ability to understand written language; "phonemic awareness" is the ability to distinguish the individual sounds that letters represent.

In terms of literacy, kindergarten-aged children should be able to recognize printed words in their environment (such as the word "stop" on a stop sign, a familiar corporate logo, and other common words). They should be able to recite the alphabet, and should know how to correctly hold a book (knowing if the book is upside down, for instance, and where the book begins). By kindergarten, children should be able to recognize their own name when written down, and can attempt to write their own name (and other ideas) using letters and symbols. They should also be able to express an idea by drawing a picture. Furthermore, most kindergarten-aged children enjoy listening to stories, and being read to.

In terms of phonemic awareness, kindergarten-aged children should be able to identify some letters and some of the sounds they make (most kindergarten-aged children are not able to do this for the entire alphabet, especially for multiple vowel sounds). This skill may be demonstrated either from sound to letter, or vice verse. They should understand the basic concept of rhyming, and should be able to tell if two words rhyme or not.

Math Skills

Kindergarten-aged children are typically able to count to 10. They should be able to recognize and identify basic shapes and figures (square, circle, triangle, etc.), and should be able to sort items based on one or more factors. They should also know all the colors in an 8-count box of crayons, and should be able to identify them (either by pointing to them or verbally).