You’ve heard about parents getting tutoring to help young children through school. But how young is too young? Is kindergarten too early to start tutoring?
It’s a great question, and the short answer is “no.”
In fact, kindergarten tutoring helps establish a firm foundation for later grades. The benefit of kindergarten tutoring isn’t only in academics. Rather, providing that extra support for a child’s education early on also helps build self-confidence. Also, a positive experience with tutoring in kindergarten helps foster an enjoyment of learning.
Oftentimes parents may feel that their kindergartener isn’t learning as quickly as their peers. In other cases, parents may sense that their child is under-challenged. Perhaps you feel that your child would enjoy taking their learning to the next level. And, understandably, many parents now worry about how COVID-19 affected their child’s education. For all these reasons, tutoring can be a game-changer in helping a young learner be successful.
Why is school readiness such a big deal?
The importance of school readiness has been well documented over the years. The US Office of Head Start defines it as “children possessing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life.” Here are a few expert insights on why it’s considered so critical.
- According to the First Five Years Fund, “When a young learner enters kindergarten ready for school, there is an 82% chance that child will master basic skills by age 11, compared with a 45% chance for children who are not school ready.”
- An article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review reports, “From conception to the first day of kindergarten, a child’s brain develops more quickly and a greater amount than at any other time.”
- A National Library of Medicine publication advises, “It’s easy to underestimate the cognitive abilities of young learners, which results in a lost opportunity. One study showed that children’s actual performance was six to eight times what their own preschool teachers estimated. Another showed that kindergarten teachers spent most of their time covering basic content that children already knew, yet the learners benefited more from advanced reading and math concepts.”
- And, finally, research by the American Academy of Pediatrics links overall academic success to improved social, economic, and health outcomes.
In other words, the academic success your child has in kindergarten and the early years of their education matters. These early years set an important foundation and can help your child be successful down the road in all areas of their life.
What exactly goes into a child’s school readiness?
The U.S. Department of Education has identified five central domains of key skills needed to prepare young learners.
- The first two domains are Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development and Social and Emotional Development.
- The third, Approaches to Learning, has to do with how children learn. This includes emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation aspects of learning. Cognitive self-regulation – also known as executive functioning – includes working memory and flexibility. Other regulation skills include following directions, paying attention, and finishing work.
- The fourth domain is Language and Literacy. Language development includes two aspects.
- The first is both listening and understanding, which is referred to as receptive language. The second has to do with using language, which is referred to as expressive language.
- Literacy skills, on the other hand, refer to phonological awareness, print and alphabet knowledge, comprehension and text structure, and writing.
- The fifth and final domain is Cognition. This includes reasoning, memory, problem-solving, and thinking skills.
More specifics about these central domains can be found at the Head Start website.
What can be done to get a learner school-ready?
Parents can help prepare their child for school. For example, they might enroll their learner in preschool. Or, they may consider programs such as Parents as Teachers and Head Start. Parents can also do home-based activities such as:
- Read to their child and expose their child to lots of books
- Use educational games and puzzles to introduce and strengthen concepts such as rhyming, numbers, colors, and shapes – and to help improve overall concentration
- Practice writing and counting
- Support their child in problem-solving
Tutoring is another way to help your kindergartner or young learner. Research supports positive outcomes with tutoring for young learners. In fact, when done correctly, early tutoring not only preps students for future grade levels but also builds self-confidence and fosters a love for learning. So, what is the right way? In this Washington Post article, a veteran kindergarten teacher discusses how young children do (and don’t) learn. Many parents and educators want to help children learn as much as possible as early as possible. However, pushing them too hard and too fast can backfire. Therefore, the focus of instruction should not be on worksheets or lots of standardized testing. In fact, the focus shouldn’t be on anything requiring the child to sit still for too long.
Rather, the curriculum should be developmentally appropriate. It’s important to approach learning in a fun and playful manner for younger students. Instruction should focus on foundational, rather than advanced, skills. The learning experience should be multi-sensory, interactive, and fast-paced. All this applies not only to classroom learning, but also tutoring. So, in order for your child to benefit the most from tutoring at a young age, look for tutoring programs that promote this sort of learning. That’s where Fit Learning comes in.
How can Fit Learning help young learners?
The Lil Fits program was created to harness the power of everything research has taught us about learning at this young age. It incorporates what we’ve learned to be most effective, appropriate, and enjoyable for preschool and kindergarten learners. Here are just a few examples.
What we know about school readiness
What Lil Fits brings
Children learn through a balanced approach to instruction that incorporates PLAY.
Fit’s learning sessions are, well, fun!
There are prizes, active engagement, celebration, and reinforcement. Children are happy to get to Fit and start their session because the learning doesn’t feel like “work.”
Recommend focusing on the most foundational skills versus pushing developmentally inappropriate concepts too early.
|The Lil Fits curriculum is customized and meets each learner where they are.
Core topic areas are covered at just the right level. The child is met where they are. So, it’s effective and not so intense that it detracts from the learning experience.
Multisensory learning is particularly effective for young learners.
At Fit, we use a multisensory and multimodal approach.
This means that students learn by using multiple senses and channels. So, for a given skill, the instruction isn’t just provided one way. Instead, it may involve a combination of speech, writing, facial expressions, audio, pictures, and more.
Instruction for young learners should be fast-paced, involve lots of opportunities to practice, and build fluency rather than just efficiency.
· Fit’s approach is fast-paced and never boring.
In fact, in the words of one young learner, Fit sessions are “quicker and easier to understand … time flies by and it feels like each class is only 15 minutes.”
· Fit’s method emphasizes repeated practice.
A central goal at Fit is to help learners achieve fluency in core skills. This means that the child practices until the skills become easier. (More information about fluency can be found here.)
“Approaches to Learning” is one of the five core domains for school readiness.
Fit’s method is proven to improve executive functioning, working memory, and flexibility.
The sessions build skills in following directions, listening, understanding, staying on task, and perspective-taking. These are important skills for future success in school.
“Language and Literacy” is a second core domain for school readiness.
The Lil Fits program teaches early reading and writing concepts.
Just a few of the specific skills covered are letter names, sounds, matching upper- and lower-case letters, and listening comprehension.
“Cognition” is a third core domain for school readiness.
The Lil Fits curriculum includes early logic and math concepts.
These skills include oral counting, number identification and patterns, quantity discrimination, comparatives, sequencing, and more.
Young children learn differently.
To recap, it’s time to stop educating young learners as if they are simply “little adults.” Instead, the Lil Fits technique embodies what science tells us best helps children learn, absorb, and remember information.
If you’re considered finding a kindergarten tutor in the St. Louis area, you may find that Fit Learning is the perfect fit. We take a little different approach than typical tutors, one that is perfect for young learners. More information on the effectiveness of the Lil Fits program can be found here.
But won’t tutoring be too much for my young learner? I’m concerned they’ll get worn out on school days.
Many parents thinking about hiring a tutor for their kindergartner have similar worries. However, that’s just not an issue we have with young learners at Fit. In fact, we find that young learners are excited to come to Fit to work for their prizes! The certified learning coaches are in tune with what motivates each child. So, they keep the experience fun and high-energy. As a result, learners and coaches alike enjoy the sessions. The time passes really quickly.
Bottom line is that Fit’s approach to teaching is completely different from any experience your child has had … and in a good way!
So, how can I get started?
Contact Janice Smith, director of the Fit St. Louis learning lab. She’ll take the time to discuss how Lil Fits can help your young learner get off to a strong start. She can answer any questions you may have and walk you through the next steps. We look forward to hearing from you!
Additional resources on kindergarten learning:
- “Kindergarten teacher: ‘Why our youngest learners are doomed right out of the gate’ — and a road map to fix it” newspaper article (Valerie Strauss) – https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/05/08/kindergarten-teacher-why-our-youngest-learners-are-doomed-right-out-gate-road-map-fix-it/
- “Pre-K Prep: How Young Is Too Young for Tutoring?” newspaper article (Suein Hwang) – https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB109762754834743742
- “School Readiness: Why it Matters” website (First Five Years Fund) – https://www.ffyf.org/why-it-matters/school-readiness/
- “School Readiness” journal article (American Academy of Pediatrics) – https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/144/2/e20191766/38558/School-Readiness
- “The Early Childhood Challenge for Philanthropists” article (Stanford Social Innovation Review) – https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/library/children-youth-and-families/the-early-childhood-challenge-for-philanthropists
- Head Start School Readiness Domains – https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/school-readiness/article/head-start-approach-school-readiness-overview
- Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation ebook (National Library of Medicine) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310550/