As a former teacher who is active in education, I’m asked this question, a lot. There are several factors to consider, as each child needs to be considered individually. In-other-words, I can’t give you an answer for your child, only for mine. And I opted to hold both of my August-birthday boys back a year by placing them in pre-Kindergarten, aka “red-shirting.”
Questions to ask yourself when considering Kindergarten vs. Pre-Kindergarten
- will my child be the youngest or the oldest? How do I expect my child will do in that position? You want to think long-term here, as well as short-term. Yes, you’ll compare your 5-year-old to his peers currently (does he keep up with his peers? does he interact well?) but you also want to think of him going through puberty before or after others and how he’ll be at 16 or 17 when he starts driving (before or after others.)
- how does my child compare, physically, to his peers? I don’t usually advocate comparing your child against others, but socially, you need to consider if your child will keep up on the playground or in gym class. Alternatively, will he be miles ahead physically and, therefore, bored.
- is he academically ready to go to Kindergarten? There are questions , below, that you can ask your child’s preschool teacher, but there are also great resources for you to use at home. Family Education has a valuable checklist. Of course, it’s now registration time and 6-7 months before Kindergarten, so do note that your child will grow, a lot, during the next 6 months.
- how does my child compare maturation-ally with his peers. Is your child Leo the Late Bloomer? He likely will catch up, but will pushing ahead or holding back change his self-outlook?
Questions to ask your child’s teacher when considering Kindergarten vs. Pre-Kindergarten
- Start out asking a very general question. Remember that, ultimately, it’s your decision, but your child’s teacher sees your child in a different situation than you do. She also knows what his peers are like, and how your child responds to his school surroundings.
- Refer to the Family Education checklist (above) and see how the teacher’s responses compare with yours.
- Ask your teacher if she’s sent children who are similar to your child to Kindergarten or Pre-Kindergarten and how they’ve responded.
- What Kindergarten or Pre-Kindergarten program do you recommend for my child? Why? (Why is key here. You’ll learn a lot about your child when you find out why she thinks a program is best for your child.)
- Visit both Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten classrooms with your child to get a feel of the types of activities your child will do one year from now. Do you forsee your child growing in this room? Do you see him keeping up? Will he learn or will he be held back by his peers’ abilities?
- Talk to prospective teachers and ask them for what they expect to see in their students. Ask if there is a big difference whether a child is the oldest or youngest, as well as the age difference between the oldest and youngest student in Kindergarten.
- Watch your child grow and continue to assess him on the Family Education Checklist.
- I share my personal experience regarding why we opted to “red shirt” my son, based on previous students.
- I share how you can relax when making this stressful choice, based on my experience with my kids.
image source: PhotoXpress
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