Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten or Preschool

The cut-off date for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten enrollment has been changed from September 30th to August 31st for the 2013-2014 academic year.

According to new public school guidelines, children entering kindergarten must turn 5 on or before August 31st. Likewise, children entering pre-kindergarten must turn 4 before August 31st, to attend school this year.

From 2014-2015 onward, that date will be pushed to August 15th. The September 30th cut-off date will still be accepted if the child was born in 2008 and it is requested by a parent or legal guardian. The school director will evaluate your child to determine if she is academically and emotionally ready for kindergarten.

Given this new requirement, it is important to prepare your child for a successful school year. Michele Wilson, a special education teacher who conducts the Kindergarten Readiness program and Preschool Language Groups at Janna Hacker & Associates Speech Language Pathology, offers these tips. Practice these at home before the school year begins.



1. Writes his or her first name and correctly grips a pencil.

2. Can identify and sound out all the letters of the alphabet.

3. Can count and identify numbers 1 through 10.

4. Can follow two- or three-step directions.

5. Asks and answers all "wh" questions (who, what, when, where, why).

6. Speaks clearly enough for others to understand and most sentences are grammatically correct.

7. Can label all basic shapes and colors.

8. Has pre-reading skills; can say rhyming words, clap out the number of syllables in a word, and identify the first and last sound in a word.

9. Takes care of personal hygiene (using the restroom, washing hands) and keeps up with his or her possessions (lunch box, jacket).

10. Can attend to tasks (circle time, independent work time) and play cooperatively with peers.



1. Can attend to a short story during circle time by staying with the group and remaining seated most of the time.

2. Can follow one- or two-step directions during activities.

3. Can say two- to six-word sentences to make requests, name items, and protest.

4. Can ask and answer basic questions and engage in some conversation.

5. Plays with peers (parallel to associative to cooperative). Parallel play is when children play near each other. Associative play is when children play the same activities near each other. Cooperative play is when children play the same activities and work together.

6. Plays appropriately with toys, both using toys as intended and using them creatively with imagination.

7. Separates from parents at drop off (which may take a few weeks to master without tears).

8. Learns how to draw lines and to color and cut with assistance from the teacher until independent.

9. Transitions between activities with age-appropriate behavior and self-control.

10. Is potty trained, feeds self, and drinks from an open cup.

For more information about new State of Tennessee birth date requirements, call 473-2579.

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