This article is from The Chicago Tribune, September 2000 It discusses "new" research which shows the importance of a child being socially ready above all else. I have seen a very wide range of abilities in the children who have left my preschool to enter kindergarten. There are so many factors that come into play on where a child is at when they leave preschool to enter "big kid school." It is not to say that the answers to any of the following questions are better than others, or that those kids are more prepared than others. It is simply an outline of how very different each child's experiences are by the time they enter school.
- Are they just turning five or are they about to turn six?
- Did they enter preschool at age two or four?
- Are they read to at home?
- Have they been in social settings from infancy or was preschool their first experience?
- How much time during the week do they spend in social settings?
- What are the child's interests?
- What kind of learner are they?
- Do they understand simple directions?
Lisa Murphy's House of Higher Learning, emphasizes the importance of play as the foundation for all the learning that follows preschool. At one of her conferences she stated that kindergarten readiness should be determined by whether or not the child can get their shovel back in the sandbox. Problem Solving!
With that being said, most school districts including ours have certain standards they expect children to know when they enter kindergarten. Our district uses one of the many BRIGANCE assessments. Parents of past graduates have been very helpful and open with allowing me to see their children's completed kindergarten screening reports. Here are some of the things that children are "tested" on.
- First name, full name, age, address, birthday, telephone number
- Identifies by naming: heels, ankles, jaw, shoulders, elbows, hips, wrists, waist
- Gross Motor Skills:
- Stands on each foot for ten seconds
- Stands on each foot momentarily with eyes closed
- Walks backwards toe-to-heel four steps
- Color recognition: Rainbows colors and also pink, grey, black and brown
- Copies: x, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond
- Draws a person with: head, legs, ears, arms, trunk, eyes, nose, neck, hands, mouth
- Prints first and last name
- Rote counting to 30
- Matching numbers with groups of objects (ex. #5 with five marbles)
- Joins groups of objects for number readiness
- Recognizes and Number Uppercase OR Lower Case Letters
- Understandable Speech and Complete Sentences of at least five words
I have had parents call me so excited to report how their child has done, while I have had others show up at preschool in a panic because the scores were "below average." I have had children not score well on areas that they have completed fine while at school. I have not, however, ever had a parent call me two years down the road to tell me that their child is struggling in school, regardless of their screening scores.
I recommend that you start early talking casually about all these concepts with your child. "Hey did you know that we live on Main Street?" or "It looks like you scraped your Elbow." Its important for parents to talk with their children and also to ask questions that require the child to answer with more than yes or no.
PLEASE DO NOT DRILL YOUR CHILD!!!
Other fun ideas on how to incorporate some of these concepts into your everyday routines:
- Count food as your serve it to the child (count 1,2,3 meatballs as you scoop them)
- Use their full name often!
- While they are waiting for you to finish what you are doing, give them simple directions like (stand on one foot, put your hands on your waist, etc.
- Point colors out everywhere!
- When playing with pretend telephones, say your number out loud while pushing the buttons.
- Draw and doodle with your child and talk while you are doing it.
- Most of all be silly and have fun. Kids learn so much more through playing!