Most parents begin asking this question as their child approaches the age of 5. This is one of the first questions that parents ask at admission events and it can cause unwarranted anxiety and worry. Due to the focus (or over-focus) on common core standards and standardized testing in many schools, parents often think children need to enter Kindergarten knowing how to read and write. You may have even heard that “Kindergarten is the new First Grade.” While it may be true that the Kindergarten curriculum has become more academic, educators still recognize that students enter Kindergarten from a wide variety of experiences and settings. Therefore, expecting them to know and to be able to do the same things as one another doesn’t make sense.
At Morgan Park Academy, we do not believe in a rote, strictly skills process for admittance into Kindergarten. Instead, we conduct an assessment screening that determines if a child is developmentally and emotionally ready for school. In addition, we offer a play date experience to further observe a child’s social interactions with same-age peers. So, what does Kindergarten readiness look like?
Here is a basic checklist with a few questions within developmental areas that help determine a child’s success in school:
- Social/Emotional Skills: Does your child…
- Share and take turns?
- Get along with peers?
- Initiate social interactions with peers and adults?
- Separate from adults without anxiety?
- Handle emotions and possess coping strategies?
- Participate in group activities?
- Intellectual Skills: Does your child…
- Think logically?
- Sit still and listen to a story or group activity?
- Follow simple directions?
- Possess a solid oral vocabulary and the ability to express themselves?
- Express creativity in thought and play?
- Self-sufficiency: Is your child able to…
- Put own coat and shoes on?
- Use the restroom independently?
- Hang up and pack/unpack belongings?
- Ask for help if needed?
- Express the desire to be independent?
- Interest in learning: Is your child…
- Curious about the surrounding environment?
- Able to persevere when faced with difficulty?
- Excited about learning and school?
- Physical Development: Does your child…
- Exhibit sufficient stamina for a full-day program with many transitions?
- Walk up/down stairs?
- Enjoy playing at the playground?
- Participate in gross motor activities such as jumping, throwing a ball, hopping, running, etc.?
- Have experience with basic cutting, drawing, and other fine motor skills?
You may see your child as having strengths in some areas of development, but challenges in others. This is not uncommon. A good Kindergarten curriculum provides support in all developmental areas based on the individual needs of each student.
So, what is your role as a parent in preparing your child for Kindergarten? Read, read, read with your child for pleasure! Play games together. Spend time outdoors. Enroll your child in group activities with same-age peers. And lastly, don’t stress!
By Kari Misulonas