Kindergarten nurtures and prepares your children to get ready for formal school. It also offers them the opportunity to learn various skills to use throughout their schooling and after.
No matter whether you are a first-time or experienced mom or dad, you might find it confusing and tricky to ascertain at which age you should send your child to kindergarten.
Every child is different and unique, and they have different developmental abilities and grow at a different pace. And thus, it becomes tough for a parent to decide the right age to send their children to kindergarten.
If you are in a similar dilemma, read this post to get all the answers to your questions regarding when to send your child to kindergarten. We also tell you the things you should consider before sending your child to kindergarten.
When Do Kids Start Kindergarten?
The minimum age for starting kindergarten ranges from four to six years and could depend on numerous factors. According to the latest data by the State Education Practices (SEP), National Center for Education Statistics 2020, the age for kindergarten entrance is five years in most states of the United States (1).
In the United States, some of the district schools offer a full-day kindergarten program to children, while others offer a half-day kindergarten program.
When Is The Kindergarten Cut-off Date?
As per the Education Commission of the States (ECS), the cut-off date varies depending on specific states and districts (2). While some states set the cut-off date as “age 5 on or before September 1,” others set the date as “age 5 on or before September 30.”
As the cut-off dates may vary depending on the state you reside in and may be updated periodically, always check the state’s website or the ECS website for the latest details.
Reasons To Delay Kindergarten
Delaying a child’s entrance into kindergarten is often termed as “academic redshirting.” Several factors play an essential role in shaping a parent’s decision to redshirt a child. These factors may include the social, emotional, physical, and developmental maturity of the child as well as their reading skills and the socio-economic status of the family.
A few parents view redshirting as beneficial for their young ones as they believe younger children lag behind their classmates. They feel that being older will make their child more advanced, and thus, they intentionally hold back their children for a year (3).
Some of the common factors why some parents delay sending their children to kindergarten include the following.
Some parents think that their child isn’t matured enough to do self-care activities such as using the restroom independently, buttoning, or zipping. Also, they are apprehensive about if the child is ready to stay away from home for a few hours. These factors might make them hold their children back.
2. Cost of child care
Due to financial problems, some parents may opt to wait until they overcome their financial challenges.
3. Individual development of the child
Pre-existing health conditions that result in delayed physical, mental, and emotional development of a child can also force parents to wait a little longer before they enroll their child in kindergarten.
Redshirting may benefit a few children, but it comes with its drawbacks as well. It can help some children get that extra year to develop further at home, but, at the same time, the redshirted children may find it difficult to make friendships with their younger classmates, especially when they grow a little older.
Disadvantages Of Starting Kindergarten At An Early Age
While rare, some parents may decide to send their children early to kindergarten. Here are a few disadvantages that children may face if they start kindergarten early.
1. Lack of one-on-one time
At home, there is individualized attention on children, which cannot be found at any preschool. In preschools, a teacher’s attention is often divided among the children, so there is a lack of one-on-one time. This may restrict a child’s development.
2. Learning too many things
In preschools, children are introduced to many things, such as reading, writing, and math. Besides, they need to work together with their peers, for which some children may not be ready yet. Your child may not be ready to learn and assimilate all the information at kindergarten, and this could affect their love of learning.
3. Separation anxiety
It is challenging for young children to separate from their parents. Some children may not be ready to go to kindergarten as they need more attention from their parents, and a few may go through separation anxiety as a result.
What Should Parents Consider Before Putting Their Child In Kindergarten?
Several indicators help determine a child’s readiness for kindergarten. A child’s development should not be evaluated based on only one specific area; instead, it needs to be assessed in many areas. School districts use some assessment tests to check a child’s readiness for kindergarten, and they also ask some questions to test the child’s cognitive abilities.
However, parents should not make their decisions based entirely on this result. Instead, consider the observations by pediatricians and assess the following abilities and skills of your child (4) (5) (6) (7).
- Strong language skills
- Maturity to interact with classmates
- Interest in books, sounds, and words
- Ability to sit in one place
- Ability to respond when asked a question
- Ability to manage frustration
- Ability to follow instructions
- Ability to cooperate with peers
- Desire to be independent
- Enthusiasm towards learning
Besides these abilities, several academic indicators can help a parent decide whether their child is ready for kindergarten. These include
- Letter and sound recognition: The child can recognize the letters of the alphabet and name a word that starts with each letter. They can even recognize the sounds of birds and animals.
- Writing: The child can write the letters of the alphabet.
- Numbers: The child can count up to 10 or 20 or even more and recognize the numbers.
- Reading: The child may not be able to read properly but know how to hold a book and understand that words go from left to right.
- Colors and shapes: The child can understand and recognize a few colors and shapes.
When children develop emotional, physical, and cognitive skills, they are more likely to participate in school activities with enthusiasm.
Some kindergartens provide a homely environment to children, where they learn and explore by doing various activities. Other kindergartens follow formal programs that mark the beginning of a formal education system.
So, before approaching a school, understand the culture and approach of the school and make the right decision.
How Can Parents Prepare Their Children For Kindergarten?
- Arrange playdates with children of the same age to improve their skills.
- Encourage them to do simple tasks, such as buttoning, picking up toys, and using the toilet, independently.
- Read to them often.
- Encourage them to have conversations with their siblings and friends.
- Provide opportunities for play.
- Take care of their health and diet.
- Teach them the alphabet and the numbers.
- Focus on developing their fine motor skills.
Every child is unique and has different abilities and grows at their own pace. You are the best person to judge your child. If you think your little one is ready to venture beyond the comfort of the home and enter the kindergarten environment, go for it. But, if you feel they need more time and are not ready yet, do not feel pressured to send your child and give them another year.
2. 50-State Comparison: State K-3 Policies; Education Commission of the States
3. Is your child ready for kindergarten?; The Brookings Institution
4. Is Your Child Ready to Start Kindergarten?; Cleveland Clinic
5. Kindergarten readiness: Help your child prepare; Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER)
6. P. Gail Williams and Marc Alan Lerner; School Readiness; American Academy of Pediatrics (2019).
7. Is your child ready for big school?; Learning Potential – Australian Government
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