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Summertime is Kindergarten Prep Time – How to Tell if a Child is Ready

June 3, 2010

NEW YORK - Kindergarten is often referred to as "the new first grade" in terms of academic expectations. Experts say it pays to know if a child has mastered the coping skills needed to be ready to learn when entering kindergarten in the fall. If children are able to share and can comfortably separate from their parents, those are two positive signs they are likely ready for kindergarten, according to Karen Horowitz, director of the Parenting Resource Network at the Friedberg JCC, Oceanside.

On the other side of the coin, she warns, some behaviors are red flags that need to be noted, too.

"For example, lack of impulse control, settling disputes by hitting or biting as opposed to using their words to settle it, a very short attention span or having difficulty sitting still long enough to listen to a short story."

If a child exhibits more than one of these behaviors, or if the child has been identified as having a developmental delay, Horowitz suggests that parents may want to consider giving their child another year before enrolling them in kindergarten.

Parents are sometimes in such a frenzy to get their children ahead academically that they can overlook other basic skills, Horowitz adds. She points out that children will have a hard time coping with kindergarten if they cannot open their own lunch box or button their own jacket.

"They're not going to be able to pay attention to the academic kinds of things that are going to be expected of them. They're going to be worried about spilling things, and worried that they can't handle their own jacket. Those maturational kinds of things are very important for children to have in advance of going to school."

Horowitz says checklists for kindergarten readiness are available at local libraries, and she will host a webinar from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. June 8 on the topic. It's free for NAMC members, $20 for nonmembers. Registration is online at the National Association of Mothers Center website, Additional information is available from Lisa Kaplan Miller by calling 516-939-6667 x106.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY