Take a minute to close your eyes and rewind, all the way back to kindergarten. How old were you? Who was your teacher? Were you an early bird or late bird, or did you go to school all day? What did you learn? Let me guess - you were probably 4 or newly 5 when you started and your day likely consisted of learning the letters and their sounds, numbers and their value, snack time, storytime, and of course art and centers!
Now, open your eyes and fast forward to today. As you look at your child, on the cusp of starting kindergarten, you likely find yourself wondering what kindergarten will be like for him/her.
The reality is, your child’s experience will likely be nothing like your own. Kindergarten today can easily be described as busy, fast, and rigorous. Kindergarten students are expected to master concepts in math, reading, language, science, and social studies. If that isn’t enough, schools are also tasked with making sure that each child is on the path to well-roundedness with exposure to the arts, music, foreign language, athletics, and technology.
The increased demand that kindergarten now carries, leads many parents to ask, “Is my child ready?”.
Heights Christian Schools believes that there is no one single factor that determines kindergarten readiness. Instead, we feel strongly that it is a combination of multiple factors working together. Below are a handful of questions to ask yourself:
- How old is my child? A while back, California changed the entry date for kindergarten eligibility from December 1 to September 1, requiring all students entering kindergarten to have turned 5 on or before September 1 of that year.
Why does age matter? Three months doesn’t seem like a long time when you are forty, but when you are four, three months makes up a significant portion of your life to date.
- Can my child answer a series of questions about him/herself, identify personal responsibilities at home, listen and respond appropriately to questions, and carry on a two-way conversation with adults and peers?
Why do personal-social skills matter? Personal responsibility and independence become increasingly important as students are asked to follow a classroom routine, play cooperatively with others, and participate in new activities willingly.
- Can my child follow multi-step directions, describe objects, identify opposites, and apply knowledge of vocabulary to answer questions?
Why does language development matter? A solid foundation in language and literacy is crucial for student success in English Language Arts as he/she begins to read words, sentences, and short stories, write words and sentences to describe, answer, and respond, and form words using inventive spelling.
- Can my child manipulate small objects, cut, and write his/her name?
Why do fine motor skills matter? Strong coordination of the small muscles in the hands and fingers is needed to hold a pencil or crayon to write, draw, and color, use scissors for cutting, and grasp small objects to complete detailed tasks.
- Can my child focus on and recognize characteristics of shapes, letters, and words and then recreate those images on paper?
Why do visual motor skills matter? In school, students will often be asked to copy things from the whiteboard. A task as common as this requires multiple skills: focus, mental recall, and the ability to then recreate the object.
- Can my child jump, walk heel to toe, balance, hop and catch moving objects?
Why do gross motor skills matter? Coordination and control of the large muscles of the body
are important as students physically explore their environment, moving from the development of individual skills to more complex skills that can be used in group settings such as group games and team sports.
- Can my child respond appropriately to prompts, recall basic relationships, and understand the difference between real and pretend?
Why does concept development matter? In school, your child will need to be able to recall and apply previously learned material to new material in a way that makes sense.
- Is my child able to communicate needs and wants with confidence in order to complete multi-step tasks independently and does my child approach challenges without becoming overwhelmed and upset?
Why does overall maturity matter? Not only does maturity matter; it is one of the most important factors in determining readiness. The truth is that school (life) is going to be filled with challenges. If a child is overwhelmed and frustrated in kindergarten, chances are that same child will be overwhelmed and frustrated in third grade, junior high, and high school. Being a little older and having additional time to learn and grow in a setting without requirements and deadlines for mastery can help students develop the maturity needed to approach challenges with a feeling of security and confidence.
You might be surprised to find that not a single question referenced above has to do with actual academic knowledge. While academically rich experiences in the early years of development can be beneficial to students as they enter kindergarten, we at Heights Christian Schools believe that if your child is both chronologically and developmentally prepared for the rigors of kindergarten, your child will quickly learn the academic pieces and will likely very much enjoy their time spent learning and exploring these new concepts.
While many schools use a child’s date of birth as the sole marker of eligibility and readiness, we at Heights know that there is so much more to your child than the date he/she was born. As children develop, each at a different pace, our classrooms seek to partner with parents in meeting the unique needs of each child, whether that be in Kindergarten or Transitional Kindergarten. For more information about TK and Kindergarten at HCS and to learn more about developmental readiness, check out our K/TK Readiness video.
ABOUT HEIGHTS CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS
Heights Christian Schools has developed a vision of serving the community by offering private education that is affordable to as much of the populace as possible. Partnering with parents since 1981, our schools provide a small campus feel where students are known by name and embraced as individuals, with the support, resources, and collaboration of a large, well-established school system. Heights Christian Schools provides a secure and nurturing educational environment for children, 6-weeks old through 8th grade. Our schools are known for the quality of student life, the strength of their academic programs, a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, and tremendous support from parents and families. Heights Christian Schools seek to educate students to know Christ personally, excel academically, think biblically, and positively impact their community for Christ. Currently, our schools serve the communities in and around Brea, Chino Hills, La Habra Heights, and La Mirada. To learn more, visit us online at heightschristianschools.org or call 714-921-9070.