Summer Birthday: Pre-K or Kindergarten?

Your child turns five this May-September. How exciting! This is always an important life transition: being five years old means a child can enter elementary school as a kindergartner. But should you move him/her along, or should you give your child the gift of another year of development in Pre-K?

This is a tricky question, and we would like to help you with a few professional insights as you consider this choice for your child. Please also keep in mind that your Pre-K teacher will always help you with this important decision.

The first thing to keep in mind as a parent is that today’s kindergarten has really changed since you attended class as a child. The kindergarten of the past was very similar to today’s Pre-K class. Today’s kindergarten classes involve a great deal of sitting, taking timed tests, completing worksheets, and generally have much higher academic demands.

A little over half of our Children’s Center students with May-September birthdays “wait a growing year.” These students begin kindergarten as a brand-new six-year-old. This means that those children who attend kindergarten as young five-year-olds can be up to a year younger than their classmates. A year of development at this age is huge. An option that some parents choose is to have their young student participate in Preschool at age three, and then enroll in Pre-K classes for two subsequent years after this.

There are many signs in your child you can look for to determine kindergarten-readiness. Can your child sit very still and listen to a story or lesson for up to 30 minutes? Can your child separate from you easily? Can your child self-adjust quickly after a disappointment or a sharing issue? Does your child cooperate well? Can your child follow two- to three-part directions? Does your child cry frequently? Does your child still nap? Is your child still too shy to answer questions from a trusted adult? These are important issues… it’s not just about letter and numbers.

Another question to consider: Do you want your still 17-year-old going away to college? College starts classes in August. While this may be a long way off, it arrives before you know it.

Some children are more than ready to attend kindergarten at a younger age, but recently we have seen the “growing year” to be more beneficial than not.

Check the cut-off date for the kindergarten that you choose. Some local schools require a kindergartener to be five years old by August 1.

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