How can educators speak to families about kindergarten readiness? Offering support and conversation can ease this big transition for children and families.
Kindergarten readiness is more than knowing how to count, being able to write your name or reciting facts. Kindergarten readiness is not a linear process, yet, school entrance is often communicated in a linear fashion: “Your child must be able to….” Entrance is currently measured by what is observable, such as a child’s ability to count, wash their hands, write their names, and so on.
Kindergarten readiness is a more holistic measure. Research shows that a child’s chronological age isn't the best way to decide whether he or she has what it takes to be successful in kindergarten. Instead, a child’s readiness needs to be observed on several fronts, including physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. Early childhood years are messy. During these first five years, children are discovering self “… who am I and how do I fit in the world?” The job of preschool age children is to constantly test the boundaries of the world in which they live. They search for adult and caregiver partnerships to guide them through these messy years. What is kindergarten readiness? It is a child who is emotionally safe and as, a result, can take on the necessary social encounters that face them as they prepare to take academic risk.
Key Indicators of Kindergarten Readiness
- Having Self-Control and delay of gratification
- Ability to develop relationships
- Language Development and the ability to communicate
- Listening and following directions
- Ability to get along with peers and adults – empathy and understanding
- Solving problems and critical thinking
- Being able to be self-directed and engage learning opportunities
These are the executive functioning skills that are the foundation for kindergarten readiness.
What does it take for schools to be ready for children?
Schools must be prepared to accept children for who they are and where they are in their development. Kindergarten programs should consider the following steps to be ready for children:
- Help children and families make a smooth transition from the “messiness” of early childhood
- Provide continuity between early care and education to kindergarten
- Demonstrate a commitment to the success of EVERY child
- Help children make sense of their complex world of school
- Commit to understanding individual children’s learning styles
- Ready to serve the children in the community’s needs
To help facilitate conversation you could invite a kindergarten teacher or family who has made the transition to kindergarten to answer questions for current families. For additional resources click here.