Q:

I have a 2-year-old daughter who speaks using complex sentences and multi-syllabic words, counts to 10, and knows all the colors and about half of the alphabet, but because of her birth date she will not start kindergarten until she is almost 6. I am increasingly worried that she will be bored out of her mind and too far ahead of her classmates when she finally starts kindergarten if she continues to learn at this pace. - Challenging Problem

A:

Try to relax and spend some time enjoying your daughter during the next four years. We are sure that she is very bright and is learning quickly; however, many of her classmates will also have been exposed to what were once kindergarten lessons in preschool and at home. Plus, many are likely to be older, as a significant number of parents are now holding younger children back from starting kindergarten until they are closer to 6. For these two reasons, many kindergartens now have a far more challenging academic curriculum that should make it less likely for your child to be bored with the lessons. In addition, kindergarten teachers are used to handling children with far different skill levels. And do remember that at every grade level, older children tend to do better in school.

Instead of being upset and worrying now about your child being bored in kindergarten, why don't you wait to see how things develop? If you put her in a preschool next year or the following year, you will have a far better idea of how she will handle the kindergarten curriculum. You will then be ready to determine if she would benefit from starting school earlier or following the kindergarten age guidelines of your school district.

Young children love to learn, as your daughter has demonstrated. In fact, you can't really stop them from learning. But you must guard against pushing your child to acquire academic skills unless she is truly enthused about learning these things. And remember that children really learn the most important things they need to know for kindergarten through the hands-on experiences of playing.