The best time to send your child off to school depends largely on whom you ask. Proponents of starting kindergarten as early as possible believe it gives a child a valuable head start in life.
Opponents argue that holding a child back until he is more mature provides an academic and social edge. Nowadays readiness rather than chronological age is often the deciding factor of when a child should start school.
Kindergarten is a stepping stone of major significance as it launches the start of your child’s formal education. Social and academic successes and failures in kindergarten may seem relatively insignificant on the surface, but they can weigh heavily on a child’s self-esteem and how a child relates to others for the rest of his life, according to Mayo Clinic staffers.
As a general rule, a child must be five years old before starting kindergarten. Parents of children born slightly before or after a cutoff date, such as September 1st, are most likely to be faced with the dilemma of when to enroll their child in school.
Start Time Pros and Cons
Being one-up in coursework, sports and making friends easily are among the possible benefits of being an older student. However, children who wait an extra year to start kindergarten don’t necessarily perform any better than than younger classmates, according to MayoClinic.com. Late starters may also be more likely to run into behavioral problems as teenagers.
If your child is painfully shy or immature, it may be unwise to be in a hurry to send her off to kindergarten. Problems with keeping up academically, athletically and socially may arise in kids who start school before they’re fully prepared emotionally, mentally and physically. Speech delays or impairments, bedwetting, hyperactivity and other behavioral issues all suggest that waiting to start kindergarten may be in the child’s best interest.
Questions to Ponder
A school readiness checklist can help you decide whether your child is ready to make the big step into kindergarten. How self-sufficient is your child? Can he go to the bathroom or put his coat on without assistance? Is she able to recite the alphabet, cut with scissors, use a crayon and hold a pencil? How are your child’s communication and listening skills? Can he cooperate with adults and children?
A keen interest in books and trying to read by using pictures as a guide is a strong indicator that her language skills are in sync with other kindergartners and she’ll be capable of learning to read in short order.
Talk to your child’s health care provider or a school counselor if you’re undecided about your child’s readiness for kindergarten. Some schools will make the decision for you as they require all kindergarten candidates to take a test to evaluate their readiness.
Such tests aren’t 100 percent accurate, but they can give you a pretty good idea of how well prepared your child is for kindergarten in relationship to her peers.