This checklist is a very brief outline of skills that are needed by most children as they begin a structured school environment, such as kindergarten. If you have concerns about whether or not your child is ready for the kind of learning that kindergarten provides, talk with some of his or her potential teachers. Ask friends what experiences their children have had at that particular school. Read books about the developmental stages of children such as “Your five-year-old”, by Louise Bates Ames. Ph.D.
If you still have concerns after you have decided to enroll your child, volunteer some time in the classroom. This will give you an idea about how the class is conducted and how well you child is adapting.
If you feel your child is continuing to have difficulty ask your pediatrician for his or her perspective. A family counselor or psychologist who specializes in children can also be helpful in evaluating the emotional and psychological development of your child.
Skills useful in starting kindergarten:
1. Verbal skills:
1. Can your child use words rather than physical aggression to get what he/she wants or express what he/she feels?
2. Can he/she repeat phrases said by an adult?
3. Does he/she speak clearly enough to be understood by someone who does not know him/her well?
4. Can he/she communicate with peers?
2. Social skills:
1. Does your child seek out interactive play with other people (children)?
2. Can your child wait his/her turn?
3. Can he/she follow simple directives?
4. Can he/she put into words simple requests?
5. Does your child show some beginning “empathy skills”?
3. Self-care skills:
1. Is your child consistently dry during naps?
2. Can your child ask to go to the bathroom and go without assistance?
3. Can your child eat lunch or snack-food with minimum adult assistance?
4. How much help does he/she need getting coat/sweater, etc on?
4. Academic Skills:
1. Does your child have the ability to show sustained attention?
2. Can your child memorize things that have been read to him/her repeatedly? (Pretending to read).
5. Maturation skills:
1. Does your child demonstrate an understanding of a concept of time?
2. How long can your child sit still?
3. Can your child put things back where they belong and clean up after projects?
4. Average chronological age kids begin kindergarten 4-5
Remember to trust your parenting intuition and your own knowledge of your child. You are your child’s best advocate!
For further information on this topic you can read:
Lois V. Nightingale, Ph.D. (lic# PSY9503) Psychologist, director of the Nightingale Center, Licensed Marriage Family Child Therapist, providing therapy services to individuals, family therapy, couples and marriage counseling, child counseling and teen therapy in Yorba Linda, and Orange County, California