Gail LaVaude: “Ready for Kindergarten!”

Each September children begin a new adventure by becoming ‘big kindergartners.’ These first steps into the school environment are a milestone in social and cognitive growth. For many five-year-olds, this step is met with confidence and excitement. For others, the first day of kindergarten may be overwhelming and filled with anxiety and dread. But what quantifies school readiness? And how can we as a community support families so that all children are prepared for the transition into school and a future of academic success?


(Andrews, 2009-13)

 The developing child needs time to  practice peer interaction. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) believed that “social interaction precedes development; consciousness and cognition are the end product of socialization and social behavior…He states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (inter-psychological) and then inside the child (intra-psychological).” (McLeod, 2007).

(LaVaude, 2013)

Perhaps the most obvious stages of a child’s development are physical growth and motor skills. By four and five years of age, most children master movement and are able to walk backwards, jump on one foot, use alternating feet going up and down stairs and turn somersaults. At this age children develop fine motor skills that will help them begin writing. Most can use safety scissors, cut on a line, copy simple shapes and print a few capital letters. “Obviously, there’s a lot of advances s that occur between four and five when children will begin to learn the letters of the alphabet, will begin to learn numbers. And how rapidly children acquire the alphabet or numbers is also dependent upon how often the children are read to, what kinds of environment exposure the parents provide for the child.” (Films Media Group, 1997)


 (LaVaude, 2013)

 They [kindergarteners] are eager to interact with other children. They’re prepared and ready to do this. They’ve had a lot of practice in the socialization and developmental process. And their motor skills are such that they can take on a lot of tasks, stay in seat for periods of time. Work in schedules that are superimposed on them as a group. This is also the time, in terms of emotions, when we’re talking about probably an extended periods of time away from a mom and a dad in the home that they have spent the bulk of their time growing up in. Although, with the daycare center approach to dual member working families today that’s beginning to change too.” (Films Media Group, 1990)

Megan Smith is a private daycare provider and mother of three. She takes advantage of the story hour each week with the children in her care at the public library. When asked if she uses a curriculum in her home service to children, Megan hesitates. “At first I was very organized and structured. We had circle, art time, reading and the like. When things didn’t go ‘as planned’ as sometimes happens with toddlers, I became stressed that I was not getting it done! The more laid back I have become in structure, the better it is for the kids because they are able to get what they need from me as they learn from interaction and play.” (M. Smith, personal interview, April 2013)  Megan recognizes the library story hour programs as a precursor to the preschool structure and school environment. She enjoys the relaxed atmosphere for the children with just enough structure for learning while broadening their social connections.

What are teachers and special educators seeing or not seeing as children are entering school for the first time in September? What are the challenges? “There are many interpretations of what constitutes ‘readiness.’ Vermont’s concept of children’s readiness is multidimensional; it includes social and emotional development, communication, physical health, as well as cognitive development, knowledge, and approaches to learning (e.g., enthusiasm for learning, persistence, curiosity).” (Vermont Agency of Education, 2013) The charts below show that while student enrollment is in decline, student disability count is rising within classrooms across the state.


School # K students enrolled District wide % IEP
2008-09 Bradford Elementary 31 15.03%
2009-10 Bradford Elementary 29 15.60%
2010-11 Bradford Elementary 28 17.22%

Statewide Special Education Disability Count

Year(Dec) AutismSpectrumDisorder Developmental Delay Emotional Disturbance Learning Impairment Specific Learning Disabilities



2009 752 2413 1956 873 4119



2010 850 2451 1870 825 4045



2011 922 2464 1880 778 3967





Bradford, Vermont     24.00%
Cities in Vermont         8.00%
(FindTheData, n.d.)

Located in Orange County, Bradford serves as the economic center for the immediate region. Bradford’s poverty level, especially the village area within the vicinity of the library, is higher than the state average and significantly higher when considering families with children. The neighborhood from which we get a number of walk-ins to use library services is one of the highest concentrations of low-income families in this area.

Kindergarten and first grade teachers at the Bradford Elementary School put independence and self care as the biggest challenges for most children entering kindergarten. Independence is followed by an eagerness to learn and ask questions. These educators express concern over the number of children without access to the benefits of suitable preschool and daycare facilities. For children who are not exposed to preschool or other social connections, the library offers an excellent opportunity to nurture this piece of development in children. At the public library, families and especially young children living in rural Vermont have access to peer socialization and cognitive developmental support through early literacy programs such as story hour, summer reading programs and more. Working closely with the schools, the library programs are designed to not only promote a love for reading but to nurture life long learning skills and support academic success. 

(LaVaude, 2013)


Andrews, D. (Designer). (2009-13). Ready for kindergarten [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Films Media Group. (1990). Five to eight [H.264]. Available from

Films Media Group. (1997). Intellectual development: The first five years [H.264]. Available from

FindTheData. (n.d.). Bradford, Vermont poverty. Retrieved from

LaVaude, G. (2013, April 25). Together song [Video file]. Retrieved from

LaVaude, G. (2013, April 25). Trev[Video file]. Retrieved from

Mcleod, S. (2007). Lev Vygotsky. Retrieved from

Vermont Agency of Education. (2013). Vermont’s statewide report on kindergarten readiness 2011-2012. Retrieved from

*    *    *

APA cite this article in text as: (LaVaude, 2014)

APA cite this article in References as: LaVaude, G. (2014).  Ready for kindergarten! Vermont Psychology. Retrieved from

*    *    *

f2-1Gail LaVaude is the children’s librarian at Bradford Public Library and Bradford Elementary, as well as a student at Johnson State College.