How can I help my child be ready for a kindergarten?

Readiness begins at birth

Parents and educators want young children to start kindergarten when ready to learn and ready to benefit from the school experience. Being ready is a developmental process that begins at birth. The primary way that parents prepare children for later educational development is by interacting with their children. It is important that parents talk, read, sing, and play with children. During the first few years of life, young brains are in their fastest growth period, and vital synapses are developing between neurons in the brain. Each time parents interact with their children, they promote this important “brain wiring.”

What skills does my child need?

Remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher. One of the best things you can do to support your child’s skill development is to read books with him/her frequently. When you read to your child on a daily basis, you are providing your child with significant exposure to language. Children love being read to and may ask you to read the same book over and over again.  

Young children are normally exposed during kindergarten to concepts that are basic to later reading, writing, and math skills. These skills include colour, shape, and size recognition, knowledge of positions and directions, matching and sorting ability, and recognition of the alphabet letters and numerals. There is much you can do at home to help build a foundation for the concepts and skills your child will be developing in kindergarten. As you talk to and play with your child:

  • Discuss colours, shapes, and sizes that you see around you.  

  • Describe positions such as “in/out” and “over/under.” Practice matching and sorting with common household objects.  

  • Identify alphabet letters and numerals. Also look for and point out these elements in books that you share with your child.  

Your child learns best through active, hands-on activities — especially those which she/he finds interesting! When you talk and play with your child, you will be helping her/him get ready for kindergarten as you both have fun. Academic skills and knowledge are only one piece of readiness. Young children learn as “whole beings” – not only cognitively, but also physically, socially, emotionally, and creatively.

Socialization is a big part of the kindergarten experience as children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, share, and work together. Without these skills, your child will not be able to successfully be a part of the classroom community of learners. Young children should be exposed to a variety of social experiences and situations before kindergarten, playing and communicating with other children of the same developmental level.

It is important to remember that your child’s development takes place step by step and that there are many individual differences. Although we recognize developmental milestones, there can be vast (and normal) differences among children, so developmental age should be emphasized rather than chronological age.