Six-year-olds in 1979 seem to have lived in a much different world than we do. Today’s 42-year-olds were once little kids getting ready for first grade, and according to a 1979 “first-grade readiness checklist” uncovered by Christine Whitley from Chicago Now, the expectations for what a six-year-old could and could not do are a lot different than what most of us expect from small kids today.

1. Will your child be six years, six months or older when he begins first grade and starts receiving reading instruction?

2. Does your child have two to five permanent or second teeth?

3. Can you child tell, in such a way that his speech is understood by a school crossing guard or policeman, where he lives?

4. Can he draw and color and stay within the lines of the design being colored?

5. Can he stand on one foot with eyes closed for five to ten seconds?

6. Can he ride a small two-wheeled bicycle without helper wheels?

7. Can he tell left hand from right?

8. Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?

9. Can he be away from you all day without being upset?

10. Can he repeat an eight- to ten-word sentence, if you say it once, as “The boy ran all the way home from the store”?

11. Can he count eight to ten pennies correctly?

12. Does your child try to write or copy letters or numbers?

Most parents probably have no idea if their six year old can walk eight blocks to the store and then make it back again, because they haven’t tested it. What do you do if the answer is no, send Lassie to fish little Timmy out of the well?

Or, perhaps more likely, what do you do if someone calls the police because they saw your child cross the street unattended? Because people might complain about how parents today hover too much and don’t let kids explore–or walk eight blocks to the store–but strangers, acquaintances, and neighbors seem to be constantly reporting parents to the police for things like that.

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