When I became a mom, there were a lot of things I expected to be stressful for the next 18+ years. Sleepless nights, the cost of braces, first dates, and college admissions were on my radar. I was not prepared for the anxiety I would have about my child attending Kindergarten. When my first born had his 3rd birthday, I started thinking about Kindergarten. What is the best school? Will he be ready? There was so much to think about and research. I spent the next two years researching our local schools and assessing my child’s growth and development. It turns out that there’s a lot more to Kindergarten than you think.
Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?
Kindergarten readiness doesn’t mean your child needs to know their letters, numbers, and be five years old. There’s much more to it that has nothing to do with the academic basics you associate with Kindergarten. It’s less about knowing their letters or how to read and more about the foundational skills that will make learning those academic parts easier. GRACE Christian School in Raleigh provided the following list of abilities to evaluate as you consider if your child is ready for Kindergarten.
Kindergarten Readiness Skills
Focus and Attention – Can your child focus on a given task, be engaged in a conversation, listen to others, and follow directions?
Separation – Does your child separate well from you?
Independence – Can he use the bathroom alone? Can he complete an age appropriate activity with little to no help?
Social and Communication Skills – Can she voice what she needs? Participate in group and one on one discussion? Does she have the social skills to interact with peers?
Motor Skills – Can your child hold a pencil, zip up their jacket, run and throw balls?
When my son’s 5th birthday came, I looked at who he was. Here was this sweet, fun little boy who loved Legos and learning about dinosaurs. He could write his name and he knew most of his letters. He would carry on a great conversation with me, but with others he struggled. When I saw him in a group of his peers, I saw a child that was slightly different. He didn’t interact well with them. There were some social and communication delays for sure. When I pictured him sitting on an adorable carpet in the middle of classroom and listening to the teacher give directions or tell a story, I saw him for who he was. I saw my sweet, quiet little boy sitting criss-cross applesauce, he looked like such a good listener. But I knew the truth about my son. He would be in his head, day dreaming and thinking, not listening. I saw that he would struggle to pay attention, that following along would be hard. I took an honest look and knew he wasn’t ready.
So we delayed Kindergarten a year and have spent the last school year in a Transitional Kindergarten class. Transitional Kindergarten is amazing for the kids that need an extra year to grow or for the kids that are ready for Kindergarten, but don’t quite make the age cut-off. It’s a great hybrid between preschool and Kindergarten. The expectations are a bit lower than the expectations of Kindergarten, but higher than what’s needed for preschool. It’s a year to really work on the skills listed above that will prepare your child for Kindergarten. And for us, it was just what my son needed!
This fall, my son will attend Kindergarten. I feel much more at peace with sending him to a Kindergarten classroom. The extra year has helped him to grow so much. He participates in small group discussion led by his teacher. He is still working on his social relationships with his peers, but his communication overall has improved significantly. We still have a few more months of Transitional Kindergarten and his last summer of freedom before diving into the world of elementary school. I’ll be soaking up these sweet moments left with him at home, praying that the days of first dates and college admissions don’t sneak up on us too quickly.
At GRACE Christian School, kindergarten classroom activities include role play and experiential learning, as well as a variety of hands-on experiences allowing for a high level of student engagement, fine & gross motor skills development, and exploration beyond the classroom walls. A strong phonics-based reading program in kindergarten provides the foundation for reading instruction. At GRACE, from transitional kindergarten through high school graduation, your child will be equipped, challenged and inspired to reach their full potential in a loving community environment.