School readiness is so much more than knowing colors, shapes, and the ABC's. It's also about social skills, motor skills, coping skills, and self-expression. A school-ready child is eager to learn, willing and able to follow directions, and happily adjusted to group life in a classroom setting.
The first five years are critical to a child's development and can determine how well a child will do in school and in life. As a parent, the early experiences you provide your child influence brain development and the neural connections that provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, behavior, and emotional health.
What does research say about school readiness?
A study by 17 states identified the following five factors as most important to a child's readiness for school:
- Overall physical well-being and motor development: Having age-appropriate fine motor skills, which involve coordinating one’s eyes and hands to complete tasks such as stacking blocks, putting together puzzles, connecting Legos©, drawing, painting, or writing.
- Social and emotional development: Interacting positively with other children, taking turns, sharing, listening to others, developing empathy, and functioning as part of a group.
- Approaches to learning: The ability to follow through on one-step ("Hang up your coat.") or multistep directions ("Get some crayons, take them to the writing table and have a seat."), cooperativeness, persistence, independence, curiosity and creativity.
- Cognition and general knowledge: Developing an observant, inquisitive mind that looks at, labels, asks questions, notes similarities and differences, and solves problems.
- Language development and literacy: The development of a significant talking (expressive) and understanding (receptive) vocabulary and recognizing the relationships between letters and sounds.
Findings from the National School Readiness Indicators Initiative - A 17 State Partnership. Sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Prepared by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.