Children mature in very different ways on different timelines. Not all kids who are 5 years old are ready to begin Kindergarten, and some children are Kindergarten ready by age 4. Judging if your child is ready for Kindergarten is a difficult task for parents because most schools do not adequately assess each child on the basis of their verbal skills, social and emotional functioning or their self care skills. Below is a listing of the important criteria to consider in deciding whether YOUR child is ready to begin Kindergarten:
1. Verbal Skills: Can your child use words rather than physical suggestion to express their needs? Does your child speak clearly enough to be understood by those who do not know him/her well? Can your child communicate with peers?
2. Social Skills: Does your child initiate play with other children? Can he/she wait his/her turn? Can your child follow simple directions? Can your child verbalize simple requests?
3. Self-Care Skills: Can your child ask to go to the bathroom without prompting? Is your child consistently dry during naps? Can your child eat lunch and snack foods without assistance?
4. Maturation: Does your child demonstrate an understanding of the concept of time? Can your child clean up his/her own toys? Can your child sit still for over 10 minutes? Can your child understand consequences of behavior (good and bad)? Can your child separate from parents without tantruming?
5. Academic Skills: Can your child have the ability to sustain attention? Can your child memorize things that have been stated to him/her repeatedly? Can your child count to ten? Can your child string together complete sentences?
If more than 1 of these skills is NOT met in each category, your child may not be ready to begin Kindergarten. This does NOT necessarily indicate any type any type of psychological or cognitive disorder, children develop and mature at different paces, and if as a parent you are not sure that your child meets the vast majority of these criteria listed above, it would be wise to consult with an expert in child development such as a psychologist or psychiatrist well versed in child assessment, and possibly wait to enroll your child in Kindergarten during the next academic year.