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August 7, 2019

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?

How ready your child is for the first level of education is an important factor that can determine the smooth transition into a larger educational and social environment, starting with a kindergarten school. If your child is not ready or unprepared, it may negatively influence his or her perception on school and this can also affect motivation, social relations and self-confidence. Being prepared does not only refer to funds and finances set aside but also whether the child is socially or emotionally prepared for this next step. Hence, it is the parents’ duty to soundly judge if their efforts are optimum in preparing their child for kindergarten.

The most basic method to measure kindergarten readiness is cut-off dates. That is when your child turns 4 years old in Singapore, as laid down by the government and kindergarten operators. Based on the grade classification in Singapore, kindergarten years can be divided into two grades: K1 is for 4 to 5 years old and K2 for 5 to 6 years old. This is considered as the most appropriate age to attend kindergarten.

However, behind the scenes it is different. Parents are the best persons to determine whether their child is ready for kindergarten because they can gauge by everyday situations intimately how their child interacts with others and adapts to new environments. If you are still unsure on whether your child is ready, it is wise to consult your child’s paediatrician, playgroup teachers or caregivers to obtain a second opinion.

How Do I Prepare My Child for Kindergarten?

Parents can help their children by preparing them during their nursery years of up to 4 years old. This can be achieved at home and in preschool. Create opportunities for conversations between you and your child, provide ample time for play and remember to keep learning fun and relaxed to keep your child engaged and positive towards learning.

Exposure to New Environments and Peers
You can also consider frequent exposure to different social environments from as young as less than a year old, so the child would not feel awkward and unsafe when meeting new faces in new situations and in foreign surroundings. Bring them out to libraries, museums and other social events. Set up playdates with other children of similar ages and attend workshops or events as a family to nurture a confident and socially adept child.

Reading Aloud to Acquire Speech and Comprehension Skills
Seek to expand their learning horizon each day by teaching new things or sharing wide conversational topics. One way to do this is through reading aloud to your child. Make the sessions fun and interesting by including play time, hands-on elements and singing nursey rhymes. Rhyming helps as a basis of language and memory development. To make the idea of school more relatable, parents can choose to read aloud books that talk about going to school – some suggestions can be found here.

Help Your Child to be Psychologically and Emotionally Prepared
Lastly, encourage your child to anticipate kindergarten. Show to them where their future school is, tell them about the class timetable and arrange for them to visit selected kindergartens during open days. Talk your child through the various feelings involved and pay attention to the words they use and their emotions towards the matter to know how best you can support your child in this school transition.

What Skills Should My Child Have Before Kindergarten?

Self-care and Awareness Skills
A child is expected to already possess basic skills such as dressing oneself, to use bathrooms on his/her own, and to be able to clean up after oneself. The child also expected to know some personal information like name, birthday, parents’ names and/or contact numbers, and be able to recognise his family members.

Academic Learning Skills
A smoother transition into kindergarten would occur if he possesses other learning skills like being familiar with the alphabet, understanding word rhymes and have a certain amount of vocabulary, spelling his or her names, using a correct grip when holding writing materials, bouncing a ball, identifying shapes, counting to ten and more. If you required a more detailed list, this article has more information.

Social and Emotional Skills
Another aspect that is not less important is a child’s ability to communicate well with other adults and their peers. A child must also be able to listen to lessons and observe basic rules like sitting still and following teacher’s directions. Emotional readiness is also important. Is your child able to get along in a group? Can he/she transition easily from one activity to another? Is he/she independent and curious enough to separate from you for an extended period? These are questions you should consider aside from your child’s academic progress.

What is Done at a Kindergarten Screening?

Some kindergartens require a kindergarten screening session or a readiness test to be conducted before enrolment. At these screenings, you may need to bring along your own identification card and residential proof and your child’s identification documents and health records, especially vaccination and immunization. Among the skills assessed are self-care skills, language skills, cognitive, gross and fine motor skills.

These screenings are conducted for the kindergarten to see if your child is developmentally ready to start school, to help familiarise your child with the kindergarten environment and classrooms and also for parents to see if the kindergarten is a good fit for their child.

Now that you have a clearer picture on what to look out for in your young child, take some time to find out more about these aspects and seek help where needed in guiding your child. After all, creating a conducive learning environment at home to prepare the child is no mean feat. Letting your child meet his/her peers also has the benefit of parents meeting others going through a similar life stage. As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and that is no different even in Singapore. We wish you all the best in this journey of growing with your children. Applying the above for your child is just the beginning.

Read more about our Kindergarten Curriculum here.