View Full Version : kindergarten readiness

Mom to Brandon and 2 cats
10-05-2006, 03:07 PM
We live in an area with a pretty good public school system. Having said that, there is tremendous peer pressure to put the kids into a private pre-school for kindergarten readiness!

I've tried googling a list of items needed for kindergarten readiness (count to x, know colors, letters, numbers, etc.), but can't find one.

Could anybody help me?

PS: We're located in the San Francisco bay area (CA)

10-05-2006, 03:18 PM
Hi Jennifer,
I am attaching a link from Smart Start (a North Carolina Early Childhood Initiative) There seem to be some good resources that are geared toward all children not just NC kids. Hope this helps! http://www.smartstart-nc.org/familyresources/schoolreadiness.htm

10-05-2006, 03:20 PM
Ok-disclaimer. I am a school counselor and I was a teacher before that. As a counselor, I work with our Learning Center (comprised of learning specialists, reading specialist) on the kindergarten readiness test. But I don't have any experience teaching kindergarten! :)

One of the main things we consider is the child's developmental age vs. actual age. Some children are 5 years old but 6 years in their development (fine/gross motor, pre-literacy skills, etc.) Others are 5 years old but perhaps a 3.2 on the scale-which means they are functioning as a 3 year-2 month old. This doesn't mean that they won't catch up to their peers, it just means they may not be ready right now.

We don't necessarily look at if a student knows his/her letters or numbers-intstead we look at if they can *learn* their letters and numbers, kwim? I would look at what is expected of kindergarteners in your area-many areas are moving towards a full day kindergarten and expect all students to be reading by the end of the year. So, preschool becomes a place to learn letters and numbers, etc. If your kindergartens are half-day with more centers based learning (which can be very effective tool, even through 2nd grade)expectations will be different.

Just one more thing-you may not want to do a preschool, but I would HIGHLY recommend some slightly-structured activity away from the primary caregiver before your child attends kindergarten. This will help them get used to being away from you, listening/following the directions of another adult, and being with peers. Perhaps a mdo program or something like that.

Wow, this is long. Sorry! I hope it helped and wasn't too vague.

10-05-2006, 03:23 PM
My son's preschool has a poster with these guidelines for Missouri. I'll ask where online it's at, as I can't find it. I need to know too, we enroll next year :0

10-05-2006, 03:23 PM
I have zero personal knowledge or experience with this but FWIW, I attended a meeting (hosted by our local mom's club) last year that discussed kindergarten readiness. Several of the speakers were kindergarten and early grade teachers from local elementary schools. (We're also Bay Area - Lamorinda). The teachers rejected the notion that there was some set information that your child needed to have mastered before being "ready" for kindergarten. They emphasized that kids come in with a pretty wide range of knowledge and abilities. I tend to think readiness is more of a social/developmental issue rather than a has he/she mastered certain information yet issue.

10-05-2006, 03:24 PM
there is a post on this somewhere around here - I think the one about at what age is a structured setting important. Somebody gave some great examples.

I don't know the what the official signs of kindergarden readiness would be, but my kids are both in daycare/pre-school and I know they are (and will be) ready.

One thing I do is go to some of my area school's websites, and click on the kindergarden "homework" pages to see the kinds of things they are doing.

Also, though, everyone says they all catch up eventually, so its not imperative to keep up with the Joneses in their private pre-school as long as you are exposing your child to things in daily life, which I am sure you are.

10-05-2006, 03:54 PM
Check out that structured settings thread. I just dug up some links on getting your child ready for school and posted them there. There is also a link on there about how to know if they are ready socially as well as academically.

I just attended a talk at our preschool about choosing a kindergarten program. The PhD that presented it had some good things to say and was in line with what I have learned in my research (lots of child dev. classes in college as well as just reading).

This is a list of things from Newsweek. They just ran a good, but scary (imo), article about the "new" kindergarten programs (basically so many schools are forgetting what it means to teach children developmentally rather than academically- they call it "The New First Grade". If you can find it (it is probably a month old) it is a very good read! Their website may have it.
1. Read to them
2. Talk to them
3. Take them on trips
4. Write it down
5. Socialize
6. Use your fingers
The link explains what those mean. :)

I do think it is good for them to get out without you for a while before they are school aged but you can find a program that suits your lifestyle. There are so many dif't programs out there and even in my social circle we all have our kids in programs a dif't number of hours/ week.

Heck, I might as well just post what I learned at the talk about kindergarten readiness.

Social/ behavioral readiness:
-can separate easily from parents
-work independently, in small groups and in large groups (tolerance for having to wait their turn)
-self starter- can attend to anc complete tasks
-respect the rights of others
-follow rules (no more than 3 basic rules necessary)
-impulse control (this really will come with age and maturity and can transform rapidly)
-dress self, use bathroom, knows how to clean up (where to put things...)

Sensory/ motor readiness:
-skipping (they don't all ask about this anymore, in fact most don't)
-hold a pencil *almost* correctly

--use expressive/ receptive language
-large vocabularies
-phonemic awareness (*not* the same thing as phonics...phonics are helpful for spelling and that is a 7 year old+ skill)
-"read" by recognizing symbols (yes, knowing the McDonalds' arches means McDonalds counts as "reading")

-1 to 1 correspondence (count, touch and create sets)
~they don't need to recognize numbers as that is a reading skill that will come later
-can they sort (size, color, other characteristics)
-put things in order (biggest to smallest, softest to roughest...)
-space and conservation- if an object changes locations/ positions/ appearance does the object actually change too? (this can happen as late as 7yo)


10-05-2006, 04:00 PM
I just found this excellent interview from Newsweek called "What Would Big Bird Do?" Here is a portion of it and the link to the rest:

"SCELFO: Do you think there's too much pressure on young kids to learn?
TRUGLIO: People want children to be ready to read in kindergarten, so that pressure is now being passed down to preschool and day-care centers. We're putting a lot of pressure on [teachers] and introducing children to some things that may or may not be age-appropriate. Stress is not conducive to learning. If you're put in a stressful environment, you're not going to learn.

What should preschoolers be learning?
The majority of kindergarten teachers want children to be able to function in a group setting. To be able to listen and take direction. Be able to get along. To be able to regulate their emotions. A lot of what I'm talking about is social-emotional development of children. If they can't function in a group setting, it will interfere with learning to read.

So reading is important, but it's not the only thing?
Every child learns at their own rate. During the preschool years, children's job is to explore and investigate, and adults need to assist learning and facilitate it. I'm not going to say a child can't read by the age of 5. But developmentally, most children in kindergarten are learning the precursors of reading skills—they have sounds, they do the alphabet, they have rhyming—but they are not reading. ..."


10-06-2006, 05:57 AM
I would go to a homeschool store and see if they have a book for preschool goals. We have one near us and I get lots of materials there. ( we are not going to home school Nathan)

10-06-2006, 08:05 AM
I would absolutely agree that K readiness has more to do with social-emotional development than any "academic" skill list. I never considered holding my DD back from K (she has a late summer birthday) until during her 4 year old preschool class, her teacher suggested to me that emotionally she probably wasn't ready for K.

Her particular issues are:

has a hard time sitting still in circle or waiting her turn
has difficulty regulating her emotions
often invades other kids personal space

While a lot of this is simply the fact that she's younger than her classmates, she will ALWAYS be younger than her classmates, and I felt she would benefit from having an additional year to mature.

Based on this, I decided to send her to a private half day, center based K this year and next year will probably send her to K again at her full-day, more academic and structured public school K. This is even though she is TOTALLY ready "academically" for K.

Anyway, all of that is a long way to say that I would look more at the social skills aspects, especially with a boy, and even more so with boys with late birthdays for the school cutoff. Around here pretty much EVERYONE holds their summer birthday boys back.

10-06-2006, 08:15 AM
We are in a similar situation. Johnny would be academically (if there is such a thing in Kindergarten) ready to go to K, but I just don't feel he is emotionally or physically ready. He is actually quite well behaved at school but they pointed out he doesn't really talk, is quite passive and doesn't know how to stand up for himself. He plays with the youngest kids, all girls, because he thinks the bigger boys (boys his age) are "mean". I just think he would have a hard time socially at school. I think he will do better if he a year older and more physically and developmentally mature.
That is what I am thinking now. We will see how I feel in the summer.
FWIW, I spent time teaching Lily how to read before she started K this year, and they spent the first month teaching them their letters and the sounds they make. I am glad she knows how to read, but I think most kids learn that in Kindergarten anyway.

10-06-2006, 12:12 PM
Just from conversations with K teachers in the lounge when I was teaching, what they really want their students to be able to do:

put a jacket on
tie shoes or wear velcro
sit in circle time long enough to listen to a story
use the restroom without needing help
write their first name/recognize first name
recognize at least half of the letters

As far as curriculum, your school district might have a website with curriculum info or you could call them and see if they can send you a copy. I think it could be reassuring to see what they will be learning throughout the year.

10-06-2006, 12:40 PM
Back to what I learned at the talk. (Sorry to ramble about it, it was just very informative!). She was opposed to holding back a kid who will be old enough for school. She knew about that whole "summer boy" thing and she just didn't agree. She said that the social stuff can just click so suddenly that you could keep your child home for no good reason. She also said that nowadays it's like parents are stacking the deck by holding their kids back. It makes it harder for the teachers since there could be kids 5-7 years old during the course of a single year in the class. It's tough to provide the right learning and social environment for kids that vary so much in age.

Also, there is the whole size factor. Some kids do get very self concious being the biggest kid in the class and that can impact them in school.

She said that having them repeat a full year at the same school was a bad idea usually because it can be pretty boring to go backwards. It's also hard emotionally when your friends leave you behind. She really didn't see any reason why your average kid wouldn't be ready for kindergarten and couldn't get it pretty soon and thrive.

On a personal note she said she kept her fall b-day son out of kindergarten that first year and said that it came back to bite her in the butt his senior year. He was 18 for the whole year and didn't want teachers or anyone to tell him what to do. He was a grown up, right?

I had thought I would wait and see if ds would be ready for kindergarten next year as he is a summer boy. But I am just going to go with it. I will pick an environment where the teachers understand that he is still possibly working on social development and are willing to work with him. I won't choose a school that doesn't understand your typical young 5 year old.

Good luck with choices. :)

10-06-2006, 01:52 PM
I have a summer boy (late august) and we are looking into a preschool that could offer him a 3 years of preschool-just in case he needed it, so this is something I've been thinking about a lot.

I just wanted to comment on the whole size thing-I would (am) more concerned about a boy being too 'small' rather than too big. I think there would be more of a focus on a boy who is small-I think our boys value size, height, etc., and a smaller boy may have problems because of this.
I would also be very concerned about emotional maturity down the line-since holding him back isn't just about dealing with kindergarten. a younger boy may be more emotional, more sensitive and have problems socially because of this. Now, being a small, emotional, sensitive boy isn't a problem (we all want our boys to be honest, sensitive men, right?!:) , but it is a problem if all your classmates have moved on to a different developmental stage.

That's just my perspective. Personally, I'm thinking about holding DS. I am not a risk-taker-and for me, I see less risk in holding.
But ask me again after a year of preschool!! ;)


10-06-2006, 03:13 PM
I wrestled with this same question last spring when deciding what to do about my very late summer (end of August) boy. There's a thread a number of pages back with a lot of good information. I also asked a number of education professors at the university where I work their opinion as well as current elementary school teachers and BTDT parents. The overwhelming majority recommended waiting.

After much agonizing over the decision, my DH and I decided to wait. Our reasons included wanting our emotional son to have an additional year to mature (like a PP he isn't comfortable with older boys) and to develop his fine motor skills (he gets very frustrated working on writing skills). Also, our district is just beginning full year K this year, and we didn't want to be the test year. Finally, we wanted our children to be close in school (there will be 2 years rather than 3 between them -- we may regret this when it comes time to pay for college).

Reasons we might have sent him were the fact that academically he's more than ready (counts to 1,000+ and does simple addition and subtraction; beginning to read and spell) and a big boy (95% height/90% weight). There's not a lot of definitive research out there on the topic, but the one thing that is documented is that early starters, especially boys, have trouble in junior high school because of a lack of maturity/emotional development. They tend to be followers rather than leaders and more easily swayed by peer pressure. In the end, the emotional concerns were more pressing than academic ones.

On a personal note, I'm enjoying having my guy around the house for one more year.

10-06-2006, 05:21 PM
I hear what you are saying about long term consequences. But, are all parents holding their boys back? Certainly most of the boys will be his age in class (well, he will always be on the young side) so I think he will be fine with his peers. So, he won't be an early starter- he will be an on time starter.

At the end of the day I believe that parents hold so much pull in how our kids turn out. I will hope that I will instill confidence and sense of self that will help him be more of a leader (compassionate) than a follower.

It's really interesting to hear the differing professional opinions on this subject. I should track down some of my college professors (one was the university's preschool/ kindergarten director) for their thoughts.

I definetly lean towards starting him on time but I have always planned to let his development lead the way. I know lots can change in the next year. :)


10-06-2006, 05:52 PM
I'm not sure what part of the bay area you're in, but below is the kindergarten readiness list from the San Ramon School district.

You can also find it on: http://www.srvusd.k12.ca.us/schools/REGISTRATION_INFORMATION/KINDERGARTEN/Kindergarten_Readiness_Skills/


Kindergarten Readiness Skills
The following list describes recommended kindergarten readiness skills for entering kindergarten students. The skills are listed under skill areas. Entering students may not demonstrate competency in all skill areas.

Behavioral Skills
Child can usually inhibit body movements and keeps hands to himself/herself while in line and during circle time.
Child usually sits quietly while attending to a short story.
Child is learning to respect other students.
Child participates in clean-up activities.
Child verbalizes or tries to verbalize his/her frustrations and problems rather than physically acting out.
Child is able to work in small groups.
Child attempts to complete a teacher assigned task.
Child chooses a free choice activity and maintains his/her involvement in this activity.

Self Help Skills
Child uses appropriate bathroom skills (flush toilet, wash hands, etc.).
Child can dress self(socks, coat, and attempts tying shoes).
Child is learning to take responsibility for own belongings (coat, school bag, lunch).

Language and Listening
Child can verbalize his/her first and last name.
Child can complete a two-step simple direction.
Child can share an idea, experience, or description.
Child has heard a variety of stories and has participated in follow-up discussions.
Child practices accepted patterns of speech (irregular verbs, however, are still emerging).
Child can engage in a socially appropriate conversation.
Child can participate in informal creative dramatics (play house, puppets, role playing, etc.).

Math Skills
Child can count 1 to 6.
Child can demonstrate 1 to 1 correspondence with concrete objects up to his/her age.
Child has had experience with identifying two objects in terms of large/small, tall/short, long/short, more/less.
Child can recognize similarities such as color, size, and shape.

Large Muscle Skills
Child can identify general body parts (back, stomach, head, legs, etc.).
Child has had experience with log rolls, jumping, standing on one foot, galloping, skipping, hopping, and swinging.
Child has had experience throwing and catching balls.
Child has had experience in block building.
Child has had experience in painting at an easel.

Small Muscle Skills
Child has been encouraged and tries to grip crayon correctly.
Child has had frequent experience cutting with scissors and holding scissors correctly with scissor thumb oriented up.
Child has had experience playing with clay.
Child has had experience playing with puzzles.

Writing and Spelling
Child recognizes his/her first name.
Child tries to write his/her first name using lower case letters with a capital at the beginning.
Child can copy, draw, and reasonably trace a line and a circle.

Child can identify and name the eight basic colors.
Child has had tactile experiences with water, sand, clay, rice, finger painting, etc.
Child has had experience singing the alphabet song.

10-06-2006, 07:49 PM
I know what you are saying as well. I first read about the phenomenon when I lived in the DC area ten years ago. The Post ran an article about "redshirting" in kindergarten. I thought it was the most outrageous thing I had ever heard of and swore I would never do it. Fast forward to now. I didn't do it because everyone is doing it - we live in a fairly rural area, but I think it's more prevalent in more affluent suburban districts. A friend of mine told me her daughter who was born in May is one of the youngest children in her class. I don't know how many times I said, "if he was born five days later, I wouldn't be having this discussion". DS was so close to the cutoff, it made sense to me. Another factor for me is how fast kids grow up these days. Boys who are almost a year older than him but who were in his preschool class loved things I don't want him exposed to yet (ie. power rangers, pokemon, etc.) I'm not comfortable with that level of violence. He still likes Noggin and Sesame Street. Bottom line for me was kind of like Pascal's Wager -- there seemed to be more potential downside to sending him than waiting, although in all likelihood, I don't think it will make a huge difference one way or the other fifteen years from now.

10-06-2006, 08:57 PM
Yes, "redshirting" was the term she used. I wish the decision weren't so complicated. I wish I were like other parents that just walked down to the local public school and signed their kids up for school on their 5th b-day. Simple. I instead have gone to 3 talks/ open houses (so far) and basically researched it a ton and still haven't decided what is best for my ds. Why does it have to be so complicated? :)

I'm just trying to find a school where the other parents share my values wrt violence and other behavior (name calling...). Right now I am quite spoiled at our private preschool- lots of involved parents with very similair views on hot button issues. I worry what the giant public school will be like for ds (and me) since there will be a big spread of opinion on what others deem acceptable.

Lots of his peers have older kids so Power Rangers play has become common. I just do my best to make sure it just stays within ok limits for my tolerance. We lost our happy little bubble already with respect to certain things already and it was bound to happen. So long as his dad and I are his anchors in the world I'm not too worried. :)

Enjoy this year!


10-07-2006, 09:43 AM
Our local public school does a screening. Depending on the results of the screening your child is either placed in "kindergarten A" (preK) or "kindergarten B" (regular kindergarten). Some of the items on the screening:
list as many animals as you can
draw stated shapes (they look for completion of shapes, arrangement on paper)
vocabulary words
count to 20
Write their name
letter recognition
That is all I can remember right now.

Parents can opt out of the PreK option if they want. After K their are also 2 prefirst classes. So, about half of the kids going into first grade are a year older...

10-07-2006, 06:28 PM
I started my son in kindergarten at 4 years old, the cut-off here in CA isn't until 12/1. There were tons of kids in his class that were Fall birthdays, so Summer doesn't even seem early to me. I think almost every child is ready for K, maybe two years of it, but ready to at least start. love the private K and then on to regular K at the public school idea, but starting K on time or early in my opinion is a wonderful thing for the child as long as there are options for repeating K. In my old school district kids could start with fall b-days, but had to do two years. K is not hard, yes, there is learning, but it is reasonable (I'm sure some schools are different, but for the most part...). First grade is where it is becomes more of an issue. I've also met a few kids who were held back in pre-school and entered K at almost 6, and they seem fine too. I think they would have been ready either way, but they seem happy enough with the younger kids. My pediatrician says new studies show holding kids back isn't a good idea, and younger is better, but who knows. It looks like there are good reasons to do either.