What on earth is Kindergarten Readiness and does my child have it?

by Jesse Buckner

Preparing your child for Kindergarten can be overwhelming. Many parents feel a rush of conflicting emotions about seeing their child so grown up and ready to enter “real school.”  There are millions of different articles with lists of skills your child should already have mastered before entering Kindergarten – the dreaded “Kindergarten-readiness.” What does that even mean? 

The good news: you’re most likely already teaching so many of these readiness skills without realizing it! As a former Kindergarten Teacher, I can shed some light on the skills that are most important and will best prepare your child for Kindergarten.

If your child attended Preschool, they most likely had more than one adult available to help with their day-to-day needs in the classroom. In most places, it’s not the same for Kindergarten. In Kindergarten, the average ratio of kids to teachers is 24:1. Being independent and self-sufficient is KEY!

Remember – they are only 5 years old and may only be capable of doing a certain amount of things independently. If they can’t do a few of these skills before starting school… THAT’S OKAY! All academics and social-emotional learning is taught and reinforced throughout the Kindergarten year. Knowing the skills below will prepare your Preschooler and help them to feel confident and self-sufficient on their first day of Kindergarten.

Self-Care and Social-Emotional Skills:

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which kids develop self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are critical for their success in school, work, and life. 

  • Be able to open different snack packages and know how to open and close their water bottle
  • Use the bathroom (including washing their hands) without any assistance – knowing how to dress and undress themselves
  • Be able to eat their lunch in 20 minutes – (you would be surprised how difficult this is for a lot of kids!)
  • Zip their coats without assistance – in the winter months, put on their snow pants and snow boots independently 
  • Know how to ask for help when they need it 
  • Understand how to be patient and wait their turn – be able to raise their hand and wait to be called on
  • Try to problem solve on their own – persist when they encounter something challenging
  • Clean up after themselves – keeping their belongings organized
  • Be able to ask another kid to play with them – know how to play well with others
  • Follow simple instructions/directions
  • Demonstrate respect for their classmates and their teacher by using their manners
  • Express their feelings appropriately by using their words
  • Use safe hands and bodies – both with themselves and others
  • Know some calm down strategies – (ex: take deep breaths, count to 10, remove themselves from frustrating situations, etc.)

Academic Skills:

  • Cut on straight and curvy lines
  • Hold a pencil – using the proper pencil grip
  • Identify and name most of the letters in the alphabet – both capital and lowercase
  • Recognize and write their first name
  • Count to 10 or higher
  • Recognize and name basic shapes – such as: square, rectangle, triangle, circle, star
  • Recognize and name the colors in the rainbow
  • Understand directional words – such as: in front of, behind, beside

Are there more academic skills that your child could know, or might know already? Of course! However, practicing self-care and social-emotional skills with your child before entering Kindergarten sets them up to be successful in all areas of learning. 

Check out Head Start’s early learning outcomes framework for a more detailed breakdown of what children (ages birth to five) should know and do in the central developmental domains. 

Of course, be sure to keep things fun and lighthearted – don’t worry, your child’s teacher will make sure they are successful in Kindergarten! If you ever have questions please reach out to your child’s teacher – they are there to ensure your child’s success as well!

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