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Cheri Burcham

It can be an exciting and emotional time for children and their parents when a child officially begins their school career with kindergarten. However, is that child ready? And, how do parents prepare their child to be ready? The Illinois Early Learning Project has a great tip sheet on this topic that I would like to share.

What are the health requirements for a child to begin school in Illinois?

  • A physical exam by a health care provider. The provider should give you a signed form to take to school.
  • A dental exam performed by a licensed dentist.
  • An eye exam performed by an optometrist or medical doctor.
  • All required immunizations. Start early so your child is ready for that first day. Talk to your health care provider or call the Illinois Public Health Department at 217-782-4977 if you’re not sure what immunizations he needs.

What will the teacher expect my child to be able to do?

  • Hold and use a pencil, crayons and scissors.
  • Say their full name and how they get to and from school.
  • Handle self-care tasks such as hanging up their coat, going to the toilet, and washing their hands.
  • Get along with most children and adults and respect the property and rights of others.
  • Work alone and with others.
  • Sit and listen for about 15 minutes.
  • Remember and carry out two or three directions; finish a task they start.
  • Follow simple rules and be willing to take turns.

What are some ways I can help prepare my child?

  • Help them learn about the surrounding world. Take them on interesting trips—to the library or grocery store, on a bus ride, or to a museum or park—and talk with them about what they sees. Encourage their curiosity and help them find answers to their questions.
  • Read to them and let them know that words can be written as well as spoken.
  • Teach them the names of colors and shapes.
  • Help them see and hear how objects and sounds may be alike or different.

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How can I find out what my local school expects of my child?

  • Take advantage of any kindergarten screening or school visits your school may offer.
  • Call the school office and ask for information on what is expected of children and parents.

What if my child needs special help to be ready for kindergarten?

  • Check with your local school district office to find out about developmental screening and programs.
  • Call 800-851-6197 or visit www.childfind-idea-il.us to learn more about services for children who have special needs.

For more information on this topic or other family life-related topics, contact Cheri Burcham at University of Illinois Extension at 217-543-3755 or at cburcham@illinois.edu. For more information on University of Illinois Unit 19 programming and to read additional helpful articles, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at 217-345-7034. Also visit the Family Files Blog at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hkmw/eb380/.

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