Is My Child Ready For Kindergarten?
By Hallie Bulkin
As we buy school supplies and new Fall clothing, there is one common question that weighs heavy on the hearts of many soon-to-be kindergarten parents: “Is my child ready for Kindergarten?” If you are asking yourself this question, glance over the following skill areas that Kindergarten-bound children typically have mastered before entering school. Note: Many children develop at different rates so this is just a guide and not an absolute.
If you have ever had the opportunity to sit in a 4-year-old preschool classroom toward the end of the school year you may have seen the children learning concepts of location (prepositions in/on/off, over/under), categorization (sorting by shape, size, color), and time (yesterday, today, tomorrow). These are all concepts that are important to have mastered but are typically reviewed at the start of the Kindergarten year.
General Language Skills
Your child needs certain language skills to succeed in their academic environment. For example, we expect that a child entering kindergarten will have the ability to speak in sentences and combine two ideas into a single sentence. They should also be able to retell a story that they just heard, identify numbers and letters, identify at least five colors, use past and present tense verbs and recite familiar nursery rhymes and songs (especially those they learned in preschool).
In order to develop reading skills your child must first acquire phonological awareness skills. For example, they need to be able to recognize some letter sounds (“b says buh”). They should also begin to blend sounds into words and recognize some upper and lower case letters. You may see your child pretend to read a familiar book on their own, identify the front/back of the book, show you where the title and author’s name can be found on the cover, answer questions about character’s and the plot and sequence the main events of the story. These skills are important as they are the foundation for reading and literacy.
Last but certainly not least is social skills. These skills are important for children to learn in order to help them to adapt to new environments, new communication partners, and to help guarantee they succeed in their academic environment. Some of the skills a child should master by kindergarten include: understanding emotions and facial expressions, regulating emotions and self-control especially in new situations, using words to solve problems and share feelings, following three-step directions and basic class rules, being able to ask for help when needed, respecting ones peers and interacting appropriately with peers and adults in the academic environment.
If your child has mastered some of these skills but is struggling with others, you may be asking, What can I do as a parent? The following list will be a good jumping off point. Try to incorporate these concepts into your daily activities (you do not have to sit your child down at the kitchen table and create “work time” as that will not be fun for anyone!):
- Review the basic concepts of color, size, shape and location when playing with toys
- Discuss and describe what you see when driving in the car or walking outside
- Read your child bedtime stories and ask questions about the plot/characters
- Ask questions about what your child did yesterday, today, what they will do tomorrow
- Review the alphabet and draw upper and lower case letters
- Schedule play dates so your child can practice their social skills in a natural setting
Once the school year starts, if you or the teacher feel your child may be struggling in any of these areas you may want to request a Speech-Language screening and observation. In the meantime try to find fun ways to work on the areas that present as a struggle for your child. Here’s to a fabulous kindergarten year!
Note: This post first debuted on TheDCLadies.com on August 19, 2013.