Customer Reviews: What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know: Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning (Core Knowledge Series)
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on May 31, 2000
I have 6 children, and we are homeschoolers, so I am always looking for good resource materials.
This series is good in a lot of ways.
It stresses the old classics, more from a cultural literacy standpoint than anything else. You want your children to understand references to literature. You want your children to know what others are talking about when they refer to a mythological figure.
These books not only provide the parent with a few basic stories, but they also put it in the mind of the parent that these things are important for the child to come into contact with.
The social studies are nice and simple, with little maps and nice little pictures. For my children, I develop checksheets to go along with them -- they read a section in the book, then they draw a picture relating to it, or look at a globe and point out the place under discussion, or create an animal from that part of the world in clay -- something involving DOINGness, instead of just READING. They really love this and it makes the material stick in their minds that way.
I make a checklist out of the math section, to verify that the kids are up to speed.
Overall, I think these are valuable books, and well worth having. I would warn parents to watch for the vocabulary used in the literature -- kids will get confused if many of the words are not defined for them - the literacy level is pretty high per each grade level.
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VINE VOICEon March 18, 2002
I think this is a fine book. I bought it expecting a list of things that my child should know prior to entering Kindergarten. Instead what I got was a book that I could use to teach my child. Excellent!
I think it would be better with a comprehensive list of expectations and/or goals that every child should reach by the time they are through with Kindergarten. That is the teacher in my coming out.
I found that the social studies section was amazing. I didn't realize that kindergarten children could comprehend so much.
Word of Warning: This is ONLY the very basics that a child should be able to learn. This is NOT the be all end all of a kindergarten curriculum to use for homeschooling. However, it can be used as a place to jump start your learning. You will need to add more literature and poetry and math activities. However, it's a well rounded, full of information, useful book.
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on May 6, 2004
The Book "What Your Kindergartener Need To Know is a great book to use to get your child started in learning. Even if you didn't get your hands on it before Kindergarten it is a good review and will help you to see if you child has suffered any "gaps" in their knowledge to date.
Since different states and school systems have different opinions as to what a child should know at what age, this book may not necessarily cover what your child has or is about to learn in your local school. From my analysis, the book covers more information from a cultural awareness perspective. This means that is basically is filled with things your child should have been exposed to by this point. They may not KNOW these things or be able to recite everything from this book, but they should have some awareness or have had some exposure to it at this point.
When my children and I received this book, our first Core Knowledge book by Hirsh, we went through the books table of contents page with a pencil and marked off everything they knew. My children are in the 3rd and 1st grade, and the 1st grader "KNEW" much more of the items, which to me means she remembered more items since she had been exposed to them more recently. Although the word KINDERGARTEN was written boldly across the front, they took great joy in my reading the fables and testing them on the geography and math question at bedtime.
I purchase these books in anticipation of beginning homeschooling, but we could not wait to get started on this series. I recommend this and the other books in this set to anyone considering homeschooling or even school-schooling. It is great fun to interact with your children and amazing to find out what they actually know.
Contents include, but are not limited to:
Teaching your child to read and write
Introduction to literature
Nursery rhymes, poems, and Aesop's Fables
Children's Stories like Three Billy Goats Gruff
Simple history and geography, especially American
Visual arts and music
Math and math readiness
Science including plants, weather, animals, and the human body, all at a "Kindergarteners Level"
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I was really glad to share this book with my child. It gave me a million rainy day ideas. Great for the preschooler! I loved the way it incorporated classic tales, nursery rhymes, mathematic basics, geography and scientific information in a way that is both simple and exciting. The activities are really enriching and interesting to the child. Every parent should own a copy of this book!
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on March 16, 1998
...... This is the type of educational guide I had been looking for!
...... As a busy mom & entrepreneur, I don't desire to homeschool my kids presently, but want to be an active leader and main influence in their education. This series gives me well-rounded view of topics, learning skills and levels for me to present and work on with my children, in additional to their public school and private preschool education.
..... My preschooler, age 4, has particularly benefitted from, for example, reading additional stories about some of our presidents when he made "Washington" and "Lincoln" related art at preschool. We've also used many of the math sorting/classifying/counting/identifying shapes skills as a normal, integrated part of his day as he plays.
. Overall, I view this series as a springboard for us as a family to concentrate on topics, skills, stories, etc., as the kids need them or are interested in them. We've already pulled out my grandmother's 1960 encyclopedias to look up more about a topic; searched the internet about another topic; got engrossed as a family in one of the science experiments; and checked out a library book about one of the stories they have included in an abridged form.
..... I would love to also see a related workbook for this series.
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VINE VOICEon November 28, 2001
When I bought this book, I expected to see more of a checklist of what my child needed to know for Kindergarten and what my child would learn in Kindergarten. As a former Kindergarten teacher, I have an idea of what is needed, but I wanted it in writing. What I got was different, but not bad.
This book is devided into sections: reading, writing, art, etc.
There are whole stories, poems, songs, and lessons for a kindergartener. While I don't expect that it will be enough for teaching a whole year of Kindergarten at home, I think it will be a great start. The emphasis is placed on reading (rightly so I think). I would like to see more in the math section though. I find that the art section is lacking, while the Social Studies section has much more than I would expect a Kindergartener to know. I hope I'm pleasantly suprised in that area.
For information purpose it is not in a themematic form. It does cover many of the things that you would expect to see in a classical education (artists, authors, paintings etc). But it is lacking if you want a fully classical education.
While there a few resources, there are not near as many as I would like to see. I'd also like to see a comprehensive, overall list of what a child is expected to know before and after Kindergarten.
While it seems that I have discussed many of the points I see that need improvement, I think this book is great. It is probably the most comprehensive one book you can find for helping your child in Kindergarten. This would be a great start for homeschooling parents who don't want to spend a lot of money. It is a great book for parents who want to help their child learn prior to and during kindergarten but aren't really sure what to do.
I would buy this book. Just be aware of the limitations and be prepared to suppliment those areas.
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on January 16, 1998
The book is full of a lot of information. I'm using "What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know" as the base book for homeschooling my daughter. Not only are there many recommendations but, there are complete stories and songs in the book to allow you to teach without having to purchase other books. There is more information in the book than I thought my daughter could comprehend. But, I offer some of the information to her and she understands and wants more. If you want to know what your child should be learning or want an excellent book for a base for homeschooling, I highly recommend "What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know".
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on February 6, 2003
I am a firm believer in the Core Knowledge Sequence. I love the way this book tells what they should be learning and provides information that you can teach directly from the book. It also arranges concepts in a specific order to facilitate learning.
As a part-time homeschooling mom, I find it amazing how much my son's private school education is lacking. If it were not for my supplementing his education with the Core Knowledge Sequence, he would not be learning much beyond reading and math. This book is great at helping you fill in the gaps in your child's education. I feel that it goes way beyond the basics that most children are receiving in public and private schools. It has opened my eyes to how much you really can introduce to a kindergartener. This book will help you give your child a strong foundation for future learning. I plan to full-time homeschool my son for first grade using the Core Knowledge Sequence. BTW, they have a great website....
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on January 26, 2006
Like a recent reviewer who gave this book only two stars, I was shocked when I opened it and found that the first 100 pages or so consist almost entirely of poems, stories, and sayings. Because my 5-year-old loves the stories and songs (even the ones she is already familiar with), I'm giving this book four stars instead of three.

The intent of the book is primarily to provide basic material that the parent must apply. The editors state in the introduction that this is neither a textbook nor a workbook. Unfortunately, that explanation isn't given in any of the promotional material one sees.

The longest story (Snow White) is 7 pages and most are under 5 pages. Each has at least one picture, but some are only drawn in black and white. Most of the poems have drawings, too. Because some of the sayings are no longer in use, I get the impression that the designers of this curriculum are aiming to preserve mainstream 1950s culture. However, the literature section does include Japanese, African, and Amerindian tales.

Like another reviewer, I was pleasantly surprised to see my daughter fascinated by the geography section, which has maps of continents with their animals drawn in. I thought the art section was challenging, because it mentions warm and cool colors, and offers guidelines for teaching a child how to analyze and compare paintings. The math section is also good, covering a wide range of topics from very easy to difficult.

The presentation of the settling of the New World is the main theme of the history section. This is a complex topic that was handled broadly (including several pages about Amerindian culture and slavery) but not deeply. It seems too ambitious to focus on the country's origins at age 5, but I admit that I'm not sure what would be better.

There's a good description of the Mayflower's journey from the viewpoint of a child, but one doesn't get a clear sense of why people made the long voyage. The British king is described as nothing more than a boss. The discussion of our flag is also dumbed down, with extraneous emotionalism like "glorious sight" but no explanation of its symbolism ("What do the stars mean, Daddy?").

There are a few other flaws in this book. The photo of the earth on page 117 has north at the left and south at the right. This is understandable given the outer space perspective, but the layout artist mistakenly used a mirror image that puts Madagascar west of Africa! The brief discussion of the spice trade mistakenly includes Japan and omits Indonesia. And the story of George Washington cutting down a cherry tree is, well, a lie. Perpetuating such a legend seems pointless, particularly because fantasy reinforces the modern tendency to see history as mere opinion.

For kids like mine who are growing up where they have minimal contact with fellow Americans, cultural literacy is a great orientation. The book has lots of poems and songs that they have not become acquainted with from watching videos or Nick Jr. I heartily recommend this book to anyone in a similar situation; it is certainly worthwhile.
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on March 3, 2005
This book is great if you homeschool or want to help your child during the summer. If you want to use it for homeschool, Hirsch has made a teacher handbook. The Teacher Handbooks provide background about language arts, history and geography, visual arts, music, mathematics, and science. Each handbook has been written to look like the Core Knowledge Sequence. For each section in the Sequence, there is a matching section in the handbooks.
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