How can a parent know if her child is ready for kindergarten? Age is one factor, but the abilities and independence of children vary tremendously at this stage in life. Being old enough to start school – even when enthusiastic about the prospect – is different from being ready to start school.
Consider whether your child:
• Has the confidence and independence to do some tasks alone.
• Has a desire to explore and have new experiences outside the home.
• Has the ability to focus on one activity.
• Has the ability to relate to other children.
• Has sufficient verbal skills to communicate his needs to adults and peers.
• Has the ability to separate from parents for the length of the school day.
• Has the ability to deal with the physical demands of the school environment, including using bathrooms and stairs.
Think also about the changes in education in the past decade. While teachers still sing songs and engage in creative play, they are increasingly using these techniques for teaching, moving kindergarten from its former emphasis on socialization to a decidedly academic tone.
Children entering kindergarten should be able to:
• Ask for and accept help,
• Negotiate and collaborate with peers,
• Solve problems, and
• Have the stamina to make it through the day.
To help with the decision, speak to your child’s caregiver or preschool teacher, who can judge how your child is likely to react to the kindergarten experience. Visit the kindergarten class while it is in session and try to picture your child keeping up with the activities there.