Preparing Students for Foundational Learning
As schools recently closed their doors for the summer and said goodbye to students for a two-month hiatus, one group of bright-eyed little ones is just getting started. Enter the five and six year-olds whose parents are preparing them for their first formal academic experience—kindergarten.
At schools across the country, kindergarten educators are already contemplating what their new classroom of students will bring. While some children will enter school already able to write their names and identify letters of the alphabet, others will just be learning how to sit nicely in a chair or cooperate with other students of the same age. In reality, very few children are equally competent in all areas, and these diverse levels of readiness present an interesting challenge for educators.
Come August, kindergarten teachers will be benchmarking student learning—sometimes, just through careful observation and, in other cases, through more formal assessment. Some preschools also test students for kindergarten readiness before the end of preschool. While no single factor determines whether a child is ready to start school, there are a few key areas to consider. Teachers of this grade are looking to determine if students are prepared physically, socially, and cognitively.
As you assess your young student, consider the following criteria for kindergarten readiness with some of the key milestones for each category:
- Does your child get along well with others? Are they able to share and take turns?
- Can your child express their feelings verbally and tell an adult if something is wrong?
Attention and Following Directions
- Can your child focus on activities for designated periods of time—such as paying attention through a read-aloud or short period of instruction?
- Can your child follow simple procedural instructions for things such as lining up, gathering belongings, or assembling materials for an activity?
- Can your child hold a pencil or crayon? Cut with scissors?
- Can your child button their pants, tie their shoes, and use the bathroom independently?
Language and Literacy
- Does your child show an interest in books? Do they try to “read” a book by telling a story based on the pictures?
- Are they able to hold a book correctly? Turn the pages in sequence? Understand that words on a page move from top to bottom and left to right?
- Can students begin to identify shapes? Do they sort like objects by size or color?
- Can students count to 10 aloud? Do they recognize numbers in the environment?
Leverage this list, plus your own parental insights (which may include knowledge of home address and a parent phone number for safety reasons) to ensure that you’re thinking about all of the skills necessary for your budding kindergartner to become a successful student. A little attention to readiness in July can go a long way to making sure that, in August and September, your little one can hit the ground running. Take advantage of the next few weeks to give your student the best chance at kindergarten success.