Going to kindergarten is a major milestone for growing kids — and for their families, too. For most parents, that magical age of five means their child is finally ready to enter school and begin a whole host of adventures and experiences.
But just because a child is five years old, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re as ready as they can be for school. In fact, the US Department of Education says that as many as 60% of kids aren’t ready for the demands of kindergarten, which means those kids could be left struggling or feeling anxious and left behind.
At Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland, our team is available to help parents get their kids ready for school and to help them assess their children’s readiness to enter kindergarten. If your child is set to enter school this fall, here’s how to tell if they’re ready.
Most kids who enter kindergarten know basic counting skills and even reading skills. Your child should at least know their numbers from 1-10, as well as how to spell their name. They should also be able to recite the alphabet and recognize letters and numbers.
Other basic skills your child should ideally have include:
They should have no trouble holding and using a pencil.
Kids who attend preschool often have a head-start, learning many of these basic skills before that all-important first day of school. If your child hasn’t learned these skills yet, there’s still time to help them along. Plenty of practice using online activities, workbooks, and basic reading books from your library can help.
Other important skills include basic hygiene habits, like washing their hands and using the bathroom. They should also be able to perform basic self-care, like buttoning a coat. If they have trouble tying shoelaces, look for shoes without laces for now, and make a plan to tutor them at home.
It’s normal to have a little separation anxiety during the first week of school, especially if your child hasn’t attended preschool. But after a week or so, your child should feel comfortable being in the school environment. If they cry easily or they’re very anxious, they may not be ready for school yet.
Your child should feel comfortable interacting with other kids, taking turns, sharing, cooperating, and playing. They should also be able to empathize with the needs and emotions of other children. Ideally, they’ll be able to run, jump, balance on one leg, and climb stairs while alternating legs.
In addition, your child needs to be able to pay attention for at least five minutes while the teacher is giving directions or reading to the class. They’ll need to be able to understand the concept of raising their hand and waiting to be called on, rather than blurting out answers.
Some parents who feel their child is not quite ready for kindergarten may decide to wait a year. That can be a good decision, but it could also lead to problems in the future when your child winds up being the oldest kid in class by a whole year.
Another option is to ask our team to assess your child, so we can help you make this very important decision. If your child attends preschool, ask their teacher if they think your child is ready and to identify areas where your child might need some extra support when they do begin school.
All parents wish for their children to succeed in school. If you have questions or concerns about school readiness for your child, our team can help. Call 410-504-6676 or book an appointment online to schedule a well child visit with a member of our team today.