By Guest Blogger Roanne Ornelles, Lower School Director, Canterbury School

It’s the time of year when parents of older preschoolers begin thinking about whether their children should start kindergarten in the fall or wait another year.

Every child has areas in which they excel and others in which they need additional help. Success in kindergarten and later years depends on an important combination of academic readiness, and perhaps even more importantly, maturity and social-emotional readiness.

If you feel your preschooler may not be ready for kindergarten, there can be benefits to waiting a year and giving your child the gift of time – to grow more physically, to further develop social and emotional skills, and to become more confident as a learner.

Age is not the only predictor of readiness. We’ve occasionally seen children with birthdays as early as November benefit from more time in preschool or at home.


Academic readiness skills for kindergarten include:

-Reading readiness skills such as letter recognition, rhyming, and letter sounds

-Fine motor skills such as writing one’s name, copying shapes, and cutting

-Gross/large motor skills such as throwing a ball, skipping, and jumping

-Recall skills in knowing personal information such as age, birthday, and siblings’ names

-Conceptual knowledge such as sorting objects by different attributes, making comparisons such as “shorter” and “taller”, understanding temporal skills such as “before” and “after”, and understanding 1-to-1 correspondence when counting objects


Social-emotional skills for kindergarten include:

-Comfort with separating from a caregiver

-Ability to follow directions and respond to redirection

-Ability to engage in an age-appropriate conversation on a topic of interest

-Ability to engage in group activities and an interest in learning

-Sharing and taking turns with peers

-Age appropriate levels of attention and focus

-Self-help skills such as putting on a coat and shoes


For many families, starting kindergarten might mean changing schools. At Canterbury School, the admission process is just the beginning of a conversation about each child’s unique learning profile. Many families come to us unsure of whether their children are ready for kindergarten, and we’re happy to help them make the best decision for their child.

After assessing each prospective student, Canterbury faculty and staff sit down with parents to talk about the results – their child’s strengths and weaker areas on the readiness continuum – and help them decide the right time for their child to start kindergarten. Of course, if a child enrolls at Canterbury, the conversation continues throughout the student’s learning experience at the school as we partner with parents in helping their children grow.

Once a student is ready to start school, Canterbury offers a kindergarten program that’s developmentally appropriate and supports young students and their particular learning needs. Each student here is known and loved from the start.

Our kindergarten provides lots of opportunities for children to learn both in the classroom and at recess. Children rarely spend more than 15 minutes seated at a time, and when they do, they have flexible seating options. Our kindergarteners have no dress code. Developmentally, they need to be dressed for lots of movement and ease in getting in and out of their coats or shoes for yoga or PE.

Our kindergartners have no homework, although we recommend that parents and caregivers read to children regularly to help them develop vocabulary, an understanding of story structure, an appreciation for literature, and listening skills. Read aloud time also provides a wonderful parent-child bonding time and can lead to some great family discussions.

In a world that tends to rush children into growing up, it’s important to make sure that students enter school ready to succeed – but also to find the right program tailored to their developmental needs. Educational discovery is a journey, and you want your child to enjoy the trip!

If you’d like to talk more about kindergarten readiness, learn more about Canterbury’s program, or schedule a tour of our beautiful campus, please call Kelen Walker or Caroline Walker at 336-288-2007.