Common Core State Standards

Parents' Guide to Student Success

This guide provides an overview of what your child will learn by the end of kindergarten in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. It focuses on the key skills your child will learn in these subjects, which will build a strong foundation for success in the other subjects he or she studies throughout the school year. This guide is based on the new Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states. These K–12 standards are informed by the highest state standards from across the country. If your child is meeting the expectations outlined in these standards, he or she will be well prepared for 1st grade.

Why are academic standards important?

Academic standards are important because they help ensure that all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in college and the workforce. They help set clear and consistent expectations for students, parents, and teachers; build your child’s knowledge and skills; and help set high goals for all students.

Of course, high standards are not the only thing needed for our children’s success. But standards provide an important first step — a clear roadmap for learning for teachers, parents, and students. Having clearly defined goals helps families and teachers work together to ensure that students succeed. Standards help parents and teachers know when students need extra assistance or when they need to be challenged even more. They also will help your child develop critical thinking skills that will prepare him or her for college and career.

How can I help my Child?

You should use this guide to help build a relationship with your child’s teacher. You can do this by talking to his or her teacher regularly about how your child is doing — beyond parent-teacher conferences.

At home, you can play an important role in setting high expectations and supporting your child in meeting them. If your child needs a little extra help or wants to learn more about a subject, work with his or her teacher to identify opportunities for tutoring, to get involved in clubs after school, or to find other resources.

This guide includes:

  • An overview of some of the key things your child will learn in English/literacy and math in kindergarten
  • Ideas for activities to help your child learn at home
  • Topics of discussion for talking to your child’s teacher about his or her academic progress

English Language Arts & Literacy

Learning new language skills is a hallmark of kindergarten. Your child will learn about the alphabet and its role in reading. Your child will practice rhyming, matching words with beginning sounds, and blending sounds into words. Practice with these types of activities is a powerful step toward learning to read and spell correctly. The size of your child’s vocabulary is another key factor in his or her ability to read and comprehend books and stories. Your child also will begin to experiment with writing and will be encouraged to use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing letters to share information, ideas, and feelings.

A Sample of What Your Child Will Be Working on in Kindergarten

  • Naming upper- and lower-case letters, matching those letters with their sounds, and printing them
  • Comparing the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories, such as fairy tales and folktales
  • Retelling familiar stories and talking about stories read to them using details from the text
  • Using a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to describe an event, including his or her reaction to what happened
  • Stating an opinion or preference about a topic or book in writing (e.g., "My favorite book is . . .")
  • Taking part in classroom conversations and following rules for discussions (e.g., learning to listen to others and taking turns when speaking)
  • Speaking clearly to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas, including descriptions of familiar people, places, things, and events
  • Asking and answering questions about key details in stories or other information read aloud
  • Understanding and using question words (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how) in discussions
  • Learning to recognize, spell, and properly use those little grammatical words that hold the language together (e.g., a, the, to, of, from, I, is, are)

Talking to Your Child’s Teacher

Keeping the conversation focused. When you talk to the teacher, do not worry about covering everything. Instead, keep the conversation focused on the most important topics. In kindergarten, these include:

  • Using knowledge of letters and letter-sound correspondences to figure out how to spell words as they sound
  • Reading and understanding a story designed for early readers

Ask to see a sample of your child’s work. Ask the teacher questions such as: Is this piece of work satisfactory? How could it be better? Is my child on track? How can I help my child improve or excel in this area? If my child needs extra support or wants to learn more about a subject, are there resources to help his or her learning outside the classroom?

Mathematics

Young children arrive in kindergarten with widely varying knowledge in math. By the end of the year, your child must have some important foundations in place. One of the most important skills your child should develop is the ability to add and subtract small numbers and use addition and subtraction to solve word problems. This will rely on gaining some fundamentals early in the year, such as counting objects to tell how many there are. Addition and subtraction will continue to be a very strong focus in math through 2nd grade.

A Sample of What Your Child Will Be Working on in Kindergarten

  • Counting objects to tell how many there are
  • Comparing two groups of objects to tell which group, if either, has more; comparing two written numbers to tell which is greater
  • Acting out addition and subtraction word problems and drawing diagrams to represent them
  • Adding with a sum of 10 or less; subtracting from a number 10 or less; and solving addition and subtraction word problems
  • Adding and subtracting very small numbers quickly and accurately (e.g., 3 + 1)
  • Correctly naming shapes regardless of orientation or size (e.g., a square oriented as a "diamond" is still a square)

Talking to Your Child’s Teacher

Keeping the conversation focused. When you talk to the teacher, do not worry about covering everything. Instead, keep the conversation focused on the most important topics. In kindergarten, these include:

  • Counting to tell the number of objects (this will not be written work; ask the teacher for his or her observations of your child’s progress in this area)
  • Solving addition and subtraction word problems

Ask to see a sample of your child’s work. Ask the teacher questions such as: Is this piece of work satisfactory? How could it be better? Is my child on track? How can I help my child improve or excel in this area? If my child needs extra support or wants to learn more about a subject, are there resources to help his or her learning outside the classroom?

 

Help Your Child Learn at Home

Learning does not end in the classroom. Children need help and support at home to succeed in their studies. Try to create a quiet place for your child to study, and carve out time every day when your child can concentrate on reading, writing, and math uninterrupted by friends, brothers or sisters, or other distractions.

You should also try and sit down with your child at least once a week for 15 to 30 minutes while he or she works on homework. This will keep you informed about what your child is working on, and it will help you be the first to know if your child needs help with specific topics. By taking these small steps, you will be helping your child become successful both in and outside the classroom.

Additionally, here are some activities you can do with your child to support learning at home:

English Language Arts & Literacy

  • Read with your child every day, books like Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman or Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Ask your child to explain his or her favorite parts of the story. Share your own ideas. To find more books for your child to read, visit www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf.
  • Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day at school. Keep paper, markers, or crayons around the house for your child to write letters or words or draw a picture about his or her day. Have your child describe the picture to you.
  • Play word games like I Spy, sing songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, and make silly rhymes together.

Mathematics

  • Look for "word problems" in real life. Some kindergarten examples might include:
  • Play "Write the next number." You write a number, and your child writes the next number.
  • Ask your child questions that require counting as many as 20 things. For example, ask, "How many books do you have about wild animals?"
  • Ask your child questions that require comparing numbers. "Who is wearing more bracelets, you or your sister?" (Your child might use matching or counting to find the answer.)

For more information, the full standards are available at Core Standards

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