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Kindergarten readiness: Is your child ready for school?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kindergarten-readiness/MY01437
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Kindergarten readiness: Is your child ready for school?
Kindergarten readiness may be more important than you think. Find out how you can encourage your child's development — and help make the most of his or her first school year.By Mayo Clinic staff
Your child may be old enough to start kindergarten — but is he or she ready for school? Recognize the factors that might affect your child's kindergarten readiness and what you can do to help him or her succeed in school.
Why is kindergarten readiness important?
Kindergarten marks the start of a child's formal education. A child's first school experiences can influence the way he or she relates to others for the rest of life. Success or failure at this stage can affect a child's well-being, self-esteem and motivation. A lack of kindergarten readiness also can lead to a child being held back a grade. As a result, it's important to make sure that when your child begins school he or she is developmentally ready to learn and participate in classroom activities.
What factors affect a child's ability to learn?
Many factors can affect a child's ability to learn and increase his or her risk of problems in school, including:
- Low parental education
- Speech defects or delayed speech
- Behavioral concerns, such as hyperactivity
- Low birth weight
- Exposure to household smoking
- Being male
How can I tell if my child is ready for kindergarten?
Most schools use cutoff dates — deadlines by which a child must be a certain age — to determine who's eligible for a kindergarten class. Typically, a child must be age 5 before entering kindergarten. Age, however, isn't the only way to measure a child's kindergarten readiness.
When deciding if your child is ready for kindergarten, consider his or her abilities and circumstances. How well is your child able to communicate and listen? Is your child able to get along with other children and adults? Is your child able to run, play and use a crayon? Use your own intuition as a parent and consult your child's doctor, preschool teacher and any other child care providers for useful, objective information about your child's development and readiness for school.
Keep in mind that some schools also require children to take a kindergarten readiness test to evaluate their abilities. While these tests aren't always accurate indicators of how well prepared a child is for school, you can use them as a way to gauge your child's development relative to other children of the same age.
Are there benefits to delaying a child's enrollment in kindergarten?
Some parents choose to delay a child's entrance into kindergarten, believing that a child can gain an advantage in academics, athletics or social settings by being older than average for his or her grade. This is also common among boys who have birthdays near the cutoff date — with parents believing their child needs more time to mature. However, research suggests that children who are old enough for kindergarten but postpone enrollment for one year don't perform any better than children who enter at the usual age — particularly if the child remains in an environment where readiness wasn't being fostered. In addition, other studies show that a child who is old for his or her grade is at higher risk of behavior problems during adolescence.
What can I do to help my child succeed in kindergarten?
You can take many steps to help your child prepare for kindergarten. For example:
- Encourage the development of basic skills. Work with your child to help him or her recognize letters, numbers and colors. Teach your child to say his or her name, address and telephone number.
- Read, sing and play games with your child. Start reading to your child when he or she is an infant. Singing and playing rhyming games with your child also can encourage language development.
- Limit screen time. Excessive television viewing limits the amount of time your child could spend learning.
- Expose your child to learning experiences. Look for opportunities to broaden your child's horizons, such as preschool. Take your child to the museum or enroll him or her in community art or science programs.
- Encourage socialization. Promote your child's social skills by encouraging him or her to play with children of both sexes.
- Potty train your child. Aim to have your child using the toilet on his or her own well before the start of kindergarten.
- Develop routines. Choose regular times for your child to eat, play and sleep each day. This will help your child know what to expect and what's expected from him or her.
- Keep your child healthy. Ensure that your child eats healthy foods, gets plenty of sleep and visits the doctor on a regular basis.
If you're unsure of your child's development or readiness for school, share your concerns with your child's doctor. You might also ask friends, family members and other contacts for advice about helpful resources. Also, be sure to share information about your child's development with his or her teachers so that you can help them prepare for your child's needs.
- Is your child ready for school? American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Is-Your-Child-Ready-for-School.aspx. Accessed April 1, 2010.
- Harris LL. School readiness. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 1, 2010.
- High PC. School readiness. Pediatrics. 2008;121:e1008.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 23, 2010.