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First Day of School, Holistic Approach, Kindergarten Readiness,

Kindergarten Readiness

Their lunch may be all packed up and their boots tied tight, but how do we know if they're really ready for that first day of Kindergarten? An anxious milestone for both parents and children, take time to assess your child using some of the following activities.

Looking Past Picture Perfect

The big day is coming; all the planning and purchasing is complete. You’ve scoured Pinterest for the perfect accessories to take that first day of school picture all the way through the 12th grade. The mini chalkboard is perfectly scripted with the grade level, date, and school. She’s completely outfitted from top to bottom in brand new duds- right down to your greatest idea yet, new shoelaces. This one is going to put you in some type of Pinterest Hall of Fame as you save the first day of school laces every year and craft them into a belt for her or suspenders for him to wear on graduation day under that gown. This is going to be epic!

Yes, this picture perfect first day of school is just around the corner, but like they always say, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. You’re little one may be all set to dress the part, but is he really ready for kindergarten? As you work with your child and present various activities and concepts to determine if she is ready for kindergarten, there are a couple of schools of thought that come into play. One is heavy on academic milestones and the second takes a more holistic approach. Either way, it doesn’t matter what they’re wearing on that first day as long as they can zip and button it themselves.

Two Approaches to Readiness

  1. Scholastic Readiness:Within this kindergarten readiness skill set, math and language are at the forefront. An understanding of the fundamental components in these two subject areas will prepare your child for the academic challenges that are presented in kindergarten. Beginning mastery of number sense and letter and language manipulation are heavily explored with this approach.
  2. Holistic Readiness:The checklist for this skill set will include math and language development but also focus on the acquisition of social, emotional, and motor development. Early Development Standards can vary by state, but all have a core base of these 5 elements. This approach focuses on the whole child with academic achievements only being a part of the kindergarten preparation process.

Here are some activities to try as you determine whether or not your child is ready to pose for that first day of kindergarten picture. For a more extensive list, check out our achievement rings1.

Readiness Skill


Math/Cognitive & General Knowledge
  • As you go about daily routines, have your child count hops, steps, or skips from one place to the next.
  • Trace numbers or shapes in sand, shaving cream, or pudding (this works for letters too).
  • When it’s time to clean up, have a sorting party and come up with various sorting rules to divide toys (e.g., shape, size, color).
Language & Literacy
  • Sort pictures cut from magazines by beginning letter sounds (e.g., bird, bride, balloon).
  • Clap, snap, or hop as you break words into syllables.
  • Sort flashcards with individual letters or words into separate piles.
Social/Emotional Development
  • Read books together featuring characters who encounter and solve conflicts (Your local librarian can be a great resource.).
  • Offer positive reinforcement when your child communicates her feelings.
  • Provide toys and/or materials for pretend play.
Physical Well-Being & Motor Development
  • Encourage your child to run, hop, gallop, and skip in their everyday movement.
  • Provide dolls or stuffed animals with clothing to practice fine motor dressing skills.
  • Using kitchen tongs or tweezers, transfer objects (e.g., paper towel rolls, cotton balls, beans) from one container to another.
Approaches Toward Learning
  • Set goals for how long your child can remain focused on a task. Set a timer and celebrate growth.
  • Encourage your child to do one new thing each day (e.g., food, game, book). Place a marble in a jar for each new experience and reward when full.
  • Discuss how characters from different books may handle situations (e.g., What would Pinocchio do if the Big Bad Wolf came calling?).

By focusing on the inside, we can determine if our kids are ready to strike a pose on that first day of school. Whether you’re focus is on a more academic or holistic approach, there are plenty of activities and checkpoints to help you determine if your little one is ready. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, but recognizing the difference between those words and letters should be your main concern right now!

Backpack Bonus: Ideas to tuck away for another day.

Cold weather making you reach for the remote to save your sanity? Try out these 150 screen-free activities from Toddler Approved first!

Additional Resources & Works Cited

1. Achievement Rings

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