Is your child ‘kindergarten ready’?

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the ‘kindergarten readiness’ rate for Spokane County kindergartners was 62% in 2017-2018, the lowest in six school years.

Readiness was at its highest in 2013-2014 when it reached 79%. Since that year, the Spokane County rate has been consistently lower than Washington state’s average which was 73.3% for 2017-2018.

Kindergarten readiness is a measurement used by OSPI that tracks a student’s abilities in six areas: social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy and math. If a student shows readiness in 4 of those categories they are considered ready for kindergarten.

Spokane Public Schools elementary curriculum coordinator Karin Thompson said kindergarten readiness is more about the transition into the classroom environment than it is the academic preparation.

“It can’t be that we just keep doing everything for them and then on the first day of school we expect that’ it’s all going to just be great and they’re going to do it all on their own,” she said.

Preparing a child for kindergarten means exercising the independent skills they will need in a classroom- Can they hold a pencil? Can they unzip a backpack? Can they follow instructions?

Knowledge of basic letters and numbers certainly helps, Thompson said, but most of those lessons are taught during the course of the kindergarten year.

She suggests incorporating some of these skills into your family’s daily routine this summer can help them be ready- and it’s fairly simple.

“The critical part is the talking, the playing and the modeling, because all of our modeling is what they then imitate back. So the more language and experience we can give them, the better equipped they are,” she said.

If you’re making a salad for dinner, talk to your child about the process, and about what foods are going into the salad or what textures those foods have. It’ll help them identify and notice those different items and actions.

Or, allowing your child to put on a jacket rather than helping them do it, to give them a chance to figure things out on their own.

One of the readiness domains that Thompson said some areas in Spokane often don’t meet is are physical skills, which is why the first few weeks of kindergarten include motor skills exercises. Playing with
Kindergarten is a year of major growth for children, Thompson said. Rushing a child into kindergarten when they are not ready could negatively affect their education experience down the road.

“We want to give them the best chance to be successful and to fall in love with school and fall in love with learning so that continues throughout their entire school career,” she said.

If a child is not ready, Thompson said there is no pressure to start kindergarten just because that child is the right age to. Waiting a year to develop more is an option- and SPS have a six week transition period at the start of kindergarten to give parents and their students a chance to make the best decision.

“It’s okay to make the decision to pause and to wait for another year if it’s just not the right time,” Thompson said.

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