Having both watched three of my own children complete public kindergarten and having worked in the school and taught kindergarteners, I thought I’d share a few traits that all the teachers I’ve known LOVE to see in their kindergarten students.
Please know that not all children can be expected to enter kindergarten having mastered these skills and all good teachers know this. Different needs and personalities absolutely factor into the equation. Two out of three of my own children did not have these all nailed down, and that’s perfectly fine! They still had successful years.
Still, if you really want to know what things help your child have a super easy transition and simplify the teacher’s life? Look no further–
1. Backpack Management.
Ideally, your child should be able to easily zip, unzip, pack, and unpack his own backpack. He should be able to find necessary items easily and hang it appropriately. This might seem very simple, but the number of children who get the zipper stuck on their backpacks EVERY DAY is pretty staggering. It’s a good skill to practice!
2. Sitting criss-cross applesauce and attending for approximately ten minutes.
The four- to six-year-old set is not designed to sit still for super long stretches. It would be unreasonable to expect them to stay in place for extended periods. Ten minutes, however, is not a long stretch. From short lessons to read-alouds to group discussions, sitting in your own spot without a lot of fidgeting is sometimes important. Children who can sit nicely and stay focused for these brief stretches are on track to meet the teacher’s expectations.
Don’t be alarmed when you see how much your baby grows over a year! *sniffle*
3. Mastering zipping and buttoning.
There’s no getting around it– teachers love having children who can independently manage their own buttons and zippers. Your child should be able to redress herself easily after using the restroom and, even better, fasten her own jacket or coat. Zipping one jacket is no big deal. Zipping twenty is a crazy time-suck.
4. Recognizing his name.
Though reading expectations have been enforced earlier and earlier as of late, it’s still not necessary for entering kindergarteners to know how to read. Still, he should be able to recognize his own name and find it above a coat rack, shelf, cubby, etc. This will enable him to do everything from put his stuff in the right place to make his lunch choice to see if he has a “job” for the day.
5. Tying her own shoes.
I’m going to get very real here with you– it seems very, very few kindergarteners can tie their shoes these days. My older two couldn’t when they were that age. We tried to teach A. and got super frustrated. With C., honestly, she had so many other things she was working on, it just sort of fell by the wayside. Our third was the only one of our three who could do this, easily, at age five and that’s because she’s fiercely self-sufficient.
My point is this– don’t be surprised if your child hasn’t mastered this particular skill yet. It’s not the end of the world. Do know, however, that if your little one DOES happen to be one of the ones who can do it, her ability will be appreciated. Teacher after teacher has told me that they’re thrilled to have competent shoe-tiers in their rooms, not only because that’s one fewer pair of shoes for them to tie, but also because other students are often fascinated to see their peers doing the tying and might be motivated to learn. It’s kind of like that good kind of peer pressure.
Notice that I didn’t list a bunch of math and reading skills on here? That’s because entering K-students really aren’t expected to be able to read or add. Can some of them? Absolutely. Quite a few, actually. And that’s awesome! I’m not here to tell you that those aren’t valuable skills. But, when it comes to helping the days go smoothly and maximizing learning time, it’s the skills above that will actually have the most impact.
Moral of the story? Less “Your Baby Can Read’ and more “Your Baby Can Master Self-Care.”