The pressure of learning in early childhood is real and unnecessary. I’ve written articles on this exact topic and I’ve done my own research on it as well! But still… it’s real. It’s there. The ideology that children should be able to name colors, shapes, numbers, letters and more all before Kindergarten seems wild and academic-minded instead of development-minded. However, even I have fallen into the trap of this thought process!
We were wrestling with the decision of sending my daughter to Kindergarten the year she met the cut-off or holding her back one year. The idea of sending her the year-earlier came up and my first questions were,
Does she know all of her letters though?
I know for a fact that she doesn’t know all of their sounds yet.
She’s pretty good at the numbers 1-10, but what about 11+?
How is she supposed to be reading if she doesn’t know her letter sounds?
I quickly fell into the trap of “kindergarten readiness” and thought that my daughter wasn’t going to be ready in time because she didn’t know enough yet. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s currently November 2021 and she won’t even start kinder until September 2022!!
Once I took a deep breath and realized what I was doing, I pulled up an old post that Mary write about kindergarten prep and a list of what you truly should be focused on when deciding if a child is ready for school or not:
- Feel capable and confident, and tackle new demands with an “I can do it” attitude.
- Have an open, curious attitude toward new experiences
Absolutley she does.
- Enjoy being with other children.
YES. It fuels her extroverted soul.
- Can establish a trusting relationship with adults other than parents.
Check. Again, I’ve got an extrovert on my hands.
- Can engage in physical activity such as walk, run, climb (children with handicaps can have a fine time in kindergarten if school and parents work cooperatively on necessary special arrangements).
All day every day.
- Take care of their own basic needs, such as dressing, eating, and toileting.
The most independent soul I know.
- Have had experience with small toys, such as puzzles and crayons.
- Express themselves clearly in conversation.
Yes, well enough for a 4 year old.
- Understand that symbols (such as a stop sign) are used to provide useful information.
- Love books, stories and songs and can sit still to listen.
So when you also inevitably find yourself getting caught up with your child’s knowledge on rote memorization (yes, that’s all learning letters, shapes, etc is.), take a deep breath. Realize that it’s normal to have this thought process, but there is more to it. And then come back to this list and remember the important things that your child really needs to know when they go to school.