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Kindergarten Readiness – When is the Right Time?

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Is your child ready for kindergarten? This is a question that many parents of children ages 4-6 ask themselves. There is no decisive answer, trust your judgment and realize that although your child is the correct age to attend kindergarten, it does not mean that they are ready physically or emotionally. Let’s examine when to send your child and when to keep them home for another year. The good news is that most school districts in the US offer screening. However, what happens if you disagree with the results? Here is the information you need to make an informed decision.

What makes a child ready?

A child is ready for kindergarten if they can easily communicate their needs to adult and other children. Another sign that your child is ready is if they are no longer having bathroom accidents. In addition they should be fairly self sufficient and mature enough to function in an organized group. Kindergarten readiness has very little to do with academics and has everything to do with emotional maturity and social skills. Most children are ready between the ages of 5 or 6 years of age. Boys tend to mature more slowly than girls do and many 5-year-old boys are not ready to attend a full day of kindergarten. I am not biased against boys; I have 3 of my own. A lot depends on when the cutoff date is for your district. If your child will be one of the older children in the group then they will probably be ready.

Here are some good indicators that show your child is ready for kindergarten. First, they have attended preschool and handled it well. They are able to communicate their needs to an adult other than a parent. Children who are ready handle themselves well in social situations. Your child should be able to handle requests that include multiple tasks such as put the crayons in the box, close the lid and put the box on the shelf. When building with blocks they should be able to construct a tower at least 5 blocks tall. Finally, their gross motor skills are such that they can run, jump, and hop on one foot. When your child can perform most of these tasks, they are ready for kindergarten.

What indicates they are not ready?

Your child may not be ready for kindergarten if they will be one of the youngest in their group. The closer to the cutoff date their birthday is, the younger they will be. For boys especially this makes a huge difference. My experience as a mom of 4 and a homeschool mom of 10 years has taught me that if you feel your child is not ready, you are probably right. I pushed one of my sons into attending kindergarten when he truly was not ready. The situation that resulted was a nightmare more for him than me. It could have been avoided if I waited 1 year before sending him. If your child has frequent tantrums, night terrors, or bed-wetting you may want to consider keeping them home for another year. If they cannot perform most of the tasks listed in the above paragraph, it may indicate they are not ready.

Your child may not be ready for kindergarten at the age of 4 or 5 if they have physical or emotional disabilities. Problems with hearing, speech or vision may be a very good reason to wait a year. Children with special needs require very loving and understanding teachers. Meet with the potential teachers before deciding where to place your special needs child. It may be worth waiting a year and taking that time to find the ideal situation for your child.

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