Ready or Not . . .

readiness 1“Ready or not, here I come!” – This is often the way schools treat academic readiness – but Waldorf education is different. Age is only one factor in determining if a child is ready to move from play-based learning to academic learning environment.

After researching and reading countless articles, I’ve realized most literature and Waldorf schools have similar traits they look for in determining if a child is ready for this transition. So, I have compiled a list. Your child does not have to meet ever one of these standards to be ready to hop into first grade – but rather it is highly recommended that you child have most of the traits or at least a few in each category.

readiness 2

Physical Development:

  • Had 6th Birthday before June 1 or have had 7 Easters.
  • Has Six Year Molars.
  • Has lost milk teeth
  • Longer legs and arms
    • Can reach up over his head with left arm and touch his right ear without leaning or bending his head to the side.
  • Has an arch in his foot
  • Eyes can follow a finger accurately

rediness 3

Physical Ability

  • Can skip, swim, or ride a bike
  • Climbs stairs with alternating feet
  • Hops on one foot
  • Bunny hops with two feet together
  • Able to catch and throw a large ball
  • Walks across a balance beam or log
  • Has developed self-care skills
    • Can take care of bathroom needs himself
    • Can button and zip own clothes
    • Can tie own shoes

readiness 4Social Skills

  • Likes to tell and laughs at jokes – has a sense of humor
  • Whispers “secrets”
  • Plays with and cooperates with other kids rather than simply playing side by sid
  • Is aware of others needs and desires and not just her own
  • Can play without a toy (can visualize or create play rather than needing object to play with)
  • Plays as animal and master/trainer (shows understanding of authority)
  • Starts developing long term friends (the new person at the park is no longer identified as “my best friend”)
  • Is purposeful in play – comes up with a scenario, then plans and directs it – almost like a play


  • Wants to learn – and states this verbally
  • States “I’m bored”
  • Has some control over impulses and emotions
  • Ability to pay attention and concentrate for 10 – 15 minute time period
  • Follows a set of  three directions (for example: pick up the spoon, put it in the sink, and wipe the table)
  • Shows some independence and is not overly clingy to parent or caregivers
  • Responds positively to authority – might even have desire to please


  • Recalls dreams and memories when ask verbally – does not need a physical reminder of events
  • Can retell stories and recite verses or songs fairly accurately
  • “Because this … then this” (causation) thinking is beginning
  • Uses imagination and not objects to create stories and play
  • Can come up with solutions to minor problems (The ball is stuck in the tree – how can I get it out?)
  • Asks “real” questions – not simply “why”


  • Rhymes
  • Changes or speeds up rhythm of songs or verse
  • Tells stories – both from recall and made up
  • Expresses own thoughts so a stranger could understand
  • Consistently uses correct verb tenses

ready 1Artistically

  • Is purposeful in drawing – doesn’t just scribble
  • Draws the sky and the ground in pictures
  • People and animals are clearly on the ground and not floating in space
  • Draws figures that do not represent anything (shapes, spirals, lines)
  • People are drawn somewhat accurately and proportionately  
  • There is natural symmetry in the drawings
    • For example – houses have windows evenly spaced
  • Can copy a simple line drawing of an adult
  • Uses multiple colors in drawings or paintings

Every child is different – but many of these traits naturally occur in children between the age of 6 and 7.  These guidelines are based on child development  – both observation and scientific evidence of brain development in children. If it possible to teach a younger child, who hasn’t developed many of these traits? I’ll answer a question with a question: Is it beneficial?

readiness 7

As a homeschooler – I don’t have to have a “Ready or  not, here I come” mentality of starting school – I can choose to wait until my child is truly ready.