Is your child ready for kindergarten? Are you, as the parent, ready? These are the two big questions that loom in many parents’ minds as we head toward the fall semester and more specifically the new school year. The COVID-19 pandemic does add many more questions and concerns, but in some cases, it can add motivation too. If you are feeling conflicted about sending your child to kindergarten, here are some ways you can determine their readiness and get them ready for kindergarten.
Keep in mind that children do learn new skills very quickly. Even if your child is not great at one of these items in the spring, they may be better by the end of summer. For this reason, I typically recommend that parents go through the enrollment process even if they aren’t sure they will be sending their child to school.
How to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten
1. Readiness to Learn
There are several skills that indicate a child’s readiness to learn. These skills can be learned in a daycare, preschool or TK setting, but they can also be practiced and learned at home.
-Sitting and attending
-Performing on demand
-Getting along with others
If your child displays some or all of these skills, that is a strong argument that they are ready to begin kindergarten. Conversely, not showing these skills does not necessarily mean they need another year at home. Children develop very quickly. It is possible that they will pick up these skills between now and the first day of school. It’s even more likely that they will do so if you practice with them at home.
2. Practicing for Kindergarten
Regardless of how much socialization or how many playdates your child experienced during COVID-19, you can help get them ready for kindergarten and future learning just by practicing at home.
-Using a pencil: Getting your child familiar with using pencils and crayons is a good start, but be sure to also teach them the right way to hold a pencil or crayon.
-Focusing on an activity: Practice sticking with an activity for longer periods of time across several days. For example, you can have them work on a coloring sheet for 5-10 minutes the first day. Once this is mastered, you can slowly increase it. Remember that five-year-old children have a much shorter attention span than older children. If they can continue an activity that is not preferred for 15 minutes, they are doing fine.
-Managing needs: The classroom setting will help enforce the right and wrong times to ask to go to the bathroom or to want a snack. However, you can help them learn at home when you are practicing focusing on an activity.
-Developing fine motor skills: Play dough helps strengthen finger muscles and encourages kids to use their imagination. Using child scissors to practice cutting paper into shapes also helps with fine motor skills.
3. Helping Your Child Thrive
People of all ages are struggling to be social again. While each case is different, I do challenge parents to consider the benefits of reacclimating their kids to frequent social interactions sooner rather than later. Remember, children can sense and copy their parents’ anxiety.
If you have any questions or concerns about getting your child ready for kindergarten, please contact me.
Laurie Adachi is a licensed educational psychologist, with a background as a credentialed school psychologist. She has held a private practice in Santa Clarita, CA for over 20 years. She is passionate about equipping parents and students with personalized strategies to help them overcome learning challenges and more.