Thursday, May 28, 2009
Many times when children are about to begin kindergarten, a question arises as to whether they are ready for a school environment. The teachers of children whose birthdays are close to the cut off point or those who have not had the benefit of a preschool experience may feel that they would benefit from an additional year of growth before entering the regular classroom surroundings. But is it a good idea to hold these children back a year at this point in their young lives? Experts tend to respond with conflicting views in the matter.
Supporters of this delay policy point out that children who have birthdays close to the cut off date are the youngest in the class and can fit in just as easily with children starting school the following year. By having them wait to start school, these students are more mature than their classmates and tend to do much better with learning the basics, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. These supporters also feel that it is better to hold a child back at this young age rather than to do it when they are older and may feel embarrassed by such a change in their academic program.
Opponents to this delay policy point out that while the short term effects may be beneficial to the child, the situation may cause unforeseen problems later on. Again, a child that starts schools a year later will probably be the oldest child in the class, which in turn will mean that at one point in time he may also be the biggest in size. This situation may also lead to embarrassment for the child. Even worse, the size difference may also cause the child to begin domineering over his smaller classmates. The difference in the maturity levels in a particular teacher's class can also end up being so varied that she may have trouble teaching this wide range of students.
If you are a parent with a child who is approaching kindergarten age, there are several things that you can do to help prepare your child for the school setting. You can first contact the school in advance to discover exactly what the pre-kindergarten screening process entails. You can then start to work with your child at home to better equip him in the areas that they will be testing him on.
You may also want to have a conference with the kindergarten teacher to find activities and exercises that you can do at home to help him to learn to sit still and listen for extended periods of time. When judging a child's readiness for the kindergarten environment, this is one of the areas that the teacher looks at. By training your child to sit still at home long before school starts, he should have no problems once he gets there.
You may also want to investigate the size and activities that are involved in your child's potential kindergarten class. If the class size is over twenty students, a child who is naturally more shy or timid may feel overwhelmed in a larger group of other children. If your child has a lot of extra energy, a classroom that incorporates a more relaxed atmosphere and includes lots of physical exercises may be better for him than one that incorporates a more disciplined schedule.
Starting kindergarten is a major milestone in any child's life and you are the best judge as to if he is ready for the change. By keeping open communication with his potential school and teachers, you can help him to make the adjustment with greater ease.