Home Baby Development What is Kindergarten Readiness — and is Your Child Ready?

What is Kindergarten Readiness — and is Your Child Ready?

by olbaby

It’s back-to-school time and for families with young children starting kindergarten, many parents ask, “is my child really ready for kindergarten? And what does it mean to be kindergarten-ready anyway?”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students enter kindergarten at very different skills levels, which is natural given that they from a variety of early childhood experiences, ranging from highly-skills-focused pre-K programs, play-based preschools, Head Start, or no preschool at all. An average kindergarten class may have children with a five-year range of reading ability, from children who don’t recognize letters or letter sounds to those who can read short books. This range makes the kindergarten teacher’s job particularly challenging. But it’s also perfectly normal.

As founders of Learn With Homer, the #1 Learn-to-Read app, we spend a lot of time thinking about what skills can help make the beginning of school easier. It is important to note that children do not need to be able to read before entering kindergarten. Still, there are certain skills that give children a strong early literacy foundation as they enter school. One top study on kindergarten readiness reports that “before children can read, write, or calculate, they must acquire rudimentary skills that serve as stepping stones toward mastery of the more advanced and complex skills” (Snow, Burns, and Griffin 1998). For reading, these skills include:

  • Becoming familiar with the conventions of print — such as reading from left to right and from top to bottom
  • Learning to recognize letters by name
  • Associating sounds with letters or letter combinations
  • Understanding the meaning of many spoken words and phrases

Children familiar with phonics upon entering kindergarten tend to advance their reading skills more easily and quickly than those without exposure to the connection between letter sounds and symbols. Here are some additional key readiness skills for children entering kindergarten:

  • Attentively listens to stories
  • Recognizes rhyming words
  • Speaks in complete sentences of five to six words
  • Makes up stories from images or using pictures as prompts
  • Hears individual sounds in words
  • Recognizes and names some letters in the alphabet
  • Has an interest in books
  • Recognizes some common words like “stop”
  • Understands that words you can say can also be written using letters from the alphabet
  • Counts to ten
  • Recognizes colors

Starting school can be anxious-making for children and for parents, and while there are certain skills that make a child’s first steps as kindergarten students easier to take, it is entirely normal for children to enter their first formal experience of school at varying developmental stages. The best advice we can give to parents as they prepare their children for kindergarten is read lots of books, have an extra cuddle or two, and get a good night’s sleep!

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