It is that time of year again. If you child is already 5 or will be turning 5 on or before Oct. 1 (date depends on your state) then it is time to start thinking about registering your child for kindergarten. However this is also the time that many parents begin worrying about whether or not their child is ready for kindergarten.
First, it is important to note that entry to kindergarten is based primarily on age. In most U.S. states that simply means that if your child is or will be 5 years old on or before Oct. 1 (date may vary in some states) then your child must start kindergarten that school year.
The good news is that most primary programs are designed to take children with a variety of social, emotional, and academic needs and work with them based on their strengths.
However we also know that children who start kindergarten with a good grounding in six skill areas have a head start and a higher success rate than children lacking these basic skills.
The skills that ease transition into kindergarten and help lead to a successful kindergarten year fall into these basic areas: cognitive skills, listening and sequencing, language skills, fine motor skills, social emotional skills, and gross motor skills.
Cognitive skills that will help your child be better prepared for kindergarten include the usual suspects such as knowing the alphabet, primary colors, shapes and being able to count to ten.
You should also work with your child to make sure she knows her phone number, address, birthday, and age.
Some emergent literacy skills also include being able to identify his own name in writing, writing his own name, answering questions about a story, understanding that words are read from left to right, knowledge of some nursery rhymes, recognizing written numbers, and vocabulary.
Listening and sequencing are also important skills and this includes the ability to follow simple directions, paying attention, retelling a simple story in sequence, repeating a sequence of sounds, and repeating a sequence of numbers.
In addition to the emergent literacy skills connected with cognitive skills, there are also language skills connected to relationships such as big and little, short and tall, more and less, up and down, top and bottom, in and out, over and under, front and back, and slow and fast.
While we often associate school simply with cognitive skills, it is important that children also have fine and gross motor skills as well as social emotional skills.
Fine motor skills include being able to tie shoes, hold crayons with fingers, copy a straight line, copy a vertical line, copy a circle, hold and use scissors correctly, cut on a line, button buttons, work a simple puzzle (six pieces), and zip clothing.
Gross motor skills include hopping, jumping, walking a straight line, skipping, galloping, throwing a ball or bean bag, catching, clapping hands, and kicking a rolling ball.
Social emotional skills include sharing with others, getting along with others, maintaining self control, verbal self expression, and the ability to take care of toilet needs independently.
If your child has all these skills mastered then they are well on the road to success in kindergarten. Don’t worry if your child has not yet achieved success with all these skills. You can continue to work on the skills right up until the start of school and certainly after school has started you can team with your child’s teacher.