The moment is almost here – your child is about to enter kindergarten. Kindergarten has changed a lot over the past several decades. It’s no longer acceptable to enter school without having some basic skills already in place.
You might be wondering if your young student is up to the challenge their new class will bring. To help you figure out which skills your child might be lacking, you can go over this list.
If you notice something on here your child can’t do, you’ll know what they need to work on. Here are the basic skills they should already have in place before walking through the doors on their first day.
Gross Motor Skills They Will Need
Unless physical disabilities prevent it, your child should be able to:
- Hop on one foot.
- Jump with both feet together.
- Climb up and down stairs.
- Bounce a ball and attempt to catch it when bounced back.
Personal Care Skills / Self Help Skills
Your child should be able to go to the bathroom on their own, without assistance from teachers.
Occasionally, a child may have problems with zippers or buttons they may require help with, and that’s understandable. If you’re worried about it, you can have them wear athletic pants or leggings which don’t use zippers or buttons.
And, of course, every child, even those who are fully potty trained may occasionally have an accident at schools. Teachers are used to this – so if it happens to your child, don’t feel bad. Make sure to pack an extra set of pants and underwear in their backpack or leave one at school in their cubby or locker.
Parents should also teach their child they should wash their hands after going to the bathroom or before getting ready to eat their lunch.
Academic Skills They Should Have
Your child should have some interest in learning or curiosity about the world around them. But before they enter kindergarten, there are some educational skills they should be able to perform. Here’s a short checklist you can use to assess your child’s readiness.
- They should be able to count from 1 to 10.
- Your child should be able to recognize basic shapes like circles and squares and be able to name them.
- They should be able to either say or point out basic colors, including blue, yellow, red, white, black, orange, pink, purple, brown, and green.
- They should have the capability to sit quietly to listen to a short story being told or read.
- They should understand how to turn the pages of a book and in what order you would do so from the start to the end of a book.
- A child should be able to write their first name or recognize it when they see it in writing.
- It’s helpful if they can say their ABCs and be able to point to at least some of the letters when they are shown flashcards.
- They should be able to hold a crayon, marker, or pencil correctly to draw a basic picture.
- Knowing when two words rhyme, even if they can’t yet come up with rhymes on their own, is helpful.
Language Skills Your Child Needs
Your child might be on the shy side, or their language skills may not be up to snuff yet, but having the means to communicate verbally is a must when entering kindergarten. Your child should be able to:
- Tell others what they need or want.
- Follow along when given simple directions.
- Understand the difference between key concepts like big or small, or up and down.
- Speak in full sentences.
If your child has speech impediments that make it hard to understand them, they may be asked to see the speech pathologist at the school for short lessons. Sometimes parents think their child’s speech is normal for their age, and they are surprised when they get a call from the school saying the child needs to be enrolled in speech lessons.
If you suspect your child may have speech issues, you can ask your school if they would be able to do a screening before the first day, or you can bring it to their attention in the first few days of school. The school will work with you to improve your child’s speech. So don’t worry if it’s hard to understand your child – speech improvements can happen rapidly with the proper therapy.
Social and Emotional Skills That Will Help
Although social skills aren’t a strict requirement for entering kindergarten, they can help your child avoid trouble with their teacher and classmates. A child who gets in trouble frequently for things like fighting with other students, not sharing, and misbehaving might start to hate school and associate it with negativity.
That’s why working with your child on their social skills may help smooth this transition and might even encourage a love of school. If their teacher praises or rewards them for their good behavior, they’ll be likelier to enjoy school.
Simple things like teaching them not to cut in lines, to share their toys, and to say please and thank you can greatly help them in the classroom.
Furthermore, they should be able to control their emotions while they are in school. They shouldn’t have tantrums or outbursts directed at their teacher or their classmates.
They should also be capable of sitting down and listening to short stories or participating in group activities.
Don’t Stress About It
It’s hard not to worry as your child heads off to kindergarten – you’ll understandably wonder whether they have all the skills in place they’ll need. But try not to be overly concerned. Your school is used to issues cropping up, and they’ll be able to handle a few shortcomings if your child is struggling with some areas of preparedness.