This is the first of a 2-part series.

It seems that parents, caregivers, and the community-at-large are often confronted with the idea of ‘school readiness’ and how important it is for our children. Many State’s education departments have dedicated substantial time, effort and money to support school readiness in early childhood so that children are ready when they enter kindergarten.

But what is it, and how do we prepare all children (preschool through elementary age) for school? The National Education Association defines school readiness as the “academic knowledge, independence, communication and social skills children need to do well in school”. This definition not only addresses early childhood school readiness, but the readiness to learn for children of all ages.

Further exploration of the definition not only provides clarification on the definition, but ideas that will promote readiness for preschool and school age children:

Academic Readiness – having basic knowledge of themselves, their families, and the world around them

  • read to/with your child; talk about what you have read
  • visit the library, museums, parks and other places of interest in your area; let your child help with shopping tasks
  • help your child develop observation skills; i.e. categorize items by color, size, shape or other attribute
  • play games/puzzles with your child that encourages counting, reading & problem solving skills

Social Readiness – being able to get along with others, follow directions, and take turns

  • set rules and give consequences for not following them
  • provide opportunities for your child to interact with other children of all ages
  • encourage your child to identify and talk about their feelings and the feelings of others; discuss/model appropriate ways to express their feelings
  • encourage your child to attempt/finish difficult or frustrating tasks; be sure to provide support

Independence – being able to complete basic self-help tasks builds confidence and self-esteem

  • encourage your child to take care of personal needs; i.e. dress themselves/fasten/tie clothing & shoes; fix simple snacks
  • give age appropriate chores around the house
  • provide activities that your child can complete on their own

Communication Skills – being able to listen, speak, read and write to express thoughts and feelings

  • participate in daily conversations with your child
  • help your child learn new words/expand their vocabulary
  • model the language you want your child to use
  • encourage your child to write notes, letters, lists

Part II – Activities that Support School Readiness