With enrollment season for most schools upon us (ours included), I hear a lot of questions from young parents who are trying to determine if their children are ready for kindergarten. Of course, there is no one-size-fits all answer to that question. Standards for public schools are usually very different than standards for private schools, for example, but to complicate matters further, standards also vary widely among private schools. So how do we define kindergarten-ready at Trinitas?
For starters, children who are ready for the kindergarten classroom are appropriately independent. They are able to use the restroom without assistance and can fasten most snaps, buttons, and zippers and tuck in their shirts. Kindergarten ready children are able to eat independently with utensils. Does this mean that they never drop food in their laps or have no difficulty opening some of the ridiculous containers food is packaged in? Certainly not. But the most prepared kindergartners will at least attempt everything on their own. Kindergarten ready students can eat well enough with a fork to get food in their mouths in small enough pieces not to choke, even if a little ends up on their faces. But even then, they realize the state of their messy face and attempt to clean it up on their own.
Independent interaction with other children and adults is important. A student ready for kindergarten will speak when spoken to and make eye contact while doing it. A ready child can play in groups with other children and also receive instructions from adults; in fact, obeying instructions from teachers is a top priority. If a child will obey the teacher, the sky is the limit!
Independence is also important in the classroom. A child ready for kindergarten should be able to follow a very short sequence of instructions without assistance. When a teacher asks a group of students to pick up a pencil or get a sheet of paper from a tray or push in their chairs or draw a circle, all will need to be able to comply. Can you imagine a classroom where a teacher has to help students learn to write letters, read, add, and count money if the children can’t follow basic instructions without assistance?
Being ready for kindergarten also requires some knowledge. Knowing basic body parts, colors, shapes, numbers from 1-10, and the alphabet are foundational to the work we do in class. Our children sort by attributes as they group to create three-dimensional towns and they begin their spelling studying sounds associated with each letter of the alphabet. A student without an understanding of some basic knowledge would struggle with these activities.
The last indicators of readiness are developing gross and fine motor skills. We do a lot of hands-on activities in our five year old class: cutting, coloring, and pasting to name the most common. Last week I even happened upon the class pouring popcorn kernels into various sized containers to get a kindergarten-sized lesson on volume, estimating, and basic fractions. What fun they were having! All these children were able to skip, hop, climb stairs, and walk on a large beam in addition to being able to color in and cut on the lines of projects we’ve given them.
Gauging readiness is not an exact science; we know this to be true. But parents who want their children to have the best possible start to their school career will endeavor to prepare them. If that sounds daunting, remember, children at that age have minds like sponges. Their capacity for learning is just amazing, so they can learn a lot in a short time. Remember too that their physiological development is moving at light speed compared to adults. Their abilities at this age are increasing exponentially with each passing day, so a child who doesn’t quite seem ready in February may be able to get ready with time to spare because school doesn’t start for another six months. Most children can be ready to begin even an advanced kindergarten program with that much time and a little help from the family. If you would like to schedule your child for kindergarten readiness at Trinitas, give us a call. There are only a couple seats left for next year’s class, and we’d love to consider your child for one of them!