kindergarten readiness checklist

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kindergarten readiness checklist

One year ago, my son had an assessment at his preschool. I remember waiting for him in the hallway and hearing the teacher talk to him about letters, numbers, and shapes. I could feel from the tone of his voice that he was really trying his best to give the right answers.

When the assessment ended, he came out of the room with a big smile on his face. Then a nice lady came to talk to us about how the meeting went. At the end of the discussion, she handed me a piece of paper with a kindergarten readiness checklist. She insisted on how important all those skills were and how they make the difference between my son thriving or struggling at school.

In the year that followed, as my son was going to Pre-K, and we started to slowly prepare him for school, the checklist began to be mentioned in more and more discussions. The teachers talked about the progress kids need to make before kindergarten, many parents were stressed out about checking off all the skills on the list, friends with children the same age as our son mentioned it as we went through the school enrollment process.

Although I  understand why academic skills are important, I couldn’t help noticing that there are other skills that matter even more and that we tend to easily overlook when getting our kids ready for school. We focus so much on the “academic performance” that we forget that children need to develop their emotional skills as much as their academic skills (and even more). 

For me, helping my child develop these skills is more important than making sure that he checks off every single box on his kindergarten readiness checklist.

5 skills every child needs before starting school (that are not on the kindergarten readiness checklist)

I truly believe that if parents would focus more on helping kids prepare emotionally for kindergarten, things would be a lot easier for both the children and the teachers who will welcome them on the first day of school. So besides encouraging our kids to learn math or writing, we should spend some time focusing on the support they need to face the emotional challenges that school will bring in their lives.

Here are the 5 skills that we can help kids develop before starting school. They have nothing to do with academics, but I’m pretty sure that they will matter in their first year of school.

1. Overcoming separation anxiety and other worries about starting school

Some kids have no problem saying goodbye to their parents and heading into the classroom on their own. Others get overwhelmed and need more love and support before entering the classroom.

My son recently started going to summer camp, and I noticed how different every child reacted on their first day. Some of them cried or refused to let the parent go, others were a little bit emotional but seemed ready to say goodbye, others quickly ran into the classroom to check it out. Most probably the same will happen on the first day of kindergarten.

Helping kids overcome separation anxiety and any other worries related to school will allow them to relax and manage their emotions better. They will see the start of school as a positive experience, and this will make them more willing to learn new things and participate in class activities.

kindergarten readiness checklist

2. Facilitating a positive relationship with the teacher

The relationship between the child and the teacher has a huge impact on how little ones experience school. When kids feel connected to their teacher, they behave better and learn more easily.

Helping the child build a positive relationship with the teacher can start before the first day of school. First, if a child has good listening skills and is able to follow directions in the classroom, it will be a lot easier for them to connect with the teacher. So helping your child develop these skills can make a big difference when they start school.

Also, the parent can facilitate the child’s bonding with the teacher by meeting the teacher before the school starts, if possible. Another helpful idea is to talk to the child about their new teacher and the activities that will happen at school.

3. Building social skills and facilitating a positive relationship with the other kids

Many kids are scared of the idea of entering a new environment and meeting new children. Providing your child plenty of opportunities to meet new kids and helping them develop social skills will help them find friends more easily and enjoy school more.

It is very helpful if the child can meet their future colleagues before school starts. Many schools offer a playdate before the first day of kindergarten, and this is a great opportunity to help your child get familiar with the new kids.

kindergarten readiness checklist

4. Taking care of themselves and knowing how to ask for help

My son has always been an independent child, but during the first days of summer camp, I noticed that it wasn’t easy for him to adjust to the rules that were different from the ones in preschool. Eating in the cafeteria instead of the classroom, going to the bathroom with a buddy instead of the teacher, taking care of all his belongings without any help, and so on. Also, he was reluctant to ask for help because he wasn’t familiar with the teachers.

Noticing these things before he starts kindergarten was a helpful reminder to focus more on encouraging him to practice these skills. Kindergarten brings many changes compared to preschool and talking to the kids in advance about these changes can make the adjustment period a lot easier.

5. Managing strong emotions

It is not easy for kids to manage strong feelings during the school day. They can get overwhelmed by the schedule, frustrated by some of the activities or demands, upset by some of the interactions with their colleagues, and so on. All these feelings are gathered in their emotional backpack and can lead to misbehavior or tantrums.

Teaching kids how to handle their emotions is a very important skill that will impact their lives in the long run. This will help them behave better at school, interact better with other children, communicate their feelings easier, and overcome challenging moments quicker.

Here are some tips on how to help kids develop their emotional skills: How to help young kids deal with strong emotions in a gentle way {+ printable}.

The start of kindergarten can also bring after-school meltdowns caused by all the emotions your child stuffed up during the day, so here are some easy ways to handle them: Why do kids have after-school meltdowns and how to help them.

The first day of kindergarten is a big milestone for both kids and parents. It comes with changes and new challenges, but also with the excitement of a new beginning!

Focusing less on the kindergarten readiness checklist and more on the emotional support kids need when starting school can be a great way to transform this milestone into a positive experience for your child! Kindergarten should be about learning with joy, and it’s up to us to help our kids love school and have a great start in their school years!

>> Want to remember this? Save these ideas to your favorite Pinterest board!

Have you ever stressed out about the kindergarten readiness checklist? Here are 5 skills that are even more important for a great start to school that you can easily teach your child before kindergarten starts! --- Getting ready for kindergarten | Emotional readiness | Parenting tips #Parenting

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