Starting kindergarten is a big step for any child. That’s why it is so important that you are sure your child is ready for kindergarten before he or she starts. If you are unsure, there are some easy questions that you can ask to help determine if your child has the necessary skills to succeed in school.
According to Sarah Rushford, Center Coordinator for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations on Milwaukee’s southside and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and West Allis/Wauwatosa, “Determining if your children are ready for kindergarten is less about how old they are and more about their developmental level.”
In most states, a child must be five years old before he or she can be accepted into a kindergarten program, and each school district has its own birthday cut-off date. However, Rushford says along with a child’s age, his or her physical, social, and cognitive development should also play a significant role in determining whether or not he or she is ready for kindergarten.
Here are some things to consider
Is your child a good listener and able to follow directions? These abilities will allow your child to understand the teacher and complete his or her schoolwork. They will also help your child interact with his or her classmates.
Does your child have basic language skills? Can he or she verbalize his or her wants and needs? Can he or she clearly express feelings without becoming frustrated?
Can your child function independently? Does he or she have problems being away from you? Does he or she have necessary self-help skills such as putting on his or her own coat and using the bathroom?
Fine Motor Skills
How are your child’s fine motor skills? Does he or she have the dexterity to hold and use a pencil for writing and a scissors for cutting?
Does your child show an interest in reading? Have you noticed him or her trying to read or make up stories based on the illustrations in a book? Does your child try to follow along while you are reading to him or her?
How well does your child interact with other people? Does he or she get along with other children? Does he or she know how to share? Can your child work in a group? These are signs that your child will be able to make friends at school and even work together to perform a task.
Love of Learning
Does your child show an interest in learning? Does he or she ask many questions and show curiosity? If so, he or she should enjoy going to school!
Rushford says if you feel your child is doing well in most of these areas, then he or she may be ready for kindergarten. If you’ve noticed that your child is struggling, don’t worry, there are things you can do to improve his or her ability to succeed in kindergarten.
For instance, you can work with your child’s preschool teacher and even practice certain skills at home. You can also visit a kindergarten classroom, so you can see firsthand what it is like and how other children behave. Another option is to enroll your child in a 3K or 4K program. This can help your child learn the skills he or she will need to excel in kindergarten.
“Don’t worry if your child isn’t well developed at all of these things. Most children are strong in some areas and need improvement in others,” says Rushford. “These questions are merely designed to guide you.”
“Also, remember when it comes down to it, parents know best,” says Rushford. “Always be an advocate for your children as you know them better than anyone.”
Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.
Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.
The agency has locations in on Milwaukee’s southside and in downtown Milwaukee, Oak Creek, and West Allis/Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.