From the moment they arrive in this world, children are learning. But how can you be sure that your child is ready for the classroom? No single factor can decide whether or not a child is prepared for kindergarten, but there are some general “readiness” guidelines:
- Teach your child good health practices to support your child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual well-being.
- Provide structure and routine to your child’s daily activities to help them understand expectations throughout the day.
- Provide opportunities to interact with other children as well as adults.
- Provide activities that encourage children to be curious, eager to ask questions, and willing to find answers and solve problems.
- They should enjoy and participate in all sorts of play activities—including running, climbing, drawing and pretending.
Of course, it’s important to remember that children develop skills at different times and ages. One child may be excited about his first school experience, while another may shy away from new places and new people. The following list can help parents understand the skills needed.
Kindergarten Readiness Skills
- Is he comfortable with new situations and new people?
- Can he follow basic directions, even if no one is watching him every minute?
- Can he stay focused on one activity from beginning to end (work a puzzle, listen to a story, watch a short movie or TV program)?
- Is he happy and persistent in learning? Does he enjoy the practicing and problem solving that is a part of his regular play?
- Can he wait and take turns? Are social and communication skills emerging?
- Can he hold a pencil or crayon? Is he able to turn the pages of a book one at a time? Does he know his colors and shapes?
- Can he put on his coat, his socks and his shoes?
- Can he handle simple tasks and responsibilities, such as picking up toys or setting the table?
Still not sure? Talk to a professional.
If your child is already in preschool or a childcare center, talk to his teacher. The teacher probably has a good sense of his areas of strengths and needs, and how he compares with other children his age. Your child’s doctor also can provide helpful feedback in terms of early childhood development and school readiness.