Today’s kindergarten is similar to the 1st grade of years gone by. By the time a child enters kindergarten, they should be capable of meeting a few guidelines, including being able to take care of basic personal functions alone, following classroom rules, interacting with others, and possessing a basic academic knowledge of letters and numbers. While the exact details of kindergarten readiness may vary from one state or school district to another, the following four categories will all be addressed in some form no matter where your child attends school.
Children need to have the ability to write their own name before advancing to kindergarten. In some states, this requirement is expanded to include knowing their address as well. The kindergarten-ready child should also be able to recognize basic shapes, recognize (but not necessarily recite) the alphabet and numbers from 1 to 10, and some states may require recognizing colors although this is problematic for children who are colorblind.
Attentiveness and Self Control
Self control is important and may be measured in a number of ways. In general, the child must be able to control their impulsive urges and behave in an acceptable manner. They should also be able to listen to and follow simple instructions from a teacher or other authoritative person. This includes the ability to participate in class functions and solve basic problems regarding behavior and performance.
Motor Skills and Coordination
The ability to manipulate small objects is considered one test of motor control skills, along with top level motor skills such as walking, jumping, and moving around without assistance. Kindergarten readiness is also contingent on being able to control basic bodily functions, and the ability to relieve oneself without assistance. This category also includes the ability to dress oneself, including putting on their own shoes.
Social interaction is a necessary part of your child’s school day, and social skills are a test of their kindergarten readiness. This includes the ability to participate or play with others in a peaceful manner. Other important social skills include relating to both adults and other children, a willingness to learn, and the ability to empathize with the needs and feelings of other students. Similarly, a child is not ready to advance to kindergarten until they are able to express their own needs and feelings in a socially acceptable manner.
Children who are not able to do the things listed above may need to be held back, or “redshirted” for another year. Needing a little extra time to prepare for kindergarten is not a problem, and may benefit your child in other ways as well. California allows for both early kindergarten admittance and skipping over kindergarten completely, which takes the pressure off children and their parents when additional preparation time is required. At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, we offer primary programs for ages 3-6. If you are looking at kindergarten options for next year in the Flagstaff area, be sure to contact us today to set up a school tour.