School Readiness/Kindergarten

The early years of a child’s life are crucial in creating a foundation for life-long learning and success. The Minnesota Department of Education is committed to ensuring all children’s readiness for school by providing comprehensive services and supports to children, families, teachers and other professionals. Services and supports include: professional development, early learning standards and assessment, professional knowledge and competencies, program quality improvements, scholarships and PreK-3 alignment.

Below is an excerpt from Minnesota’s School Readiness definition to better understand children’s readiness in the context of the complex systems in which they live. This definition may be used to help programs better understand children’s readiness or serve as the foundation for World’s Best Workforce planning related to kindergarten goals.

Expectations for Children as They Enter Kindergarten
According to Minnesota statute, a child is ready for kindergarten when he/she: 

  • Is at least 5 years of age by September 1st of the child’s enrollment year (Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.20).
  • Has received early childhood screening (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.17).
  • Has received medically acceptable immunizations (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.15).

Schools must be prepared to support and respond to all children’s individual needs because children arrive at kindergarten with a wide range of experiences and competencies. Supporting readiness that is inclusive of children’s’ skills and knowledge at kindergarten entry can inform future program planning and teaching.

When a child arrives at kindergarten he or she will exhibit his/her knowledge and skills across multiple learning areas as described in learning and academic standards. These include social and emotional, math/science/social studies (cognitive), physical, the arts, language / literacy / communication domains. How each child develops and demonstrates skills in each learning area is different.

Opportunities for learning experiences through family and early care and education settings prior to kindergarten increase a child’s ability to exhibit age-appropriate skills and behaviors.

Expectations at kindergarten entry are spelled out more fully in the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards. Examples of knowledge and skills listed in the standards are below. This list is meant only to illustrate examples of children’s development and is not intended to be a checklist or assessment of children’s skills.

A critical piece of defining children’s readiness for school is measuring their knowledge and skills. Through Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge, MDE is revising the decade-long School Readiness Study. Based on feedback from administrators and teachers, the study is being revised to include a menu of assessment tools and will report school readiness based on standards, as opposed to one tool. To learn more about the study, please see the one-page overview, frequently asked questions and Phase 1 Executive Summary below.