Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?
Kristi Borden, GCA Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Kristi Borden has been a kindergarten teacher at GCA for nearly fifteen years.  In this post, she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience with parents who may be facing the question of whether or not their child is ready for kindergarten. 

As a Kindergarten Teacher and long-time Early Childhood Educator, I am often asked the question, “How can I be sure that my child is ready for Kindergarten”?   The start of Kindergarten is a huge milestone in a child’s life and in the life of a family. The decision to start a child or not, is often one that weighs heavy on a parent’s heart.  There is no perfect formula to make this decision because each child is unique, special and gifted in different ways.  There are, however, several very good guidelines to help parents as they make this very important decision. 


Prior to entering kindergarten, your child should be observed closely with the following concepts in mind. Some signs of developmental readiness include:


·       Being comfortable away from parents for several hours.

·       Having the ability to express ideas and feelings to adults other than parents.

·       Taking care of toileting needs independently.

·       Hanging up sweaters, jackets and hats without help.

·       Being able to button and zip clothing.

·       Being able to tuck in shirts and fasten belts.

·       Naming most of the parts of the body.

·       Being able to retell familiar stories, nursery rhymes or songs.

·       Entering a new activity without fear.

·       Accepting minor disappointments or limits without tears.

·       Listening to and following directions.

·       Finding ways to resolve conflicts with peers independently.

·       Being able to work independently without constant adult supervision.

·       Joining with a group of children in listening to a short story.

·       Stating their own full name and age to the teacher.

·       Write first name legibly.

·       Making simple decisions given a few choices of play activities.

·       Taking care of personal belongings.

·       Using a pencil or crayon with a relaxed and controlled grasp.

·       Repeating a series of four numbers without practice.

·       Identifying the primary colors.

·       Drawing simple recognizable drawings.

Excerpt from Understanding Your Child: A Parent’s Guide to Starting School, Gesell Institute of Human Development, New Haven, CT (1991)


There are many things that parents can do to help their child become developmentally ready to begin Kindergarten:

Here are 10 kindergarten readiness skills to focus on as you work with your child. Don't be concerned if he/she does not have them all down before the first day of kindergarten, as they will continue to work on them throughout the year. Try a few activities listed for the skills your child might need to work on a bit more before she starts school.

1. Writing

·        Help your child practice writing letters, especially the letters in his/her name.

·        Teach your child how to write their name with an uppercase first letter and the remaining letters in lowercase.

·        Write in shaving cream in the bathtub, salt or sugar in a cake pan or in finger paint to make practicing more fun and multisensory.

2. Letter Recognition

·        Play games to help your child recognize some letters of the alphabet.

·        Play hide and seek with refrigerator magnets.

·        Rather than drilling your child with flashcards, use them to play a game of alphabet go fish.

3. Beginning Sounds

·        Make your child aware of the sound that each letter makes.

·        Find items around the house that begin with the same sound and identify the letter that makes each sound.

·        Overemphasize the first sound in words to help your child hear the individual sounds in words.

4. Number Recognition and Counting

·        Count throughout the day (for example, the crackers he/she is eating for snack or the socks that you take out of the dryer).

·        Point out numbers you see in your environment and have your child name them (for example, the numbers found on food boxes or street signs).

5. Shapes and Colors

·        If your child is having trouble recognizing certain colors, you might add a little food coloring to cookie dough, milk or vanilla pudding to emphasize those colors.

·        Help your child recognize more difficult shapes such as diamonds and rectangles by showing him/he her how to draw them on paper and cut them out.

·        Play games in which your child finds objects of particular colors and shapes around the house or in the neighborhood as you drive.

6. Fine Motor Skills

·        Give your child several different writing options (colored pencils, crayons or markers) to help keep her interested in writing and drawing.

·        Playing with play dough is a fun way to strengthen the muscles of the hand that will be used for writing.

7. Cutting

·        Purchase a good pair of child-safe scissors and let your child practice.

·        Give her old magazines or newspapers to cut up, or allow her to make a collage of the things she likes by cutting them from magazines and gluing them to a piece of paper.

·        Cutting play dough is also fun for children.

8. Reading Readiness

·        Run your finger under the words as you read to your child to help her learn that words go from left to right and top to bottom.

·        Play games with rhyming words to help your child hear similar sounds in words. For example, as you are going up the stairs, name one word that rhymes with cat for each step as you go up.

9. Attention and Following Directions

·        Read lots of stories with your child and work up to reading longer chapter books, one chapter each night or as long as he/she remains interested and focused.

·        Give your child two and three step directions. For example: "put on your pajamas, brush your teeth and pick a book to read."

·        Play Simon Says with two or three step directions. For example: "Simon Says jump up and down and shout hooray."

10. Social Skills

·        Give your children opportunities to interact with other children in preschool, church or social groups or play dates.

·        Teach your child how to express his/her feelings if they don’t like something.

·        Role-play different situations he/she might experience on the playground or at school. Help them find solutions for typical problems they might encounter.

Excerpt from 10 Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs from (2013)


As with any important parenting decision, we encourage you to pray and seek God's direction.  We have rarely seen a child who did not benefit from an extra year and the gift of time and maturity.  We have known many families who later regretted a decision to send a younger child on to kindergarten, but never a family who regretted waiting to send their child if there were any concerns.

Our kindergarten staff is here to help!  If you’d like to learn more about the Grace Christian Academy kindergarten program, a visit is a great first step!  Our next admissions Open House is coming up soon on Sunday, January 28 at 12:30 p.m.  It’s a great time to come over, enjoy lunch, learn more about the program, meet the teachers, and tour the campus.

To RSVP for the event or to schedule a personal tour, please email Director of Admissions Elizabeth Kose at or by calling 865-342-3811.  We can’t wait to meet you and your prospective kindergarten student!


Mrs. Kristi Borden has a wealth of experience, including over fourteen years as a kindergarten teacher Grace Christian Academy, three years teaching in the Head Start program, and three years serving as the Childcare Program Director at the Knoxville Community Development Corporation.  She is married to Steve, and they have two children (including one GCA alumnus) and their youngest, who will graduate from GCA in 2018.