Determining Children's Readiness for Kindergarten?

Question: On the issue of kindergarten readiness, I have met a number of parents wrestling with the issue of whether to delay their 4-year-old's entry into school. I usually tell them that they need to consider whether their child is ready to process academics in an environment in our state that requires the developmental readiness of a 6-year-old. Then I give them a list of what their child needs to know and a list of what he or she will be expected to learn over the course of the kindergarten year. Parents are initially in the best position to determine whether their child is ready for kindergarten. - Educator

Answer: When parents are deciding whether their young children are ready for kindergarten, they must consider, as you say, what a school program is like and whether or not their children have the necessary skills to handle it. Each school system has copies of its kindergarten curriculum. It also has a checklist of the skills that are expected of children entering kindergarten in that district. Keep in mind that young children change fast. A child who doesn't have the basic skills required for kindergarten in the spring might have acquired them by the time school starts.

Determining a child's readiness for kindergarten is not an exact science. Children who meet the age requirement are usually ready to handle a kindergarten program that does not concentrate primarily on the development of academic skills. These programs are more like the kindergartens that parents remember, where children had time to play and prepare for first grade.

Every kindergarten class is made up of both younger and older children. Delaying a child's entry into kindergarten is not a guarantee of success in school. When parents are deciding on their child's readiness for kindergarten, they should carefully consider the following questions:

  • Can the child handle the curriculum?
  • Has the child mastered most of the skills on the kindergarten checklist?
  • Will most of the children in the kindergarten class be 6-year-olds rather than the more traditional 5?
  • How well has the child handled preschool?
  • Do the parents have strong doubts about the child's readiness for kindergarten?