Is your child ready for kindergarten? Many parents are concerned when that particular summer rolls. While most children are ready, children mature and develop at certain rates. The differences in development can be significant in young children, and some children will benefit from another year in preschool or staying home with mom and dad. There are several factors you can consider as a parent to help you with that decision.
Here are some characteristics your child should possess before moving on to kindergarten:
• Can your child follow simple directions?
• For example: “Put away your book and put on your shoes.”
• Kindergarten teachers have 20+ students to direct. They will not be able to spend time exclusively on any child regarding simple directions.
• Is your child relatively independent?
• Can your child put on her/his own coat, blow her/his own nose, use the bathroom without assistance?
• Can she put a straw into a juice box? Again, teachers do not have the time to spend on these types of issues.
• Does your child have adequate fine motor skills?
• Is your child able to hold a pencil and use scissors?
• Kindergarteners will start writing the first week. Any child that cannot hold a pencil will find himself falling behind very rapidly.
• Does your child relate well to other children?
• While all children of this age are rather egocentric, they must be able to play and get along with other children in general. Is your child willing to share? Does she know how to take turns?
• Does your child have a rudimentary knowledge of numbers and letters?
• Kindergarten teachers expect that your child can count to at least 10 and recognize most letters.
If your child is currently in preschool, your child’s preschool teacher is an excellent resource. She has the advantage of seeing your child interact with other children every day. She also works with your child academically on a daily basis and has the knowledge and training to determine if your child is ready for the next step. Ask her if she thinks your child is ready.
If your child is not in preschool, your pediatrician can provide her opinion regarding your child’s readiness for kindergarten. Pediatricians see children all day, every day, and are experts on child development. She will have a good idea if your child is ready or not and can make the appropriate recommendation.
School districts are usually open to allowing a parent to visit a kindergarten classroom for the day. Observe how the other children are behaving, their interactions, and the general skills they possess. Do you believe your child could function at the same level as this group of children?
Now that you have several sources of information, you can make the best decision. While most parents cringe at the thought of their child being a year behind where he could have been, there are several things to consider. How will your child feel if she constantly struggles and is unable to keep up with the class? Would sitting out a year be as difficult on the child as being held back and repeating kindergarten? Success tends to breed more success, and placing a child in a situation where he can’t be competent is a step in the wrong direction. A child’s self-esteem has a significant impact on his academic success. Gather all the expert opinions and information that are available to you and make the best decision for your child.