How to know if your child is ready for kindergarten
Your child is turning 5, which means kindergarten is on the horizon. But are they ready? Pediatrician Blakely Amati, MD, offered some advice to parents who are concerned about their child’s readiness and what they can do to best prepare their child for kindergarten.
“In South Carolina, a child must turn 5 by September 1 of that year to enroll in kindergarten,” Dr. Amati said. “Some parents prefer to send their children to a private preschool or kindergarten or keep their children home before starting first grade, which can require a signed waiver. Regardless of what a family decides is best for them, if a child has turned 6 by September 1 when they are enrolled in their school district, they will be eligible at that time for first grade.”
What if you have concerns about your child’s readiness for kindergarten?
“Having open, honest and early communication with the school you’re planning to register your child at about the particular concerns you have can be helpful in planning a successful start to school,” Dr. Amati said.
Kindergarten is important because it sets the foundation for first grade.
“All children coming into kindergarten are learning how to be in a classroom, how to make friends and to be patient and to sit in a circle for the first time, so there are a lot of social aspects that are going on that everyone can benefit from,” Dr. Amati said. “It’s a really fun environment that helps them get ready for school.”
How can parents prepare their child for kindergarten?
It’s normal to be nervous about a child’s transition to kindergarten. To help best prepare children, Dr. Amati suggested focusing on the five R’s:
- Reading. From day one, expose your child to as much language as possible. Have that be a special time between you and your child.
- Rhyming. “Rhyming that we hear with songs and in books helps with early literacy,” Dr. Amati said. “Dr. Seuss is famous for a reason, lots of good rhyming.”
- Routines. Routines are important in helping children feel successful and stable.
- Rewards. Having a positive parenting approach is helpful to children.
- Relationships. Having safe, stable, nurturing relationships with caring adults helps children know they can trust and shields them from the effects of toxic stress.
“Also, don’t forget that when you go to kindergarten, you need your vaccines. So, if you have a four or five-year-old, be sure to reach out to their pediatrician for the vaccines they’ll need before starting school.”
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