I am frequently asked by parents, “Is my child ready for kindergarten?” and while it may seem like it should just be an easy checklist to give out to decide if their child is ready or not, there isn’t an easy answer. The truth is, kindergarten ready is a myth. That being said though, there are things that families can do to help their child be more successful at the start of kindergarten.
What preschoolers should know?
When wondering “is my child ready for kindergarten?” it is important to think about what preschoolers should know and what many of the children come to kindergarten knowing. Again, I want to reiterate that there is no criteria or list of things that children must know before entering kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers are trained to meet children where they are developmentally and support them in learning the foundational skills for school.
One of the biggest things that preschoolers learn, and that kindergarten teachers look for in their incoming kindergarteners, is strong social and emotional skills. Can your child play with other children? If this is a struggle, consider holding playdates, joining a playgroup, or going to a local playground with your child. When your child is playing with other child, sit with them and coach them through some things they can ask their peers or how to share materials.
The other skill kindergarten teachers look for is independence. Can your child dress themselves independently? Can they use the bathroom and eat their meals independently? If they aren’t quite there yet, you can use these visual checklists to help them follow key routines independently. Simply walk through the different steps with your child and decide on a place to hang up the visual checklist.
Then, when it comes time to get ready for school or bed, just ask your child, “What step comes first? What comes next? Where can you check?” as opposed to giving them the steps or doing it for them. Children need opportunities for productive struggle to try out these important routines on their own. When they get to school, they won’t have the individual support of the teacher to help them with dressing, feeding, or hygiene, unless they have diagnosed special needs and a plan in place to support them.
What should a kindergartner know at the beginning of the year
When a parent asks, “is my child ready for kindergarten?” they really mean does my child have the academic skills needed for kindergarten. They aren’t reading books yet, are they going to be allowed into kindergarten? Yes. Yes, they are. Again, children are not required to be readers when they come to kindergarten. They learn these skills IN kindergarten. However, there are different activities that families can do with their child to support these foundational literacy skills.
One of the biggest predictors of strong literacy later in childhood is a strong foundation of phonological awareness. Singing nursery rhymes and playing rhyming games are great ways to build on this foundation. You can also encourage letter play and exploration that starts a good foundation of letter awareness and use, without drilling children with rote memorization of letters by using worksheets or flashcards. Please do not use flashcards with your child- they are just not developmentally appropriate or how children learn best. Be playful with these literacy skills and build an excitement and love of reading. All of these engaging activities I suggested and more are from this incoming kindergarten literacy product.
Is my child kindergarten ready
When parents ask, “is my child kindergarten ready” they not only want to know about literacy, they also want to know about math. As with literacy, there is no checklist of math skills that children need to have before entering kindergarten. That being said, there are activities that families can do to include foundational math skills with their child. Counting scavenger hunts are a fun way to incorporate counting into play. Number ID bingo is also a fun way to start practicing number identification. These activities and more are from in this incoming kindergarten math product.
How to prepare your child emotionally for kindergarten
Whenever there is a big transition about to occur, children respond with their behaviors. You might notice your child starting to misbehave more or get more easily upset. This is completely expected for young children. If you notice this occurring, talk with your child about the transition. Say to them what worries they might be having and what will happen when school starts. Visit the school if you can and read books about kindergarten. Talking about the big change when they are in a state of calm is a great way to let them know that it’s ok to have these worries and it helps them verbalize them as well.
Sorry, but there is no list to check for “is my child ready for kindergarten?” There are however many activities families can include in their everyday life to best support their child in some foundational literacy, math, and social emotional skills. Families do not need to feel pressured into making sure their incoming kindergartener knows certain facts or skills. Rather, families should enjoy family time together that includes some foundational skills easily embedded into the day.