by Amy Webre
As the parent of a preschooler, the term “kindergarten readiness” may be familiar, but what does it really mean? Simply put, it challenges parents to ask themselves if their child is ready to enter a kindergarten classroom where he or she will succeed in school. Kindergarten is the first step into a child’s formal education. Preparing for this new environment—socially, emotionally and academically— will set the child up for a successful year full of fun, learning and new discoveries.
Many parents believe that the age cut-off date, which is age 5 by September 1, solely determines whether their child is ready for kindergarten or not. However, age isn’t the only factor to consider when deciding if a child is ready. For parents about to send their first child to school, this can be an exciting, emotional or even stressful time for both parents and the child.
What do parents and children need to know about kindergarten?
The classroom: Public kindergarten classrooms usually have between 20 and 22 students. That’s a lot of 5-year-olds wanting and needing one teacher’s attention. There may also be an assistant teacher in the classroom, but this is not the norm. To start preparing the child for independence, teach him or her the simple tasks to start—how to tie shoes, put on jackets and pack up backpacks.
These simple tasks are important because the child will be going to a special class everyday—art, physical education (PE), library, music or drama. Students also go on the playground every day. Sneakers are required for PE and are also the best choice for the playground, which may be full of mulch, dirt and possibly insects such as bees. Sneakers will allow them to play and explore freely in this environment. Sneakers may need to be tied and jackets may need to be removed multiple times throughout the day. Mastering these tasks will alleviate some stress for the child if he or she is able to perform them without the teacher’s assistance.
Tip: Mark your calendar for PE day. Make sure the child has sneakers on to eliminate the need to switch shoes.
Clothing: Kindergarten can be very messy. Children may come home with paint, glue, dirt and food on their clothes every day. Comfortable, casual clothing is the best choice for everyday wear. Save the nice outfit for picture day.
Personal belongings: For the child’s belongings and school supplies, always label with a first and last name. Label makers or personalized labels are available through many online sources, as well as waterproof or fabric labels for clothing. If the child needs a lunchbox, label every item, including forks and spoons, in case they end up on another child’s desk or on the floor.
What does a child need to know about kindergarten?
Classroom etiquette: Talk to the child about the studentsto- teacher ratio. Explain that the teacher has many students to take care of and the best way to get the teacher’s attention is by raising your hand. If it is an emergency, such as really needing to go to the bathroom, and the teacher doesn’t notice the raised hand, then stand up and go to the teacher. Otherwise, raise a hand and wait patiently. “Please” and “thank you” are also very appreciated by the teacher.
Academics: Practice these five tasks with the child this summer:
- Colors: Start with those in the rainbow.
- Fine motor skills: Use of scissors, glue sticks and liquid glue.
- Writing: First name with a capital letter.
- Reading: Simply how to hold and handle a book properly.
- Math: Counting objects up to five, such as beans or blocks.
Kindergarten is a fun and exciting year for a child. With just a little preparation, parents and children can make this a successful, positive time. Supporting a child and the child’s teacher throughout the year will help to ensure that he or she gets the most out of the school year. Also, wake up early that first day for pictures before heading out; first-day-of-school pictures are the best and will be cherished forever. Ready, set—kindergarten!
Amy Webre is an educational consultant with Parenters, providing home visits for families. She specializes in school readiness, reading assessments and creating fun and engaging activities to complement a child’s current curriculum, hands-on activities for struggling concepts, successful morning routines and successful homework times. For more information, call 512-790-3715 or visit Parenters.com.