Saturday, April 9, 2016

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?

It's that time of year - time to register your kiddo for kindergarten. Your baby is as smart as can be, and seems to be the "right age".  Yet, your gut feeling isn't sure if they are quit ready to take on such a huge transition.  As a mother of 2, and a former kindergarten teacher, I strongly believe there are several factors to take into consideration when deciding if your child is ready to start kindergarten.

Ok, parents...set your bias aside, because we all have smart kids, and carefully consider their birthday, social/emotional development, and physical abilities, before rushing to register.

  • 37 states in the US require children to be 5 years-old on or before September 1.

  • The remaining states either have an October 15 cut-off date, or allow local school districts to set their own dates. 

  • Many districts have early-entrance screenings. If your child doesn't meet the cut-off date, and you feel he is more than ready, contact your local school district regarding early entrance requirements.

  • Research shows that the age of kindergarten entry is increasing on average (Hanover Research, 2015).

  • Do they obey rules?  It's developmental for children of this age to test their limits. However, if they consistently do not obey rules, you will need to take into consideration the instruction time that will be lost if the teacher has to repeatedly stop lessons to redirect your little one.  This effects your child's education, as well as the remaining students in the classroom. 

  • "Boys develop social skills later, and they may not show interest in focusing or learning letters. Another year before kindergarten could benefit them." (Children's Health Team, Cleveland Clinic, 2016)

  • Are they able to be redirected?  In kindergarten, teachers frequently redirect students to complete work or activities, attain focus, maintain safety, follow procedures, etc.  When at home, if your child throws himself onto the floor, starts crying, and/or freezes up refusing to comply when you simply remind him to put away toys, or move to a different location, then it's likely he is not quite ready for the transition.   

  • "Preschool and kindergarten children need strong gross motor skills so they can engage in age-appropriate physical activities (such as running, climbing, and throwing) and so they can participate in classroom activities that require body control (such as walking in a crowded room or sitting still during a lesson)" (School Sparks)

  • Fine motor skills - Are they able to cut with scissors? Can they grip and hold a pencil to make short and long writing strokes?

  • Toileting - Are they able to use the bathroom independently - including wiping, buttoning or snapping pants, washing hands, etc.
Overall, there are many factors to take into consideration when registering your child for kindergarten.   Along with chronological age, the "National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has determined that children equipped for early success typically demonstrate the ability to follow simple rules, dress independently, and recite the alphabet, among other abilities" (Hanover Research, 2015). 

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