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How do you know that your child is ready to start school? Long gone are the days where a long arm is basically all you needed to join school. Raising your arm to touch your other ear was the qualification for joining class one. Such measures and determiners no longer work. I wonder what someone’s height had to do with their intelligence or ability to learn and understand.

When it comes to gauging kindergarten readiness, multiple factors come into play. First, your child’s maturity can be measured physically, socially, and cognitively. But in reality, very few children are equally competent in all these areas. Many toddlers who are advanced mentally may lag behind emotionally, while children who are extremely adept physically may be slower in terms of language development. So are they ready?  The teacher should have the best idea of whether the child can meet social and academic expectations.

For starters, your toddler should have a good grasp on basic social skills. The ability to regulate his or her emotions properly and articulate feelings in words is one sign that they may be ready. So is using words like please, thank you and excuse me, and an ability to follow simple directions. Socialization skills mean that your child can adjust to new situations with relative ease and interact with both his peers and adults in an appropriate manner. Take a moment to consider this: Does your child ask for help, show pride in accomplishments, and stick to an activity to completion? How about respecting the feelings and property of others as well as playing cooperatively by sharing and taking turns? All of this is highly important for kindergarten classroom conduct.

It is a messy world out there, so when it comes to kindergarten readiness hygiene and self-care are important. For instance, being able to dress themselves, put away their toys or clothes, as well as take responsibility for their own belongings away from home like their handkerchief or lunch are skills they will need. Ask yourself if your child has decent hygiene habits, table manners and appropriate bathroom skills? If they do, and adhere to a routine and schedule for personal hygiene, eating meals and going to bed each day, he or she may be kindergarten material.  Then there are other skills, like being able to put a puzzle together, hold a pencil, cut with scissors, build with blocks or fasten their own shoes.  How well do they do during outdoor activities like playing with a ball, running, jumping, climbing and riding a tricycle?

Consider their language, reading and writing skills. Being able to speak in sentences (with five or more words and with two or more ideas) using descriptive language is a kindergarten readiness sign. If you have a tiny entertainer at home that recites nursery rhymes by heart and makes up stories or songs, these are all positives. In general, a child who has reading skills is curious about looking at books, pictures or everyday signs on their own and often pretends to read by “reading” the pictures or labels.

Does your child recognize several uppercase and lowercase letters as well as know their sounds? You might also have a toddler who unfortunately likes to ruin beautiful books by writing in them, though this is actually a good thing. If your child is writing, scribbling, drawing or already writing their own name, this is a sign that his language development is on a par with other kindergartners and that she’s ready to start learning how to read. How about reciting the alphabet? Most kindergarten teachers assume that children have at least a rudimentary familiarity with the ABCs though this will be covered as part of the kindergarten curriculum.

There are math concepts like basic counting, recognizing some numbers from one to ten, and distinguishing numbers from letters. It is also beneficial if your child knows the concept of more, less, none, some, all, and more. This all helps toward the basics of addition and subtraction. Do you have a budding scientist in your house? Showing interest in science themes by recognizing objects in their environment and knowing facts about plants, animals and objects in the sky (like the sun, moon and the clouds, etc.) in also fundamental. Perhaps your toddler is a budding artist? If he or she has skills in the arts and music, they will recognize names of basic colors, draw recognizable shapes, move to a beat and pick up musical instruments to improvise with.

Preparing for the Big Step

These will help your preschooler prepare to make the big move up:

  • Read to your child every day. This is the best foundation you can give them.
  • Make the most out of everyday tasks. For instance, teach your child to set the table with one fork at every place. In this way he’s learning an important number concept (one-to-one correspondence). And have him help you clean up after the meal; this teaches him how to follow directions.
  • Give your child lots of play time with peers. That way she will have practice in cooperating with others.
  • Take your child to visit the kindergarten he/she will be attending. A prepared child will be more confident.



Tips from Teachers

Parents sometimes think that kindergarten readiness means that a child is able to add numbers and identify letters accurately. But here is what most kindergarten teachers say really matters. Your child should be:

  • Well-nourished and rested.
  • Enthusiastic about learning and curious about trying new activities.
  • Verbal enough to communicate his thoughts and needs.
  • Able to share and take turns

Delay making a commitment for as long as you possibly can. Preschoolers change a lot over the course of a year, and one who does not seem ready for kindergarten in January may suddenly seem all grown up and raring to go by May. However, that does not mean waiting until the week before school starts: Your child should have time to adjust to the idea of leaving preschool and starting kindergarten.