Around here, families are getting ready to enroll their children in school. As my oldest enters his senior year in high school (Yikes! Where did the time go?), I’m reminded about the year he was five and it was time to decide whether or not to send him to Kindergarten.
Academically, he was more than ready but I felt that the social/emotional part would be a challenge. I agonized over this decision and worried about everything!
If I waited: that he would be bored with academics… but if I sent him: that he would be overwhelmed with a classroom setting and expectations.
If I waited: that he would eventually be one of the biggest or more physically mature in his class… but if I sent him: that he would be the smallest in his class
If I waited: that he would think there was something “wrong” with him… but if I sent him: that he would have a difficult experience that would set a negative tone for his school career
If I waited: that he would eventually be embarrassed to be a year older than his classmates… but if I sent him: that he would want–no, need!–to be at home another year.
If I waited: that I would be stifling him and denying exactly what he needed to mature … but if I sent him: that I was pushing something on him that he was developmentally just not ready for.
And so on….!
I talked to many teachers and parents who had had to make the same decision for their children. In the end, all of the teachers recommended waiting a year if unsure and all of the parents who waited said they were glad they did, while a few of the parents who went ahead and sent their children said they wished they had waited.
What the Science of Child Development Says
I also looked at what I knew and believed about child development. I knew and believed that social and emotional development is key to other types of development, including academic development. I knew and believed that the foundational skills used to be successful in social and emotional development were best developed one-on-one with someone who really understood and was conscious about developing those brain based skills.
In the end, I decided to wait a year before sending him to kindergarten. As I am getting ready to enroll him in his Senior year of High School, I am so glad that I did wait! He made tremendous leaps and bounds in his development that year he was (mostly) at home with me that set him up for a positive school experience.
Fortunately, NONE of the things I worried about from the “Worries if I Waited to Send Him” list ever happened! He is at the top of his class, enjoys his friends, is great to be around at home and is planning for college. He has worked hard to be where he is and yet, I truly believe that what happened in those early years and particularly that extra year at home gave him the abilities he needed to be successful.
So, if you are weighing this decision, really take the time to discern what areas in your child’s development need growth and then really consider (using the science about child development!) how to best help your child gain those skills. Some kids may be more ready than you think, but others will need time (and brain building experiences!) to mature and grow into kindergarten readiness.
Check out our Facebook page to find a link that provides other guides to determining skills needed for kindergarten.