Children who are ready for kindergarten typically have mastered skills in three categories - academics, physical readiness, and social emotional development.
Here’s how to figure out if your child has mastered these skills and is ready to move on to kindergarten - and what to do if they’re not ready.
Children have developed a pre-reading foundation
The academic skills required for kindergarten mainly focus on a pre-reading foundation. These skills include speaking in sentences, retelling stories, writing their names, and recognizing the main parts of a book. Children should be able to turn the pages, know where to find the title, and the difference between illustrations and text.
Children display physical readiness through fine and gross motor skills
When children are physically ready to attend kindergarten, they have developed their fine motor skills, which means that children can hold writing utensils, squeeze glue bottles, button clothing, and manipulate small objects like beads. When starting kindergarten, children also have strengthened their gross motor skills, which is demonstrated by being able to climb, skip, ride a bike (with training wheels), and play outside games. In addition, children who are physically ready to attend kindergarten can take care of personal bathroom needs.
Children are capable of handling the social emotional aspect of kindergarten
Children who are emotionally ready for kindergarten know their own names and ages. They also follow multi-step instructions, cooperate in group settings, and are curious about new things. Being shy does not necessarily mean a child is not ready for kindergarten. Shy children may need extra time to unwind after school and/or may benefit from a half-day of kindergarten, but they are still capable of learning and doing well in kindergarten.
Children who are ready for kindergarten show age-appropriate development academically, physically, and emotionally.
Not all children are ready for kindergarten at the same time
Children typically start kindergarten when they are 5 years old. Kids who turn 5 in the summer will be on the younger end of their classmates and may benefit from another year of preschool. It’s okay to wait until the following year to start kindergarten, if parents and teachers decide that is the best option.
If you’re deciding between sending your child to kindergarten or sending them to preschool for another year, take into account their disposition and personality, as well as their intellectual skills. When in doubt, talk to current preschool teachers and future kindergarten teachers. Visit a kindergarten classroom to get an idea of what will be expected of your child, and, the most important thing - trust yourself. You know your child best and can discern the best decisions for him/her.
For those parents who decide their children are not ready for kindergarten yet - that’s okay! Send your child to preschool for another year and practice academic, physical, and emotional skills at home.
Kindergarten is a big step for families and, with the success of our children in mind, we want to make sure they are prepared and ready to take that step.