It can be difficult for parents to know when their child is ready to enter the wonderful world of kindergarten. Baby Center writes that it was traditional for schools to provide a “cutoff date” for prospective kindergarten students, meaning that they had to reach the age of five by a certain date—usually September 1st.
Nowadays, some schools are moving away from the traditional cutoff date. Either they are pushing it back or don’t have one. But more and more schools are starting to focus on whether or not a child has the necessary physical, social and cognitive development skills in order to truly make the most out of kindergarten classes.
There isn’t one sign that is the be-all and end-all of kindergarten readiness. Some children might need work on holding a pencil correctly while having superb social skills amongst peers and soak up information faster than a sponge. Others might be excellent at recalling a story or personal event in sequential order but their ability to throw a ball needs a bit of work.
For parents that are wondering if they should sign their child up for the local kindergarten class at their nearest neighborhood school or wait another year, this list can help identify signs of being ready to take that next step.
20 Can Follow Simple Directions
Care notes that if a four year old can follow simple one or two-step directions such as “put the red ball in the toy box and the Barbie doll on the shelf,” then that is a sign that they are ready to be introduced to the wonderful world of kindergarten.
While most children at this age should not be expected to be able to follow complex instructions, it is important for kindergarten readiness that toddlers be able to not only listen to their teacher, but follow along with what they are saying as well as any directions that they may give out in class.
19 Sits Still For Long Periods Of Time
Toddlers at this age are usually bundles of energy that can barely sit still for long because they are just so antsy and they want to explore the world around them.
However, Care points out that if parents notice that their son or daughter is able to sit still for longer periods of time than most of their peers in the neighborhood, that’s a good indication that they’re ready to go to school. Just be sure to not expect too much of a child at this age—even if they fidget or get up and walk around during class, that’s perfectly fine and teachers expect it. Just as long as they aren’t disruptive, being jittery is acceptable.
18 Uses The Restroom By Themselves
Most parents will fully admit that potty training their child is a total pain to do because without a doubt, there are always going to be starts and stops.
That being said, Care notes that if your child excels at the whole process of potty training by the time they are four years old and they are able to not only be able to recognize the signs that they have to go to the bathroom, but can also manage it themselves, that’s another good indication that your child is ready to go off to kindergarten and shouldn’t have too many issues adjusting.
17 Is Able To Recognize Most Numbers And Letters
Contrary to popular belief, Care reassures parents that it is perfectly okay if your little one isn’t an expert in reading when they enter kindergarten. They just have to be able to recognize at least some letters of the alphabet and some numbers.
Parents also shouldn’t be too hard on themselves if their child only knows a handful of numbers and letters because a) it is a process and b) there’s no limit on how many numbers and letters a child should know before entering kindergarten. Even if they know a handful of them, the rest should follow pretty soon after so there’s no need to fret.
16 They Keep Practicing Their Motor Skills
While most kindergarten teachers don’t expect perfection when it comes to a child’s fine and gross motor skills, Care writes that if you want to be sure that your child is 100 percent ready for kindergarten, then it is best to make sure that they have some skill at jumping, running around, being able to throw a ball, correctly hold a pencil and safely use scissors.
Since fine and gross motor skills are a combination of practice making perfect and physical growth, this kind of development really all depends on how fast your little one grows and if they consistently practice.
15 Gets Along Well With Other Kids Their Age
It is perfectly normal for toddlers this age to have some spats with their peers or be reluctant to share their beloved toys with their buddies if asked, but Care points out that another sign that your little one is mature for their age is if they are pretty good at interacting with their peers.
For example, this means that they won’t pitch a fit if they’re building a castle made out of blocks and their friend gets frustrated that they are paying too much attention to the toys and knocks it over. Or if they are able to share their toys with one or more of their peers
14 Fascinated By Learning
Care adds that another sign that your little one will thrive if you enroll them in kindergarten is if they are fascinated by learning new things. Most, if not all, toddlers at this age are curious by nature, but if you notice that they constantly ask you to read them bedtime stories before they go to sleep or if they like listening to music, that’s a sign that they will be able to keep up in the classroom.
Another tell-tale signal that your little one is ready to take the next step in his or her educational journey is if you notice that they seem to be overly eager to learn new things and are constantly picking your brain for information.
13 Eagerly Embraces Trying New Activities
Some children at this age are a bit more reluctant to learn new things, such as taking the first step towards learning how to ride a tricycle or stumble when you treat to teach them to recognize new letters in the alphabet.
Very Well Family points out that if your child eagerly embraces partaking in new activities, such as trying to climb up the highest slide at the park or learning how to keep the chalk steady in their hand as they attempt to draw a heart or a smiley face on the sidewalk, then they should take to kindergarten just fine.
12 Communicates Needs And Wants Effectively
Four year olds are still learning how to communicate effectively at this age, which is why some children might still exercise their lungs and turn on the waterworks if they feel frustrated enough.
Very Well Family notes that it is traditionally accepted amongst both parents and educators alike that if your little one is just a wee bit better at communicating his or her needs or wants than some of the other children of the same age that you know, then they should be fine if you make the decision to sign them up for kindergarten classes at the local school.
11 Doesn't Throw A Tantrum When Asked To Share
It is an accepted, time-honored fact that children at this age can be pretty volatile when it comes to their moods. They can go from feeling happy to feeling frustrated and right back again in zero to 10 seconds flat.
They’re also still working out how to get along with children of their own age, which can cause some storm clouds to gather from time to time, especially if both kids aren’t quite fond of sharing just yet. But Very Well Family adds that if your little one doesn’t throw a tantrum if they’re asked to share with someone else, then they’ll have an easier time adjusting to kindergarten.
10 Produces Detailed Drawings
There are many toddlers that like to draw; my sister was one of them. When she was four years old, she’d doodle random drawings with her crayons all over the computer paper and tried diligently to color inside of the lines with her first coloring book.
Babble points out that if you notice that your child is able to produce drawings with plenty of details (such as a self-portrait with hands, nose, eyebrows, etc. included in the composition) that’s not just a sign that they could have burgeoning artistic talent, but it also means that they’re ready to join the wonderful world of formal education.
9 Recognize Rhyming Words
Toddlers at this age love nothing more than to hear nursery rhymes, especially if they are repetitive. Their fondness for repetition is a huge part of their development, even if it means that your throat is feeling a bit parched from saying the same thing over and over again in order to entertain your child.
If you’re not sure if your child is ready to join a kindergarten class, Babble adds that one thing to look for is if they can recognize rhyming words and actively point it out to you once you recite them in a book or sing them a nursery rhyme before bed.
8 They Have Decent Self-Control
Mastery of self is arguably a life-long pursuit, and it is quite common for toddlers to make leaps and bounds in terms of improving their fledgling sense of self-control only to backslide after having a particularly crummy day or when they’re tired and over their tolerance threshold.
Babble writes that a child that is learning how to control themselves at a faster pace than some of their other peers and that don't let their emotions run wild even if they're having a crummy day like the next door neighbor's kid who is the same age are more than ready to be enrolled into a kindergarten class at a school near you.
7 Can Retell A Story They Heard In Sequential Order
Entering kindergarten is a big transition for most children because it requires them to have a modicum of decent memory skills and to develop rudimentary analytical skills, especially if the teacher asks them to number important events from a story they heard in the order that they occurred in the tale.
Babble adds that typically another sign of kindergarten readiness is if you notice that after you read your child a story from a book for the very first time and ask them about which events transpired first, they are able to list the events in near-sequential order for you.
6 Enjoys Storytelling
According to Baby Center, if your four year old keeps showing a keen interest in age-appropriate books that you have purchased for them and he or she keeps trying browsing books and makes up a tale based on the pictures contained therein, that is a very good indication that they are ready to be enrolled in kindergarten.
In order to excel as a student and to feel comfortable in a kindergarten, your child should be ready to learn how to read and have their language skills developed to almost the exact same place as the other children in their class.
5 Notices Differences In Sounds
Babble writes that if your child is able to consistently notice the small, almost imperceptible differences between words, such as the words “cat” and “cup," then that is a clear sign that their language development has hit the stage of being ready to take their first step towards formal education without their parents having to fret over whether or not they’ll be able to comprehend the learning material.
That way, you won’t have to fret so much about whether or not your little one will be able to handle the educational challenges that will come their way during the school year because you know they’re on par with their classmates and can handle the lessons.
4 Holds A Pencil Correctly
I have very little memories of my time in kindergarten, but one thing that is emblazoned into my mind is my classmates and I looking at one another in confusion as we took our first clumsy attempts at learning how to read and write.
Babble points out that not every four year old will be able to hold a pencil correctly, but for those that are getting the hang of it quicker than their peers, you should seriously consider signing them up for kindergarten since it means that their motor skills are improving in leaps and bounds and they’ll have less obstacles to learning how to write letters of the alphabet.
3 Knows How To Use Scissors
As mentioned in a previous entry, toddlerhood is a time when children are learning to really fine-tune their fine and gross motor skills. Some hit developmental milestones faster than others, while there are other children that require a bit more practice before they hit the necessary goal posts.
Babble notes that if you noticed that your child is able to handle kid-proofed scissors correctly without constantly dropping them on the floor or holding them in such a manner that would cause scrapes, then that is a great sign that they’ll be able to cut basic shapes with the rest of their classmates at school.
2 Works Well With Others In A Group
Baby Center adds that good social skills and being tolerant of other children in their age group is an absolute must for any child whose parents are thinking of enrolling them in kindergarten.
A four year old child that is kindergarten-worthy will be able to put his or her needs in second place when they are working in a group with their peers, shows signs that they are willing to compromise with their friends, and be able to reach a consensus with the other children in the group. They should also show emotional competence by not being too drained or feeling too frustrated after interacting with other children for such a long period of time.
1 They Can Distinguish Beginning Sounds In Words
Earlier in this list, previous entries highlighted the importance of a child being able to immediately recognize if two or more words rhyme and being able to notice the differences in the sounds of words in order to excel in kindergarten.
Babble writes that those two skills are important, but so is being able to correctly point out the beginning sounds in words. For example, if you ask your child to identify the beginning, middle and end sounds in the word “dog,” they won’t mix up the order of the aforementioned sounds or act as if they are at a loss for words.