Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

Although there is still snow (o.k., dirty piles of ice) everywhere on the ground, many of us are looking ahead to September. Happily, my two older kids are set in their same schools for next year — not always a given with Boston Public Schools! But, as I’ve mentioned here before, James will be moving out of daycare and into Pine Village in the fall. And many of you are thinking about whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten next year.

Kelly Cisneros, the Director of our Newton school, has recently shared an article from the Scholastic site, “Ready for Kindergarten?” These are some of the traits that the authors talk about:

  • Enthusiasm Toward Learning
  • Solid Oral-Language Skills
  • The Ability to Listen
  • The Desire to Be Independent
  • The Ability to Play Well with Others
  • Strong Fine-Motor Skills
  • Basic Letter and Number Recognition

(Keeping in mind, of course, that ability to, say, listen or play well with others, and willingness to listen are two separate things. 🙂 )

I found this article fascinating to read, especially coming from the perspective of a parent of a 7th grader at Boston Latin, a 4th grader in Advanced Work — and a highly precocious two-year-old who manages to keep up with both of his older siblings. I love reading books with James at night — love how he sits back against me and twists my hair around his hand and recites the words to Snuggle Puppy right along with me. Is he reading? No, of course not; I mean, I’m pretty sure he’s brilliant, but he’s not quite there yet. But, as they talk about in the article, he’s building language skills. He’s making connections between the book in front of him and the words that lie within it. He’s putting together a+b and coming up with… Well, o.k., ‘ab’ isn’t really a word, but you know what I mean.

One of the things that has always struck me about Pine Village, though, has been how much gets packed into every day — what gets packed into the overall experience. It’s not just the tangible skills such as learning numbers and letters and how to write one’s own name; those are a given. But in a way, those are the least important skills that our kids learn there every day.

Don’t get me wrong, now. Of course those are important skills. Giving your child a head start on those skills is one of the main reasons you chose pre-school over all of the other options out there. But take a look at some of those other bullet points: enthusiasm toward learning. Ability to play well with others. Desire to be independent.

Sound familiar?

Thinking back to Lucy’s first day of kindergarten just drives this all home. Leaving Pine Village is hard — really hard. And in those days leading up to the first day of kindergarten, you wonder how you’re possibly going to leave your child with someone who isn’t Alicia or Adrienne or Rocio or (name your teacher here). But then you approach that school with the line of kids wearing their first-day-of-school best and standing underneath those bunches of balloons as their new teacher smiles and shakes her head when you ask if you can just come in for a minute or so. And you look at your child and think what can I do that will make this day easier for her so that she doesn’t miss everything that’s come before?

Then she smiles and waves and turns away, already giggling at the joke one of her new classmates has told. (I’d tell you that it was probably a joke that involved poop in some way, but that would take away from the bigger message of my story. And anyway you totally already know it was.)

Because she was so excited — enthusiastic, I dare say, to be there at the Big Kid school. And she already knew that everyone was going to play well with her because, darn it, she knew exactly what that meant, thanks to Pine Village, and she was going to make sure they all knew too. And because it wasn’t just a desire to go out there and do it on her own, it was pretty much a given that that was exactly what she was going to do. Flash forward to this past September and her first day at Boston Latin and, with the exception of the poop jokes (or, at least, I assume that to be the case), it was pretty much the same.

So I say thank you to Alicia and Adrienne and Rocio and (name your teacher here) for instilling the idea that school can be fun. For teaching them the rules of playing well with others — and that occasionally there’s a reason to skirt around them. And for encouraging that streak of independence rather than break it.

If you’re wondering about your child’s kindergarten readiness, definitely take a look at this article; it’s at

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