Kindergarteners may need extra help due to pandemic social disruption
MURRAY, Utah – Kindergarten teachers in the Murray City School District have noticed some changes in kindergarten students since the start of the pandemic.
“Kindergarten students coming in since the pandemic are very different from before,” said District Kindergarten Specialist Susan Wright.
Wright said teachers in the district saw more tears, shorter attention spans, less maturity and difficulty sharing and taking turns.
“The 5-year-olds weren’t acting like typical 5-year-olds,” she said.
Normally, Wright explained, kindergarten classes settle into routines in October and then can start to really focus on learning. But over the past two years, this process has sometimes taken until January or February.
“We think it’s because their socializing opportunities haven’t been the same,” Wright said. “They didn’t have the preschool opportunities or the church group opportunities, the playgroup opportunities or even the classes that a lot of kids typically went to where they were learning those skills.”
Marci Allred has been teaching kindergarten for 11 years and noticed the impact of the pandemic right away.
“We started noticing that kids are coming in less prepared,” Allred said. “They weren’t ready to sit down and listen. They weren’t as socialized with sharing, taking turns.
So how can parents, grandparents and other family members help new kindergartens?
“It’s an easy thing,” Allred said. “Can they follow multi-step instructions? Can you put on your shoes and get your coat? »
Allred said parents can help kindergartners learn to share, take turns, wait in line, and verbalize their feelings and when they need something.
“These are skills that every child needs all their life,” she said.
Allred said parents don’t have to worry about having flash cards or formal lessons to help kindergarten students prepare for the upcoming school year.
“Just talking to them throughout the day. What they see. What they hear,” she said. “What sounds do you hear in a word? Can you count how many objects there are? How many goldfish crackers do you have? Just simple things.
Even if there aren’t other children around, Wright said kindergartners can still learn to share and take turns with adults in the home.
“Like playing games and having opportunities to take turns,” Wright added. “Having these situations where you have to expect something.”
Wright and Allred both said that reading to kindergartners is key to improving attention spans.
“Just being able to sit down to hear an entire story may be new to a lot of kids,” Wright said. “It can be very long – five to 10 minutes – to sit down and listen to something.”