The first day of kindergarten is a massive deal. All the town’s five-year-olds line up in perfect disorder, backpacks proudly on their shoulders or lying crumpled on the ground a few feet away, each of them embarking on an educational journey that will span the next thirteen years of their life. And you, as a parent, are part of that journey. Everything you’ve done until this moment has helped your child prepare for kindergarten. Is your child ready?
How Do I Know if My Child is Ready?
Everyone is different, so there are no universal indicators to reveal a child’s kindergarten readiness. Each kid will develop their skills at their own rate, and they will demonstrate their progress in their own way. However, there are some general guidelines you can use to help decide if your child is ready or not.
Children are most likely to succeed in kindergarten if they can do the following:
- Understand simple verbal instructions
- Respect the personal space of others (no hitting, biting, etc.)
- Use pencils, glue, scissors, and other craft-related tools
- Say goodbye to and separate from family members without getting upset
- Point out letters and numbers, even if they don’t know them
- Use the washroom without help
- Make decisions when presented with a collection of options
If your child struggles with one or more of the above tasks, don’t fret! It’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t say anything about your skills as a parent—you’re awesome! As previously mentioned, everyone develops differently, and this list isn’t the be-all and end-all of kindergarten readiness.
If you think your child might not be ready for kindergarten, there is absolutely nothing wrong with delaying kindergarten for a year. Lots of parents do it, and it can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on a child’s confidence. Regardless of what you choose, we’ve compiled our best strategies to help you prepare for kindergarten.
Playtime is Essential
Children of all ages, but especially those aged four to five, need to play, and they need to play often. Playtime helps children become familiar with their own bodies and minds, giving them fundamental skills they can later apply to more focused activities like schoolwork.
Playtime doesn’t have to involve anything specific, nor does it need to be strictly educational. Kids are never not learning, so everything they do will teach them something. Run around with a ball, blow bubbles together, sing silly songs and poems, build with Lego, or have some fun with our family-friendly YouTube activities. Just get your child involved and doing things, and their excited brain will take care of the rest.
Not only will playtime help a child better understand themselves, it will help them understand others too. Personal boundaries can be difficult to teach, but children will pick them up through playing, sharing, and some gentle guidance along the way.
Interact with Other Kids
If your child hasn’t spent much time with other kids, kindergarten could be a bit of a shock. Suddenly they’ll be surrounded by a roomful of kids they don’t know, and it might be difficult for them to adjust.
To make the transition easier, give your child opportunities to play with other kids. StrongStart BC is a free program for all children aged newborn to five. It’s a drop-in program hosted at educational centres across British Columbia, and all you have to do is show up with your child to start interacting with other children and participating in play-based activities led by professional educators. You can get involved too, and you’ll have a ton of fun while you’re at it!
Pre-school and daycare are also great ways for kids to naturally learn how to interact with one another. Pre-school and daycare accurately simulate the kindergarten environment and can teach kids the interpersonal skills to help them make the most of kindergarten.
Talk About It
Have preparatory conversations with your child so they know what to expect and what will be expected of them. Talk about classroom etiquette (raising your hand, asking to use the washroom, hands-off policy) and roleplay by pretending to be the teacher and teaching simple lessons. Let your child know it’s okay to talk to the teacher if they need help with anything, be it related to their work or not.
Schools often hold orientation days you can attend in person or online, so contact your school to see if you can participate. The better your child knows the school before they start attending for real, the less they’ll stress when the big day finally arrives.
You Can Prepare for Kindergarten Too!
Once your child is ready, you’ll need to take care of the technical stuff for them. Make sure your child has the following:
- A backpack they can zip and unzip on their own
- Indoor and outdoor shoes they can do up on their own
- Healthy snacks and a water bottle with their name on it
- School supplies not provided by the school
Most schools nowadays will provide school supplies for your child after you pay a one-time fee. Contact your child’s school to find out if this is the case, and ask if there are any other specific things your child should have on the first day.
Additionally, the Government of BC has a list of resources and ideas to help you and your family prepare for kindergarten.
Tutoring Can Help Your Child Prepare for Kindergarten
Sometimes kids need a little extra help getting ready for the transition to kindergarten. If that’s the case, we can help.
Tutoring…With a Twist* has an enthusiastic team of tutors who would love to meet your child. Our tutors will work with your child in a low-pressure environment to help them prepare for kindergarten. We focus on a life-skills approach to learning that gives kids the start they need to get ahead in school and life as a whole. After working with one of our twisted tutors, your child will be ready to conquer kindergarten and beyond. Feel free to contact us for more information—we’d love to hear from you!
*Services provided by With a Twist Education Ltd.