Focus on the Family

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

by Focus on Your Child

Kindergarten can be an exciting time for you and your child because it sets the stage for his entire school career. You will look on in wonder as he grows into a more capable, confident, and enthusiastic learner.

But sending your child off to kindergarten can be rough. As the day approaches, you will probably experience a mix of feelings ranging from relief to fear. And your anxiety will be rooted in some specific questions that nag you.

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions.

How Can I Tell if My Kindergartner's Body Is Ready?

Five-year-olds come in all shapes and sizes. Some students are "off the chart" for size and physical dexterity. Others face severe challenges. There are, however, certain traits you may see in a typical five-year-old:

What Kind of Physical Activities or Sports Are Best for Five-Year-Olds?

Most children love to try different sports and activities at this age. The secret is to help your child view them as fun. Any five-year-old who jumps, plays outdoors, and does other things that help develop large muscles is getting the exercise he needs.

All learning starts with play. You can best prepare your child for kindergarten by providing play experiences that challenge him and that he enjoys. Also, set a good example — remember to play yourself!

Should My Child Have a Physical Before He Starts School?

Entry into kindergarten usually requires a checkup. Be sure to tell your child's doctor:

At a well-child checkup, the doctor most likely will:

A yearly dental checkup is also in order, both to teach good home care and to detect early dental problems. You may want to find a children's dentist, who has had extra training in child behavior and dental health.

Remember: If your child has ever had a medical problem, or has one now, it is important that you contact the school. A child who is on medication may exhibit unusual behavior in the classroom that the teacher needs to understand.

How Much Sleep Does a Kindergartner Need?

After a busy day in kindergarten, your five-year-old may find it easier to fall asleep at night than he has in the past. However, getting up in the morning may be more difficult. Night waking is rare among five-year-olds, perhaps because children this age do not typically take naps. If you establish a routine and stick to it — bath followed by a story, for example — bedtime usually goes well. In fact, it may be his favorite time of day.

Begin to adjust your child's bedtime and nap schedule several weeks before school starts. That way, he will not have too many changes in routine to contend with at the same time.