Kindergarten: Ready, or Not?

Is your child ready for Kindergarten? With both of my pregnancies, when I found out my children’s due dates (October and November), my educator heart was a little disappointed. I knew that when they were school-aged, we would have to make a tough choice when it came to when they would start school. I knew the decision wouldn’t be easy, but I knew we would make the right choice after a lot of careful consideration.

In the state of Michigan, a child must be five years old to start Kindergarten by September 1st. If a child turns five after September 1st, they may be allowed to start Kindergarten if their birthday is before December 1st–if their parents choose to sign a waiver. Thankfully, lots of local school districts and private schools offer programs for those kiddos who have late summer and fall birthdays.

When it came time to decide what was best for our children, we looked at several factors that would impact our lives now and in the future. There is no wrong or right answer, because every child and family is so different.

Making the Right Choice

As a parent, you know your child best. No assessment or expert can make the choice for you on whether it is time for your child to start school. A lot has changed since I was in kindergarten; it is much more rigorous than it was thirty years ago.

Children learn to read and do basic math facts in Kindergarten. There are also certain things that children should be able to do before they enter Kindergarten. These include knowing their alphabet, counting, writing their own name, and being able to be independent in the restroom, just to name a few.

Just because your child can do all of the academic things required of him or her, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ready for Kindergarten. As a veteran educator, I know it is also important to look at the overall picture of the child.

Ready or Not?

Before we made the choice for my daughters about attending a pre-K program, I asked myself several questions:

  • Can they sit still for long periods of time?
  • Can they follow directions well?
  • Do they struggle with being away from mom or dad for long periods of time?
  • Are they smaller/less developed than their peers? 
  • Can they get along and form friendships with others?
  • Am I ready for them to start school? 

While academically, both of my girls met and exceeded the expectations of incoming kindergartners, I knew socially and emotionally they were not ready. And neither was I. Traditional Kindergarten is a long day, especially for a child who hasn’t turned five yet.

At the end of the day, we opted to send both of our daughters to our school district’s Young Fives program. My oldest went into Kindergarten being very prepared and is performing at the top of her class. She excels academically and socially. It was definitely the right decision for her.

Our younger daughter is very petite and can be shy. While she knows all of her sight words and can do some basic math facts, we are giving her the extra year to grow both physically and socially. My only wish is that our local school district offered a full-day program instead of a half day program.

Don’t Just Think About the Present

While sometimes it is hard to think about anything else besides the here and now, I also find it helpful to look at your child down the road when you are deciding if they are ready for Kindergarten. By enrolling your child in a pre-K or Young Fives program, you are giving your child the best gift: the gift of time. Another year at home with you before they begin their post-secondary journey, another year to save for college, another summer of adventures before they fly the nest.

While no one can make the choice for you when it comes to when your child should start school, listen to your heart. Look at all the options and all of the things to consider. And when in doubt, consider a pre-K program–you will never regret giving your child the gift of time.

Taking the leap into Kindergarten? Check out Whitney’s helpful tips for the transition to Kindergarten.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.