Many parents of kindergarten-age children face this question every year around this time – when registration for kindergarten is taking place. I often hear parents say, “what if I send my daughter to kindergarten and she is not ready, whether it is for academic concerns, or social and emotional growth. What will it be like for her?” Another comment I frequently hear is, “My son is very active and social, and I wonder if another year of preschool would benefit him, or perhaps I’ll just enroll him in kindergarten and hope that he settles down.” “Or, he can just repeat kindergarten.”
There is no stigma for a child who attends an additional year of preschool; however, there is a stigma that often stays with children for many years when they do repeat kindergarten. I know this from personal experience as a Director for fourteen years. I have NEVER heard a parent say that another year of preschool was the wrong choice, but I have heard parents say, “I wish we had given our son or daughter another year of preschool.”
My professional opinion for parents is to “NOT RUSH THEIR CHILD” in these early years of learning. They never get them back. Another year of early childhood education benefits those children who fall into these categories. I’ve talked with parents whose child repeated kindergarten and they have shared with me that their child felt as though he was not as smart as his friends who moved ahead, and still questions why he did not move on to first grade with his friends. Kindergarten is when children begin to see themselves as “students”. They expect to stay with their friends in the following years. At this age also, children have become aware of peer pressure and roles/expectations others have of them. Children may also become labeled by others and develop their own feelings of doubt or failure.
Our Jr. Kindergarten program is designed to allow children to continue to mature and understand social roles and implications of behavior. It allows children to gain skill and confidence and move on to kindergarten as leaders vs. followers, or those who still question. Some children are not affected by that, but for those who are, it can affect their self-esteem for many years. When a child is even 6-8 months younger than his peers in kindergarten think for a moment the differences there are developmentally within that time frame. It is not just the academic piece I am referring to. A child may know their letters, sounds, numbers, and may even show signs of reading, (which is often looked at as kindergarten readiness). However, even more important for those children are learning how to follow multi-step directions in a large group setting, learn how to work together in a small group setting, helping each other, and using critical thinking skills to work independently; rather than relying on a teacher to solve each problem.
For my other example; these are my observations for the child who is not socially mature enough for kindergarten.
These children typically need a little extra guidance and patience from their teachers, and just need more time to develop and mature. There is nothing “wrong” with this, and unfortunately, sometimes children are looked at as having negative behaviors in kindergarten. In fact, what children need is just more time in class to get their work done, and to find a balance between the social skills and the academics. A child who is able to identify letters and numbers appears more ready, but is that child able to maintain focus on tasks without consistent adult assistance? One of the critical readiness factors is a child’s ability to listen to and follow directions (new and multiple step) with increasing accuracy and independence. Additionally, a child will be expected not only to complete teacher directed tasks, but to complete those projects on their own and within a given time period. This is one of the most significant lessons children learn in Jr. Kindergarten. Children learn to listen to instructions in a group format and learn to work through distractions of their peers. They learn the skill of perseverance; how to work through not only cognitive, but physical challenges with a positive attitude. They also learn how to verbalize their problems to get their needs met. Children learn through example and increased confidence how to enter play. When children feel they do not have friends, it can be devastating to them. Another year of preschool will help children because as they get older, they are beginning to face different situations and have the time to learn how to deal with them.
If you are a parent who is “on the fence” about enrolling your child in kindergarten, I sincerely hope this information has helped you. The Learning Center (TLC) Preschool has very qualified teachers who have worked with this age group for many years. We understand children and truly care about their social, emotion, and academic success. If you are interested in learning more about our Jr. Kindergarten program, please call me, Debbie Caruso, @ 303-670-3447 x5 or stop by the preschool located at 2981 Bergen Peak Drive, Evergreen, CO. Thank you.