Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

Growing YearsWith kindergarten registration comes the question of whether your child is ready for school. Most children are ready and should enter kindergarten with their chronologically aged peers, but sometimes a child is not quite ready and may need to wait another year. Late birthdays are always factors to consider. It is hard to see into the future to know what is best, but parents know their children and are capable of making good decisions for them. Skills necessary to successfully enter school are listed below. If your child is lacking some of the skills, it is not too late to develop them. You may be surprised how quickly they are mastered. Your child will continue to develop the skills in the kindergarten environment.

Socially: The ability to play well with others is essential for entering school. Does your child share, compromise, take turns, and problem-solve? By the time they reach kindergarten, they should be able to express their feelings in words and begin to understand that two people can use the same thing at the same time. Has he/she had opportunities to play with other children? If not, find play groups now, through Mother’s Day Out programs, church programs, or independent play groups. Work on the concept of sharing things with parents and grandparents. Teach feelings and nurture compassion and empathy.

Emotional/Independence: Teach and allow independence. It might be quicker for you to do it, but independence is critical for helping your child adjust to school. Expect your child to put coats on, take off and hang up. Follow simple two-step instructions such as “take your coat off and put it in the closet. Be independent in the bathroom, including washing hands. Fasten and unfasten simple buttons and snaps. Drink from cups, open juice or milk, pour, and use a straw. Blow nose and cover mouth when coughing. Your child needs to be able to separate from you. If this is difficult, start working on it now, even if it feels painful to you to watch his/her discomfort. Grandparents and church classes are great for teaching separation from parents. Is your child eager to explore and discover, ask questions, take initiative, and persist when tasks are difficult? These are necessary skills for school.

Fine motor: Is he/she able to hold and use a pencil, cut with scissors, paste, and color? Can your child make crude straight lines and circles? Being able to string beads and work with clay is necessary for strong hands and fine motor control.

Language: Does he/she communicate needs and express feelings appropriately? Can your child follow simple instructions and listen to an entire story without interrupting? Read to your child to develop a good oral vocabulary. Play rhyming word games, predict what comes next, repeat nursery rhymes and sing songs. Begin understanding one-to-one correspondence by counting at least 5 items, sort simple shapes, and recognize that letters make up words are also important prekindergarten skills.