Your child is turning 5, and you are eager to send him/her to kindergarten! Even better yet, your child’s age falls within the required cutoff date. But is your child ready for the rigor that encompasses most kindergarten classrooms across America? In my own personal experiences, delaying kindergarten until your child is ready can prove to have very positive effects.
My brother Phil was the oldest child in our family of three kids. As a new mom, my mother was excited to send him to kindergarten. His birthday was August 8th, so he met the cutoff date, however he was not ready. She sent him to kindergarten at age 5, and he struggled in school his entire life. Had my mother waited one more year to send him to kindergarten, I often wonder if he would have been better off. He had to attend summer school for several years and received many failing grades.
Nine years later, I was born. My birthday is May 4th. When it was time to send me to kindergarten at age 5, my mom hesitated. She talked to the elementary school that I was to attend, and they wisely recommended that I wait until I was 6 to start kindergarten. I performed very well in school, and I graduated with the third highest GPA in my class.
My younger sister, Adriana, was born in December. She attended kindergarten at age 5. She was developmentally and academically ready. She performed very well in school and went to two prestigious universities, obtaining both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications.
My first child, Aiden, was also born in May. When it was time to send him to kindergarten at age 5, I was not sure what to do. I did some research and ultimately decided to wait until he was 6 years old. He is not a kid who loves reading, and I knew in my teacher heart that he would struggle if I sent him to kindergarten too early. Even with starting kindergarten a year late, he needed to be pulled out of the classroom for remediation for his reading in the early years. Now, he is going to middle school and his grades are wonderful. He can read fluently and school is not a struggle for him.
Claire, my middle child, attended kindergarten when she was 5. Her birthday is in January, and she was developmentally and academically ready. She could read books by the time she was 4 years old. Early on, she showed great interest in books. If I had waited until she was 6, she would have been extremely bored. She is now going to 4th grade, and she excels in all subjects.
Luke, my youngest, is a summer baby. He was born in August. Like my oldest, he did not show a lot of interest in reading. I made the decision to wait until he was 6 years old to go to kindergarten as well. He is doing great, and he’ll be in second grade next year. He has not needed any remediation for reading. Socially, he makes new friends easily and is a good role model for his peers.
Kindergarten in today’s day and age is not what is used to be. Children are at a distinct disadvantage when they come to kindergarten not already knowing their letters and sounds. These skills are expected to be mastered in preschool. The problem is, not all kids go to preschool. Even the kids that go to preschool are not developmentally ready for the rigorous curriculum that exists in most American kindergarten classrooms today. There is not enough play. Play is how children learn best. While full-day kindergarten has many advantages, it is not developmentally appropriate for many 5 year olds who still need a lot of playtime to develop their social and emotional skills as well as their fine and gross motor skills. In this article by Parenting Science, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., outlines many studies that show the positive effects of play.
I have been teaching at the elementary level for over 12 years. I have seen the negative effects that starting kindergarten too early can have. Kids that are not developmentally ready to start kindergarten have behavior as well as academic problems.
In a 2015 study at Stanford University, researchers found that delaying kindergarten by one year significantly improved a child’s ability to self-regulate even into late childhood. Another study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that children who enter kindergarten too early are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Am I saying that all kids should start kindergarten at age 6? Absolutely not! My point is that you should give some serious thought about sending your child to kindergarten. If you send your child too early, this could have detrimental effects on his/her social and emotional learning as well as his/her academic success. Don’t simply send your child to kindergarten, because they meet the minimum age requirement. Give it some thought and do what is best for your child in the long run.