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Rebecca Rider column: Kindergarten readiness

Being kindergarten ready isn’t exactly what you would expect.

“It’s not so much that they come in knowing how to read, knowing their numbers. It’s more about social skills, social awareness,” Annie Parker, director of elementary education and Title I with Kannapolis City Schools said.

Instead, Parker said, teachers and school staff evaluating children when they come in for kindergarten pay attention to other cues, such as social skills and fine motor skills that can “set them up for success.”

While being able to identify letters and numbers and being familiar with books are a definitely important, there are other ways to tell if a child is ready to jump into learning: can they follow instructions, tie their shoes, grip a pencil or walk in a line.

“It’s such a foundational skill and trait to have,” Parker said, “The teacher can teach the academics.”

Or, can a child sit and listen to a story? It may seem simple, but it’s an ability that can be particularly telling.

“That’s a sign that language development is on par with where they should be,” she said.

Students should also be able to sit for long periods of time, and be able to follow direction.

“There is a lot of movement in kindergarten classrooms, and a lot of choice, but there’s a lot of structure,” Parker said.

In addition to choosing activities, students have to follow instructions, which sometimes do not involve choice — a kindergarten-ready child needs to be able to handle that. They should also be able to get along well with others and work in teams.

But it’s not cut and dry.

“There’s not a formal check list,” Parker said.

Parents who aren’t sure if their child is socially ready for kindergarten should check with their local school.

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