Ah, the joys of school-age parenting. When your baby grows to be a sweet little kid that’s not so much of a baby anymore, the next thing to be excited about his schooling. When your kid reaches that age, it can be both exciting and terrifying for you and your child.
Kindergarten is where most children learn how to read and write. Readiness to enter kindergarten includes some skills. Most families are concerned about academic skills, but self-care, emotional, and social skills are important for kindergarten readiness, too.
Most kids start kindergarten at age 5, but kids develop skills at different rates. They tend to have strong skills in one area and weak skills in another. Learn about the different kinds of skills kids are expected to have when they start kindergarten:
Language and Reading Skills
- Can recite the alphabet
- Can speak in complete sentences of 5-6 words
- Can be understood by others most of the time
- Writes name or recognizes the letters in the name
- Can listen to a story from start to finish
- Know how to find the first page of a book and which way to flip pages
- Can retell a simple story
- Recognizes a title of the book
- Understands simple directions
- Make comparisons and describe relationships between objects like under/over, big/little, first/last, etc.
- Recognizes rhyming words
- Can draw to help express an idea
- Recognizes familiar signs and logos
- Count from 1 to 10 without skipping numbers
- Match a number to a group (ex. “I see two birds”)
- Recognize and name basic shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle)
- Arrange three objects in the right order
- Asks for help when needed
- Follows simple instructions
- Able to share
- Interacts with other kids
- Can be able to separate from a parent or caregiver without getting so upset
- Able to pay attention to an adult, like listening and observing what they do
- Can go to the bathroom and use it on their own
- Can get dressed on their own (but may still need help with shoelaces, buttons, zippers, etc.)
- Knows personal information (full name, age, address, parents’ or caregivers’ full names)
- Can use a pencil, crayon, and scissors
- Can write some actual letters, especially the ones in their name
- Has motor coordination
- Can put together a simple puzzle
- Can run, jump, hop, and climb stairs
Some schools conduct their own tests to evaluate your child’s readiness and abilities. These readiness tests tend to look mostly at academic skills but may also evaluate other aspects of development as well. But these tests are far from perfect – some kids who do poorly on them can do just fine in school.
How to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten
Going to school to start kindergarten is a major step for young kids. As exciting as it may be for some kids, many have struggles initially, as they get challenged by being away from their loved ones and the curriculum. As a parent, your role is to help them get ready.
Here are some ways to get your child ready for kindergarten:
Establish routines at home.
Routines help kids learn, make them feel in control and safe in their world. Keeping a routine would be very helpful as your kid enters kindergarten. Some routines that will help children be more ready for kindergarten include:
1. Bedtime routines
Keeping a good bedtime routine ensures kids that they get a good night’s sleep and will be ready for the next adventures of the day. Some important parts of the bedtime routine include a consistent and predictable order of activities, such as taking a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth, reading a bedtime story or singing a song, and getting a goodnight kiss or hug from their parent or caregiver. Be consistent every day, so kids will know what to expect. Also, make sure your kids are on the bed, ready to sleep at the same time every night.
2. Reading routines
Parents are encouraged to read with their kids for at least 20 minutes a day to build literacy and language skills. This reading routine can be a part of a bedtime routine or at another time that’s convenient for you and your child. One way to make this time together more fun for your child is to let them pick out the book. If you keep doing it consistently, your child will view reading as a “fun thing to do,” and it would be helpful for them as they progress in school. Because your child has been accustomed to reading, it will heighten the chances that they would love studying as well.
3. Family mealtime routines
Having a family mealtime routine is not just an opportunity to teach kids about healthy eating habits, but it’s also a chance to talk with your kids to build their language and strengthen their relationship with you. During mealtime, you can also teach them some useful skills that would help them in school, such as washing hands before dinner and teaching them to clean up dishes from the table.
Orient, your kid about what to expect at school.
Talk to your child about what kindergarten will be like so you can help them prepare for this significant milestone. Children often have lots of questions about kindergarten and school, especially if they are starting at a new school or going to school for the first time.
Spend time talking with your child and involve them in picking out their school materials. This will help them get excited about school.
Keep their vaccinations updated.
Make sure all the immunizations needed for a child to enter kindergarten are up to date. Your kid must have a strong line of defense against infections and diseases they might get in school.