As we start the countdown to the end of the school year, I’ve been asked by many parents of children who are currently in pre-Kindergarten or preschool, if they should enrol their four-year-old in Kindergarten for the fall. Well here’s my some food for thought on this topic…
- An extra year will never hurt your child’s educational future.
If your child is a December or January baby, I often recommend to parents that they put their child in preschool or pre-Kindergarten and let their little one have an extra year of playing outside as much as they want, napping in the afternoons, exploring their own interests, and spending time with mom and dad.
The following year when they are five and a half, they will be one year more mature, one year more independent, one year more mentally capable of handling the learning that takes place in Kindergarten. There is a lot of research that has been done that supports the opinion that the way that education is stressed upon children at a very young age, is hard for their little growing brains to handle. In other areas of the world, such as Sweden, children do not start Kindergarten until they are 7 years of age. (They also do a lot of other wonderful things, including paying for University, having extended maternity leave available with pay, and encouraging families to spend more time with one another. Here’s a great article on Inhabitots about Sweden’s education policies.).
2. Trust me, they will NOT be bored.
This really gets under my skin. School is not (or is very very rarely) boring. Especially Kindergarten, and even more so if it is a Reggio-inspired Kindergarten class. When parents tell me that their child is bored, or will be bored if they wait an extra year, I always say that this is very unlikely to happen. If it does happen it is usually because a child is unfocused, impatient, and is usually used to getting his/her own way.(Something they usually grow out of in another year’s time). I have taught a couple children (who, surprise surprise, were January babies!) who had said that they were bored, but these are the children in my room who struggled with staying focused when reading a story, had a short attention span and liked to move from one activity to another whenever their little heart desires, and if they do not get their way (“I don’t want to take my book back to the library! I want to play blocks!”) they usually can be found pouting on the carpet.
In Reggio-inspired Kindergarten programs, learning is based through play, invitations are set up that engage the children in learning outcomes and have been formed through the students own interests, and a large part of the day is usually spent outdoors in a similar learning environment.
So, no, they won’t be bored, even if they are five.
3. You know your child.
Even though you shouldn’t worry about boredom, you do know your child. My little Jude is rambunctious, intense, and loves being outside in nature for most of the day. Would he be ready for Kindergarten next year? Absolutely not!! Jude would not be ready to be told what to do in a classroom setting, so I feel fortunate that he is a March baby and will be five-and-a-half when he goes to Kindergarten.
However, I personally was put into Kindergarten when I was four and didn’t turn five until the middle of January. My mom and dad knew that I would not only be okay entering school at this age, but that I would be successful. This is what you really need to think about…Will my child be successful?
Please don’t consider the savings from your child not being in daycare for another year, or if they are hard to manage at home with a new baby or younger sibling/s. You need to take into account the personality and well-being of your child. This is not for my sake, but for theirs. Trust me, if they are not ready to leave their mom or dad, or struggle with focusing for at least 15-20 min. segments, they will find school hard. This struggle will not only be in Kindergarten, but can follow them as they move into the grades as well. My goal in Kindergarten is for the kids to love school. This is the feeling that you want school to bring, not stress from leaving mom, not fear or frustration. Think carefully about this before making your decision.
So if you’re still unsure, then there are a couple really great checklists that you can look at to see if your child is indeed ready for Kindergarten at four years of age.
I really like this one, but there are many many more that you can find on Pinterest too!