Education officials have pitched Common Core State Standards as more rigorous than the old ones. English-learners already struggled under the old standards, so there’s reason to worry the new standards will be out of reach. The new standards mean English-learners will be forced to talk more in class. That poses a new opportunity, and a new challenge.

Many parents are surprised to learn their kids are already behind when they enter kindergarten, and new Common Core standards are only adding to the anxiety. But officials say thinking about Common Core simply as a set of expectations helps take the sting away. Here’s how Common Core works for kindergartners, and how parents can help prepare their children to step into the classroom.

San Diego Unified has its hands full helping students adjust to new graduation requirements as well as a spate of other new systems: On top of the new A-G requirements, students are working with new Common Core curriculum and tests. A new SAT test is looming, too.