A child’s readiness for school is not solely dependent on their educational prowess, but also should take into account social-emotional skills, language development, physical wellbeing, and other factors influencing a child’s life. Reaching appropriate developmental milestones by the age of 5 years old is an important start to an effective education. Readiness for school starts long before your child’s first day; it starts with experiences in the home and community from the moment they are born.
Early education, such as preschool, can be a helpful step before starting kindergarten. Quality education from a young age helps develop social and emotional skills while learning how to interpret and interact with the world. It can be particularly helpful for children with ADHD, autistic disorder, or other developmental disabilities. There are also ways to enhance and reinforce a child’s learning from home by incorporating daily activities in your child’s schedule, such as reading and playing games together. For young children, screen time should not be a replacement for face-to-face interactions and real life experiences. Preschool apps and television shows should be limited, even if they are marketed as educational programs.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2020), the state of Virginia requires kindergarten for all children who reach the age of 5 years old before the date September 30th for any given school year. Children with birthdays a few days before this date should not have school entrance delayed for a year, as this does not truly provide them with any advantages. Children in kindergarten within this state take a readiness evaluation from the Virginia Department of Education twice during the school year. This evaluation helps identify students in need of additional support in the areas of literacy, mathematics, self-regulation, and social skills. It is a useful tool to ensure your child is receiving services appropriate to their developmental and educational level.
To help prepare your child for this evaluation and the start of school, review Virginia’s definition of school readiness.
If you are not located in the state of Virginia, but are interested in requirements for school entrance by age for other states, visit the National Center for Education Statistics.
If you have further questions, call to schedule a developmental consult or your child’s well visit today!
Williams, PG, Lerner, MA, Sells, J., et al. School Readiness. Pediatrics (2019) 144 (2). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-1766