When my oldest daughter was in her preschool 4’s class, we were faced with the question of whether or not we should send her to kindergarten the following year. With a mid-summer birthday (and now CMS requires a child be five on or before October 16th), we could have gone either way. Actually most families (and many private schools) would have held her back, no questions asked. But I struggled with this because my daughter was emotionally ready to go to kindergarten. She was the social queen of her class – wonder where she gets that from?! Maybe not the smartest in her class, but definitely advanced socially. I keep telling myself that this will take her very far in life someday! She was particularly good with logic and reasoning. I mean that child could negotiate with the best of us and come out on top every time! I of course interpreted this as her being gifted, which is very comical to me now. My current elementary school principal shed some light on this recently when I volunteered to help with the school Open House. She prepped us before we opened the doors to our new prospective families. And the one thing she said was, “now everyone thinks his child is gifted, and that’s ok. Here are the advanced learning programs that we offer blah, blah, blah” and I just cracked up out loud. Because I was SO that person the previous year! I’m pretty sure she directed the question just to me!
There is no perfect formula that determines when a child is truly ready for kindergarten. But here is a basic checklist (I searched high and low on many websites!) to see how well your child is doing in acquiring the skills found on most kindergarten checklists.
– Listen to stories without interrupting
– Recognize rhyming sounds
– Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
– Understand actions have both causes and effects
– Show understanding of general times of day
– Cut with scissors
– Trace basic shapes
– Begin to share with others
– Follow rules
– Recognize authority
– Manage potty needs
– Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers (no, they don’t technically need to tie shoes but if this is an issue, just buy Velcro for a while!)
– Separate from parents without getting upset
– Speak understandably
– Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
– Look at pictures and then tell stories
– Identify rhyming words
– Identify the beginning sound of some words
– Identify some letters of the alphabet
– Recognize some common sight words like “stop”
– Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
– Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
– Count to ten
– Bounce a ball
– Hop on one foot
– Write his/her name (mine was close, messy but oh-so-close!)
– Familiar with address/phone #
There are tons of books and flash cards you can pick up at Wal-Mart, Target and Learning Express or on Amazon to prepare your child for kindergarten and kindergarten testing. I looked at my books and the three brands I have are Jump Start Kindergarten Workbook by Scholastic, Big Kindergarten Workbook by School Zone and workbooks like Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills, Kindergarten (Comprehensive Curriculum) You can also buy wipe-off learning boards to encourage your child to write letters, numbers, shapes, etc. These are great for the car too. Use an easel for good writing practice. The angle of the easel is perfect hand/finger placement for learning how to write. I know we’re not supposed to promote teaching through dvds, but I would highly encourage the Leap Frog – Letter Factory DVD and Leap Frog – Talking Words Factory DVD, especially in the car/plane on long trips. Instead of that Princess or Spiderman movie, throw in an educational one that they can enjoy.
All that said, I did send my oldest to kindergarten two months after her fifth birthday. I have no regrets. The academic aspect has been humbling but she’s doing very well. Now we’re faced with the same dilemma with our second child with a summer birthday. We’re holding her back for a variety of reasons. Bottom line, every child is different and you just have to go with your gut instinct. Listen to what your preschool teachers tell you – they are armed with so much knowledge about each child they are teaching. Also, if it makes any difference, it seems that most boys with summer birthdays (starting May or later), seem to be held back. Boys tend to be less emotionally mature than girls and some families think about sports.
Good luck! On Sunday I will talk about the Charlotte kindergarten process.
Feel free to add your comments on Kindergarten readiness because I am not the expert. This was just based off my experience.