by Melissa Jaramillo
What does it mean to have a child ready for kindergarten? Most experts say there isn't one aspect over another that determines their qualifications. We do know that it isn't just reciting ABCs, coloring in the lines or playing nice with others.
On the first day of school, teachers want to see a child who is healthy, mature, capable, and eager to learn. Not sure your child meets those expectations? Our top ten list will help you tally up your child's social, cognitive, and motor skills. Let's help you determine if your child is ready.
Can your child follow two- or three-step directions in sequence, or does he need help at each step? School is a verbal world, so he needs to understand your request and follow your instructions.
Can your child wave goodbye and move into an activity? Kids learn better when they can separate from parents without being upset. If your child hasn't attended preschool or daycare, practice saying goodbye, and develop a parting routine with a quick hug and phrase like, "I love you, you love me, have a great day and I'll see you at three!"
Do you help with dressing and other day-to-day tasks? Self-help skills are an important step to preparing your child for kindergarten. Kids are expected to:
Is she curious and receptive to learning new things? Does she asks question like, "Do mosquitoes sleep?" Can she focus several minutes on a project? Help your child develop these skills with open-ended questions and chances to explore at home.
While some kids enjoy their own company, at kindergarten he'll be interacting with other children all day. Does he share and know how to take turns? Social skills like "plays well with others" indicate success in school.
Teachers want kindergarten students to name objects, know their full name and speak in sentences. They should recognize rhyming words and starting sounds. Research shows that the best predictors of reading success is a well-developed oral vocabulary in kindergarten.
Does she try to "read" a book by telling a story based on the pictures? This signals language development on a par with other kindergartners. This child's anxious start learning how to read. Encourage your child's interest in books with movement, rhymes, short sessions and plenty of pictures.
Can your preschooler use a pencil and scissors? Those hands must be strong enough to master coloring, cutting, pasting, and holding a pencil. Running, jumping, throwing skills come in handy on the playground and in the classroom.
Kindergarten teachers believe that it's their responsibility to teach kids letter sounds and how to write, but they want students to recognize most letters by sight. They also want children able to count to 10 and know some shapes and colors. Can your child meet these expectations? If not, play shape/color games together.
While readiness to learn isn't related to your child's age, your school will have birthday requirements. If you suspect your child is a "young" five, then you might decide it's best to wait a year. In the meantime, help your preschooler with these tips for kindergarten preparation.
You know your child best. Consider giving your child the gift of time to learn the necessary pre-kindergarten skills. How did you prepare your child?
Photo courtesy of istockphoto.