Getting Ready for Kindergarten – It’s Not Just Academics

As a parent, you are the greatest influence in your child’s life. Your interest and help in preparing your child for kindergarten, a significant milestone in their life, may help your child’s success.  In North Carolina, if a child is five years old on or before Oct. 16, he or she is eligible to start Kindergarten for that year.

Preparing to go to kindergarten should begin a full year before the actual start of school. Below are five steps to help ensure a successful transition.

  1. Visit the school your child will attend months before the actual start of classes. This will help the child begin to familiarize themselves with the school as well as help them think of questions to ask you about their transition. Spend time looking at books in the media center and playing on the playground, too!
  2. Ask for a school calendar so you can familiarize yourself and your child with school hours and holiday schedule. Talk to school personnel about what an average kindergarten day includes.
  3. Participate in kindergarten orientation and registration. These often occur the fall and/or spring before a child is expected to enter kindergarten. This is a great way to ask questions and meet other parents going through the same transitions.
  4. Gather the required forms needed for kindergarten registration. These include: your child’s birth certificate, proof of residence, completed kindergarten health assessment and immunization record, and, if needed, custody papers.
  5. Talk about the transition to kindergarten as a positive step in your child’s development. Parents that exhibit a positive attitude about kindergarten help lessen some of the anxiety your child will probably feel. Check out children’s books about kindergarten from your local library and read them at home.

In addition to the need to familiarize your child with their new surroundings, there are a variety of personal, social and intellectual skills that your child should master before entering kindergarten. These include being able to dress themselves, sit still for 10 minutes or more, use the toilet unassisted, put away toys when asked, know some songs and stories, and be able to hold a book upright and turn pages.

Kindergarten teachers have ranked healthy, rested and well-nourished children as the number one quality of successful kindergartners. Other skills include being able to verbally communicate their needs and be able to follow basic rules and routines.

Each child develops at his or her own pace and intellectual, social, emotional and physical skills can widely vary from child to child until about age seven. Because children develop skills at varying times, it is difficult to list specific tasks and behaviors to ensure school readiness. Letter recognition, knowledge of animals and sounds, big and little, up and down are important to know, but it is more important that your child is socially, emotionally, and physically ready to tackle the challenges of school.

Is Your Child Ready for School? Ask Yourself These Questions:

Personal Needs

Without your help, can your child…

  • Use the toilet
  • Wash hands
  • Put on and take off coat
  • Tie shoes
  • Snap, button, zip and belt pants
  • Use silverware
  • Eat unassisted
  • Put away toys when asked

Social Skills

Can your child…

  • Follow two-step directions
  • Cooperate with other children
  • Play with other children without biting or hitting
  • Sit still for up to 10 minutes
  • Follow rules

Intellectual Skills

Does your child…

  • Hold a book upright and turn pages from front to back
  • Sit and listen to a story
  • Know first and last names
  • Know some songs and rhymes
  • Tell and retell familiar stories
  • Know own age

Health Needs

Has your child…

  • Had the required kindergarten health assessment?
  • Received dental check ups
  • Eaten at regular times daily
  • Learned to run, jump, skip, climb, swing, use balls