Kindergarten Readiness

By Amida Cary, former Park Day Kindergarten teacher (retired, June 2020)

Our Director of Admissions stopped by my classroom one afternoon in the third week of school and asked me if I would write an article about Kindergarten readiness. I took a minute, thinking that was something I usually spoke to the spring before kindergarten, but then leaned into the assignment. There were the usual things I could say, but what if I asked my current kindergarteners what they thought, I wondered. As newly acclimatized “kinders,” they might have some interesting things to say. So I asked them, and they did!

Gathered in our after-lunch circle I asked the group, “What does a kid need to be ready for kindergarten?”

A thoughtful silence settled in. After a while two hands went up. I called on Samara.

“A backpack!” she said. “Something to hold your things.” Several kids nodded.

What a perfect five-year-old response, I thought, concrete as opposed to abstract, yet a great metaphor for holding and capacity. In that capacity I might place curiosity, interest, enthusiasm and the desire to “be bigger.” In holding, safety and care. Then, again, as more hands went up, the kids led the way.

“For your supplies,” said Ezra.

“Like your lunchbox and for snack” added Zavi.

“A water bottle,” said Laila.

Simone chimed in, “Tissues and slippers.”

Supplies that nourish and help kids engage with energy, and for comfort and self-care.

 “An art pad,” Sahara reminded us.

“And a book you love,” said Beckham.

With the last offerings, timeless tools for self-expression, the kids seemed content, eager to move into their afternoon activities.

So what helps kids be ready for kindergarten? A safe space, one with boundaries that hold and support children while providing direction and guidance. An environment that offers tools and encouragement to allow for exploration and self-expression; curiosity and initiative; comfort and self-care. And what about from the kid point of view? (full disclosure – from the POV of my kindergarten grandson, Moe,) “Yourself!” The confidence to be yourself and to begin a journey that will help you learn even more about who you are, and what you can do in collaboration with your new community.

Watch a short video on Kindergarten readiness from the perspective of our admissions director.