Before I started back in the classroom I took my friend out to lunch. She is a Kindergarten teacher in a public school and I wanted to get the “inside scoop” on what Kindergarten teachers were REALLY hoping that kids would walk in the front door knowing.
She walked me through all of the district expectations, what they would be assessing in literacy and math and language. “But” she said “None of that really matters. What they need to have are the social skills.”
Yes, you heard it right from the source. Whether your child can read or count is secondary to their social readiness for school. It makes sense if you think about it. The teachers have the academic stuff down, but it is much more difficult for them to teach 20+ kids how to behave in a group, how to walk in a line, bathroom etiquette and put on their coats.
If you have a child who is INTERESTED in the academics, I would never stop you from exploring it with them. But, of higher importance is helping them be ready for the classroom environment, being able to follow the teacher’s directions and how to interact with friends. That is going to be their real test.
Still not sure what social skills readiness looks like? Luckily, NAEYC has a short article that outlines some indicators:
- listening to others and taking appropriate turns for expressing ideas and questions;
- handing materials respectfully and putting them away;
- sustaining engagement with an activity or process;
- identifying and pursuing his own interests, choosing materials and having some ideas about how to engage with them productively;
- being safe in relation to the group (staying within school bounds) and attending to personal needs (washing hands); and
- asking for help when he needs it. (From “Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten“)