By Tricia Donahue, Occupational Therapist
Just like children begin walking and talking at different ages, they also develop social, emotional, and behavior skills at varying ages too! So while it’s common practice to use age to determine if a child is ready for kindergarten, there are a few other factors you should also consider when making that decision.
Being ready for kindergarten means that your child has the psychological and social skills needed to learn in an academic setting and interact appropriately with her teacher and fellow students. Your child is probably ready to start kindergarten if they:
- Follow simple directions. It’s important that your child can listen to a teacher and follow two and three step directions, not necessarily complex instructions.
- Can sit still. Your child should be able to remain in one spot long enough to listen to a story and participate in class activities. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your child should be able to sit completely still for an entire class. Sitting still really means that your child can listen to a story or participate in an activity without being a disruption to others.
- Use the restroom. Your child should be able to know when they have to go to the bathroom and be able to manage clothing and cleaning by themselves.
- Recognize some letters and numbers. Your child should be able to write their first name from memory and recognize their written name. There is no hard and fast rule as far as how many letters or numbers a child should be expected to recognize.
- Be independent with fine and gross motor skills. They should be able to throw a ball, run and jump independently. They also need to be able to independently hold a pencil and use scissors. It is important that your child is writing and cutting with the correct size tools for her/his hands.
If your child doesn’t meet the benchmarks mentioned above, they might not be quite ready to enroll in Kindergarten. That’s okay, but it’s important he/she is ready when the next academic year rolls around. Children who are behind physically or academically sometimes need a little help getting ready for school. Start by talking to your pediatrician or their potential teacher to determine if your child could benefit from additional assistance, like occupational therapy.
Pediatric Occupational Therapy
Woman’s occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping children with a broad range of issues in addition to the development of life skills. There are many ways they can help ensure your child is kindergarten ready!
- Evaluating the underlying components that support a student’s handwriting, being independent in the restroom and being able to participate in school activities.
- Test muscle strength, endurance, coordination and motor control.
- Promote independence with fun stimulating activities.
For more information or to schedule a therapy consultation, visit our website or contact our therapy team at 225-924-8450.