School Readiness:  Starting Your Child Off Right

Is my Child Ready?


So your child is starting kindergarten soon!  This is an exciting time, but it can be scary too.  You may have questions about whether your child is ready to go to school, or you may be wondering how you can help them get off to a good start.  The following are some ideas on how to help your child be successful in school and what to expect when school starts.


What is readiness?  “Readiness” is what we call the things that help children be successful in school.  However, readiness is not just about children.  It has two parts:  the skills and abilities children have and the readiness of the school to meet the needs of the individual child.


What do we know about readiness and children? 

·        All children are born ready to learn.  Children begin to learn as soon as they are born, and they keep learning every day.

·        Readiness is not an event that happens at a certain time, like when a child enters preschool or starts kindergarten.  It is a process that begins when your child is born and continues as he learns from experiences with the things and people in his world.

·        Every part of your child’s development is important and will help them learn.  There are some things that are especially important for success in school.


Here are some aspects of your child’s development that are important for success in school and some things you can do to help your child develop and grow in this area:


  1. Health and Physical development

All the things that contribute to good health help children have the energy and concentration to do well in school.  You can help by:

·        Making sure your child eats a healthy diet.  Suggestions are to minimize concentrated sweets, such as presweetened cereal, and to have available a protein, such as eggs or yogurt, with their breakfast.

·        Making sure that your child gets adequate rest and has a regular bedtime schedule.

·        Taking your child for regular physical check-ups

·        Making sure your child gets needed immunizations

·        Making sure your child has many changes to use their large/gross motor skills by running, jumping, climbing steps and other activities like these.

·        Make sure your child has many chances to use her small/fine muscle skills by using crayons, cutting with child size scissors, sculpting with play dough and other similar activities.


  1. Social and Emotional Development

Feeling good about yourself and others is important to learning. Children who are confident about their abilities and who like being with others will probably enjoy being in school and work hard there.  You can help by:

·        Making sure your child has many chances to be with other children, both in groups and one-on-one.

·        Encouraging your child to practice skills like following directions, remembering stories and taking turns.

·        Giving your child tasks to do that they can do well and learn to feel confident in their abilities.  Offer praise and encouragement for tasks completed.  One suggestion could be taking their dirty clothes to the laundry room.

·        Helping them learn to dress themselves and manage their own personal needs.

·        Having regular routines at home and being consistent so they can understand that these are important.


  1. Approaches to Learning

How your child learns is important.  Children who are successful in school enjoy learning.  You can help by:

·        Offering your child chances to explore things they are interested in and encouraging your child to ask questions and develop a sense of curiosity.

·        Giving your child jobs to do and encouraging them to finish them. Make sure to notice their work and praise them for doing a good job.

·        Give them opportunities to be creative.

·        Give them the chance to use basic problem-solving skills.

·        Help them take responsibility for their learning by asking them what they think or how they feel about their work or play.


  1. Communication

Communicating clearly with others is important.  You can help by:

·        Listening to your child.

·        Encouraging your child to listen when others talk.

·        Making sure your child has many chances to draw, scribble, and write using different tools such as pencils, crayons, markers and paintbrushes.

·        Telling your child stories and listening as they tell stories.

·        Encouraging your child to tell you and others what they need.

·        Help your child learn to accept limits and rules.  Make your expectations clear and be consistent with rules.


  1. Thinking and General Knowledge

Children learn many things about the world before they go to school. You can help your child learn by:

·        Taking your child many places.  Trips within your town or neighborhood can be a learning experience.

·        Give your child the opportunity to listen to you read many different kinds of books.

·        Offer your child materials to use that have patterns or relationships, like puzzles.


The next article in this series will be “How Can Parents Help Children be Successful Learners?”


For more information, please contact:


Lori Johnson

Tama County Empowerment Coordinator

Tama County Public Health & Home Care

129 W. High Street

Toledo, IA  52342

(641) 484-4788