So you have a preschooler. Chances are, you’ve probably wondered what they should know before heading off to the big K. Kindergarten, that is!
Should they know how to tie their shoes? Count to 100? Know their letters and numbers? While all these skills are helpful to know before sending your littles to elementary school, they’re not the most important skills and information to know before leaving preschool.
So what IS important?
Kids develop at unique rates, so there’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to determine if your kid is ready or not.
Kindergarten readiness looks at their overall development, specifically-
- Physical development. Not necessarily how tall they are, or how fast they can run. This focuses on gross motor skills. Can they hop on one foot? And fine motor skills such as coloring, painting and writing. Kindergartners are expected to be independant with self-care such as washing hands, using the bathroom, and dressing themselves.
- Social skills. Besides the typical expectations of sharing, taking turns, and empathy towards others, kindergartners should know when to ask an adult for help, and how to make friends. All these skills can be accomplished even if your child is shy!
- Emotional skills and self-regulation. Closely related to social skills, emotional development includes the ability to express one’s feelings appropriately. Kindergarteners are generally expected to pay attention, follow simple directions, and participate in activities appropriately.
- Language and literacy. By kindergarten, your child will have an ever-expanding vocabulary. Other kindergarten-level language milestones include recognizing letters, reading short sentences and writing simple words including one’s own name!
- Math and science skills. Kindergarteners will be expected to be able to count — but it’s normal if some kids can count higher than others! Other important skills for kindergarten include naming numbers, recognizing number shapes, measuring and comparing small quantities, and recognizing spatial and positional relationships.
- General cognitive skills. Learning isn’t just about memorizing facts and formulas! By the time they start kindergarten, most kids have also started developing intellectual skills that will help them in all subjects. These include problem solving, exploring cause and effect, working with patterns, sorting objects and reasoning abilities.
Choose a school that’s “child ready”
It’s not just kids who need to be “kindergarten ready!” The National Association for the Education of Young Children offers a few tips for selecting a kindergarten that’s well-prepared to meet your child’s needs.
- Does the curriculum build on prior learning? Look for a school that offers meaningful learning experiences with an emphasis on hands-on activities. A quality program will also have a good balance of child-directed and teacher-guided experiences.
- Does the school account for individual differences? Kids need a school that’s prepared to meet them where they are. Great kindergarten teachers know that all kids will be further along on some skills than others, and will know how to build on strengths while addressing challenges.
- When selecting a kindergarten, ask about teacher training and resources. Do the teachers have knowledge of child development and education? Are classes small enough to give attention to individual students? Do classroom materials promote curiosity and active engagement with the lesson?
Kindergarten readiness is a multi-faceted concept. It includes an assessment of many areas of your child’s development, as well as a prospective school’s readiness to provide a great learning experience.
What steps are you taking to insure your kids are ready for kindergarten?
This post is sponsored by our partner Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool.