As children turn four or five, many parents start considering “life after daycare” – the time when their child will transition from daycare to a full-day preschool or kindergarten. This leads to the inevitable question: Is my child ready for kindergarten?
Fortunately, there are a variety of tips for working with your child's daycare to make sure he is ready to excel in preschool or kindergarten.
Assess your child's existing skill level and identify any areas where he may need additional practice
There are many wonderful sites on the Internet that offer a free kindergarten readiness test. After completing a free assessment, you will typically receive feedback on your child's existing skill level relative to what will be expected of him in school plus suggested activities for you to engage in with your child to further develop any skills he may not yet possess which will be needed in preschool or kindergarten.
Meet with your child’s daycare provider
When talking with your daycare provider, explain that you are beginning to think about enrolling your child in preschool or kindergarten. (Don't worry, most daycare centers stop providing care when children turn 4 or 5, so your child's daycare provider will not alarmed that you are thinking about “life after daycare.”) Ask your child's daycare provider what they think about your child’s readiness to start school and ask if they have identified any areas where your child excels or where he may need extra help.
Be sure to share with the daycare your thoughts on where your child may need some additional practice. For example, are his fine motor skills still a little undeveloped? If so, the meeting is the perfect time to ask your child's daycare to monitor whether your child holds his pencils and crayons correctly when drawing and to correct his grip if he's not.
Make sure your child has access to appropriate tools and materials at daycare to continue practicing certain skills
If you think your child needs certain tools to further his development, don't be shy about making sure your child has access to those while at daycare. For example, if your child is working on a specific developmental area such as fine motor development and the pincer grip, do not hesitate to send him to daycare with appropriate materials such as golf pencils, an ergonomic pencil grip, or crayon rocks.
Have ongoing conversations with your child's daycare
By talking with your child’s daycare provider on a regular basis (once a month or once every other week) your child’s daycare provider will get a chance to highlight the progress they are making with your child. In my experience, everyone (teachers, daycare providers, nannies, etc.) enjoy telling parents about the progress they are making with child, since it gives them a chance to talk about the focused work and extra attention they are giving your child. Also, as your child gains increased skills in one area, such as fine motor, you can begin turning your attention (and the daycare provider's attention!) to another area in which your child might still need some extra help.