Starting Kindergarten

What's the best age to start kindergarten? Here's what you need to know.

Wondering whether or not to send your child to kindergarten this year? Take a good look at the following list of skills. Has your child mastered most of them? If so, and your child is five or six years of age, then he/she is almost certainly ready to start school! As long as your child also seems emotionally, socially, and physically ready for kindergarten, and then sign your scholar up for the next upcoming school year. If not, you may want to use the list below to work on these skills with your child before putting him/her into kindergarten.

It's important for your child to feel successful in his/her first real school experience. Take your time and weigh this big decision carefully. Kindergarten often sets the pace for the rest of your child's educational life!

Use this list of skills to help determine whether or not your child is ready to start school:

Gross Motor Skills: Can your child jump, hop, skip, and gallop?

Fine Motor Skills: Can your child button, zipper, and snap snaps on clothing? Can he/she tie his/her own shoes?

Hygiene Skills: Can he/she toilet himself/herself? Does he/she wash his/her hands?

Social Skills: Can your child share? Does your child help out around the house? Does he/she have one or two friends? Can he/she make friends fairly easily? Can he/she talk to adults other than her parents and relatives? Does he/she show the ability to control his/her actions and behavior? Can he/she be socially successful without constant supervision?

Cognitive Skills: Can your child listen to a story and then paraphrase it? Does he/she easily follow instructions to new games or activities? Does he/she know some rhymes and songs by heart? Does he/she know at least eight of her colors? Does he/she know at least the basic shapes? (Circle, square, triangle, oval, and rectangle) Does he/she know her full name, address, and phone number? Can he/she differentiate between diverse sounds? Can he/she identify comparable sounds? Can he/she rhyme?

Your child also may need to know his/her alphabet, how to count to ten, how to draw simple shapes, use scissors, and know how to print his/her first name. Kindergarten expectations vary from school district to school district. If you have any doubts about your child's readiness, make an appointment to take him/her in to meet one of the school's Kindergarten teachers. If you ask, this teacher will probably be more than happy to help you assess your child's readiness level.

Were you able to answer yes to most of these questions? Well then, your child is in all likelihood, ready to start school. Do not force your child to move faster than he/she is ready to move, however. A child may be intellectually gifted, and still be emotionally immature and socially inept. Try to judge your child's readiness objectively. No matter how academically advanced a child is, if his/her social and physical skills are not on the same par as his/her peers, then Kindergarten will prove to be exasperating and problematical. This is not the kind of start you want for you child's educational career.

It is much better to start a child a little later than necessary, than to force a child to begin school earlier than he/she is ready to start. Although many parents believe that starting a child early will guarantee academic success, this is just not true. Oftentimes, the children who are the oldest kindergarteners are the most successful. They, you see, have had time to mature and become ready for the regimen of the school day.

Remember, do what's best for your child, not what's best for your ego. Kindergarten is a very important experience for every child. Make sure your child is ready to have the best experience possible. You'll be glad you did.

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