Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
You are not alone in worrying whether your child is ready for kindergarten. This is a common concern of parents who see signs that their child is lagging behind other children. If your child is immature or delayed in her development, you may face the dilemma of whether to delay her kindergarten entry one year. You will likely receive much advice on this issue. Remember that the final decision is yours.
Kindergarten eligibility is based on the child’s chronological age. School districts typically require that a child turn five by a certain date to qualify for kindergarten although districts may vary in the date they use.
Parents have the option of delaying their child’s entry into kindergarten for one year. The following guidelines may help you in making this decision.
- Is your child at risk for having difficulty in kindergarten? As a general rule, younger children are more prone to problems in kindergarten although they tend to catch up in a year or two. (Children who were born prematurely should be considered somewhat younger than their chronological age.) Boys also tend to be slower to develop than girls although they too gradually catch up. In addition, preschoolers prone to illness (for example, frequent ear infections) may be delayed in their development.
- What does your child’s preschool teacher recommend? Preschool teachers have a keen sense of age-appropriate norms and how your child’s abilities and maturity level compare with those of other children.
- What are the results of the kindergarten screening? Many districts will test entering kindergarten students to identify those needing special help. If your district does not conduct these tests routinely, you may still request that the district assess your child’s readiness.
- Does your child seem apprehensive about kindergarten? Your child’s behavior may suggest that she is not ready. If she seems unusually nervous or fearful, she may be telling you that she doesn’t feel prepared for kindergarten.
- What programs are available for kindergartners having difficulty? Does your district have a class reserved for kindergartners who are slow to develop? Are there programs where your child can receive help in a small group for part of the day? Does the school district have a transition or pre-first class for students who have gone through kindergarten but are not ready for first grade? Is there a developmental kindergarten which students attend for one year and then go to a regular kindergarten the next?
- What are the alternatives to kindergarten? Will she go to a preschool program which will help prepare her for kindergarten? Will you have the chance to engage in some school readiness activities with your child without overdoing it? Will your child be part of a playgroup?