Kindergarten Readiness Checklist with MarcoPolo For Educators

Ashley Smith-Santos
November 16, 2023

Picture this: It’s center time in a preschool classroom and there is a lot happening in various parts of the room. Two children have pulled a basket of legos and they are collaborating on a construction project. They discuss what colors and sizes of legos they want to use. Another child has cozied up with a few picture books in the reading area. He’s “reading” the story to himself by narrating the pictures. A small group of children are using playdough to form letters and make words, using picture cards the teacher set out. Another child puts on headphones, plugs into a tablet and navigates an app used in the classroom, specifically choosing an area of interest within the app. Two children play a pizza spinner game, identifying the number of toppings that go on the pizza with each turn. A few children are in the dramatic play area, setting up a pretend restaurant and drawing out menu items on paper. Two children have a disagreement about what to put on the menu, until one suggests that they each make their own menu. Another child sorts items in the restaurant into categories of food. When it’s time to clean up, the teacher uses a class song and children put materials away. A few children need reminders throughout clean up time, and one child needs to be redirected after spilling the legos. All of these children are participating in experiences that will prepare them for kindergarten. 

The term “kindergarten readiness” has been tossed around in the education world for quite some time now.  But what does it mean? How can early childhood teachers prepare their students for the big, wonderful world of kindergarten? We asked preschool teachers what preparing children for kindergarten means to them, and here is what they said: 

“When I think of Kindergarten readiness, I think about children having healthy relationships with their peers and teachers. And I think about children being ready and excited to learn.”

“Working to get the WHOLE child as prepared as possible - physically, developmentally, academically, emotionally and socially.”

“I want to get them ready and help them every day so they feel independent and not scared.”

“When I think of kindergarten readiness, I think of not only equipping them educationally (i.e. literacy skills, math skills, physical skills etc.) but also socially and emotionally because it is a completely different environment than what they are used to.”

While academics are often on the forefront of conversations around kindergarten readiness, teachers know to look at the whole child when thinking about preparation. Let’s break these teacher ideas down into two parts: fostering independence and social and emotional learning skills

✅ Fostering Independence 

How can preschool teachers help children develop the independence they will need to thrive in their early elementary years? Here are a few tips!

  • 🎨 Classroom environment: Materials should be easy to access and children are comfortable navigating the classroom. 
  • 🔢 Provide Choices: Give children options throughout the day. Not only for center time, but during all parts of the day. This gives them ownership for their ideas and more opportunity for follow-through. 
  • ❓Encourage questions! If a child is unsure of what to do or how to do it, encourage them to ask for help! Rather than feeling overwhelmed, they can gain confidence in knowing when to ask for assistance. 
  • 🖼️ Reflection and praise: Children love to see their growth! Pull some photos or work from earlier in the year and reflect on how much they’ve improved. Give specific praise. (i.e., “Look at how you drew yourself at the beginning of the year, and look at your self-portrait now! You’ve added all of these details.”) This can help students see their progress and strive for the next step!
  • ⏱️ Practice, practice, practice! Build time into your daily schedule to allow students to practice the skills they need to be more independent. 

❣️ Supporting Social and Emotional Learning

What can early childhood teachers do to provide students with social and emotional scaffolding? Check out our suggestions! 

  • 👧🏻 Identifying and managing emotions: Help a child name their emotions and offer a tool to manage them (i.e., “You feel frustrated because your block tower fell over. You can take a break for a few minutes and come back to it.”) 
  • Check out the MarcoPolo For Educators platform! The Emotions field trip has kid-friendly digital content to support learners and educator guides for teachers! One teacher noted, “We are hearing the kids using the language from the social-emotional videos to help them problem solve.” 
  • Our Feelings Chart Printable supports child independence in identifying emotions with facial expressions. 
  • 🤔 Problem solving: Model, model, model! It’s important for kids to see how an adult might tackle something challenging. Talk aloud through your problem-solving process. Also, model failure! Mistakes are usually great teachers, and kids need to see that it’s ok to fail, and a necessary part of the learning process. 
  • 💬 Conflict resolution: When children are having a disagreement, it’s easy to step in and offer a solution. However, it’s important for children to learn how to work through something with a peer. Ask them: what are some ways we can solve this problem? If they need support, offer a suggestion or two. 
  • Check out the MarcoPolo For Educators Platform! The Using Your Words video breaks the concept into simple language for children to use when communicating to resolve a conflict. 
  • 🤝‍ Collaboration: Provide activities or challenges that require collaboration. You can even have a weekly “collaboration task” in which the class has to work together to achieve a goal without adult assistance. Start small! (i.e., give the class a basket of connecting cubes or blocks and ask them to work together to create a track the length of a table. Or ask them to collaborate to make a pattern with the cubes.) 

Giving students positive feedback and loads of practice within these areas will help them to be the most successful kindergartener they can be! Think about how your classroom environment can help set up students for success. How can you offer them more opportunities for independence? How can you support their social and emotional learning experiences? 

MarcoPolo For Educators offers content that breaks these skills down into tangible learning for students. Each video comes paired with an Educator Guide to support you, the teacher! Check out Frustration, Using Your Words, and Choices this week to support social and emotional learning and foster independence in your students! 

We know how important the early years are in a child’s development, and we appreciate the work you do every day! We hope you enjoy the remainder of the year with your sweet preschoolers, and find some of these tips to be helpful in your classroom.