What are Learning Standards?
Learning standards are what a child is expected to know or be able to do in a specific subject at a specific grade level. For example, a kindergartener may be expected to write a word to describe a picture they have drawn of a dog; a third grader would be expected to write 3 paragraphs about a specific breed of dog; and a high school student would be expected to write a research paper on which breeds of dog are better suited for training as rescue dogs, how they are trained, new ways to use that training in other areas, and back it up with data and statistics to support their thinking. There is a huge difference in expectations for work, but it is the same learning standard for writing, to describe and explain a specific topic.
What is the Common Core?
First let’s look at why there is a Common Core. Most people think that no matter where their child attends school, they will learn the same things at each grade level as a child across town or across the state or across the country. That makes a lot of sense, but it is not true. Each state has its own ideas about what children learn and do at each grade level. Sometimes counties or school districts within a state have their own standards, too. This can be very difficult for families who move every few years, like military families. A group of legislators decided to fix this problem by developing national standards for each grade level; that way, every third grader in the United States would be learning the same things and expected to read, write, think, and solve problems at the same work level.
The Common Core is the set of standards that was developed to make education equal from state to state. There is a lot of controversy about the Common Core; some people think it is too hard and others think it is just right. Some states have adopted the Common Core as a good idea, some states adopted it at first but have changed their minds, some states said no from the beginning.
Are there standards for Kindergarten?
Yes. There are both state and national standards and expectations for kindergarten. Some communities also have their own standards. You can find these standards on your state’s Department of Education website, the United States Department of Education website, and your local school department website. Standards for preschool and kindergarten vary from state to state and town to town. If your state has preschool standards, they will probably be called Early Learning Standards. Looking at these standards or expectations will help you understand what your child needs to know before starting kindergarten so that they will be successful.