“Is my child ready for Kindergarten?”
The term “Kindergarten readiness” has been a hot topic in early childhood education for decades, and its definition has been discussed, revised and expanded many times over.
While there is no one definitive test to determine a child’s readiness, there are a number of measures that, taken together, can help you make an informed decision. Your own insights, teacher observations and a developmental screening are three such tools that St. Dominic recommends to determine your child’s overall readiness to succeed in school.
Most teachers agree that parents know their child best. As you observe your child in day-to-day situations, is he/she able to:
- Comfortably be away from you for an entire day?
- Express ideas and feelings to adults other than immediate family?
- Accept minor disappointments or limits without tears?
- Listen to and follow directions?
- Take turns and/or wait for his/her turn patiently?
- Work independently without constant adult supervision?
- Find ways to resolve conflicts and solve problems with peers independently?
- Make simple decisions given a few choices of play activities?
- Take care of personal belongings and toileting needs independently?
If your child attends preschool or day care, his or her teachers can provide a great deal of insight into your child’s learning style and development. Be sure to ask for their input as you evaluate your options.
Screening for Developmental Age
As part of the Kindergarten admissions process at St. Dominic, each child will be given the Gesell Developmental Observation screening to help determine his/her ‘developmental age’ in various areas, including social, emotional, physical and intellectual development, thus helping to determine readiness for school.
A child’s developmental age refers to how he/she compares to typical behaviors and characteristics of that age. There are no good or bad results from this test, and most children do not experience consistent growth across the various areas of development. However, this developmental age determination has proven to be an accurate predictor of success and comfort in the classroom. Furthermore, pinpointing a child’s location in the developmental growth process, and understanding their behavior and changing abilities over time, is important information both for parents and teachers.
Making Your Decision
When making your decision about your child’s readiness for school, keep in mind the following three guiding principles.
- Know your child: recognize and understand your child’s natural, individual developmental behaviors – how he or she responds in a variety of situations.
- Know the demands of the Kindergarten your child will attend: beyond the academic demands of the program, understand what is expected of the children behaviorally, socially and emotionally.
- Know that your child is in a constant process of growth: development never stops. If your child is developing normally, you can expect that this same child, in six months, will be acting in a way normal to a child six months older than he/she is today. Respect and cherish each stage of this development.