Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?
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I get asked this question all the time. Is my child ready for kindergarten? As parents, we are so excited to get our kids started in school. We think they should start school as soon as they can say their alphabet. “Oh, they must be ready,” we say. I have heard this many times from anxious parents. I like to remind parents that just because their child knows his alphabet and shapes doesn’t make him ready for kindergarten. Being ready for kindergarten requires some other things. Can your child focus on the task ahead of him? Will he pay attention and soak in what you are teaching him? Is he able to follow directions?

I had visions of homeschooling being a piece of cake. Kindergarten should be easy to teach, right? Kindergarten is not hard to teach, but it is hard to teach a child that isn’t ready. I admit that I started homeschooling my oldest son too early! “This is going to be fun,” I said. “He is so ready!” I thought. We began with a solid curriculum, and in the early days it was going well. But partway through the first half of the year, things started to not be so “fun” anymore.

Even though my son knew all of his colors, letters, and numbers, he just wasn’t ready for the everyday routine. He didn’t want to sit and focus. We fought through the work. He still wanted to spend his days playing with trucks and blocks. But because he had just turned 5, the “system” expected him to be in school by now. This wasn’t working out in the way I had hoped.

So, after much prayer and counsel from other experienced homeschool moms, we slowed down and ended up doing kindergarten over a two-year span. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth stealing his childhood away from him. He wanted to be a kid and simply wanted to play. My new motto became: “Kids need to be kids.” I am so glad we held him back and didn’t push through when he was little. The next year of kindergarten was such a breeze with him. He was ready!! What a difference in that child from the year before.

If you have started your child in kindergarten and it is a struggle day after day I would tell you to slow it down. Take another year and do the material again if you have to. Your child may not be ready. Now, don’t go thinking you are a bad mom. That is not the case at all! Be careful listening to well-meaning advice from those around you who tell you your child should be in kindergarten. They don’t know your child the way you do. They don’t know the struggles you go through day after day.

Be an encouragement to your child. Give him a love for school!! Pushing children through something they are not ready for will kill their love for school. But, if you start kindergarten at a point when it will be “easy” for your children, you can help give them a love for school. They will see how successful they are in their work and you can praise them for the excellent job they are doing. Take it from a mom who started her child too early and “killed” her son’s love for school. It isn’t worth it to listen to what the “system” has to say about when your child should or shouldn’t start school.

Some thoughts from a mom who started her child in kindergarten too early:
• Do you want your child to “struggle” through, or “succeed” through kindergarten?
• Do you want him in kindergarten simply because everyone else is doing it?
• Is your child emotionally mature enough to do the work?
• Have you prayed about your decision?
• Don’t let your child make the decision for himself. (Every young child wants to be in school whether he is ready or not.)

What about the parents who worry their children will be bored with the work if they wait to start kindergarten? “It will be too easy for her,” they say. Don’t worry about your child being “bored” if you wait to start her. It is easy enough to move a child “ahead” in school if this is the case. But the older a child becomes, the harder it is to hold her back.

Think about what it does to a child to make him or her repeat the same grade over again just because you made a decision about starting kindergarten early. I have parents coming to me upset at themselves saying, “I started my child too soon in school. Now, what do I do?” Some kids start kindergarten early and do just fine. School has been going well for them along the way. But then they hit middle school and the work gets much harder for them. Their maturity level isn’t quite ready for this. They are still young and desire to be kids. For others, as they go through the elementary grades, their parents are now realizing that their children will graduate at a young age. These parents are asking themselves the question: “Do I really want to send my 16-year-old out into the world of college?”

Homeschooling your kindergartener is such a wonderful experience. You get to witness her read for the first time. You get to see her excitement over the art projects that she makes. It is so rewarding to have that time together. But remember, just because you may be excited to start……your child may not be ready. You can spend time doing other things with your children while they are little. When they are home with you they are always learning. Let them be kids and love them unconditionally. Kindergarten will come soon enough and before you know it, graduation will be right around the next corner.

Meet the Author

Melissa Vosburgh - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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