What will kindergarten be like? How do I know if my child is ready? How can we prepare for the first day? These questions and more are addressed in Ready for Success: What Families Want to Know About Starting School in Nebraska published by the Nebraska Department of Education.
Parents of all school-age children should find Ready for Success useful, but much of the information is aimed particularly at parents of 4- and 5-year-olds.
Is My Child Ready?
One of the most frequently asked questions, and one of the most difficult to answer, is how to know if a child is ready for kindergarten or if it’s better to “redshirt” a year. NDE says school readiness is about more than what a child knows. Maybe even more important than their academic skills at this age is their social-emotional development. Children who have trouble focusing on a task, getting along with other kids and following instructions, for example, will have a harder time in school.
Kindergarten teachers say ready children are healthy, rested and well fed; can pay attention and communicate their thoughts; are curious and enthusiastic; and are confident and able to practice age-appropriate self-control.
There are many things parents can do to help children develop social-emotional well-being and support language development and learning. Give children opportunities to:
- Play with others, and learn to share and cooperate
- Express emotions in safe ways, and learn to control his/her own behaviors and reactions
- Pay attention, make choices, and follow directions and rules
- Be read to every day and talk about words they see
- Practice drawing, writing, and recognizing numbers, shapes, colors, letters, sounds and her/his name; and work on a task until it’s done, with support as needed
- Play! Children learn best when they’re having fun, so rather than use flashcards and worksheets to teach, use games, toys, natural events and routines.
Much more information, including a checklist for preparing for the first day of school and an extensive list of resources, also are included in the 16-page booklet. Parents can view, print or order a printed copy from NDE’s website. It’s available in English, Arabic, Karen, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.