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Four Areas of Focus for Kindergarten Readiness


1/20/2022 | Mikhal Weiner

If you were surprised the first time you saw the phrase “kindergarten readiness,” you’re not alone. Many parents and guardians are a tad taken aback when they realize that they have to make sure their kids have learned enough to be on the same page as their peers at such a young age. How much of a gap can there be among a group of 5-year-olds? More importantly, why does it matter?

As it turns out, it matters a great deal. One study from 2016 reports that early math and language skills (like recognizing letters and numbers) are some of the most important predictors of a child’s future academic success. The same study also noted the importance of a child’s social abilities at this age when it comes to predicting how well that child will do in future social settings. 

So, it turns out you have to have a finger on the pulse of kindergarten readiness. Still, how early do parents have to start thinking about this? And what does kindergarten readiness even mean?

Let’s take a step back and unpack all the questions you may have about this important topic.

Academic Skills to Focus On

This is probably the area that worries parents and guardians the most, although all of these areas are equally indicative of a child’s kindergarten readiness. When a child starts kindergarten, the expectation is that they are able to recognize most (if not all) letters by name. If a child can also write these letters, maybe even writing his or her own name with both upper and lowercase letters, that’s superb. Children should also understand that letters represent sounds; they should ideally know which sounds correlate to which letters as well. When it comes to numbers, it’s great if your child can count to ten (or even twenty!) and it’s even better if your child can recognize the various numerals, even when they’re out of order. Anything beyond these skills (like recognizing simple words and knowing the names of many shapes) is advanced but welcome. 

Social Skills to Address

These skills include things like speaking in full sentences, communicating and collaborating with their peers, and managing basic problems they might encounter on the playground or in a classroom. No one is expecting your little one to be a world-class negotiator or even to be able to work out all of his or her feelings. That said, being able to play in a group setting and navigate simple social situations will go far towards your kiddo feeling at home and thriving in kindergarten. 

Personal Care Skills

Don’t worry! Your child’s teacher is there to help them if they fall down or need a snack. There are, however, some personal care skills your child should be great at before heading into a kindergarten classroom for the first time. Your kiddo should be able to use the bathroom on their own, for example, and to wash their hands upon coming in from the playground. They should be able to dress themselves (coats, gloves, and the like) without too much adult assistance, and they should also be able to put their bags in their cubbies or on a shelf independently.

Motor Skills to Develop

Can your child cut with scissors? How about holding a crayon or a marker properly (using the forefinger and thumb)? Can they catch a ball, or throw it to a peer? All of these are motor skills that will come up during play and other activities. It’s a good idea to get a pair of toddler-safe scissors and writing implements of all sizes for your child to practice with. Getting in a game of catch here and there doesn’t hurt, either. 

The most important thing to remember when it comes to kindergarten readiness is that being on your game at age five isn’t a crystal ball that tells your whole academic future. Plus, there’s no one way to get ready. Every single child learns in a different way (just like we adults do!) and will have a tendency to be great at some things and uninterested in others. Try to do what you can to get your kid ready for kindergarten, and don’t forget that learning is fun!

(photo by Naomi Shi via Pexels)

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