It's that time of year again! Parents are swarming to elementary schools to register their kiddos for kindergarten! It is an exciting time for many parents, but some are facing a difficult decision. Should I put my child into kindergarten now or wait another year?
This is a common question for parents of kiddos with summer birthdays as well as for parents whose children turn five right after the start of school but before the official cut-off date. Some parents have little ones whose birthdays are just a few days after the cut-off and consider testing their children to have them placed into kindergarten early.
If you are one of these parents, what should you do? How do you know what the right decision will be? Here are some things to consider:
Separation Anxiety-Some kiddos have been in childcare for a few months or even years before it's time for kindergarten and won't have any trouble adjusting to being away from their primary caregiver. For the child that has seldom or never been in the care of someone other than a family member or trusted adult, that shift can be difficult. Even if Mom and Dad work, if childcare has been provided by a nanny or a grandparent in their own home, the change of scenery may be overwhelming. Something as simple as using a public restroom by oneself could prove to be a scary task for a child that is barely five. If you are considering an early start to school (and even if you're starting "on time," it may be a good idea to look into summer drop-off programs that will give your student an chance to "practice" being away.
Academic Preparedness-With increased standards for kindergarteners across the board, parents should take a close look at what will be expected of their children upon entering school. Your kid could be on the hook for things ranging from knowing basic shapes to being able to read and write their full name. Has your child developed these skills? Do you have plans to commit time to getting you student "ready" for school. If not, do you anticipate that he or she will be able to jump right in without feeling frustrated or are you setting them up for confusion and disappointment right off the bat?
Sports-Yes, many parents are red-shirting their kindergarteners to allow them an extra year of development both academically AND physically. This proves to be an advantage later in life when competing in sports. My husband is a prime example of this. Born during the summer, he was often a year behind most of his classmates when it came to age brackets on the baseball field, making him bigger and faster and stronger than many of the other kids.
Cost of Childcare-Many parents opt to send youngsters to school ASAP due to the insanely high cost of childcare. Public school is free-at least before you add all the spirit week outfits, book fairs, cookie dough fundraisers, and the fifty-bazillion boxes of tissues that you are required to send to school at the beginning of the year. I'd actually love to see the math on home much a family saves compared to daycare!
Child's Wishes: It may seem crazy to allow your young person to weigh in on such a major decision, but when talking to your child you can look for cues that may lead you in the right direction. Do you observe that your child is excited about the idea of going to school or are them signs of anxiety? Many times when parents elect to send their kids to school early, the benefits are for the family as a whole and not the child as an individual. This is important to take into consideration.
Whatever you decide, it is important to know that these decisions are not set in stone. It is perfectly okay to send a child to school and change your mind a few weeks or months into the school year-and vice versa. Just be ready to manage the transition process whichever road you take and remember that doing what you feel is best for your child is ALWAYS the right decision!
Did You Know?
Compulsory school age requirements vary from state to state.
Kindergarten is not mandatory in 35 states. Only 15 states require enrollment in kindergarten as a prerequisite to entering first grade.
—Homeschooling is legal in ALL 50 states. Compulsory schooling requirements can be met so long as the proper steps are made with regards to notification/documentation in your state.