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Ready for Kindergarten

Getting ready for kindergarten means not only preparing to address the kindergarten school curriculum, but - for students who attend a public or private school - also the social and emotional demands of kindergarten. Learn more here.

A child who has been in daycare or preschool may have already made some adjustments to spending a good part of the day in a group larger than the family. For a child who will be going to kindergarten from an experience that is primarily home-based, the situation is a bit different. Even the need to wake up, get dressed, and eat breakfast on schedule may be new to some children. Introducing the routine that will be necessary for school mornings in advance to allow children to become accustomed to it is a way of easing the transition.

Sitting in particular places, being still when directed and moving about when directed, and doing tasks when requested to for hours on end by a virtual stranger can be another dramatic change for a child coming from a home environment. For the child who has primarily been at home, having some experiences in a library story group, parks and recreation workshop, arts and crafts class, sports team, or other activity that is constructed with some facets similar to school will lay groundwork for the classroom experience.

A good deal of fundamental socialization is assumed in kindergarten. The turn-taking and sharing required in kindergarten may also be new for some students, especially only children who have not spent a lot of time in a group. Activities in which turn-taking is built in, such as games and educational card games, lay the groundwork for the classroom. The size of the building and the number of unknown people may faze some children, so visits beforehand are useful in acclimatizing them.

The academic content that children will meet in kindergarten may be the first thing that people think of when they think of helping children get ready for kindergarten. Kindergarten curriculums can vary, so one thing you may wish to do is ask for a copy of the curriculum and/or the expectations for entering students from the school you plan for your child to attend one or more years prior to entry, so you have time for a gradual lead up.

Without knowing the exact instructional plan at your school, it is still possible to give a general list of accomplishments that many children master around the age of kindergarten entry, some sooner and some later:

  • being able to provide contact information
  • knowing how to get help in an emergency
  • knowing the names and sounds made by some animals
  • knowing some color names
  • identifying some parts of the body
  • singing the alphabet song and identifying letters in the environment
  • knowing some nursery rhymes and simple songs
  • holding a crayon and a pencil
  • using scissors, a paintbrush, and glue or paste
  • counting to ten and identifying numbers in the environment
  • having basic vocabulary to talk about the weather
  • saying the days of the week in order
  • tying shoes
  • being able to recall an event, like going to the zoo
  • recognizing some important holidays
  • knowing some jobs that people do
  • raising a hand and waiting one’s turn to speak
  • hanging up outerwear in a designated spot
  • remembering the location of an assigned seat
  • listening quietly to a story or to someone else speaking
  • using basic playground equipment, such as swings, slides, and teeter-totters
  • using basic table manners for snack or lunch