It pays to prepare your child for kindergarten.

What a Child Should Know Before Starting Kindergarten

by Freddie Silver

Kindergarten isn't grad school, so your five-year-old doesn't need to know quantum physics just yet. Nevertheless, there are some basic skills and knowledge that children should have before starting school. Being prepared for kindergarten is an indicator of future school success, so if parents prepare their kids by practicing some simple activities with them, they'll be giving them a head start on the road to success.

1. Motor Control

Kindergartners should have mastered basic fine and gross motor skills. They need to know how to line up and walk in a straight line. It's also important for them to know how to jump and throw a ball. Clapping hands, opening and closing buttons and using zippers are all important. They should be able to use scissors and cut out shapes. They should also know how to glue paper and hold a pencil or crayon to draw.

2. Communication and Socialization

Kids should be able to express themselves verbally and identify people by name. Knowing how to get along with peers, follow rules and respect authority are also desirable. Dr. Janette Pelletier, professor of human development and applied psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, suggests it's important for kids to arrive in kindergarten with a strong sense of curiosity and the ability to pay attention. She also points out that it's important for children to have good vocabularies, so play rhyming games to help build vocabulary.

3. Basic Information and Skills

Before entering kindergarten children should be able to recite their name, address and phone number. They should be able to separate easily from mom or dad and they should know how to take turns. They must also be able to use the bathroom unassisted and dress themselves. They should also be able to work and play independently.

4. Academics

In order to be ready for kindergarten activities, youngsters must be able to listen patiently and follow instructions. They should understand the connection between cause and effect. They should be able to look at a picture and tell a story about it. Naming colors, shapes and numbers and knowing how to sort by color, size and shape are important. The ability to count to ten is useful. Print awareness -- the ability to distinguish between words and pictures -- is an important reading readiness skill that helps give children a head start in school.

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