Are you feeling nervous about enrolling your little one in kindergarten for the first time? Don’t worry, with the right preparation and support, your child will be ready to thrive. Check out these essential tips for preparing your child for kindergarten this fall.
It is typical for parents of young children to be concerned about their children’s readiness for kindergarten. In fact, starting elementary school generally involves significant adjustments for young children, such as learning to read and write and navigating classroom rules and playground politics. Some children will already know how to spell their names, but others may need assistance in reciting the letters.
According to experts, although there are numerous lists of “what children should know before kindergarten,” the reality is considerably simpler. The majority of typically developing children will have mastered the kindergarten preparation skills, and the majority of those who have not will do so with the assistance of their parents and teachers. Formal special education examinations and assistance can be of assistance to the few children who continue to struggle with kindergarten requirements.
Consider ‘Readiness’ Rather Than ‘Requirements’
There is no definitive “kindergarten requirements” list. In many locations, age-eligible children cannot be barred from attending kindergarten, even if a school district’s screening indicates they are not yet prepared.
The things children should know before kindergarten corresponds to their age group’s expected developmental stages. The whole list is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however by age 5, most children can:
- Tell a simple tale using whole sentences.
- Distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Count ten items.
- Be familiar with their first and last name.
- Stand on a single foot.
- Broad markers of school preparedness.
Generally speaking, kindergarten preparedness comes down to separating from parents, interaction with other kids, and communication. Kindergartners must be able to communicate their wants and needs to their teachers, take care of themselves in the restroom, and follow simple instructions.
Children who have attended preschool or kindergarten have often practiced these abilities. Unless the child’s pre-kindergarten teacher expresses concern, parents, and caregivers should not be concerned that a kid is not prepared for kindergarten.
While exposure to these pre-academic abilities is beneficial as children transition to kindergarten, it is not necessary, and teachers are accustomed to children arriving with various experiences.
Mollie Bruhn, an early childhood educator in New York City, says that one of the reasons she enjoys teaching kindergarten is that each student begins the year with a clean slate. “The last thing we should do is put further burden on families or children,” she argues.
Screenings and exams for kindergarten.
School districts typically assess incoming kindergarteners for academic and developmental preparedness in the spring or summer. Jamie Broach, MA, CCC-SLP, the preschool and school-age speech-language pathologist for a public school district in southeast Ohio, advises parents to practice with their children before the start of school if there are skills they need to develop.
In terms of communication, Broach says she would want a kindergartener to be able to be understood by an unfamiliar adult and to be able to follow two-step instructions. For instance, “place the pencil on the desk.”
Children who have yet to receive center-based care may have had fewer opportunities to practice certain skills, such as interacting with peers and adhering to a schedule. Some scheduled activities, such as storytime at the library or swim classes, can be useful for these children, according to Broach. Additionally, she urges all parents to read to their children.
According to Broach, parents are only required to prepare their children for a kindergarten examination after explaining the procedure. In addition to advising families on their children, school districts utilize the results of the exams to organize their classes and determine what support youngsters may require, she says.
When Children Should Start Kindergarten
Kindergarten is required in 19 states and the District of Columbia to begin formal education. In several states, students are required to enroll in kindergarten the year they turn five. In some places, such as Ohio, kindergarten is required, although enrollment is optional until age 6. This means that parents have discretion over when their children enroll in school. They may enroll their child in kindergarten at age 5, but they must enroll them in school at age 6.
“Redshirting” or delaying kindergarten.
Some parents may delay kindergarten enrollment for kids they don’t believe are ready for school yet, a practice called informally “redshirting.” This is more typical for children of affluent, highly educated parents, who are more inclined to retain a child who would be among the youngest in their grade. In these circumstances, the research is inconclusive as to whether delaying kindergarten admission is beneficial, and doing so requires families to pay for an additional year of private child care.
In one study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers discovered that redshirted children tended to have greater emotional and behavioral difficulties than those who were not. The overall conclusion of the study is that children whose school entrance is delayed tend to miss out on crucial learning inputs that contribute to demotivation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse redshirting youngsters. In fact, they argue that any perceived academic benefits of postponing a child’s entry into kindergarten may be outweighed by the possibility of behavioral issues. According to the AAP, redshirted children may be losing out on the optimal learning environment, which consists of being surrounded by children their own age.
Start Early Childhood Education at Home
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, early education “begins and ends at home,” which means that as parents, you have a great deal of control over how well your children are prepared for kindergarten.
But both Broach and Bruhn stressed that parents shouldn’t obsess over prepping their children for kindergarten. “Reading books and playing with your children is sufficient,” adds Broach. Bruhn concurred, recommending that children interact with other children and participate in family activities. “Believe that teachers are accustomed to meeting students where they are. This is our duty. That’s our specialty.”
Some starting points are listed below.
- Read to your children every day.
- Engage your child in chats about their day.
- Together, plan activities that require following steps and directions.
- Discuss the weather, the dates, and the days of the week.
- Teach your child fundamental hygienic practices such as hand washing.
When your child is old enough and ready to enter kindergarten, you will be shocked at how much they will learn. Therefore, if you are concerned that your child needs to catch up in certain areas, you should be aware that no two children will start kindergarten with identical skill sets. Teachers are taught to assist all students in their classes in reaching their respective academic levels.
Talk to your kid’s school if you have concerns about learning delays or other challenges. Find out what resources may be available to assist your child.
Meaningful articles you might like: Knowing When to Begin Kindergarten in the Redshirting Trend, Your Child Will Be Taught This In Kindergarten, A Checklist of Kindergarten-Readiness Skills For Parents