The Changing Face of Education—Preparing Our Kids for Kindergarten

The Changing Face of Education—Preparing Our Kids for Kindergarten

Adults today likely have memories of their time in kindergarten as being very carefree—lots of imaginative play, fun movement activities, and an overall feeling of being free to explore the world in whatever way felt right. While those are all still hallmarks of early childhood education, studies have found that kindergarten programs have added more academic seriousness to their curriculum. So while kindergarteners will still be engaging in the activities we all know and love from our early years, they’ll also be expected to learn and perform at higher levels than in years past. The key for families to navigate the changing landscape of kindergarten is preparation. So, let’s explore some resources and ways that you can help your little ones be kindergarten ready!

The Ready Kindergartner

Typically, children begin kindergarten between the ages of 5 and 6, depending on their birthdate. By that time, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce believes that a child is ready for kindergarten if they have reached or are approaching certain milestones. These milestones include—

  • Being able to separate from their primary caregiver/support person with minimal anxiety.
  • Being able to exhibit self-control and self-help skills.
  • Showing cooperative behaviors when interacting with adults.
  • Having basic self-awareness of their name and the name(s) of the caregivers in their lives.

In Ohio, age is the only qualifying marker for a child’s ability to enter kindergarten, but skills in these areas are a large predictor of how easily a child will transition to kindergarten. Children also take a Kindergarten Reading Assessment (KAR), however, that does not determine their entrance to school. The KAR is a tool designed to provide schools and teachers with information about areas in which your child is performing at the expected age level and where they might need additional work—it’s really an assessment to empower teachers to best educate your child!

Kindergarten Readiness Starts at Home

We know that getting ready to send your little one off to school can be stressful and emotional. The good news is that there are simple things you can do at home to ensure that your child is ready for all the new experiences they’ll be having and that the transition is as seamless as possible.

As you prepare your child for this next step, be sure that—

  • You’re reading to and with your child as much as possible. We’ve put together a list of Starting Point’s favorite kindergarten books to get you started!
  • You provide art supplies and other manipulatives for them to explore and create with.
  • Your child has a consistent and early bedtime to help them be well-rested for their day at school.
  • You provide your child with opportunities to learn and make choices at home that will prepare them to make smart choices at school.

Remember, your child isn’t the only one preparing for a change—your world is changing with this transition, too! Check out Starting Point’s kindergarten Q&A for common caregiver questions.

March Into Kindergarten

In order to help you and your child feel as prepared as possible, Starting Point has put together a March into Kindergarten toolkit. From a timeline of next steps to activities you can practice before school starts to more helpful resources, we want to make sure you feel prepared for your child to start this new learning adventure. There is also information for families of children with disabilities, a searchable database of before and after school programs, helpful worksheets, and more!

Remember, you’re not going through this transition alone! Parents and caregivers in your community with children entering kindergarten are all navigating this new phase of life. Be sure that you are connecting with others in your child’s future school and allowing your child to attend as many preparatory events as possible. You can also contact Starting Point for additional support and resources!

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