Kindergarten readiness: Help your child prepare

Kindergarten readiness might be more important than you think. Find out how you can encourage your child's development and school success. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your child is old enough to start kindergarten — but is he or she ready? Recognize the factors that might affect your child's kindergarten readiness and what you can do to help him or her succeed in school.

Why is kindergarten readiness important?

Kindergarten marks the start of a child's formal education. A child's first school experiences can influence the way he or she relates to others for the rest of life. For example, success or failure at this stage can affect a child's well-being, self-esteem and motivation. As a result, it's important to make sure that when your child begins school he or she is developmentally ready to learn and participate in classroom activities.

How can I tell if my child is ready for kindergarten?

Most schools use cutoff dates — deadlines by which a child must be a certain age — to determine who's eligible for a kindergarten class. Typically, a child must be age 5 before entering kindergarten. Age, however, isn't the only way to measure a child's kindergarten readiness.

When trying to determine if your child is ready for kindergarten, don't worry about whether or not he or she has mastered specific skills. Instead, consider his or her readiness to learn. How well is your child able to communicate and listen? Is your child able to get along with other children and adults? Use your own intuition as a parent and consult your child's doctor, preschool teacher and any other child care providers for useful, objective information about your child's development and readiness for school.

Keep in mind that some schools also require children to take a kindergarten readiness test to evaluate their abilities. While these tests aren't always accurate indicators of how well prepared a child is for school, you can use them as a way to gauge your child's development relative to other children of the same age.

Aug. 23, 2013 See more In-depth