When the time comes for your child to start kindergarten, you may find yourself wondering if he or she is really ready. The transition from day care or preschool into kindergarten can be an overwhelming one. Particularly if this is your first child, it can be tough to know for sure what skills your little one really needs. Luckily, with the help of your pediatrician, and some understanding of the core readiness cues, you can determine whether or not your child is ready to make the transition.
When you're trying to determine if your child is physically ready for kindergarten, there are several physical readiness cues to consider. Here are a few things you should observe.
- Listening Skills – In order for your child to be successful in kindergarten, he or she needs to be able to listen. This is important for following instructions, completing assignments and participating in general class activities. If your child isn't responding to verbal directions or seems to be having a hard time hearing things, visit your pediatrician for a full hearing evaluation. This is particularly important if you're seeing these troubles both at home and in day care, because it could indicate a hearing problem.
- Basic Personal Skills – Your child needs to have the ability to complete basic self-care tasks. Using the bathroom independently, dressing alone and following basic hygiene processes should be second nature by this stage. When your child sneezes or coughs, he or she should be able to deal with that appropriately. Finally, your child should also be able to clean up after meals and handle a juice box with ease. If he or she is approaching kindergarten age and is still struggling with the autonomy required for these tasks, you may want to ask your pediatrician about the potential for developmental concerns.
- Fine Motor Skills – One of the first things that your child will be expected to do in a kindergarten classroom is learn to write. In order to do this properly, he or she needs the fine motor skills to handle a pencil or crayon to write correctly. Basic fundamentals of writing and drawing are important, and your child should have these skills before starting kindergarten. This is another area where your pediatrician may be able to help. If your child is struggling with finger control and fine motor skills, he or she can recommend some physical therapy exercises to help reinforce those muscle movements.
Social and Emotional Cues
In order to thrive in kindergarten, your child needs to have a solid vocabulary and should be able to speak clearly and easily. Your child should also have a grasp on descriptive words, because they are essential for proper communication and the foundation of language.
Social skills are also important. Your child needs to have the ability to interact with other children appropriately. Kids need to understand the basics of playing fair, including sharing and playing gently with kids. Children in kindergarten classrooms have to participate in group activities and interact with each other throughout the day, so this is important.
Persistent struggles in this area may indicate a developmental condition that needs to be addressed. Your pediatrician may recommend a full evaluation to assess your child's social development if there are concerns.
If your child isn't ready for this year's kindergarten class, consider looking for a day care that offers preschool or head start classes to strengthen the necessary skills before the next school year starts. With the evaluation of a pediatrician, you can even isolate any medical concerns and address them appropriately, giving your child the best chance of success.
If you do opt to keep your child in a day care environment for an extra year, take some time to discuss it with him or her. He or she is going to likely see all of the other kids from the group move up to kindergarten and should understand that this isn't a punishment but a chance to grow and strengthen some core skills. Make the message a positive one for your child so that it doesn't lead to feelings of inadequacy or inability.
If you'd like to make an appointment for your child to have a pediatrician's opinion on their development, you can click here for more info about pediatric clinics in your area.