Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?

Asking Tough Questions

We assume that if a child is five it's time for kindergarten. We rejoice if our child just makes the cut off date. Why wouldn't we put our child in kindergarten when the alternative is paying for another year of childcare or spending another year at home with mom and siblings? The sooner, the better, right?

Wrong. Sometimes, what's best for the parents is not best for the child. Many schools and teachers advocate for waiting an extra year. Rather than starting your child as soon as he is eligible, it may be beneficial to hold off. Judicial parents will weigh the options and ask the tough questions. In the end, they will make the choice based on their child and not their own convenience.

Following, I've listed the advantages of waiting a year. Just remember that every child is unique. An early start is great for those children who are ready, but it is detrimental for those who are not. Let's not just follow the crowd and sign up for kindergarten ASAP.

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Benefits of Waiting

Giving your child an advantage

  • The Social Advantage

    A lot of group work and play happens in kindergarten. For those introverted children, waiting a year may give them greater confidence to make friends and take initiative to share opinions and ideas. Being comfortable with peers is extremely important for learning. Outgoing children may be unprepared for sharing. They may be bossy, and thus, avoided by peers.

  • The Academic Advantage

    Brain development happens rapidly in young children. A new five year old may not be ready for the academic pressures of kindergarten, which, believe it or not, have increased since you and I were in kindergarten. Reading and writing are expected by the end of the kindergarten year. A young child may be playing catch up his whole educational career, whereas an older child may learn with ease because he has had an extra year of preschool. Children who struggle will not enjoy school or develop a love of learning.

  • The Athletic Advantage

    Younger children will develop later than their older peers. That said, if your child participates in sports in middle or high school and is behind in physical development, he will not be as competitive. Older children, who will develop muscle sooner, will have the advantage.

  • Confidence! The Emotional Advantage

    Some children, who are newly five, are just not able to handle the emotional demands of kindergarten. They cry easily if they do not get their way, which will happen often. They get frustrated when they do not grasp a concept. They act out in anger and may be in trouble often. An extra year of learning how to process feelings will make kindergarten go much smoother.

Questions to Consider

Ask yourself, ask your child's preschool teacher, ask a friend you trust

  • Can your child sit still?

    A big sign of being unready for kindergarten is lack of ability to sit still and concentrate for an extended period of time. A hyper child may be labeled ADHD incorrectly. He could just not be ready for kindergarten.

  • Does your child show interest in learning new things?

    Does your child try when to grasp hard concepts? Does she pretend to read or write? Does she ask to be read to? Is she curious? Curiosity is important, even if an obvious interest in reading and writing is not shown.

  • How does your child handle transition?

    At preschool (or home) can your child transition from one activity to the other without a huge emotional display? When things don't go as planned, can your child adjust? Does he panic when his routine is disrupted?

  • Can your child follow directions?

    Does your child exhibit basic obedience? When you ask him to clean up, does he (even if he complains or resists at first)? Can he walk in line? When you say it's time to turn off the t.v., does he throw a fit?

  • How does your child interact with other children?

    Is your child basically kind to other children (all children have moments of hitting or pushing)? Does your child reach out to others to include them in play? How does your child react when a toy is taken from her? A child who cannot handle being disappointed by or upset with other children is not ready for kindergarten. Granted, this is a skill that is developed throughout the growing years.


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Bonita on said:
Such wise advice! Thank you for advocating for the children. I hope many parents will read and heed your advice.
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All our children were born around the cut-off dates and we always kept them "behind" so that they would be the oldest rather than the youngest in the class. It really paid off with their confidence and sociability. Your article is spot on!! I agree with Bonita that if only other parents would not be so eager to push their children ahead before they are socially ready.

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