The end of our Preschool year is upon us, and with it comes lots of questions from parents concerning their child's next steps. “Is my child ready for kindergarten?” With the help of the Kindergarten teacher in The Music Settlement’s accredited program, Anne Hickman, we have assembled some of the most prevalent myths that abound concerning school readiness.
Myth #1: Kids should be reading before they go to kindergarten.
Truth: Some children learn to read before kindergarten, during that year, or even after.
Parents often worry too much about reading skills. Language has four components. It’s reading, listening, verbal, and writing. Talking with your child and their ability to have conversations is the biggest predictor of success. If a parent is worried about a child reading, figure out what they like. If they like dinosaurs, they will want to read about dinosaurs. When your child is exposed to literature, concepts, and words, it’s a natural thing for them to want to do it themselves.
Myth #2: Social skills aren’t that important.
Truth: Social-emotional skills provide a child with the confidence to exist within a large classroom and social environment
Adults are expected to function in a world where they have to problem solve, share ideas, listen to ideas, persevere, and be flexible. No one works in a little box. Those are all things a child has to learn. With the ability to do so, they are better prepared to exist in a classroom with many different types of kids, with different personalities, backgrounds, and ideas. All children are unique. The things they can do and the things they want to do are really cool. Being able to know who they are and recognize themselves in relation to a group of classmates or family is important, too.
Myth #3: I’m not ready for them to go to school, so they must not be either.
Truth: Parents must look at their child’s development, separate from their personal feelings.
There are certain places in a child’s development where there’s a jump. Kindergarten is one of those. When these developmental leaps happen, parents are sometimes ready, sometimes not. But at this point, these children, at age 5 or so, don’t want to be little kids anymore. Developmentally, they are ready for a little more responsibility. It’s difficult for parents, because they’re not ready to let go of their preschooler, but it’s vital to let them grow.
Myth #4: They need to be able to tie their own shoes.
Truth: Kids should be able to take responsibility for tasks within their ability.
Kids need to able to take care of their own needs, but this doesn’t mean something as random as tying shoes, particularly when their fine motor skills are still developing. Taking care of themselves means they can take off and put on their own coat, walk into school by themselves, and can put away and organize all of their school things by themselves, for instance. Parents are often busy, so it’s easier to help kids with these things, but it’s really important for kids to be given enough time and leeway to do things for themselves. Responsibilities should be appropriate to their age, so kids can gain confidence in their newfound abilities.
Myth #5: My kid is a boy and has a late birthday, so we should wait a year for school.
Truth: Age and gender are not the only factors in readiness.
Children have their own timetable. As educators, it is our job to acknowledge that timetable and give them opportunities to be successful. At 5 or 6 years old, parents start noticing and comparing girls and boys. Girls develop with language - at this age language acquisition and fine motor is increasing. Boys have building and problem solving and gross motor skills. Nearing second or third grade, they start to even out. Particularly if a parent has an older daughter, it can give pause for their preschool boys. Just give them a minute; they’ll catch up. Enjoy the process.