As parents, it seems we are always preparing for what’s coming up next. We have a hospital bag ready before the baby comes, we rig the house for when our babies start to crawl, we have a diaper bag ready for a wardrobe malfunction, and we have enough snacks in our cars to feed an army. You name it - we prepare for it.
Fast forward a few years and your child is four years old. A question is looming - How do we prepare them for Kindergarten? I am going to approach this in two steps.
- What should you do if you have a child with a summer or early fall birthday? Do you send them to Kindergarten? How do you know if they are ready for this next step?
- They are going to Kindergarten. How do I help prepare my child when the time comes?
I have read articles in the New York Times, The Washington Post, studied Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” perused the National Association for Education for Young Children, and watched a piece on “60 Minutes.” The bottomline is, there is no single factor that can determine readiness for Kindergarten. It is rather a combination of factors – and we need to look at them all carefully.
There is research out there as to why some parents wait to send their child to Kindergarten.
Some parents choose to hold their four or five year old back because they do not feel their child is ready for the academic, social and emotional demands of a kindergarten class.
In the admission process, I meet with parents who have to make an important decision for their child. They can either enroll them another year in pre-kindergarten (PK), continue their path to Kindergarten or find another transitional grade, i.e. Junior Kindergarten. I have met many parents who graduated from high school at 17. They would never want to delay their child’s growth by keeping them from moving onto the next grade with their PK classmates.
I have met with other parents who really want to give their child the gift of time. They like the idea of having a more mature child handle the complexities of school.
If you question your child's readiness talk to someone about it.
Talk to their preschool teacher or a trusted friend. Talk to your pediatrician.
Talk to parents who have waited and those who have moved their child ahead despite their late birthday.
Talk to me! I have met lots of children who fall into this category - we can talk through the pros and cons together. When children go through the admission process we look at lots of different factors and once we put together the puzzle pieces is a very strong case for one grade over the other. At SSSAS we are looking at the long-term journey which is why we have a Junior Kindergarten. There is no rush to the finish line.
Every child is different.
Take a deep breath and enjoy this special time. We do not have a crystal ball - be patient with your child and yourself. Sometimes time helps answer your questions.