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Defining Kindergarten Readiness

Too often people take the fact that their child should stay in Pre-K another year rather than advance to Kindergarten as a personal attack on them. In reality, it’s going to benefit your child in the long run and help them excel more easily when they do reach Kindergarten. Instructors feel pressure to pass children on, because of parents or policy, which shouldn’t be the case. It’s important to focus on what the child needs.

There’s a whole host of reasons why you may need to hold your child in early education for another term.

Kindergarten Readiness in Public Policy

Given that every child has the right to an education, there are certain unavoidable age limitations as a part of ensuring that they receive their promised class time. In the state of New Jersey children can be admitted to Kindergarten as early as 4, but by 6, they must be enrolled. In addition, there’s an assessment for kids to better account for the basic classroom skills they possess. It’s not imperative or expected that they master to every question or concept, but it acts as a way to gauge their current understanding to decide where they would land within a Kindergarten program.  

As described by the Urban Child Institute, “Policymakers have done the work to mandate that every child gets a kindergarten education. However, recognizing that there are qualities other than age that lead to greater success in kindergarten may encourage them to advocate for more, and higher quality pre-kindergarten and early childhood education.” Keep in mind that preparedness is fluid. While one day a child may not master cutting with scissors, tomorrow they might tackle it with little trouble at all.

The Teacher’s Definition

Aside from parents and close relatives – who knows children better than their teachers? After all, it’s their job to get to know their students and understand them in order to more easily foster growth and learning. As Lisa Guernsey explained, “Contrary to popular conceptions of what it means for a 5-year-old to be ready for kindergarten, most kindergarten teachers are not wishing for rooms full of children who can already identify the letters of the alphabet. What they want instead are children who have learned how to regulate their impulses, follow through on a difficult task and have the self-control to listen to the teacher’s directions for a few minutes.” Parents, teachers, and policymakers need to work together to ensure the success of these young students.

Sometimes it’s behavioral, other times it’s just general concepts that they haven’t grasped yet. Children, especially early on tend to learn at very different rates. Sometimes it’s just a matter of giving them the chance to push past those barriers on their own in a more controlled environment be it mental or social. We as adults and educators need to be cognizant of this and understand that our timeline may not necessarily be their timeline.