Thinking About Kindergarten Readiness

Although we often think about a child’s entrance in kindergarten happening at a certain age, assessing kindergarten readiness and a child’s potential to learn in a group setting involves more than his or her chronological age. There are a number of resources and checklists available to parents to assess their child’s readiness for the social, emotional, and academic challenges of elementary school. Kindergarten readiness can be divided into two main categories: 1) skills and concepts and 2) social and emotional development. Knowing where your child falls in both categories can be a helpful factor in determining if he or she is ready to begin kindergarten and, perhaps more importantly, what type of kindergarten program would best suit all of his or her developmental needs (cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development).

Skills and Concepts

The measure of skills and concepts is the more concrete and straightforward category of the two. Checklists can be found from a number of sources online or can often be obtained from your child’s preschool or daycare program. A kindergarten readiness skills and concepts checklist would likely include the following areas:

  • Gross Motor
  • Fine Motor
  • Cognitive
  • Language
  • Self-Help
  • Social (see below)

Social and Emotional Development

Children do not always develop evenly. Some children may be cognitively ready for kindergarten, but may still need support in their social and emotional development, or the other way around. A child’s social and emotional development can be more challenging to measure since growth tends to be more qualitative than quantitative and a child’s abilities in these areas can be dependent upon a number of factors. For example, a child may have a harder time going to school when there has been a disruption to the routine at home (such as a parent traveling). For the purpose of kindergarten readiness, we suggest that you consider whether your child can do the following most of the time:

  • can separate from parents for the duration of a school day without protest or distress
  • is interested in school and a range of school-related activities (group activities and learning)
  • is not afraid of or resistant to going to school
  • participates in group activities with joy and ease
  • is confident and makes decisions independently
  • can follow a structured routine and can be flexible about changes in the schedule
  • can focus on tasks in a settled and attentive way
  • maintains self-control
  • can wait for short periods of time
  • works independently
  • settles disputes verbally
  • keeps track of personal needs (e.g., toileting, dressing, taking care of personal belongings)
  • respects the property of others
  • follows classroom rules
  • is willing to try new things
  • meets new people and visitors with relative ease
  • gets along with other children and is interested in making friends


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