Ready for Kindergarten

Being ready for kindergarten means a lot more than being 5 years old by a certain date. Parents, physicians and teachers must consider each child’s intellectual, physical, social and emotional development.

Hurrying school entrance seldom does much good and often does harm. Teachers say the youngest children in a classroom often struggle the most. These children may feel school is hard, and may be forced to keep up with students who are older and more ready for school. As a result, they may begin to feel bad about themselves and their abilities, and they may also start to see school in a negative light.

The object of kindergarten is to provide the foundation needed for a solid start in education. Here are some
guidelines to follow in deciding whether your child is ready for kindergarten.

Your child may be ready for kindergarten if she or he:

Kids not ready for kindergarten may show:

If your child is showing signs of these problems, discuss them with his doctor. There may be things to do to strengthen these areas of development.

If your child is at least age 3 and you are worried about his development or learning, you should ask your local public school system to evaluate him for a preschool program. Age-appropriate activities in preschool can help your daughter with the speech, language and coordination skills she’ll need for kindergarten. The social setting is a plus, too. Some of the kids in your child’s preschool may be in her kindergarten class, which can make the first day of school a little easier when the time comes.

If you’re still in doubt, here are some other ideas to aid your decision:

Most children who move into kindergarten aren’t making a transition straight from home to school. Many kids today have experienced preschool or day care. That means today’s kindergartens should have changed, too.

Parents should work with members of the preschool community — as well as the elementary school teachers, principals, school boards and PTAs — to make sure kindergarten offers positive experiences for today’s kids. Depending on your school district, your school may offer half-day or full-day kindergarten. If you have a choice, assess which length would be a better fit for your child. Also, make sure to ask about how many students your school allows in each kindergarten class. If your daughter is easily distracted, a smaller class size might help keep her focused.

If you decide to hold your child out for a year due to his age, use that time well. Enrich your child’s life with social experiences with other children. Encourage independence and physical activity. Offer continuous exposure to writing, drawing and storytelling — and lots of play!

If your child is 6 years old and still not physically or emotionally ready to start school, consult your pediatrician and your child’s school to fully evaluate the possibility of any underlying emotional, behavioral or developmental problems. 

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