Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kindergarten Readiness...Not Just an Age Thing

It happens every August.  A new crop of parents enter my classroom with their Kinders in tow.  They are curious, excited, eager, and sometimes a little apprehensive about the learning adventure that is about to begin for their child.  When I talk with them about their child's readiness they often share with me common sentiments.  If their child has a summer birthday, they worry that their child is not yet ready for Kindergarten.  If their child has a fall birthday, they worry that their child will not be challenged enough in Kindergarten because they just missed the cutoff to attend the year prior (Florida's cutoff for Kindergarten is September 1.)  Regardless of the concern, I always reply with the same honest answer, "Let's get started and see where the year takes us."

As an early childhood educator I know that Kindergarten readiness is much more than a chronological age listed on a form.  It is a composite of the development of the whole child in which all domains (cognitive, social, adaptive, and physical) are taken into consideration.  For example, where one child may be reading before Kindergarten begins, he/she may lack important social skills that are equally as important for success in a formal school environment.

In the past five years I have seen a new approach taken by parents. Some are making a conscious decision to delay Kindergarten for an additional year to allow their child to be the oldest child in class, instead of the youngest.  I am intrigued by this, particularly because I have seen an increase in this school of thought, and wonder if it tied into the national climate of high-stakes testing in public schools.

I found a recent article, "Who's Ready for Kindergarten?" in The New York Times.  It is actually a collection of various opinions written by educators and researchers.  All with valuable viewpoints and meaningful "a-ha" statements.

Take a look, see what you think, and let me know.  I would love to read your comments about this subject.

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