is my pre-schooler ready for kindergarten?
Parenting – the one area in life where you can never be over prepared. Heck, I’m on baby number two and there are times where I still don’t feel prepared, let alone over prepared. As soon as you’ve mastered one stage, your child has moved on to the next. I feel like we’re always starting over at square one. Parenthood is also the one area in life where the pressure to make the right decision is on! And that started right from the beginning with choosing a name! Do we breastfeed or formula feed? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Do I go back to work or become a stay at home mom? The decisions are endless. And this is only the beginning of the next eighteen years!
One of the most recent decisions we’ve had to make was whether we would have Noah repeat Pre-K or move on to Kindergarten. Noah’s birthday is in November. This means he won’t be 5 until after the school year has started. Never has there ever been a topic with more debate around it than this (until the next debate). Here’s what I discovered; every child is different and so is every parent. What works for my child and my family may not work for yours. There is no right or wrong answer to this dilemma. That being said, I’ll share with you the process we went through in arriving at our decision.
what’s expected of him?
After talking with other parents, his teachers, friends who are teachers, family members who are teachers, and the man on the moon (j/k), I learned a thing or two about kindergarten. Apparently, it’s not the Kindergarten I remember. My memories of Kindergarten include arts and craft time, the days of the week song, and playtime! But apparently, that’s not how Kindergarten is run now a days. Kindergarten classes are now reducing, and in some school districts even eliminating, playtime! How frustrating is that!
I’m a firm believer that learning should always be fun for young kids. It’s hard as it is to engage and keep their attention for more than just a few minutes. My husband and I have always used playtime as a way to teach Noah. And why shouldn’t we? Playtime sparks imagination and creativity! It also helps develop social skills, understanding and restraint, and emotional development (don’t take my word for it, the professionals agree with me ;)).
So the answer to our problem came down to asking ourselves the following questions:
can he do it?
The answer to this question has always been yes. Noah is a very bright young boy. He started talking at a very young age and his learning took off from there. He’s great at problem solving, has the memory of an elephant, and he understands concepts that are well beyond his years. Ever since I can remember, Noah has been asking important and relevant questions about how things work, why things are the way they are, etc. He takes things apart only to put them back together again so that he can understand their inner workings. All of that to say, I know that he could get through the demands of Kindergarten.
That may not be the case for every kid. Every child develops at a different speed. Some things to take into consideration are maturity levels, his ability to sit still, does he show an interest in learning, and how well he gets along with his peers.
does he want to do it?
We know he can do it, but does he want to do it? The fact of the matter is, he probably doesn’t want to do it. And it’s not because he’s lazy, it’s because he’s a kid! He still wants to play and do arts and crafts and dance around to songs during circle time! His idea of learning is using his imagination to solve a problem. His idea of fun is seeing who can build the tallest block tower. He doesn’t want to sit at a desk all day and do worksheets. He’s a hands on kind of kid.
do i want him to do it?
That being said, we are the parents and the ultimate decision is ours. So where do we land on the issue? When it came down to it, Lou and I decided we don’t want him to do it. We want him to enjoy being a “kid” a little longer. As you know, kids don’t keep little for long! [Side note: if you’ve figured out a way to keep them little, please share in the comments below.] We want him to continue learning through play. There’s plenty of time for him to sit at a desk to learn. Thirteen years to be exact, and that’s not including college!
Right now Noah absolutely loves his pre-school. He loves his teachers, his friends, his playground and their routine. And we love how much he loves going to school. It makes drop offs so much easier! So why rock the boat? These two years of pre-school are establishing a great foundation for his future schooling.
When I finally realized that my decision had less to do with his ability to do the work and all to do with wherher we wanted him to do it, the decision became a simple one. It takes away the negative connotation that is associated with keeping him back. I know he can do it, I just dont want to rush him into it. Does that make sense? I hope so!
You may find yourself in a different boat. Maybe your child is bored in pre-school and is looking to be challenged. There are so many different ways of learning! What works for one does not work for all. We enjoy and encourage learning through play, but that’s not the only way to learn. As long as they’re happy in school and learning, you can’t make the wrong decision here!
Ask yourself the questions above when you find yourself making this decision for your child! I promise you, whichever way you decide, you won’t ruin them! 😉