It’s that time of year when re-enrollment is in full swing and I get asked again and again… “Is my child ready for Kindergarten?” Oh how I wish there was a simple answer to that question! But every child is different and every child is developmentally ready for Kindergarten at different times. I think it is a great idea to listen to feedback from a Pre-K teacher, go to Kindergarten Information nights, and (if your school offers it) have your child participate in a “readiness” assessment. I also think that it is great to observe your child and look for some key “identifiers” that might make this question easier to answer. My list below is by no means a perfect method for identifying kindie readiness, but it is a good place to start!
8 Signs Your Child Is Ready for Kindergarten!
- Can my child separate from me easily? Saying goodbye to your kindergartener on the first day of school can be so hard, and of course it is normal for you and your child to be a little nervous. But how about in day to day life? Does your child transition well with a babysitter, or preschool teacher? Can your child enjoy themselves when you are away or do they get very nervous and upset?
- Does my child handle their own personal needs? Potty Trained: check. Wash Their Hands: check. Put On Shoes: check. Eat a snack: check. All of these personal needs are important for a child to feel comfortable before they start school.
- Can my child share and take turns? Learning how to go to school is a HUGE part of Kindergarten! But already seeing your child demonstrate skills like sharing and playing well with other children is a step in the right direction. Great ways to practice this interaction would be playdates, Sunday School, sports teams, etc…
- Is my child mature enough to follow simple directions or rules? Some kiddos who are not yet developmentally ready for Kindergarten may have a hard time participating in an activity they might not want to do, or listen to a story they may have already heard. In Kindergarten learning happens in many different ways and your child needs to be comfortable with taking direction from a teacher.
- Does my child have the ability to control emotions or impulses? This one can be a little tricky, because yes, all Kindergarteners still cry when they are upset or have a bad day. All Kindergarteners get a little too excited at a class party or come to school grumpy if they have not slept well the night before. But in general, can your child refrain from hitting if they are mad or yelling if something doesn’t go their way? The maturity of impulse control is a big sign that your child is ready for a school environment.
- Can my child hold a pencil and write their name? Fine motor skills are so important! And many Kindergarten classes now require a good foundation of fine motor skills in their students. Having a student begin Kindergarten without any paper/pencil experience would be extremely hard to do.
- Is my child interested in learning? Maybe your kiddo has started reading signs around them like “McDonald’s” or asking you how things work, or playing school. All of these are great signs that they are excited about learning new things and ready to go to the next level in their education.
- Does your child have good alphabet knowledge? This is probably the one that most teachers will have conflicting opinions about. Some schools expect their kindies to know their letters and sounds coming in, other schools don’t expect any prior knowledge. Most schools are probably somewhere in between. All I can say is that from what I know about Kindergarten standards and curriculum, most children would benefit from knowing their letter identification as well as some letter sounds when starting Kindergarten. It will give a good foundation for pre-reading skills and progress.
I know that it is the goal for all parents to make the right decisions for their children when it comes to starting Kindergarten. Hopefully this little checklist will make that decision easier. But remember to keep an open mind, listen to the advice of other adults that love your child too and go with your gut! Kindergarten is a wonderful place to learn and as a teacher I can assure you that we want all of our students to succeed!