All parents of 5-year-olds wonder if their child is ready for kindergarten. Unfortunately, there is no test to determine if a child is ready for kindergarten, since "ready" can mean so many different things. All children have tasks they do well and tasks they find difficult. In addition, children learn many new skills during their first year of school. Therefore, lacking one skill — like being able to use scissors — probably isn't a reason to hold a child back, since they may learn that skill at school.
Parents are the best judges as to whether their child is ready for kindergarten. The following information should only serve to give you some idea of skills most children have before they start school; the list is not complete and is not meant to be a test of kindergarten readiness. If you feel your 5-year-old has difficulty in several areas, please talk with your child's doctor.
When children start kindergarten, they understand they are representing their family "out in the world." When children brings home a gold star on a paper and are praised by parents, they learn they've done a good job and made their parents proud.
Children share things about their families at school, which can make parents feel vulnerable — "Do you know what my Mommy told my Daddy last night?" is a common kindergarten theme. Be aware of this as you respond to your child's daily events at school.
Children rely on the adults in their world to protect them, at school and at home. Teachers of young children must be responsible for closely observing children's interactions and assuring that teasing and bullying are not tolerated. Since you are your child's best advocate, you must pay attention if your child complains of being teased or threatened. Please speak directly with the teacher if you're concerned your child might be experiencing bullying — or might be a bully.
Before entering kindergarten, children need a complete physical examination, vision and hearing tests, and a skin test to determine if the child has been exposed to tuberculosis. If you or anyone in your family has been exposed to tuberculosis, please let your child's doctor know.
Your child may need booster shots before beginning school. These immunizations may be given anytime after age 4, so your child may already be up to date. If not, please prepare your child to receive some shots at his or her school check-up. If your child has not had the hepatitis A vaccine, it is now recommended for children in California. Please ask your child's pediatrician about this vaccination.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
Pediatrics at Mount Zion
2330 Post St., Suite 320
San Francisco, CA 94143-1660
Phone: (415) 885-7478
Fax: (415) 885-3790
Pediatrics at Parnassus
400 Parnassus Ave., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143-0347
Phone: (415) 353-2000
Fax: (415) 353-2680