So your child meets the age requirements to start kindergarten, but how do you know that they’re ready? And if they’re NOT ready, how in the world do you get them ready in time?!
Kindergarten is a unique and exciting time. The progress we see in our students from September through to June is incredible. Your children will surprise you with what they are capable of – always. So take a deep breath, take a step back, and rest assured, they are probably more ready than you realize.
Children grow and develop differently, doing things at their own pace. There isn’t a magic formula or secret recipe.
When asking, are they ready for Kindergarten? Here are a few things that we look to for answers –
1. Interested in Learning
You know those days where it seems like you’ve been asked dozens of questions – usually starting with, “why?”, and usually before 9 am? Let’s look at this from a positive angle, your child is showing they’re interested, curious even. This natural curiosity is something we love to see in Kindergarten. We spend a lot of time “wondering” the world around us. Our programming is driven by what’s “interesting” to our students and the more they are interested in, the easier our job becomes.
If you’ve never stepped foot in a Kindergarten classroom, you are in for a treat. The classroom is a busy place. The more they are able to navigate the classroom independently, the more successful our first few months together will be. Fostering an attitude of, “I can do it myself” (as frustrating as it can be when you are trying to get out the door before you’re late for that doctor’s appointment) is all we ask of our students in our early days together. Try first, then ask for help. Take a step back and let them navigate the washroom independently, put their shoes on and off, zip zippers, open snack containers; all of the little things that we unconsciously do for them as their parent, that they can actually do by themselves.
3. Following Directions
In Kindergarten, we spend a lot of time teaching our students to take ownership over their classroom and their learning, giving them as much control as appropriate. Ultimately, we need our students to be able to follow directions. Understanding and following direction ensures our classroom routines run as smoothly as they can. Being able to listen and understand a set of instructions while sitting amongst a group of kindergarteners can be no easy feat, and the ones who enter into the classroom looking to follow our lead usually become models for their peers.
4. Sustained Attention
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we do not expect children in kindergarten to be able to sit and write or sit and read for extended periods of time. Absolutely not! I’m sure there are some that can, but it’s not developmentally appropriate to expect this from our students just yet. We ease them into these activities, slowly increasing their stamina as the year goes on. Here at Dalhousie Community Kindergarten, we are what you would call a play-based program, so we want our students to be learning through play! What is helpful, is when they come to school with an ability to maintain their attention on one activity for at least 5 minutes. This is especially challenging in the classroom, because we have so many fun and interesting things to participate in all the time – it can be difficult to choose an activity and stick with it.
5. Sharing and Turn-Taking
When children are at home, they have unlimited access to their toys and games, allowing them to dictate when they play with what and for how long. When children come to school, they are sharing toys and games with upwards of 15 other children. Being open to the idea of sharing and taking turns will make the world of Kindergarten easier to navigate for everyone. We want to promote themes of fairness, patience and tolerance in our classroom. Throughout the year our students will learn how to negotiate play interactions with their peers, demonstrate compassion and develop empathy, hopefully recognizing that “sharing” doesn’t mean we always give up what we’re playing with, but learning to cope with the disappointment that comes when things don’t go the way we expect.
Worried your child isn’t meeting this list of “requirements”? Luckily, there are definitely things you can do over the summer to get them there, and it quite likely means you’ll need to start doing “less”.
We live in a crazy fast-paced world, and let’s face it, families are BUSY. The biggest thing you can do over the summer, slow down, and spend time. Spend time reading, spend time playing board games, spend time exploring outside… spend time. Time goes by way too quickly. Enjoy it. When you have somewhere you need to get to, give yourself lots of time, have your child get themselves ready to go, give them ownership over their things and give them some responsibility. Get them helping you around the house, let them pick out their clothes, let them get messy, let them be kids. Have fun and trust – they are more ready for kindergarten than you think.