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It’s very natural as a parent for you to be apprehensive about sending your child off to kindergarten with a convertible backpack in hand. You have had such a close bond with your little one that it can feel scary to send him off to school and to place another adult charge of his care. You might wonder if he is really ready to start kindergarten yet, or if you should wait a while longer. You might be asking what you need to know about starting school beforehand. These are all valid questions about Kindergarten readiness. Keep reading as we do our best to answer!
Should I Send My 5 Year Old to Kindergarten?
Depending on where you live, kindergarten might start anywhere from age 4 to age 6. Age 5 is the most common age for children to be enrolled and that’s the age most schools suggest. If your child has been in preschool, his preschool teacher is a good person to consult regarding your child’s readiness to be a Kindergartner. Your child’s pediatrician can also make recommendations. Very often, we as parents are simply too emotional about the process to be the best judge, which is why it’s important to get the advice of those who can be more objective to Kindergarten entry.
Is It Better to Start Kindergarten at 5 or 6?
Some parents may be forced to wait until their child is 6 because of their birthdate and a school’s starting age policies. Some parents choose to wait until their child is 6 because of preference. It’s a very individualized decision and experts aren’t unanimous on what the right decision is. There is a Stanford study that shows children who start at a later age may be more successful in their Kindergarten classroom learning, and may be better able to stay focused and on task during the school day. However, there are many 5-year-olds that are perfectly ready to begin kindergarten and in fact benefit from it. Again, it’s a very individual decision that every parent must wrestle with.
How Do I Prepare My Child for Kindergarten?
Talk to Your Child
Kids might be young but they are smart. Talk to your child about starting kindergarten and share what it will be like and how much fun they will have making new friends, shopping off their school supplies list, playing with other students, and learning at their new school.
Test the Waters
You can enroll your child in other activities before starting school to test the waters. Preschool is a good example, as are Bible camps, swim classes, and other extracurricular activities that allow them to interact with other adults and learn how to take directions.
Allow Your Child to Play
Every kid needs playtime. It helps them develop both motor skills through physical play, and social skills if you also incorporate group play, like playdates with other children or a preschool setting.
Keep Learning Fun
Your child doesn’t have to know how to read before starting kindergarten. Keep learning moments fun and stress-free, or you might create unnecessary anxiety that could play out later in negative classroom behaviors.
Kids should be taught independence early on because it’s a skill that will only benefit them as they grow. Teach your child how to put on his own clothes as a school morning routine, pick up his own toys, and follow directions. These are skills that will follow him from kindergarten into adulthood.
What Should a 5 Year Old Know Before Kindergarten?
Need some back to school tips? Your child should know some basic skills before starting early childhood education, both academic and non-academic.
Some Academic Skills to Know
- Sing or say A,B,Cs
- Recognize A,B,Cs (upper and lowercase)
- How to hold a book
- How to turn pages
- Counting to 20
- Recognize shapes and name them
- Recognize and name numbers 1-10
- Know basic colors
- Recognize his name
- Write his name (at least his first name)
- Know parents names and phone numbers
- Sort by color, size, and shape
- Recognize words that rhyme
- Know some letter sounds
Some Non-Academic Skills to Know
- Use scissors to cut
- Use the bathroom alone
- Tie his shoes and put on his coat
- Hold a crayon or pencil
- Share and take turns
- Listen and sit quietly
- Follow directions
- Wash his hands (soap included)
- Wipe his nose with a tissue
- Put away his stuff
- Hang up his backpack
- Raise his hand and wait
- Cough into his elbow
- Drink from a water fountain
- Stand in a line
Knowing these skills are all good indicators your child is ready to start kindergarten, even if you are not quite there yet. There’s no getting around the fact that starting kindergarten is a bittersweet time. He’s your baby and it’s never easy to release our babies into the wild. However, when he’s ready to start kindergarten, he’s ready. You should be too.