During this time of year we occasionally get phone calls from parents of incoming kindergarten students with a lot of questions about how much their youngster should know by the time they get to school. They will sometimes hear about a neighbor's child who is reading already, able to write their name, they know all the letters and numbers plus the sounds they make, etc. Perhaps at this time they have a brief moment of panic, thinking, "My kid can write their name sort of and knows about half their letters and sounds. Maybe they aren't ready?" It is about that time the phone starts ringing.
Well, the phone hasn't started ringing yet, but last weekend while attending a family gathering I was quizzed about whether or not I believed my niece was ready to start kindergarten this fall. She can do this, this, this, this, and this; but she can't do this, this or this (so I was told). But the neighbor kid, well they can....
After several minutes of this discussion I was asked for my 'expert' opinion. Do I think Charlotte is ready for kindergarten?
I leaned back in my chair, crossed my arms and sighed in my most academic voice. 'The answer," I said,"depends." There are a lot of different benchmarks that seem to be common for kindergarten readiness. For example, it is not uncommon for them to be able to write their name, recognize multiple letters, and know the sounds that many letters make. They can often count on their fingers. Many can speak in sentences of 5-8 words and have little trouble with oral communication. Now, if your child can't do that (or can do that and more) it is no reason to: a.) panic, or b.) take your foot off the gas and coast to August. At the end of the day you have to be on the one to make the decision. I am pretty sure you are going to get it right. In fact I haven't met anyone that has blown it yet!
Now then, a little bit about kindergarten. In many cases it will be your child's first experience with formal schooling. Even if they went to preschool (which is a great start by the way), now that they are in kindergarten it is going to be quite a bit different. They will experience a lot of 'firsts' this year. Riding the school bus, going through the lunch line, music, PE, and art. Your little one is going to be in school all day long, and they are going to be very tired at the end of the day! One of the reasons we start school on a Thursday is because of this. The first two days are about all they can handle. By the time they have the first full week of school under their belt, I can assure you they will be pretty much wiped out!
So, as I alluded to above, kindergarten is going to be your child's first experience with formal education, and thus is about learning a lot of routines. In addition to learning how to read, write, and complete basic math problems, a big part of this school year is learning about the routine of schooling and how to interact with peers. Learning how to share, play by the rules, and lose gracefully are all important skills of kindergarten!
Those are few things to think about as you prepare to send your youngster off to school for the first time. In your final preparation for kindergarten a couple of other considerations worth mentioning:
- Have fun. This summer is quickly winding down!
- Start working on that school schedule by putting your child to bed a little earlier and insist they are up in the morning and ready for the day!
- Read to your child!
We look forward to seeing you for the first day of school on August 15th! If you have any more questions about preparing your child for kindergarten, I would encourage you to contact your child's principal, Mr. Schlatter at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also encouraged to keep an open line of communication with the kindergarten teachers.