Ready or Not? 

Here's what makes for a school-worthy tot.

As parents plunk down wads of cash for toys that teach, education experts debate what a skills a kid really needs to be school-worthy. While there's no magic formula, the Family Education Network offers the following menu of skills to help parents figure out if tiny Tim and Tanya are prepared for the big K. Don't stress, though. The nonprofit cautions that many kids won't be able to do all this stuff. This here's just the rough guide.

* Listen to stories without interrupting

* Recognize rhyming sounds

* Pay attention for short periods to adult-directed tasks

* Understand actions have both causes and effects

* Show understanding of general times of day

* Cut with scissors

* Trace basic shapes

* Begin to share with others

* Start to follow rules

* Be able to recognize authority

* Manage bathroom needs

* Button shirts, pants, and coats, and zip up zippers

* Begin to control oneself

* Separate from parents without being upset

* Speak understandably

* Talk in complete sentences of five to six words

* Look at pictures and then tell stories

* Identify rhyming words

* Identify the beginning sound of some words

* Identify some alphabet letters

* Recognize some common sight words like "stop"

* Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape

* Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects

* Count to ten

* Bounce a ball

Source: Family Education Network

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