Starting kindergarten is an important step in a child’s scholastic journey that families often approach with a mixture of excitement and confusion. "What we now know is how pivotal families and early childhood education can be in preparing young children for kindergarten and later years of school," said Professor Shaun-Adrian Choflá, faculty member in The National Hispanic University’s Child Development program. "It is vital to the success of a child that parents help foster and build these early learning skills to ensure their child is prepared to transition to school while also laying the groundwork for future success."
To prepare for this new learning experience, Professor Choflá offers these guidelines to help determine if your child is ready for kindergarten as well as activities to support your child’s success in school.
Signs of Readiness:
- Communicates his or her needs verbally. Communication is key to self-expression and building meaningful relationships. Consider whether your child is able to express himself/herself so that others understand. Also, ask yourself whether your child takes part in conversations, listens, and asks questions. Remember, no child has to be an "expert" communicator. These skills will continue to develop throughout their schooling.
- Gets along well with others. Anyone can feel frustrated at times when interacting with others. However, ask yourself whether your child enjoys engaging with others in a group or play setting. Does your child generally practice taking turns and manage to work out conflicts with peers?
- Demonstrates independence. There are so many ways children this age are learning to be more independent. Participating in age-appropriate household tasks or taking care of a pet can help your child feel competent and independent. A child’s sense of independence and ability to view himself/herself as competent can lead to successful kindergarten and life experiences.
- Shows basic skills recognition. Your child should be able to identify letters, shapes, colors, and rhyming words. Children will also learn to begin counting with understanding, rather than just by rote, and print his or her first name and other words.
- Demonstrates self-control. How many of us wish that we had greater self-control? Refusing that extra slice of cake or turning off the television at a more reasonable hour. Self-control isn’t always easy but it is important to children’s success in school. Think about your child’s ability to follow directions, pay attention, handle frustration, and control impulses. These skills are equally, if not more important, than basic skills recognition.
Preparing for School:
- Talk with your child about starting school. Change is difficult for everyone, and going to kindergarten can be a big change. Some children may express anxiety or have questions, and some children are just fine. Regardless, find out as much as you can about the kindergarten your child will be attending—daily activities, whether there will there be snacks or meals, who the teachers will be—and share what you have learned with your child. Draw pictures together or write a letter about this new adventure. Ask if your child has any questions and write them down so you can find the answers together. Reading books about going to school can also help ease the transition.
- Visit the school. Make this an active experience. Drive the route together. If possible, take a tour. See if you can use the playground. Find out if you can meet the teacher or get a picture of your child’s new teacher to share with him or her. If your child is taking a bus, go to the bus stop together and then drive the bus route.
- Talk with your child’s teacher. If you have any concerns or questions, find out if you can talk with your child’s teacher before school begins. Continue to build a relationship with your child’s teacher throughout the year.
- Identify everyday activities to support your child’s education. Provide your child with paper, pencils, and crayons to encourage drawing and writing. Read to your child every day and talk about the story. Explore new or familiar places and talk about the experience.
Early childhood educators are a crucial part of your child’s learning, and they need to have the necessary preparation and understanding of this stage in a child’s life. Learn more about NHU’s master’s and bachelor’s programs in early childhood and child development.
For additional information about The National Hispanic University, visit www.NHU.edu.
For additional kindergarten readiness tips and resources, visit: