One question I hear often in my role as Director of Primary School Admission at Kent Place is this: “Is my child ready for kindergarten or should I give him or her another year in preschool?” This is an especially common dilemma for parents of kids with summer birthdays. But, it can apply to any child depending on personality, interests, strengths, and weaknesses.Research indicates that academic pressures are starting early, before first or second grade. We don’t often give our children enough time to just be kids—time to play in the mud or with clay or to spray the hermit crabs with water to see if their heads will emerge. Things we did in first grade when I was growing up are now expected of our children in kindergarten or even preschool.
There are many things to consider when deciding if your child is ready for kindergarten. Is your son showing interest in learning to read? Can your daughter sit still through an academic schedule for a whole day? Does she exhibit self-control and a willingness to cooperate? How are her language skills? Does your son demonstrate skills in self-care?
Perhaps you’re thinking that you do, indeed, want extra time for your child, but you also want him to be prepared for kindergarten without repeating his preschool program. Here are some things to look for if you want your child to enjoy another year in preschool:
Literacy and math concepts with a tailored approach to learning. Your daughter already knows her letters? You want teachers who can individualize the instruction to each child’s level. Your son knows his numbers up to 15? You want to make sure he’ll develop more skills in arithmetic.
Satisfaction of curiosity. Does the preschool encourage your child to explore things that interest her? Do the children learn through hands-on experiments and projects that relate to the world around them? You want a place that will engage her mind.
A step up in schedule. Does the preschool offer a full-day program? You want a place where he can build his academic stamina in preparation for kindergarten. Additionally, an ideal program will be enhanced by expert teachers and specialists who have an eye toward the expectations of more rigorous elementary schools.
On a personal note, I have a son with a July birthday. After a year of preschool, my husband and I debated whether to enroll him in kindergarten. We labored over this decision and, in the end, decided to go ahead and enroll him in kindergarten. If we could go back to that discussion, we’d definitely give him that extra year in preschool. He just wasn’t ready, and sometimes struggled to keep up. That’s true, even now that he’s in middle school. It’s too late to hold him back; he has friends at his age and there’s a stigma attached to repeating a grade—a stigma that doesn’t exist when a child is in preschool.
Ironic, right? As the saying goes “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” or “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” Admission and placement guidance is what I do for a living and I regret the decision I made for my own son!
You can learn from my mistake. Evaluate your child (or children) as needed; every kid is different. Your daughter may have entered kindergarten after one year of preschool, but your son may benefit from an extra year. A boy with a late birthday may thrive in kindergarten, while the maturity level of a different boy may necessitate another year in preschool. You know your child best! Trust your instincts and confer with your child’s most recent teacher. My only advice is this: don’t feel obligated to plow ahead. Our world asks so much of our kids and so early. What harm is there in slowing down and letting them be kids just a little longer?
To learn more about Kent Place’s Preschool Program as an option for an extra year click here, or feel free to reach out to me directly at (908) 273-0900, ext. 269 if you’d like to talk.