Parents often presume that school is the place where children will learn everything they need to know. As a former early year’s teacher of 13 years, I know what a difference a little Kindergarten prep can make.
If children have already begun to tackle the basics like practicing writing their name, counting to 10, and sounding out their letters, the teacher can increase both the pace of instruction and the breadth of education they offer.
Beyond academic aptitude, there is also a range of social and developmental skills that kids should work on before arriving in the classroom on the first day of school, as Michelle Mason, Director of the Kindergarten school at Wheaton College, MA, explains:
“Some of the skills that are helpful for children to have before they enter kindergarten include being able to separate from a parent or caregiver, [showing] signs of curiosity in learning new things and being able to relate to and interact with peers.”
I would add from my experience that it’s so helpful if children have also been taught basic self-care skills before term starts. These include being able to wipe their own nose, put on and take off their shoes and coat, and open and zip up their backpack without assistance. These small jobs, when multiplied by a large class, can monopolize a teacher’s time and energy.
What If My Child Isn’t Ready?
Although these skills constitute a basic readiness for the demands of Kindergarten, the list is not exhaustive, and parents shouldn’t panic if their child hasn’t mastered them all before school starts.
Dr. Elanna Yalow, Chief Academic Officer at KinderCare reminds parents that every child is different and develops at their own pace.
“No one child will have the same profile of skills as another child, but both children may be equally ready for kindergarten. Readiness is very individual to each child and cannot be easily measured.”
She also points out that many of these skills can be delayed or are dependent on a child’s socioeconomic status. “School readiness is impacted by the resources a child has access to in their family and community at large, including early childhood education, health care, and access to consistent housing and nutrition.”
All of these skills are ongoing and improve as children grow and develop. Offer plenty of opportunities at home for your child to flourish across a range of skill bases and not only will they be getting ready for Kindergarten, but they will also be developing essential life skills to help them to soar!