When your baby grows bigger than your arms, the big question arises – When are you starting school? Enrolling your child in a preschool is a decision that you must make, not just based on your child’s age, but several other factors that determine whether your child is ready to take that step into the world. To understand the same about your child, you must refer to a kindergarten checklist to judge your child’s readiness to start a playgroup, nursery or kindergarten.
What Is Kindergarten Readiness?
Kindergarten readiness is a combination of various factors that can assure you that it’s time for your child to be enrolled in kindergarten. These can be their physical abilities, their mental preparedness, as well as their social skills that contribute towards everything that is required in preschool.
What Is The Importance Of The Kindergarten Readiness Checklist?
A kindergarten readiness checklist is a list of important skills and abilities that a child must have in order to comfortably start going to preschool and thrive in it. It helps parents understand the specific skills your child needs to have when entering kindergarten. This is a great way to check things off and see which areas your child can work on.
How To Know If Your Child Is Ready To Enter Kindergarten?
The fact that you are looking at this article means that you have a toddler about the right age for preschool. You may just be a nervous parent wondering whether your child is ready to start school, or a concerned parent whose child may be of the right age, but some factors make your gut question whether they are actually ready.
All children are different. However, there are some skills and abilities that your child must have before they can actually thrive in preschool. Checking these off will give you confidence in making this decision for your child.
Checklist For Kindergarten Readiness
When your child is preparing for kindergarten, there are some skill sets that they must have. Here is a kindergarten skills checklist that will help you see whether your child is ready for the leap:
Language is the way your child communicates. If they are able to understand and comprehend instructions in the language of the medium of education, then your child is ready for school. Developmentally, children of preschool age should be able to talk and speak several words. This ability helps them interact in class and learn better. It helps in the following ways:
- Can start and join in conversations
- Can retell a simple story
- Can recognise words that rhyme
- Is familiar with popular nursery rhymes and can recite them
- Speaks clearly in simple sentences
- Able to use words to communicate their needs and wants
- Can confidently follow directions (specifically, two-step directions)
- Can recognise and point out common words and signs (e.g., stop signs, traffic lights, the logo of a popular restaurant you commonly go to, etc.)
- Curious about how things work and may ask questions for more details
- Can make comparisons between objects and their relationship to one another (e.g., bigger, under, on top, etc.)
Reading is another important skill for preschoolers, as they are about to take their first step into education and literacy. A child of 3 years may not already know how to read, but some may have started identifying a few letters, or have gained print awareness. Being ready to read is an important skill at this stage, and you can understand whether your child is ready or not, by looking out for these milestones:
- Recognises their own name in print
- Comfortable with holding a book correctly and flipping the pages through it
- Demonstrates interest in reading and listening to stories
- Able to maintain interest in a short story
- Can name and recognise some uppercase and lowercase letters
- Identifies simple rhyming words
3. Math Skills
Your child will learn basic mathematical operations in school. However, there are a few skills related to numbers and counting that your child will already have at this stage, which shows their readiness for Kindergarten.
- Can comfortably count from one to 10 (or higher)
- Able to identify at least three common shapes (this often includes circle, triangle, and square)
- Can match a group of five or fewer items to a number (e.g., “She had three eggs.”)
- Familiar with the concept of “adding” and “taking from” items (e.g., “I had three bananas. Mommy ate one. I now have two.”)
- Comfortable with the concept of “less than” and “more than”
- Able to arrange at least three items in order (e.g., from smallest to the biggest or the other way around)
4. Gross Motor Skills
Physical abilities are as important as literacy when it comes to preschool readiness. At kindergarten, children will have plenty of opportunities to run around and play. Here is a checklist that will show you that your child has the required gross motor skills for preschool:
- Can run
- Able to hop with one foot
- Can jump with both feet together
- Can bounce a ball and attempt to catch it
- Able to throw and kick a ball
- Able to climb reasonably sized stairs
- Can ride a tricycle
5. Fine Motor Skills
Not just the larger body movements but the ability to exercise the finer muscles like finger movements and grasps are also essential for a kindergarten child. The following are a few things that your child should be able to do:
- Use a pair of scissors to cut
- Put together a simple puzzle
- Correctly grip a pen, pencil, marker, or crayon
- Can do some beading and lacing activities
- Copy basic shapes, such as a circle, triangle, a straight line, etc.
- Build a tower using blocks
- Attempt to tie shoelaces, zips, buttons, and buckles
6. Socio-Emotional Skills
When kids start going to kindergarten, they meet more kids that are about the same age as them. They also face an environment with lots of new people without their parents to guide them through social situations. Children must be comfortable engaging in these scenarios when they go to preschool:
- Can peacefully separate from parents (It’s perfectly normal if they get upset. However, your child should be able to separate without getting overly worked up)
- Can pay attention for at least five minutes without interrupting
- Comfortable using phrases like “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me”
- Able to start and complete a simple activity
- Comfortable asking for help
- Takes turns and shares toys
- May occasionally offer to help peers and family members
- Shows respect to adults
- Can follow routines
- Attempts to communicate thoughts and feelings through words
- Improved ability to regulate emotions
- Can participate in cleaning up duties
- Can take responsibility for their belongings (e.g., lunch box)
- Tries out new activities, and if they fail or make mistakes, they are willing to try again
7. Self Care
At preschool, children will be all by themselves. Of course, the teachers and support staff will be around to help them wherever required, and will be sensitive to their needs. However, the child may not get the comfortable and familiar care that they are used to at home. In preparation for preschool, they must know how to take care of themselves in certain ways.
- Have decent personal hygiene habits like washing hands, sneezing in a napkin and keeping themselves clean
- Be able to use the bathroom independently
- Get dressed on their own
- Be able to eat on their own
- Be able to express their needs, like asking the teacher for something
What To Do If Your Child Is Struggling With Some Skills?
Now that you’ve gone through the kindergarten readiness checklist for parents, you may have noticed that your child excels at certain skills but may not be as adept at other skills. But before you start worrying about your child, keep a few things in mind. The very first step is to understand what kids should know before kindergarten. Find the gaps and work towards filling them. Here are a few ways in which you can do this.
1. Try Some Activities At Home
Spend a few minutes daily working towards your child’s skills through fun learning activities. You can subscribe to activity kits or search for DIY activity videos online to get some ideas.
2. Be Sensitive To Your Child
Do not make your child feel that it is wrong of them not to be able to do a certain thing. Make sure you communicate that it is okay to make mistakes and work towards correcting them.
3. Consult An Expert
When in doubt, it is good to get an opinion of an expert to ensure that your child is going on the right development path. A professional like a speech therapist, pediatric physiotherapist, occupational therapist, etc, can help your child learn the skills that may be difficult to teach at home if your child is struggling. Once you get a clear sign from their paediatrician, you can continue practising the skills at home.
4. No Labels At All!
Avoid using terms like a slow learner, lagging behind, late bloomer or worse, remarks like silly, stupid, brainless, etc for your child. Remember that it is, after all, your child that is struggling with a skill without being able to do much about it. Deal with empathy and patience. Boost their confidence and make them believe that you are with them always.
5. Let The Teacher Know
If you are worried about some aspects where your child might be struggling, communicate your thoughts to the child’s teachers. It may be the case that you are overthinking while the teacher is adept at handling those particular struggles with every student. If required, the teacher may also be able to look out for your child with some special attention on them as and when they need it.
With this checklist, you will be the best judge of your child’s readiness to start preschool. It surely is an exciting time in your child’s life, and we understand your anxieties and nervousness around it. However, it is also a door to a whole new world where they will keep learning something new with every step. Trust the process and believe in your child’s ability to thrive at this new eventful activity. Happy beginning!
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