5 signs your child isn't ready for kindergarten

Is your child ready for kindergarten? Find out with this list of five signs of non-readiness.

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  • When I was a preschool teacher, it was my opportunity to help children prepare for life, as well as continuing education. There are numerous factors that go into kindergarten readiness, including social, emotional, cognitive, and motor development, etc.

  • Every child ranges in each and every category and develops at their own rate. This is not an all-encompassing list; please consult your current preschool/daycare provider or child development professional for their specific advice on your specific child's development and readiness.

  • Your child may not be ready Kindergarten if he or she does the following:

  • 1. Isn't potty trained or still needs lots of help with everyday tasks

  • Of course, your child may still have occasional accidents, but do they usually make it to the bathroom? Can they dress themselves - do buttons/zippers etc? Can they put on their shoes? Eat and pour into a cup?

  • Independence and the ability to do tasks themselves is important in a classroom setting, especially when a teacher has twenty or so students.

  • 2. Has trouble listening or following directions

  • Can your child follow two-step directions? For example, put on your coat and then line up at the door, or cover your ears with your hands, stand up, and jump up three times. Or do they need help at each step? Kindergarten is full of directions and listening, so they need to be prepared and ready.

  • 3. Is overly upset when you leave

  • Naturally a few tears may fall every now and again, especially on the first day of school, but does your child suffer from separation anxiety? Can they say goodbye and start to engage or find interest in an activity at school?

  • Children learn best when they are able to separate from their parents without letting it make them upset. If your child has not attended preschool/daycare/church group etc, practice saying goodbye at home and eventually, in other situations as they arise, so your child can develop a routine with parting ways.

  • 4. Doesn't communicate well

  • Can your child communicate what they need to an adult/teacher? Your child should be able to communicate their basic needs, especially potty needs. Part of this is trusting and developing a relationship with their teacher, which comes with time, but overall do they feel comfortable expressing their important needs to their teacher or adult?

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  • 5. Doesn't participate well in group or one-on-one play

  • Working in a group setting is hard work, even for adults, but can your child interact and play well with others? Do they have the basic ability to play with others, or are they accepting of the idea of playing with others? Can they take turns or share? Has your child developed friendships?

  • Although age alone is not related to readiness be sure to consider birthday requirements for your school. If your child will be on the "younger" side in their class, you might decide its best to wait a year for further development, growth, and learning.

  • Lastly, do not feel bad, upset, or blame yourself or your child, if they are not ready for kindergarten. Some children need more time to solidify and master skills. I urge you to talk to their teacher, healthcare provider, and other child development professionals to help your child prepare for kindergarten. More importantly, set the right foundation for learning and growing for the rest of their lives.

  • Always remember that as a parent, you know your child best, therefore it is up to you to ultimately make the decision as to whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten.

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Rachel received a bachelor degree in Child Development. She has worked as a preschool teacher and administrator. Now she is exploring life and all it has to offer. Rachel enjoys farm life, hiking, nature photography, learning new things and spending time with her family.

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