INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS PAGE:
- How will I know my child is ready for Kindergarten?
- Signs of Readiness
- What can I do to prepare my child for Kindergarten?
- Activities to do with your child
How will I know my child is ready for Kindergarten?
Kindergarten is a very important time in a child's early school experience. It starts them on a path that influences their subsequent learning and school success. For most children, kindergarten is the first step in a journey through the world of formal schooling. However, children who enter kindergarten in the twenty-first century are quite different from those who began schooling in previous years. They come from increasingly diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, social, economic, and language backgrounds. They also differ in the kids of educational experiences they have had prior to kindergarten.
There is no single measure that guarantees that a child is ready for kindergarten. In general, as your child nears his/her fifth birthday,he/she is ready to start school when it begins in the fall. In addition, the following information describes where most students are developmentally ready before kindergarten.
Keep in mind that each child will come to school with a variety of strengths and skills. Think of the following list as a way to identify your child's strengths, rather than using it to decide whether he/she is behind or ahead of other children. If you want to help your child prepare for success in kindergarten, try the activities suggested on this page. And once the school year begins, know that your child's teacher will create a learning environment that gibes each individual student an opportunity to thrive and learn new skills throughout the year.
SIGNS OF READINESS
Good Health and Physical Well-Being
- Runs, jumps, plays outdoors, and does other activities to help develop large muscle skills
- Works on puzzles, scribbles, colors, paints, cuts, pastes, and does other activities to help develop small muscle skills
- Has bathroom and other self-help skills
- Eats a balanced diet and gets plenty of rest
- Receives regular medical and dental care and has had all necessary immunizations
Social and Emotional Preparation
- Is curious and motivated to learn
- Spends short periods away from family
- Enjoys being with other children
- Can follow simple instructions
- Helps with family chores
- Respects adult leadership
- Is encouraged to think of ideas for solving a problem
- Can share and wait a turn
- Demonstrates self-control
- Is able to do some "self-calming" in stressful situations
- Uses language to express ideas and needs
- Plays counting games and enjoys counting
- Is learning to identify shapes and colors
- Is encouraged to sort and classify things
- uses strategies to solve problems, such as asking questions, making choices, etc.
- Is learning first and last name, address, and phone number
- Understands that letters are different from numbers
- Can identify some alphabet letters, especially those in their name
- Knows that alphabet letters make words
- Is beginning to connect sounds with letters
- Pays attention to repeating sounds in language, such as those heard in songs and rhymes
- "Writes" by scribbling messages
- Understands that different writing is used for different reasons, such as 'lists are used for groceries'
- Likes to show off his/her 'reading' and 'writing' attempts
- Knows the difference between pictures and print in a book, and knows that print is what a person reads
- Pays attention to the sequences of events including those found in stories, by asking or thinking about what happens next
- Connects information and events to life experiences, when listening to a story
- Asks questions and makes comments that show he/she understands the literal meaning of a story being told
- Uses new vocabulary and grammar in his or her own speech
- Understands and follows verbal directions
What can I do to prepare my child for Kindergarten?
In kindergarten, your child will develop skills in a variety of areas. However, kindergarten makes up only a small part of each day. The key to a successful school year is a strong partnership between home and school.
Review the following activities and congratulate yourself on how much you are already doing to prepare your child for kindergarten. Then select a few new activities you can introduce to your child. Place emphasis on trying a new activity rather than mastering the skill. Remember that children learn by playing. You can show your child that learning is fun as well as important!
Activities to do with your child
- Read to your child daily
- Read by yourself to set a good example
- Give your child many reading materials to explore and writing materials to use
- Visit the library often, and participate in story times and other activities there
- Read aloud signs like 'No Parking' and 'Exit' and talk about what the signs mean
- Sing songs and say nursery rhymes together
- Play with alphabet letters, and help your child to identify letter names and words that begin with the sounds the letter makes
- Use new and different words to describe what you see, hear, and feel. Do this to help your child develop language skills
- Encourage your child to write notes using scribble writing and pretend spelling
- Turn a shoe box into a mailbox and use it to send notes to each other. Take turns reading what you have 'written'
- Make hand washing and tooth brushing a regular part of your family's routine
- Use stickers on dangerous items in your home. Talk about what the sticker means.
- Sing songs together. Try humming or clapping to the music as well.
- Make up songs with your child, then take turns singing verses.
- Make a simple recipe together. Count and measure ingredients. Note how long it takes to complete your creation.
- Use a calendar to plan special events. Count the days until an event happens.
- Use a growth chart to measure height.
- Play simple math games with dice, cards, and dominoes.
- Practice saying your phone number and address together
- Count forward and backward with your child. For example, "Three, two, one, let's go!"
- Find things to count with your child, such as... How many bites does it take to eat a banana? or How many things at home are shaped like a circle?
- Add the fun by stapling paper together and making a "How Many?" book to keep track of what you have counted
- Practice fastening clothes and shoes with snaps, buttons, zippers, and laces
- Visit parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools
- Play games that encourage your child to move different body parts on command
- Experiment with Play Dough, crayons, paints, paper and scissors to develop small muscles in the fingers and eye-hand coordination
- Pick a place to display 'masterpieces' at home
- Ask your child to tell you about his or her artistic creations
- Practice taking turns listening respectfully with your child by playing "I Wonder." For example, start with "I wonder what it would be like to be a bird." Ask your child to answer. Then take your turn answering
- Look at family photos together and talk about what makes your family special.
- Practice problem solving together by asking, "What would you do if..."
- Play "Sink or Float" with your child by finding a number of small items. Predict which will sink, and which will float. Try each on and write down what you learn.
- Collect items such as stones, leaves, buttons, or shells and sort by color, shape, size or other characteristic your child selects.
Information courtesy of the Clark County Readiness Task Force... update February 2004. Developed by Clark County educators, ESD 112, Head Start/ECEAP, Clark College based ECE, community social services, Community Choices 2010, and in partnership with Hewlett-Packard. Additional funding provided by United Way, Vancouver Education Association and Vancouver School District Foundation. Thanks to Kent School District for the sharing of Preparing for Kindergarten Parent Guide.