My own children are born in early September. This year as we approached kindergarten registration I wrestled with the question of sending my “young” five off to kindergarten too early. There is a lot of research on the concept of kindergarten readiness that makes it a little easier to decide if your child is ready to head off to school. Kindergarten readiness is also only a barometer for how ready your child is. Parents hold kids back for maturity reasons, if they are just turning five or because they are smaller than their peers.
Most states determine that a child is ready for kindergarten if they turn five by October 16th. In fact, 78% of the states require a child to be five years old by this date.
Here are a few things that help parents to determine if a child is ready for kindergarten:
- The child should have a general ability to follow rules. This means able to walk in line, listen to a teacher and sit for short periods of time.
- It is recommended that a child be able to write their name by the time they enter kindergarten.
- The child should be totally potty trained and be able to use the toilet alone.
- The child should be able to identify the letters of the alphabet.
- The child should be able to cut with scissors.
There are certainly more extensive lists that can be found on kindergarten readiness, but sometimes even when you can check off a great deal of the list there is still that feeling that your child may not be ready. Each child is very different and some young five year old children are ready while others are not. Boys also tend to be less mature than girls – and are often held back more often.
Here are some facts about holding a child back:
- There appears to be no harm done to a child who is held back.
- Children that are help back appear to have higher standardized test scores than those who entered kindergarten younger.
- Math and reading skills measured later in elementary school appear higher in children who started kindergarten later.
- Some children who enter kindergarten too soon need to repeat the class.
In the end it is a very personal decision that must come from a parent truly knowing their child. There are many studies that offer parents a lens to view statistically how well kids who are younger do in school. It is a tough decision, but in the end we all want what is best for our children.
-A Degs is currently deciding to hold back or place her children in kindergarten. As a teacher, she is weighing the options for her own children and sharing some of those findings.