School Readiness

Preparing your child for school is an active and important job.

As a parent, you need to know what is happening at your child’s school, what your child is learning, and what she is expected to know. There are many ways you can help your child get ready to start kindergarten, below we've listed two ways to get you started.

  1. You can learn if your child is on track or if he/she needs a little extra practice to be ready for school by taking a free screening today . Your child needs to develop social and emotional skills as well as academic skills in order to be prepared to enter a classroom setting with other children. WithinReach offers the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) to families in Washington State. Complete it online when it is convenient for you. It only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. One of our child development specialists will call you to talk about the results. They can suggest activities to support your child's growth at home in the community.

  2. Go through the list below to see if your child is school ready.   

Getting School Ready

Your child’s school experience will be best if you work together with your child’s early educators, kindergarten teachers and school staff. Share things happening in your child’s life that might affect how she feels and acts. Let the school know what special needs your child has before starting school. Volunteer at the school.

We've adapted the following list from: “Getting School Ready” Project Lift Off. To view the entire booklet, click here.

Good health helps children learn:

  • Take your child for regular “well child checkups” and immunizations. Provide your child a variety of nutritious foods, and care for her teeth. Get help for any health problems or concerns about her development.

Feeling excited and comfortable about starting kindergarten:

  • Let your child know that you’re excited that he is starting kindergarten. Give your child a chance to visit the school before he starts class.
  • Play a game with your child to pretend that he is in school already.

What kindergarten will be like:

  • Teach your child to follow directions by giving simple steps. Help her learn how to share with other children, stand in line, wait her turn and sit in a circle.

Feeling good about her/himself:

  • Pay attention to your child and listen to his/her ideas. Help her feel good about all of the things she can do. Praise your child for her strengths. Be patient and let her develop at her own pace.
  • Teach your child that all of his feelings are okay, but not all of his actions are okay. For example, it is okay to be upset, but it is not okay to hit others. Teach your child ways to calm her/himself down when he/she gets frustrated.

Getting along with others:

  • Show your child ways to make new friends. Help him to understand how he can be a friend with children who are different from him. Teach your child what to do when someone hurts his feelings.

Talking with others and listening:

  • Talk with your child about things that he/she’s interested in. Teach him how to know when it’s his turn to speak and when it is his turn to listen. Teach him/her words to describe his/her feelings and needs, and when to use them.

Learning to try new things, and keep trying even when it’s hard:

  • Give your child activities that hold her interest. Help her explore and try new activities, learning step by step. Teach her that making mistakes is part of learning.

Expressing her/himself:

  • Encourage your child to dance, sing, whistle, play instruments, paint, draw, color, build, invent and make believe.
  • Help him/her notice and talk about flowers, tress, animals, clouds, sky and water.

Feeling good about her family and culture, and learning about other cultures:

  • Show your child books and pictures of people who look like her, as well as people from different cultures.
  • Sing songs and tell her stories from her own and other cultures.
  • Take her to places that will teach her about her culture and other cultures. Introduce her to foods from different cultures.

Familiarity with words and numbers:

  • Teach your child new words. Show him words and symbols and the sounds they make.
  • Read to your child. Ask him questions about the stories to help him/her understand their meaning. Sing songs and teach him rhymes.

Familiarity with shapes, sizes and colors:

  • Give your child things to sort by shape, size and color. Help her find and name shapes and colors all around her.

Learning to count and understand that numbers have meaning:

  • Help your child play counting games. Let him count things at home and in the community. Show him how numbers are used around him.

Feeling and being safe:

  • Help your child practice saying her full name, address and phone number in her native language and in English.
  • Teach her to watch for cares and to not talk to strangers. Teach her who to ask for help when she needs it.

Bathroom and self-help skills:

  • Teach your child the words to tell other grown-ups when he needs to go to the bathroom, or is feeling sick or hurt. Help him practice going to the bathroom, washing his hands, dressing, and tying his shoes.
  • Encourage him to try things he’s learned before asking for help.

Physical activity and development:

  • Encourage your child to run, jump, climb and dance. Give her time every day to play outdoors.
  • Help her learn to pick-up, hold and use pencils, crayons, markers, paintbrushes and scissors. Encourage her to make things with blocks, paper, cardboard and tape.

Meeting basic needs:

  • Make sure your child is fed, rested and dressed for the weather every day.