Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?

This appears to be a popular question among parents.  Every child appears to develop at a different rate and pace.  I’m definitely an advocate for preschool.  I feel this makes a huge difference when entering kindergarten.  If every child had at least one year of preschool, I think they would be much more prepared and ready for kindergarten.  I also feel this would help the students feel more comfortable about beginning school.  

I often had parents describe their child’s abilities and then ask me if they thought their child was ready.  Each state may differ slightly in their rules/laws for beginning school.  In my state, if a child turned five at least the day before school started, they could enroll in kindergarten.  In my district, if the student wasn’t quite yet five, but would be turning five within the month, they could take an assessment at the district office (yes, there was fee that parents had to pay) to determine whether they could begin this year or not.  As long as your child was five, they could start.  I always reassured parents that their child did not have to know all of their letters and sounds.  They would learn these in time.  I felt students that had a least one year of preschool, and knew some of the basics had an easier transition into all day and even half day kindergarten.  Those that didn’t sometimes struggled more, at least at the beginning of the school year.  Since parents know their own children best, they need to look at their child’s social and emotional well being.  If they are very immature for their age, or have a very difficult time getting along with their peers, spending one more year in preschool may not be a bad idea.  These are the areas where the parent really knows their child.  At the school where I taught, I had quite a range of students as far as academics.  I would typically have 1-3 students entering kindergarten who could already read and could count way beyond 100 if you let them, some students that knew almost all letters and sounds and perhaps could count to 50 or so, and students that knew some letters and sounds and perhaps could count up to 20 or so, and then usually a few who did not know any letters and sounds and most likely could count to around 10.  Once in awhile I would have someone who couldn’t tell me any letters in their name nor attempt to write their name.  This was usually rare.  One thing parents were surprised by at times was when I would share something like this:  “Your child knew 15 letters and 8 sounds.”  They would usually say something like, “They know the whole alphabet.  I’ve heard them name all of the letters.” Yes, but was that in random order?  Or, were they singing their ABC’s?  When screening most teachers are going to ask your child to look at a sheet of paper with letters in random order including upper and lower case, and have them name as many letters as they can.   Same with letter sounds.

If your child attended preschool, ask the preschool teacher for his/her opinion as to whether he/she feels your child is ready for kindergarten.

Ultimately, parents are the ones that have to make the decision. If you decide to wait, be okay with that.  Your child can attend preschool for another year and perhaps take advantage of some play groups, or join story hour or programs at your local library or community center.  Museums often have educational events that you and your child can check out, especially look for those catering to children such as hands on children’s museums.  

If you decide to enroll your child, ask your child’s teacher for suggestions on ways to help support your child’s learning at home.  Get involved and take an interest in what he/she is learning in school.  

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