I’ve been struggling to write this post for some time. My struggle has been how to balance giving parents information about readiness skills without causing fear about Kindergarten Screening. So, to get in front of this, this post is meant to be a simple check up to see how your child is progressing. All the skills below can be learned by spending time with your child doing activities and are learned over time. Many of them can be done through simple play.
As a principal of a primary school I’ve talked to many parents about their child’s kindergarten screening results. Kindergarten screening tools are intended to see if your child is “ready” for kindergarten. In other words, is your child socially, emotionally and academically “ready to learn”. For some parents their goal is to “ace the kindergarten screening”. For those parents I give them 100% on enthusiasm. However, please remember that children develop at different rates and perfection on kindergarten screening should NOT be the goal. Real results help teachers plan appropriate programming for your child.
It’s important to remember that kindergarten screening results give an overview of how a child performed on “that particular test, on that particular day”. Therefore, it may not be an 100% accurate on your child’s abilities. It is for this reason that your child’s kindergarten screening SHOULD NOT be the only thing that a school looks at when assessing your child’s school readiness. Your knowledge along with preschool teacher evaluations are also important. Although your child’s school may have done thousands of screenings, they have only done 1 screening on your child. Don’t be shy to share your observations about your child with the school.
Kindergarten Ready or Not?
So, if you are wondering if your child is ready for kindergarten take a look at the list below. The items below help you to look at your 4 or 5 year old’s physical, social, emotional and academic development.
You may find that some younger kids can do some of the items on the list. That is perfectly fine since learning occurs over time. However, the list, in its entirety is not intended to be used for children younger than three. For my enthusiastic friends, consider it as “Coming Attractions”.
Readiness: Letters and Words
- Identifies and names at least 10 letters of the alphabet.
- Matches a letter with the beginning sound of a word: for example, matches the letter “h” with a picture of a house.
- Recognizes rhyming words such as mouse and house.
- Begins to write some of the letters in his or her own first name.
- Recognizes his or her own first name in print and some of the letters.
- Understands words such as top, bottom, big, little.
- Identifies words or signs he or she sees often, for example: McDonalds, Wal-Mart, stop signs.
- Draws pictures to express ideas and tell stories.
- Can recognize and name at least five colors.
Readiness and Speaking
- Answers simple questions: who, what, when, where?
- Shares and talks about his/her own experiences in a way that can be understood by most listeners.
- Follows directions with at least two steps, for example: “Pick up the book and put it on the shelf, please.”
- Initiates and joins in conversations with adults and children.
- Asks questions about how things work in the world around him, for example: “Why do babies cry?”
- Says and/or sings familiar nursery rhymes.
- Shows growing interest in reading and being read to.
- Holds and looks at books correctly: for example, holds the book right side up and turns the pages one at a time from front to back.
- Tells a story from the picture on the cover or in the book.
- Retells a simple story after listening to it while looking at the pictures in the book.
- Makes simple predictions and comments about a story being read.
Math Readiness (Numbers and Shapes)
- Recognizes and names 4 shapes: circle, square, rectangle and triangle.
- Counts out loud from 1 to 10 in correct order.
- Identifies written numbers from one to ten.
- Puts written numerals in order from 1 to 10: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
- Counts at least 5 objects such as 5 pennies.
- Sees the numeral 3 and understands this means 3 objects, such as 3 cookies.
- Adds and subtracts familiar objects such as stickers.
- Uses familiar objects, such as chips, to show concepts of more and less.
- Draws a line, circle, rectangle, triangle, X and + .
Same, Different and Patterns
- Matches two pictures that are alike.
- Looks at groups of objects and says which are the same shape, color or size.
- Tells things that go together, for example: a spoon and fork are for eating and a fish and a boat go in the water.
- Repeats a pattern you start, for example: blue, blue, green – blue, blue, green.
- Puts three pictures in order, for example: 1. Child puts on boots 2. Child point to a puddle 3. Child jumps in puddle while laughing.
Growing Up: Are They Ready?
- Takes care of own needs such as toileting, washing hands, dressing and trying to tie his or her own shoes.
- Tells full name, address and telephone number.
- Uses pencils, crayons and markers for drawing and writing.
- Cuts safely with scissors.
- Tells if he or she is a boy or a girl.
- Tells how old he or she is.
- Adjusts to new situations without parents being there.
- Runs, jumps, hops, throws, catches and bounces a ball.
- Rides a tricycle.
- Goes up and down stairs using both feet (Left, Right, Left)
- Attempts and completes tasks, understands it’s okay to make mistakes.
- Remembers to say “please” and “thank you”.
- Resolves conflicts with playmates and others appropriately.
- Responds appropriately to his feelings and the feelings of others.
- Uses words to express feelings, “I’m angry”, “I’m sad”.
- Takes turns, shares and plays with other children.
- Initiates positive interaction with peers.
- Puts puzzles together.
Health & Safety Readiness
- Asks for adult help when needed.
- Follows a set routine and schedule for preparing for bed, personal hygiene and eating meals.
- Uses good habits, for example uses a spoon to eat, closed mouth when chewing, covers nose and mouth to sneeze and washes hands after using the toilet and before eating.
- Is aware of and follows simple safety rules.
- Recognizes potentially dangerous or harmful objects, substances, situations and activities.
- Participates in vigorous physical activity daily.
- Remember that your child will grow tremendously in kindergarten. Take some time to enjoy the journey!