Should Confidence Level Affect Kindergarten Enrollment

Question: We have been told by our son's preschool teacher that he is ready for kindergarten both academically and socially. He has a January birthday, so he will be 5 1/2 by the time kindergarten starts. However, we have some reservations about sending him because there are confidence issues, as he is very cautious and somewhat reluctant to try new things. How should we factor in this issue when making our decision? Is there any downside to another year of preschool? -- Too Cautious

Answer: The one certainty in the kindergarten readiness issue is the inability to see the future. There is more than half a year before he will go to kindergarten -- plenty of time for your son to gain confidence. Furthermore, you cannot be sure another year of preschool would make him more confident.

You have time before kindergarten starts to help him build more confidence by helping him learn how to handle new situations. For example, before he faces a new situation, such as an overnight stay at a friend's house, talk over what is going to happen and play-act possible responses. And when he faces a new task, guide him in breaking it down into manageable units based on his past experiences.

The negative about another year of preschool is that it means an additional year of schooling. Also, since the preschool teacher believes that he is ready for kindergarten, another year of preschool might not be very challenging intellectually. In addition, your son will not be the youngest in his class next fall. This is a positive, as older children tend to do better in the first three grades.

Visiting the preschool to see how your son interacts with his classmates and does the school work also could help you make this decision. Also, contact the school district to make sure that your son will be able to enter kindergarten instead of first grade if you delay his entry. ** *