What Are the Most Important Readiness Skills for Life & School?

Fine motor skills prepare students for hands-on activities.
... Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Readiness skills are most commonly associated with pre-kindergarten screening tests to help determine when a child is mentally and socially ready to start kindergarten. Readiness skills are also valuable beyond the kindergarten classroom because they prepare students for future academic coursework and increasingly complex social relationships. Without sufficient mastery of readiness skills, students often struggle to keep up with their classwork and have difficulty engaging in healthy, productive play with classmates.

1 Fine Motor Skills

The development of fine motor skills is an important readiness skill that prepares kids for hands-on activities. It allows them to successfully cut with scissors, manipulate toys and draw with crayons. Fine motor skills are also an important part of learning to write, so children need sufficient muscle strength and hand-eye coordination to hold writing utensils correctly and trace pictures, numbers or letters. Parents and preschool teachers can use Play-Doh to help strengthen hand muscles, suggests contributor Traci Geiser at Education.com. Fine motor skills are also important in life because they help children, teens and adults assemble gadgets, draw, play musical instruments, sew, type and operate technical equipment.

2 Reading and Math

Children don't have to be able to read to enter most kindergarten programs, but an understanding of alphabetic enunciation, phonics, how letters combine to make words and the flow of words on a page can prepare them for reading. As you read to your children, underline the words with your finger to help them visually follow the words. Math is another important academic readiness skill because it helps kindergarten students learn to count, order, sequence, add and subtract. You might count out loud when you go to the grocery store, such as "One, two, three apples," or "Two cans of green beans plus one can of corn equals three cans of food." Reading and math are important readiness skills that translate into adolescence and adulthood. They help individuals prepare budgets, apply for jobs, take college courses and perform research.

3 Listening Skills

Listening is a significant readiness skill because it helps children, adolescents and adults engage in meaningful two-way conversations. Without listening-skill development, kindergarten children struggle to follow their teacher's instructions, have difficulty interacting with peers and selfishly focus on their own thoughts and wishes. Effective listening skills help children learn to be patient and cooperative. In life beyond kindergarten, listening skills help individuals follow directives that are necessary for completing college coursework or interacting in team-centered work environments.

4 Social Skills

Appropriate social skills are an important part of kindergarten classrooms. Children learn to share, cooperate, work through conflicts, forgive, show compassion, respect their teachers and support their classmates. Most kindergarten programs don't require students to have mastered social skills, but they must be able to interact positively in a classroom setting without demanding constant one-on-one attention from the teacher. Social skills are valuable because they help children and adults interact with professors, peers, bosses, coworkers, friends, romantic partners and the public at large.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.