Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kindergarten Readiness

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I had some readers ask for what requirements were for entering kindergarten here. I don't know the exact requirements--I don't think they want to tell you because they don't want you drilling specific areas while ignoring others. I do remember them mentioning that the child should be able to name and give the sound for about 10 letters if I remember right. That seems like very little to me; Kaitlyn could do that by 18 months...well, all 26 letters. I also remember them saying something about being able to hold and count objects. If you are looking for a good guideline for preparing for schooling, be sure to read On Becoming Preschoolwise. It is full of ideas.

Be sure to also check out the Children's Learning Activities blog for ideas from baby on up (I am cross-posting this post today on that blog). We write articles to help your child learn different skills. I am also currently focusing on the nitty gritty of info rather than "just" activities.

Brayden had his first entrance exam about two months ago. I wasn't in the room. Naturally I tried my best to overhear what I could, but I really couldn't hear much. I do know she went through shapes, colors, counting (counting objects), and letters. There might have been more. Brayden got 100% on it, and the teacher seemed surprised to see that.

Here are some ideas of skills to help your child be ready for kindergarten, whether you plan to send your child to school or homeschool. There will be things on this list your child is able to do well. There will be others she can't do at all. Just be sure to give plenty of opportunity to practice. Also remember it doesn't all come at once. You can't expect perfection in your first practice session. Keep things natural and enjoyable. Activities found on learning blogs and in busy books are great for creating this environment for learning. I will comment on what Brayden is and isn't able to do so far. He is one month away from turning five.

  • Eats Independently: Check
  • Uses Restroom Independently: Almost check. He does fine for peeing. I had him wiping his own bottom for pooping, then we moved and he decided he didn't like to do that and started holding it for days. A week ago, I told him he needed to start thinking about doing that himself again. He worries he won't be able to do it right. But he decided he was ready to learn and practice and has done it for a few days in a row. I am not sure we are out of the woods fully, but we are almost there.
  • Washes Hands After Using Restroom: Almost check. Almost in that he almost remembers all of the time, but still needs reminders sometimes. But hey, lots of men get married and still need reminders right ;) (oh, and let me be clear, my husband doesn't, but my mom claims my dad did).
  • Removes Outerwear Independently: Check
  • Cleans Up After Self: Check
  • Knows How To Care For And Use Books: Check
  • Ask Questions When Necessary: Um, triple check
  • Seeks Adult Help When Necessary: Check
  • Curious and Tries New Things: Check. There are times he is nervous to try new things, but he eventually will.
  • Takes Turns: Check. I wouldn't call him perfect at this at home. He is quite good at home, but not perfect. But with his peers, he is good at taking turns.
  • Shares Materials: Check. Again, not perfect at home, but really close. He even shares everything with McKenna. When I think of where he was three years is quite amazing.
  • Persists In Completing Tasks: Triple Check again. He has an amazing work ethic.
  • Confident In Own Abilities: I would say so so. He has situations where he is fully confident in himself and thinks he is fabulous. He has been known to look in the mirror and tell himself, "I love you." He also has areas he is nervous and worries he will fail. I work with him to help him realize things take time and practice and that it is okay to mess up. A good illustration for this is soccer. For the first few games, he didn't want to kick the ball because he was afraid he would fall while kicking. He saw kids do just that and was nervous. We encouraged him a lot and by game four, he was kicking quite often.
  • Listens While Others Talk: Depends on who "others" is. I know he is great for his teacher and authority figures. I think he has much room for improvement when it comes to his little sister. When they play together, he does pretty well, but if we are eating dinner and she is telling a story, he jumps in and corrects her or interrupts her, etc. This is an area I will focus on for improvement.
  • Shows Concern For Others: Check
  • Plays and Works Cooperatively With Others: Check
  • Separates From Parent Without Undue Anxiety: Check. A year and four months ago, this would have been no unless he was with Grandparents. By the beginning of preschool (last fall), he was okay. He didn't freak out going to preschool or anything. Sometimes he would be nervous even to go to friends houses. He went and didn't cry, but I could tell he was reserved about it. So was I! lol. But today, he doesn't mind at all. And as a younger preschool-age, he didn't mind either.
  • Knows Parent/Guardian's First And Last Name: Check
  • Knows Own First And Last Name: Check
  • Hops, Jumps, Runs: Check
  • Bounces, Catches, Kicks, and Throws Balls: Check, though he isn't always graceful about it and I wouldn't call him perfect. But I think he is on track for his age.
  • Can Run and Stop/Change Direction While In Motion: Check
  • Participates In Simple Games: Check
  • Can Control Pencils, Crayons, Scissors, Buttons, Books etc.: Check
  • Hand-Eye Coordination like Building Blocks and Construction Playdoh: Check
  • Simple Puzzles: Check
  • Counts To Ten: Check
  • Creates Groups of Up To Five Objects: Check
  • Places Like Items Together (red cars/blue cars): Check
  • Plays With/Creates/Indentifies Shapes: Check
  • Awareness Of Time (morning/night, before/after): Check
  • Compares Objects Informally: Check
  • Speaks In Complete Sentences: Check
  • Speaks Clearly Enough To Be Understood By Unfamiliar Adults: Check
  • Expresses Feelings and Ideas: Check
  • Knows Poems and Songs: Check
  • Listens Attentively & Responds To Stories and Books: Check
  • Identifies Signs/Symbols/Logos In Environment: Check
  • Identifies 10 Or More Letters: Check
  • Writes Using Scribbles, Letter like Shapes, or Real Letters: Check
You can see that our biggest area with need for improvement is Socially. This is an interesting category because it is objective. You can subjectively tell if your child has songs or poems memorized, can count, can write, etc. But social skills are measured based on your own ideals/values.

My guess is his social skills would be to par with the majority of people out there for an almost five year old. But we Babywise moms want children who are very polite and motivated by the right reasons. I see room for improvement before I say he is "checked" for "listening to others while they speak." He might not reach that check until he is much, much older.

He also needs help in accepting that he can't be perfect at something from his first try. I still work on this with his father on a daily basis (*wink*), so it isn't a battle I expect to win any time soon. But I do think it is an important lesson and I hope for him to accept it before too many more years pass by.

I think this is a great list to go over because it helps you see what needs to be worked on. These would be great additions to the "family plan" you make. Just typing it out helped me see better areas we need to make as target training areas.

These ideas came from a pamphlet written by my state office of education.


Heidi said...

Wow - this was a VERY timely and helpful post for me! Our eldest son will be turning 5 this May so we are in the midst of deciding if to send him to kindergarten in the fall or opt for another year of preschool or pre k. I have been prepared to hold him back because traditionally boys with late spring/summer birthdays tend to do better in school. However, after reading this list I'm nearly 100% confident that he will completely thrive in a kindergarten classroom.

We have our parent teacher conference with his preschool teacher very soon as well. I'll look forward to hearing her observations in addition to my reactions to this list.

Goldstein Family said...

My son will also be five in May and my answers to these milestones are pretty much identical to yours. I also struggled with the decision to move him to Kindergarten or have him do Pre-K again. After talking to his Pre-K teacher, she said that intellectually he should move up but socially, he is just slightly behind. She did say, though, that if we held him back, he would most likely be bored so, that was the deal breaker for me. I would much rather him be challenged in school than be held back and get bored to where school is no longer fun. The social aspect will come in my opinion so we have decided to start him in Kindergarten in the fall. Thanks for posting this, it makes me feel even more confident about our decision!

ys said...

Thanks for this post! I was one of the ones requesting this and this is very helpful....I had no idea what they even look at.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome everyone!


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