Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, September 6, 2013

How To Know If Your Child Is Ready For Kindergarten

This has been the hardest time I have ever had deciding whether my child is ready for Kindergarten or not.  There wasn't really a decision with my oldest.  He was born in late September and missed the cut-off by less than a month.  I was a little bummed, but it ended up being the best for him.  He had a great transition into Kindergarten and was able to communicate clearly what his teacher expected of him.

My second son was born in late July and I decided to send him.  This is a decision I slightly regret, but it hasn't been a total disaster.  Considering his anxiety in social settings at the time, it would have been better to wait.

He also had a hard time understanding homework.  He received it on Mondays and then it needed to be turned in on Fridays.  Even when it was requested, he wouldn't turn it in for some reason.  Then every single Friday he would ask, "Do we have homework?" 

He hated being called on or having any attention drawn to him whatsoever.  His teacher thought he wasn't learning anything because he answered, "I don't know" to everything.  I told her, "No, he comes home and tells us everything he learned.  He just wants you to quickly move on to someone else."

First grade was really difficult.  He went from being proud of his writing to realizing it didn't make sense.  He would scribble on his work under his desk and he was so afraid of being judged, he wouldn't hand in his homework.  He took it so far, he lied and said, "I don't know what happened!  I lost it!"  I told his teacher, "I put it in his backpack myself this morning.  He knows it's in there."  She had to open it herself and later told me, "He did NOT want me to see his homework!"

Second grade was a little better, but he would space out often and his teacher would ask him, "Are you going to capitalize the beginning of your sentences sometime this year?"

He's now going into sixth grade and although things have gotten a better, I wish he were going into 5th grade.  He is still afraid of asking for help because he doesn't want to be embarrassed.  Now he will have multiple teachers he doesn't want to approach.

With my third son, the decision was a piece of cake.  He was born in February, so he had a little time to mature and he loves to show off what he's learned.  He also loves attention and was thrilled to be voted for as a student council member.

My daughter turned 5 two days before the cut-off.  She would be the youngest Kindergartner I had yet.  Some people say, "She's a girl!  Girls are ready sooner."  I weighed the pros and cons, trying to decide which issues were valid.

1. She'll be in class with her friend!  Really, this is not a good reason.  They might form a little clique anyway or have a major spat as they make new friends.
2.  I'm not ready!  I want to have her home with me.  Yeah, but should I keep her home for my own emotional reasons?  Would it be any easier next year?
3.  I'll have some time to myself!  Again, not a good reason.
4.  She's so tall already.  She'll be towering over everyone if she waits another year.
5.  How will that affect her at church?  Most of her friends in her class will be a grade ahead of her if I wait.
6.  She's still having potty issues.  I couldn't let her go and possibly be embarrassed.
7.  The peer pressure might clear up her potty issues.

I finally decided there was only one valid reason to send her:  If I felt she was truly ready.  Considering her lack of interest in going, that made the decision easier not to send her.

Every child is different and we know our kids best.  Our decision should be based on their individual needs rather than pressure from other parents, issues that don't matter in the long run, or myths that they will be at an advantage because they started earlier. 

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