ML from Oregon writes: “It is only February. I’m not sure my grandchild is ready for kindergarten in the Fall. He’d rather be playing outside than doing anything like his letters or numbers.”
Maybe it is too soon to worry. I find spring and summer to be a time for physical growth, and one can assume that mental growth is taking place, too. And playing, especially with other children, lays a good foundation for “kindergarten readiness,” see below.
- How do his parents feel about his readiness? How comfortable is he with his parent/caregiver leaving him? Has he been to a playgroup or pre-kindergarten? Is he going to be one of the youngest in the class? How many students will be in the class? Will there be any additional helpers in addition to the teacher?
- There are different “schools of thought” on the subject: There are those who feel that factors such as age in relation to the start of school, shyness, language ability, and the like, are important to consider. And there are those who feel not starting kindergarten when eligible would be a “lost opportunity.” What’s right for one may not be right for another. (In my 20 years with 4-year-olds in preschool, I only once advised parents not to start their son in kindergarten upon his eligibility, primarily because he was excruciatingly shy and the classroom was going to be very large, with one teacher. He was enrolled, but a couple of years later his parents said they regretted that decision.)
- Here are some “kindergarten readiness” ideas that may add another dimension to the issues: (My thanks to my tattered notes from: White, Burton L., Jean Carew Watts, Itty Chan Barnett et al. Experience and environment.Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1973)
- Social readiness with adults: Child can get and maintain attention of adults; child can express both affection and hostility to adults (Why–you say? I would say that it is important for a child to be able to stand up for him/her self when away from family);
—- Social readiness with peers: Ability to lead and follow peers; ability to compete with peers and, again, show both affection and hostility;
- Non-social readiness: Some language competence (i.e., naming objects, talk about picture in magazine, express feelings); ability to anticipate consequences; ability to deal with abstractions (i.e., rules, numbers (i.e., the concept of a number, as in “pick out four blocks”), sorting/classifying objects (i.e., sorting into logical groups, identifying graduated sizes, colors, etc.); directions in space (over, under, in back of, etc.).
Lots to think about. Letters and numbers are more appropriately and easily mastered in subsequent years (I realize that not all schools approach learning that way).