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How will Common Core affect my Kindergartener?

December 12, 2013
By

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In 2014 the new federal Common Core State Standards are due to be adopted by school systems across California. You may have heard teachers and administrators talking about how they are preparing for the transition to Common Core. But you may not have a good sense of what it all really means.

If your child is just entering Kindergarten, you may find that the transition to Common Core standards is essentially invisible to you. While it has a huge effect on administrators and teachers, for parents just entering the school system is has little direct impact. After all, this is both you and your child’s first introduction to an organized curriculum in the first place.

Down the road, you can expect more rigorous testing and assessments for your child. But in Kindergarten you may not notice anything more than a “back to basics” sort of approach in the classroom.

What is Common Core?

The Common Core State Standards are a set of curriculum guidelines and goals developed by the federal government in the hopes of regularizing educational standards across the United States. The guidelines focus on math and English and cover all grades from Kindergarten through high school.

The Common Core attempts to simplify and clarify the educational goals for each grade, while maintaining rigorous goals that will be measured by periodic testing.

The Common Core is not itself a curriculum; instead, it’s meant to help shape and guide curriculum planning to meet a standardized set of goals. In fact, individual districts, schools and teachers are explicitly permitted to formulate their own appropriate curriculum provided that, when tested, students are shown to be reaching the Common Core goals for their grade level.

Updates to Math

Common Core Mathematics standards emphasize real-world problem-solving as well as the ability not only to arrive at the right answer but to explain it. The standards narrow the focus of what is expected of students at each grade level, seeking depth over breadth WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE?\. Children are expected to begin in kindergarten by learning their numbers WHAT DOE STHIS MEAN? GIVE ME REAL EXAMPLES  inside and out – how to put them together and take them apart, how to count and group items together. The rudiments of addition and subtraction begin here.

Updates to English/Language Arts

The biggest change in the English and Language Arts goals is the increased emphasis on understanding nonfiction texts. Students are expected to read and comprehend a variety of reading material, not just fictional stories.

Common Core also expects students to learn to read critically, to be able to analyze their reading and use texts as supporting evidence for their analysis.

The Common Core also emphasizes vocabulary building as an important component of literacy, as it helps students tackle complex texts no matter what their genre.