The current school year is half over, so that means we have to start preparing for…next school year, of course! Maybe it seems a bit premature, but the preview program for our local Kindergarten program is next week. Naturally, we had the conversation with my daughter’s current preschool teacher back in OCTOBER about whether she should wait another year before heading to the “big school,” and of course, we are confident in our decision to bite the bullet and enroll her in Kindergarten.
Who am I kidding?! With our first born we’re just fakin’ it ’til we make it. I’d say so far we’re doing OK. But, like any good mother, I obsessed over what my child could or could not do before reaching Kindergarten.
My own little checklist included things like the following: tying shoes (nope), reading (nope), wiping her own @$$ (a recent accomplishment, to be sure!).
But in reality, the standard list of skills for entering Kindergarten, as determined by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, is a bit more encompassing. The basic skills children should be exposed to and familiar with are divided into seven basic skill sets (detailed here: Kinder Readiness Toolkit):
- Language Development
- Learning & Thinking
- Beginning Reading
- Beginning Writing
- Number & Counting
- Physical Development
- Social & Emotional Development
It may seem overwhelming at first, but it can quickly become a great tool for discovering and understanding your child’s learning style, strengths, and unique development.
It’s by no means a hard and fast checklist of things a child MUST be able to do, but it’s a good guide for identifying what skills a parent, child, and teacher might choose to focus on in the coming year.
Kindergarten is not mandatory in the state of Texas; in fact, compulsory school attendance doesn’t begin until age six. However, once enrolled, a student’s attendance is monitored and he/she is subject to withdrawal if he/she does not attend regularly. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, pre-primary enrollment for five-year-olds has remained relatively steady at a rate of 84% for the last 10 years. So, it’s safe to say that most five-year-olds are attending at least a half-day program. Of those, half aren’t immediately considered “Kinder-ready.” From what I gather from talking to teachers, principals, and education experts, if this applies to your child, it’s probably OK, and there are things you can do to get ready!
With my own daughter, I found that casually going over a few of these skills at a time allowed her to proudly show off all the things she’s been learning and for us to bond over the opportunity to learn new skills together. As a parent, practicing being actively involved in my child’s education is something I’ve committed to, knowing that it’s a strong indicator of future academic success and social enjoyment.
When we went through the checklist and discovered that our daughter wasn’t able to keep her balance, we made a simple adjustment to our family walks: instead of telling “O” to just stop trying to walk on the curb, we encouraged her to try it while being careful. As expected, she tripped, but a few minutes later she was practically Kerri Strug.
On another family walk, we practiced making silly rhymes by singing the name game, which is a great song so long as your name isn’t Buck, Hitch, or Dick (obviously).
While not everything can be addressed on a family walk, there are lots of resources in San Antonio that can help develop most of the skills with which a child preparing for Kindergarten should be familiar.
San Antonio Public Library branches provide free story times and crafts for kids. Check out your local branch for specific times and classes: www.mysapl.org.
And check out this ACMB chart of free museum admission days, perfect for getting your knowledge on:
There are always new things to see and do around town, and now a month’s worth of activities are conveniently located online: http://alamocity.citymomsblog.com/2016/01/31/san-antonio-scoop-family-fun-alamo-city-month-february/.
One of the greatest assets to our family has been our preschool. There are lots of options and variables when deciding on what type of early education experience you want for your child, but that’s for another post…
In the meantime, check out yet another fabulous resource brought to you by ACMB to get you started: http://alamocity.citymomsblog.com/2014/11/06/guide-to-childcare-preschools-and-schools-in-san-antonio/.
If you have concerns about your child’s readiness indicators, talk to your pediatrician. They are often underutilized resources in this regard. So, next time your child’s pedi asks you if you have any questions, consider asking him/her for suggestions on how to prepare your child for school.
Finally, call your local school and ask for a preview or tour. Many schools set up group tours in advance, and it’s never to early to see what lies ahead in your child’s education. As for us, next week can’t come fast enough!