As our children get ready for kindergarten I often hear parents concerned on whether or not their child knows their ABC’s, can write, can count to 100 or even read a book. With the emphasis being on academics for kindergarten prep we are forgetting about some major developmental milestones a child needs to reach in order to be the most successful in school, and *hint* it has nothing to do with book smarts.
Does your child have the developmental motor skills developed in order to attend in class? Does your child have the development motor skills to sit still for 30 minutes? Does your child have the developmental visual skills to move about without bumping into people & objects? Does your child have the developmental emotional skills to be away from their parents for many hours in the day? Unless a child’s physical body is prepared for school, a young child will not be ready to sit in a chair, hold a pencil, and will often have trouble focusing in class. Trunk control, balance, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills are all developed through physical activities such as climbing, jumping, rolling, pushing, pulling, spinning around, hopping and running.
For a wide variety of reasons, children are now given less opportunity to strengthen these developmental skills. Even the playground equipment in our parks and play areas has changed over the past ten years. Perhaps you have noticed the absence of swings and other equipment from many playgrounds. Children need ample opportunity to naturally strengthen and prepare their bodies for school and life beyond the classroom.
According to the Peabody Motor Development Chart, at five years of age your child should have mastered the following skills:
- walking up and down stairs, one foot at a time
- jumping over an object with two feet and landing with two feet
- skipping up to 8 steps
- able to stand on one leg without swaying for 10 seconds
- accurately imitates arm positions
- catches small ball from 5 feet away
- draws a square
- cuts out a circle and square printed on paper
- uses a tripod grasp when holding writing utensils or crayons
- able to touch each finger to their thumb independently
- able to complete 3 sit-ups
If your child has not mastered the above skills at 5 years old, they may not be ready for kindergarten. Learning is developmentally tied to movement. Forgetting to assess movement will have affects on your child’s success in school.
In a study of typically developing 4 and 5 year olds, over 65% of them had at least one primitive reflex unintegrated. When reflexes remain intact movement is not fluid; balance is compromised; and the ability to learn is affected.
In our Sensory Lab, located in Flagstaff, AZ, we are able to assess children’s school readiness, as well as provide ample opportunities to work through the physical movements that will help develop their minds and bodies. We are also developing a preschool readiness guide to assist parents in working with their children at home.