Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?
Getting off to a good start in kindergarten can help launch children into a positive elementary school experience.
Kindergarten is a major milestone for most children, moving from the gently-paced preschool years to the more rigorous academic and social environment of elementary school. Getting off to a good start in kindergarten can help launch children into a positive elementary school experience, so it’s important to consider your child’s readiness to thrive mentally, physically, and emotionally. Many are ready for the shift into kindergarten by the age of 5 – but not all! How can you tell if your child is prepared to take on the challenges and stimulation of a year in kindergarten or if you need to consider a gift of time?
In evaluating a child’s preparedness for kindergarten, parents are encouraged to focus on the four “pillars” of kindergarten readiness. (For a more complete look at kindergarten readiness essentials, check out this information packet.)
- Social and Emotional Maturity.
It’s important for a child beginning kindergarten to be able to interact positively with other children and teachers when away from home. Some questions to ask:
- Can my child experience time away from me without becoming too anxious?
- Can my child share with others, listen to others, and empathize with how others feel?
- How does my child respond to setbacks? Can my child experience and communicate about frustration, correction, or conflict without melting down?
- Can my child focus on an activity for several minutes at a time?
- Independence and Self-Care.
Children in kindergarten should be able to tend to basic self-care independently. Some questions to ask:
- In most situations, can my child dress himself or herself?
- Can my child practice basic hygiene (hand-washing, clean bathroom practices, etc.)?
- In general, can my child eat meals independently?
- Academic Readiness.
Your child will have more confidence in kindergarten if he or she arrives with some basic academic skills. Some questions to ask:
- Can my child recognize letters, numbers, and basic shapes?
- Can my child recite the alphabet and count to 10?
- Can my child sort items according to qualities like color, pattern, shape and size?
- Can my child listen to/retell a story?
- Motor Skills. Physically, children need fine motor skills to do most classroom work and physical endurance to get through busy days. Some questions to ask:
- Can my child trace and copy basic shapes?
- Can my child do fine motor tasks like stringing beads or using pincher fingers to pick up small items?
- Can my child use safety scissors?
- Can my child sit on a carpet or chair?
- In general, can my child run, hop and jump without falling down?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, your child is probably ready for kindergarten.
If you’re unsure about readiness based on these indicators, however, or if you think your child could just use more time to develop the necessary skills, a transitional kindergarten program may be a beneficial gift of time. Transitional kindergarten focuses on helping older preschoolers develop the emotional, mental and academic tools they need for kindergarten. GRACE Christian’s full-day transitional kindergarten program is equipped to meet these needs. Using a well-designed program that emphasizes individualized attention, GRACE’s program focuses on developing skills across all four readiness areas. GRACE’s program also enriches children with hands-on activities, field trips and special events to help children develop kindergarten readiness skills in a loving environment.
With the extra time and preparation of a transitional kindergarten experience, some who aren’t quite ready for kindergarten at age 5 find themselves more than equipped a year later to handle the challenges and stimulation of kindergarten, setting themselves up for a positive elementary school experience.—Elizabeth Brignac