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Kindergarten: Is your child ready?
As mothers and parents we dream about our children and their future from the time we find out we are expecting. What will he or she look like? Will she have my eyes? Will he have his father’s chin? Will she be a happy baby? Will he follow in his daddy’s footsteps? …and then in the blink of an eye, they are five.
They are their own persons.
They are independent.
They are ready for full day, five day kindergarten.
Or are they? Or are we? This piece helps put some of our worries to rest and lets our dreams for our children’s future continue to grow and shine on.
This piece was written by the Hartland Lakeside School District.
The views expressed are their own.
Late summer is a time to sneak in that last bit of family fun and enjoy these lazy days together. With the new school year on the horizon, most families are also thinking about getting ready for what lies ahead. Especially if they have a child who is at the age to enter Kindergarten. “Is my child ready?” they find themselves asking, and “Am I ready to let them enter their first year of ‘formal’ education’?” These can feel like daunting questions for parents, especially with the increasing number of demands upon kids that most of us hear about in the media.
First, let’s discuss what Kindergarten readiness means and why it is important. There are no single factors that can determine whether or not your child is ready. We also know that no two children are ever alike. Parents should look at their whole child, specifically in the areas of social/emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Children are not expected to have mastered all academic skills and developmental milestones when they reach the age of five. Instead, ask yourself if your child is ready to learn these skills. Readiness doesn’t necessarily mean that the child is “ready” to enter Kindergarten with a specific skill set. It means that the child meets the social and emotional competencies and is “ready to learn” what will be taught in 5-year-old Kindergarten and beyond.
This type of readiness is taught in our 4 and 5 year-old Kindergarten programs. If your child has been to preschool, you have most likely already talked to their teacher about readiness. Our district’s teachers have knowledge about child development and will be watching for your child to demonstrate consistent growth throughout the school year. In Hartland/Lakeside’s 4K program the teachers and children focus first and foremost on Social and Emotional development. These skills are learned through play that is intentionally designed to help the children practice these skills in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. They learn what it means to play cooperatively and work within a group. When problems arise – they learn how to handle these situations with the support of nurturing adults in a variety of settings. This includes not only turn taking, but other problem solving techniques that are important life skills. They also learn to recognize their emotions and the emotions of others. It is OK for children to cry and be emotional, but it is how they handle their emotions that can determine readiness.
These type of lessons continue as a transition into 5K where the staff will expose the children to daily community building lessons and the use of “Peaceful Playgrounds” that extend play and problem solving to a more independent level. Hartland/Lakeside staff works together to scaffold lessons for the developmental level of their students into 1st grade and beyond. Ideally, Social and Emotional skills are the building blocks for all other learning.
It is then through play and a love for learning that the children are also introduced to literacy, math, and scientific reasoning skills. With each new incoming Kindergarten class, the teachers take into account the social/emotional and academic skills in a balance with one another. The teachers will then create differentiated lessons specifically designed to meet every child’s needs within the classroom environment.
If you are still unsure, ask yourself the following questions about your child.
Does my child exhibit independent bathroom skills and self help skills? (Including buttons, zippers, and the coordination to attempt dressing themselves.)
Is my child able to recognize and listen to an authority figure other than the parent or caregiver?
Can your child recognize their emotions and have the oral language skills to express their needs to a familiar adult?
When we’ve attended Library story time or other area classes – has my child been able to sit and listen to the story and participate in age appropriate discussions?
Have I exposed my child to a variety of print materials including songs, nursery rhymes, stories and environmental print,
When my child has had playdates with neighborhood children or family and friends, does my child exhibit playskills that show age appropriate interactions? (Including exchanges of conversations and willingness to cooperate).
Have I talked to my pediatrician about concerns and whether they feel my child has met developmental milestones (ie: Speech, Language, Large and Fine Motor)?
If you’re at the point of considering 5-year-old Kindergarten, ask yourself these additional questions…
Have I given my child the opportunity to use scissors, crayons, markers, and playdoh?
Can my child follow two and four step directions given by an adult other than myself?
Do I encourage my child to ask questions and be inquisitive about the world around them?
Has my child been exposed to a variety of foods, and can they eat in a timely manner?
Academically, can my child recite the alphabet? Recognize and write the letters in their name? Are they able to rote count to 20, and recognize basic shapes, and colors?
You know your child best, and as always we are here to support you with any further questions. Remember, an open and honest relationship with your child’s teacher will give them a strong academic start and an enhanced love of learning.
Brought to you by Hartland/Lakeside School District teachers Megann Schnickel and Michele Plank.