Expert Advice

Kindergarten Readiness

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q
I have a three year old son who will be five on August 10th, 2001. Our kindergarten cut-off date is June 1st. He is a very big child and is right on track with his learning skills, but is just now catching up with his social skills.

We have gone through two years of preschool and could put him into private kindergarten at the age of five, or wait until he is six. He is a very tall and big kid, I don't want the other kids to make fun of him. I think there are pros and cons. Please give me some advice.

A
Don't base your decision on when to enroll your child in kindergarten on just one factor - his size. Even more important than your child's size is the fact that he misses the school's cut-off date by over two months. Have you considered that he will be one of the very youngest in his class? Many of the children will already be six or very close to six because their parents have delayed their entry in order for them to be able to handle today's more academic kindergartens. Furthermore, most of the other children will also have had preschool experiences.

Your son may be ready for kindergarten and just sail through school even though he misses the cut-off date. Readiness for kindergarten is not an exact science. It depends on the child's physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. Nevertheless, solid research shows that chronologically older children do better in kindergarten and the primary grades and are less likely to fail a grade or be classified as learning disabled. There is no agreement on how long the effects of youngness last. Some believe it diminishes as grade level increases and disappears by third or fourth grade.

You need to think beyond the start of school when your child may be the largest student in his class. Will size or age be more important when he enters high school or even college? Will he be able to handle social situations with his older classmates? Here's another factor to consider. If you enroll your child in a private kindergarten because the public schools will not accept him, when will he be able to enroll in public school? Many public schools will not accept young transfer students in first grade.

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

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