Kindergarten readiness is more than being “age ready” based on the date on a child’s birth certificate. Children attain developmental milestones essential for readiness at different rates- meaning, some children will be ready earlier or later than the “cut-off” date. Surprisingly, the most important skills to assess for kindergarten readiness have less to do with academic skills and more to do with physical, emotional and social skills that comprise a solid foundation for a successful kindergarten experience.
GRACE Christian School has been educating kindergarten students for 35 years, and has identified four categories to consider for kindergarten preparedness:
Children who exhibit appropriate social and emotional maturity are able to separate from their parents without emotional distress and can express their own feelings and respond to the feelings of others. In her article Teaching empathy: Evidence-based tips for fostering empathy in children, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. states that parents can help teach their children to be empathetic by creating an environment where their children understand that everyone has their own mind and does not have the same feelings about the same things that they do. The awareness that we are not all the same will help your future kindergartner better cope with other children who might speak, do, or feel differently about a classroom activity or event. As a school that teaches from a biblical worldview, GRACE teachers will reinforce this awareness by reminding students that God created each of us uniquely, with different gifts, talents, and abilities. Furthermore, each of us is an image-bearer of Christ deserving of respect and consideration.
The role of independence and self-care is an essential readiness skill for rising kindergartners! Teach your child how to dress and care for himself without your prompting and with minimal assistance. Make self-care a game by challenging your child to dress for a cold day or a hot day or a rainy day to help them develop the association between their clothing and their comfort. Make learning skills such as using the bathroom independently and putting on/taking off a jacket or coat a priority at home. Have pretend lunches where your child practices opening containers by themselves to prepare them for lunchtime independence at school.
Literacy development in the pre-kindergarten years does not mean your child has to be reading. Letter and number recognition is important, but just as important is the ability to relate letters and numbers to what they represent. Can your child listen to a story and retell it?
In our digital culture, motor skills are often underdeveloped in young children. Swiping a touchscreen does not offer the same fine motor development as threading beads, squeezing and manipulating play dough/clay, buttoning and unbuttoning and working different types of clasps and fasteners. Gross motor skills like running, jumping, skipping, and balancing on one leg are all foundational skills necessary for success in kindergarten. Incorporate activities that develop motor skills into your everyday routine such as playing hopscotch and threading pipe cleaners through a colander.
Give your preschooler the skills they need to make a smooth transition to kindergarten by incorporating opportunities for movement throughout their day, allow them to get dirty and experience different textures (mud, sand, grass), read aloud stories to them and have them retell the story back to you, and give them frequent opportunities for unstructured and imaginative (dress-up and pretend) play.
Download our 4 Pillars for Kindergarten Readiness handbook for more tips on preparing your child for kindergarten.