Parents are continually told about the importance of kindergarten readiness. But much too often, parents are left wondering what this really means. To help get parents the answers they need, we interviewed the Center Director of Y Kids at Whitney Early Learning Center, Stephanie Travers. Take a look at her responses below.
What is Kindergarten Readiness?
Kindergarten readiness is much more than just a parent’s feeling that their child is ready to start school. It is an assessment that school districts use to determine if a child is ready to enroll in kindergarten based on 6 domains of development.
What are the 6 domains of development that school districts assess for and what are they looking for?
The 6 domains of development are:
Here’s what educators are looking for in each of these areas:
- Children should be able to manage classroom rules, routines, and transitions with occasional reminders.
- Children should be able to demonstrate self-confidence in meeting their own needs.
- Children should be able to look at a situation differently or delay gratification (ex. if all the puzzles are being used, they will seek out another activity).
- Children should be improving jumping, running, and climbing skills. Children should be able to balance on the edge of a sandbox or curb. Step one foot in front of the other. Jump off something and land with both feet on the ground.
- Children should be able to use their hands and fingers in a variety of ways. For example, cutting with scissors, stringing beads, putting puzzles together, and using crayons and pencils correctly (not in a fist).
- Children should be able to respond correctly to specific vocabulary and simple statements.
- Children should be able to follow simple directions and relate to familiar objects.
- Children should be able to speak so they are understood and use words correctly most of the time. Children should be able to engage in short conversations and begin to engage in longer conversation.
- Children should be able to stay focused on an interesting activity and ignore most distractions.
- Children should begin to pursue challenging tasks.
- Children should begin to problem solve.
- Children should be able to remember and name missing items or people.
- Children should be able to name and recognize characteristics such as shapes, colors, and sizes. Children should be able to group objects by these characteristics.
- Children should be able to plan, draw, construct, move, and dramatize to represent ideas.
- Children should be able to show awareness of language sounds. Children should be able to identify short words. Children should be able to recognize their name and the letters in their name as well as at least 10 other letters.
- Children should be able to pretend read.
- Children should be able to understand the text and meaning in a book when read to them.
- Children should be able to write some letters correctly (ex. the letters in their name).
- Children should be able to count to 10 and be able to count 10 objects. Children should be beginning to count up to 20 and start to count up to 20 objects.
- Children should be able to combine and sort up to five objects and describe the parts.
- Children should be able to recognize the numbers up to five and what they stand for.
Why is kindergarten readiness important?
Working on these skills is much more important than to have your children only read or write. They help develop the whole child.
When a child has these skills already developed, they are open to learning. The foundation is laid, and the teacher can build the child up more. If the foundation is not there, the teacher must set the foundation themselves, which puts the child at a disadvantage on day one. The child will feel discouraged, left out, and unable to keep up. They may begin to develop behavior problems, anxiety, or just not want to come back to school. Setting them up for success in kindergarten will help the child all through their future school years.
While we may think that coloring and cutting out shapes is not going to have a significant impact on our child’s future (and it likely won’t), kindergarten is your child’s first introduction to schooling and their belief in whether they can be a successful learner. Ultimately, individual belief in oneself as a successful learner is the greatest predictor of academic success.
How do Y Childcare programs prepare children for kindergarten?
The Y Early Learning Centers across the Skagit Valley specifically set up their curriculum and learning environments to focus on developing the skills outlined above for children as young as 12 months. Our teachers’ daily interactions and activities promote opportunities for children to create, challenge themselves, build social relationships with peers, make mistakes, and navigate feelings and emotions. Y teachers allow the children to explore with love, respect, and positive guidance.
One of the most important things we do is allow children to develop at their own pace and create opportunities to practice the individual skills they need to work on. We also know that parents play a vital role in helping children develop these skills. We will advise you on creative ways to continue developing your child’s skills at home. For example, if a child is having difficultly writing and identifying their name, we may suggest adding clip boards and paper to their toys and creating a poster together to hang in your child’s room so that they can continually see their name spelled and know that the name represents them as an individual.
How does the Y stay up to date on the latest kindergarten readiness standards?
A Y advocate meets with local school districts’ superintendents and principals to find out what the expectations are for the upcoming year. We also openly communicate all year long through phone calls, emails, and Zoom meetings. We inform each other of changes and upcoming events related to Pre-Kindergartners and other school age children.
What advice do you have for parents as they prepare for this next step with their child?
Remember that each child will develop at their own pace and that it’s important not to put too much stress on yourself or your child to meet every single bullet point under the 6 domains of development listed above. What’s most important is that your child is continuing to make progress no matter how small their improvements may seem.
Educators, like our teachers at Y Early Learning Centers, are here to help you along the way. If you are looking for ways to help your child develop further in a specific area, please reach out! We love to see parents engaged in their child’s development and want to work with you to help set your child up for life-long success.