As your preschooler goes from “still a toddler” to “big kid”, you’re likely starting to think about grade school, and how your child will cope once he has graduated from his preschool environment and is going to elementary school everyday. Is your child ready? Here are ten signs that he is ready to pack his book bag and get started!
- Can follow basic directions. No kid is going to obey their teacher at all times, but your child should be able to listen to, understand, and for the most part, follow simple directions.
- Is able to sit still. Of course, most kids are going to wiggle and bounce a bit, and many of them will begin to become restless after an extended period of attention, but being able to stay in one spot for a lesson, story, or song, is an important skill.
- Uses the bathroom independently. By grade school age, your child should, of course, be potty trained, but should also be able to independently recognize when she needs to use the bathroom, get there by herself, and use the toilet independently, including remembering to flush and washing her hands.
- Recognize a few letters and numbers. At this age, there is a range of abilities when it comes to reading and arithmetic. Some kids can recite the entire alphabet and count to 20, while others may only recognize a few letters and numbers here and there. An overall understanding of the alphabet and numbers system is not required, but some level of interest and recognition is key.
- Some mastery of fine and gross motor skills. Can your child run, jump, throw a ball, and climb? Can he use scissors and hold a pencil or a crayon? These basic motor skills will be important when he starts grade school.
- Can get along with schoolmates. Some children are naturally introverted and others have a little trouble making good friends. Every kid is different. But your child should be able to understand how to share and take turns, and respect other kids’ needs and space.
- Copes with emotions. Every young child is going to have a moment here or there when her emotions overtake her and she breaks down in tears. But understanding the emotion she is feeling, communicating that emotion, and having strategies to cope with it will help her to be less stressed by the everyday demands of school.
- Can dress himself. Can your child put on his own shoes? How about his coat, hat, and mittens? Mastery of these skills is important, especially when in a classroom where the ratio of teachers to kids does not allow for each child to be assisted.
- Shows an interest in books. Reading readiness is a key part of those first years of grade school, and your child will hopefully have some interest in being read to, or in picking up a book and looking at the pictures himself.
- Demonstrates an interest in learning. Does your child listen and pay attention to stories and music in class? Does she parrot back what she’s learned at the end of the day? An eagerness to learn will help her to be engaged when school begins.
Of course, not every preschooler will develop every one of these skills. Children with special needs may need help throughout grade school with some of these items. And other kids may just need a boost to get them to be more independent or develop a certain skill. If you are concerned, speak with your preschool teacher about your child’s school readiness.