Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?

by Mary B. Moore

This time of year can bring stress to a lot of parents as they begin to plan for their child’s leap into kindergarten for the next school year. Parents are often uncertain if their son or daughter is ready for the academic, social, and emotional demands of kindergarten. Would transitional or junior kindergarten be a better fit? Will my son be challenged? Bored? Overwhelmed? Which school is right for him?

As a mother of 3 boys, I have experienced this anxiety-provoking process first hand. Selecting a school for our kindergarten child was more exhausting than my college application process! After many open houses, conversations with teachers, parents, professionals, and research, my head was spinning.

As parents we want our child to feel successful in school – to learn, make friends, have fun and develop a thirst for knowledge. A successful school experience involves more than academic skills acquired at a certain age. It depends largely on the right fit and at the right time and how your child’s overall development – his or her social, emotional, physical, as well as intellectual behaviors will match a program’s curriculum demands.

Understanding your child’s developmental readiness can greatly assist you in the decision-making process. No two children are alike. For example, one 5 year old may need a very small class size which incorporates hands on learning and opportunities for physical movement. While another 5 year old may thrive in a larger class sizes with more table work.

The Gesell Developmental Observation is one component of a comprehensive evaluation which can provide individualized information about your child. Knowledge about your child’s developmental functioning is a valuable tool to help you make an informed decision about the best available school placement for the unique needs of your child.

While information is power, so are some other healthy tips. Here are 5 to consider for you and your child during this time:

  • Get adequate sleep

  • Eat well and exercise

  • Maintain a consistent routine

  • Do not try to coach your child for pre-admission testing: school evaluations and testing assess where a child naturally and independently functions. Quizzing your child does not help, it only creates stress and may have a negative impact on your child.

  • Have fun together! Early childhood is a time of wonder, excitement and emerging growth. Laugh and enjoy this precious short stage with your child!
Mary B. Moore, LCSW is provides individual and family therapy to young children and their parents. She specializes in child development, parenting, anxiety, separation/divorce, grief/loss and Aspergers. Mary B. is a certified Gesell examiner and provides Developmental School Readiness Assessments to children ages 3-9 .