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Kindergarten Readiness

PreschoolCathy Southerland, the Children's Museum Preschool Director of Early Childhood Education, shares some tips on preparing your soon-to-be kindergartener for school.

While it seems like summer just started, for families with five year olds your eye is already on the start of school—which for some is as early as the end of July! You may be excited for your child to begin "real" school, but you may also be wondering "Is my child ready for kindergarten?" Children are not innately "ready" or "not ready" for school. They develop at vastly different rates, and the school and teacher should be well aware of and accommodating to these differences. Effective kindergarten programs meet children where they are and take extra care to help make meaningful connections with each child's home, culture, and community.

So...take a deep breath! There's no need to race out and buy the latest book or program. However, there are some skills that kindergarten teachers ideally expect their new students to have. What follows are the top readiness skills kindergarten teachers look for:
  • Enthusiasm toward learning–Is your child curious? Does she ask questions? Does she love to listen to stories? Does she want to learn and examine the world around her?
  • Solid oral-language skills–Does your child listen to others without interrupting? Does she know how to wait his or her turn? Does she follow two step directions and communicate basic needs?
  • The ability to play well with others–Does she know how to problem-solve when conflict occurs? Is she occasionally willing to compromise?
  • Strong fine-motor skills–Does she hold the pencil the right way? Can she cut on a straight line?
  • Basic letter and numeral recognition–Talk to your child about letters and numbers. Every outing provides a spontaneous opportunity to learn. Relax and enjoy your child as she learns about letters and numerals. Read, play, and go places. And talk the whole time you're doing it!