== Am I Ready? ==
A Glance into What Kindergarten Readiness Really Means
== Introduction ==
Getting ready to start school can be a stressful experience for any student, but it can be even more stressful for kindergarteners going for the first time! Likewise, parents and educators are burdened with the responsibility of deciding if the student is ready for kindergarten or not. The issue of kindergarten readiness has always been an issue; now, it is receiving more focus than ever. Some of the issues surrounding kindergarten readiness include: what determines if a student is ready (should it be age or other skills), what qualities must a student already possess before entering kindergarten, and who should get to make the discussion of whether or not a student is ready to attend—parents or educators? These and other issues surrounding kindergarten readiness will be expressed in the following article.
== Background ==
Kindergarten is not the same as it was a few years ago. It used to be used as a way to transition children into the regular routine of school to acquire the necessary social skills for the future. Now it is full of academics. If a student is lacking certain knowledge at the beginning of kindergarten, he or she is already behind. Who knew a student could already be behind at the beginning of kindergarten? With academics overriding social skills, kindergarten can seem very foreign to many parents (Plevyak & Morris, 2002, pp. 23–26). The shift is enormous. Moreover, kindergarten has become an “integral part of the elementary school’s curriculum,” which is mainly cognitive or academic in approach (Nurss, 1987). All the fun and excitement about going to kindergarten seems to be being overrun by pressures for success. Students are going to have at least twelve more years to deal with hardcore academic pressures; kindergarten is not where it should start. Furthermore, parents are their children’s first teacher and need to be aware of the presence of academics in their child’s kindergarten class to help them be better prepared (Hodges, 2000). Educators need to provide parents with the knowledge of what is expected as the students enter and what will be expected as the students continue throughout kindergarten. Working together is key!
== Determining Kindergarten Readiness: Age or Skills ==
Now, lets address several key factors that affect kindergarten readiness. Today, most schools use age as the ultimate factor of whether or not a child can go to kindergarten (Saluja, Scott-Little, & Clifford, 2000). For the most part, children have to be five years old by a certain date. The dates for this cut-off vary widely, but can range from summer to December. Researchers and teachers feel that a child’s chronological age should not be the only factor, and that previous experience in a school setting is a better readiness predictor (Nurss, 1987 and Hodges, 2000). Since every child is different, age alone does not seem that it can absolutely define a child’s readiness. Children need to be looked at as a whole. Everything about the child needs to be ready for school, since this will be their first experience with school. Likewise, there is so much variety of development that can be achieved for children between the ages of four and seven, that age seems to be very irrelevant (Dixon, 2007). The school systems need to do away with age as the sole entrance requirement. Schools need to acknowledge that kindergarten is more than just being old enough. Students are immersed into very academic and unfamiliar environments. Students need to be ready “physically, socially, and cognitively” and this takes time (www.parentcenter.babycenter.com, 2007). Rushing children into situations they are not developmentally ready for will lead to failures and unnecessary stress for both parents and children. Waiting for children to grasp certain social skills, for example, will better help them get along with other classmates and feel more successful.
== Determining Kindergarten Readiness: What qualities must a student have to be ready? ==
Another factor that goes into deciding if a child is ready for kindergarten is what skills or qualities the child already has? Is the child able to communicate his or her needs and wants? Can the child follow simple directions? These are some simple, but important skills that a child should possess prior to entrance into kindergarten. Parents and educators seem to disagree on what the most important qualities a child should have acquired. Parents focus on “pre-academic skills” while educators focus on “the child’s enthusiasm, effective communication, and appropriate behaviors” as most important (Protheroe, 2006, pp. 32–36). If parents and educators cannot agree, how is a child going to be ready? Parents and educators should work together to come up with objectives or standards of qualities that children should have before kindergarten. This would help parents give their children a boost. Some of the other qualities that most agree are critical to kindergarten readiness include: the child’s physical development, whether or not they can work cooperatively, as well as independently, and if they have an attention span of at least 15 to 20 minutes (Dixon, 2007 and Nurss, 1987). These are just a few of the qualities that most teachers are looking for on the first day of kindergarten, but most of all they want children who are ready to learn.
== Determining Kindergarten Readiness: Parents or Educators ==
Lastly, who should get to make the decision of whether or not a child is ready for kindergarten, their parent or educators? This is a tough question to answer. Educators have the experience and knowledge about children, but parents know their child better than anyone (www.parentcenter.babycenter.com, 2007). The decision should be made with as much collaboration between the two groups as possible. Parents need to be aware of what the expectations are of the school their child will be attending and this could alleviate some of the mystery (Hodges, 2000). Awareness is critical to helping a child be ready. Schools need to do more to get their expectations across to parents in order to best serve future students. Working together in this tough decision seems to be the best solution.
== What needs to be done to help ensure all children are ready for kindergarten? ==
Ensuring that all children are ready for kindergarten needs to be the responsibility of society. This may seem like a burden to those without children, but research shows that those students who do better and have more fulfilling experiences in early preschool and elementary grades are not as costly on society in the future (Lynch, 2004/2005, pp. 26–35). In turn, this benefits everyone. Some suggestions on how to make kindergarten readiness obtainable for all children is to make preschool available for all children. Even if children’s families can not afford preschool, the states need to have funds available to provide them with quality preschools. Secondly, parents need to be made aware of what expectations their children will have in the kindergarten they will be attending. Parents need to be invited into the class a year or so before their child will attend, in order to see what is going on. Likewise, parents would be able to meet with teachers who can give them valuable information on activities they could do with their child (Protheroe, 2006, pp. 32–36). This could also help to make parents feel more comfortable with the transition to kindergarten for their child and possibly make them more active in their child’s school career. Lastly, preschool and kindergarten teachers need to come together and focus on solutions that they can do to ensure kindergarten readiness for all children (Fratt, 2005, pp. 31–33). Kindergarten teachers can explain to preschool teachers skills that are expected and these can be incorporated into the preschool curriculum. By working together, the students will definitely benefit.
== Conclusion ==
Making sure children are ready for kindergarten is a task that should not be taken lightly. If a child is not meeting the expectations in the beginning of their school experience, they are going to be behind for the remainder of their school years. All of this leads to problems that possibly could have been avoided had a plan been in place. Whether age or skills are chosen as the sign of kindergarten readiness or parents or educators decide if it is the child’s right time, one thing is the same—all children deserve to be equipped with the proper tools so they will be able to learn whenever the time is right.
== Works Cited ==
Dixon, Suzanne. A Kindergarten Readiness Guide. www.us.pampers.com, 2007.
Fratt, Lisa. Building Blocks. www.DistrictAdministration.com, 2005, 31-33.
Hodges, Felicia. Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten? www.preschoolerstoday.com, 2007.
Lynch, Robert G. Preschool Pays. American Educator, 2004/2005, 26-35.
Nurss, Joanne R. Readiness For Kindergarten. ERIC/EECE Digest, 1987.
Plevyak, Linda H., & Morris, Kathy. Why is Kindergarten an Endangered Species? The
Education Digest, 2002, 23-26.
Protheroe, Nancy. Readiness for Kindergarten: What Schools Can Do. Principal, 2006, 32-36.
Saluja, Gitanjali, Scott-Little, Catherine, & Clifford, Richard M. Readiness for School: A
Survey of State Policies and Definitions. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 2000, 2
== Multiple Choice Questions ==
1. In schools today, what is the main criterion for entrance into kindergarten?
A. The achievement of certain skills.
B. The child is age 5 by the cut-off date.
C. The child is able to read.
2. Who focuses more on “pre-academic skills” when deciding what qualities a child should have
before entering kindergarten?
C. Both parent and educators
3. Kindergarten’s main focus today is on
A. Learning social skills
B. Learning how to behave
C. Learning academic skills
4. What is NOT a solution on how to ensure all children are ready for kindergarten?
A. Preschool and Kindergarten teachers need to work together to collaborate on
B. Parents need to be invited into kindergarten classrooms to get to understand
expectations and to receive guidance to help their children.
C. Preschool should remain voluntary.
5. What is the main theme of kindergarten readiness expressed in this article?
A. Parents and educators working together is best to ensure kindergarten readiness for all
B. Parents know their children best so they have all the say.
C. Educators have the educational background to make the decision without other’s input
== Essay Question ==
Does a student’s readiness for kindergarten really affect his or her overall school experience or can the skills be made up with extra focus during school? Explain your position with examples.
== Multiple Choice Answers ==
== Essay Question Sample Answer ==
A student’s readiness for kindergarten really does affect his or her overall school experience. The degree of readiness that the child has achieved can be beneficial, as well as detrimental. If a child is ready in physical, cognitive, and academic areas he or she will do great. Having a positive first school experience will lead to a promising future during their school career. But, if the child is lagging in his or her social skills, for example, this will be a disadvantage for the child which will lead to a less exciting first school experience. This seems like a situation which could have been avoided with a little preparation. Moreover, if a student comes to kindergarten without the expectations that teachers have, the student will already be behind before even really beginning school. This could lead to feelings of failure and stress for the student. The teacher and student would have to play catch-up which research has shown will only really amount to an achievement gap between the students who are adequately prepared for kindergarten and those who are not. Likewise, the student never really is able to get to the levels that the other students who were ready are at. Lastly, when students have achieved kindergarten readiness, the teacher does not have to spend time helping them with remedial work and can then engage students in more in-depth activities, more hands-on activities, and cover more topics of interest of the students. The students will have more time to explore which can keep them from becoming bored which leads to behavior problems and less excitement about school. Parents, educators, and society need to come together to focus on the far-reaching effects that children who have obtained the necessary attributes to be considered ready for kindergarten can have. These qualities can lead to either positive or negative experiences for the students. Everyone will agree positive experiences are the goal!