Close to 1,000 children in Delaware County went to kindergarten for the first time in the past few weeks. For about 500-600 of them, that was likely their first experience with any “formal” school setting such as preschool or early childhood education.
The question is, were they ready? “Kindergarten readiness” has been a phrase used in a variety of ways in our community in the past few years. What we have found is that “kindergarten readiness” means many different things to many different people. To a large group of people having a child ready for kindergarten means being ready in the academic sense. Does a child know their letters? Can they write their name? How about count to 20 or more?
Yes, it is correct the more a child knows in these areas the better start they will have in kindergarten, but truly being ready for kindergarten means so much more.
Kindergarten readiness isn’t about the academic skills a child can demonstrate on the first day of school. It is about the cumulative set of experiences that add up to a child having a strong foundation for the start of school.
If a child is experiencing developmental delay issues, and they don’t receive the services they need before kindergarten, they will not be ready. If a child repeatedly experiences stressful environments or situations (even if not directed at them personally) they are at risk for not being ready for kindergarten.
If a child does not hear new vocabulary introduced to them daily, they are at risk for not being ready for kindergarten. If infants in our community are not put to bed in safe sleeping environments free from smoke and other environmental hazards, they are at risk for not being kindergarten ready.
If the young children in our community do not have adults who will help them explore and play in their community, they are at risk for not being kindergarten ready. And finally, if young children in our community do not have people modeling good positive behavior, they are at risk for not being ready for kindergarten.
Singing your ABCs and knowing 123s is a part of kindergarten readiness, but it is just a small part of what it truly takes for a child to be ready for school.
In our community, we are beginning to see the big picture needed to ensure that all children have all of the supports in place to ensure success. With each new or enhanced opportunity we are supporting the next group of new class of incoming kindergartners in our community, and transforming the future for everyone.
Carrie Bale is executive director BY5 Early Childhood Initiative.