After attending kindergarten round-up, I was left with a pit in my stomach as I debated whether or not we should delay and enroll my daughter in Transitional Kindergarten (TK), a lighter version of what today’s kindergarten class is like.
Since many moms face this decision at some point, I wanted to share my story, hopefully making others’ choice much easier.
Talk to the Experts
Preschool conferences came and went. With our firstborn heading to full-time school, I had some fears. Should we send her to kindergarten, or wait for the following year? With a late summer birthday, we had the choice. Her preschool teachers helped me realize there was so much to consider, more than just “academic readiness.” Are they emotionally mature? Socially ready? Would they struggle with being younger than most of their peers? So. Many. Questions. And I had no answers!
So, I turned to my mom-tribe and other experts to get advice. I met with two different principals, her preschool teachers, and parents who had been in similar situations. They all had the same, simple message: just wait if you have concerns since no one ever regrets it.
Evaluate Your Family Life
At the time, I was pregnant with my third, and if I am being honest, all I could imagine was the chaos of my new life as a mom-of-three (i.e. post C-section, a newborn, no sleep, and breastfeeding around the clock). A three-year-old middle child, a possibly-struggling kindergartner, and a hubby that worked well before and after a 9-to-5 gig…I’m sure you get the picture. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my older two. But seeing as this was not my first rodeo at parenthood, I knew coming across more than 5-10 minutes a day would be difficult. Balancing quality time would be limited, and I just did not know how the dynamic would change our family.
Understanding the Difference
Kindergarten should be FUN! When they are having fun, they are learning! If my daughter didn’t master the curriculum in TK, then she will have another chance in kindergarten. ANOTHER CHANCE? BOOM. SOLD! Where do we sign up? Confidence is the first word that came to mind. She will have the confidence. It was so much more than just that first year; it was the start of a foundation for the years to come, such as the upcoming months of standardized testing, driving school, social drama, and ultimately taking the leap and heading off to college (cue the waterworks!). We decided to enroll in the Young 5s class, aka: Transitional Kindergarten (TK).
You Know Your Child Best
Time flies during this period of our life. Raising kids to be resilient adults is not for the faint-hearted, that is for sure. We make hard decisions for them right now, so they are prepared for the future. We hope they make sound choices and make mistakes they can learn from. All of these things went through my head. I wanted her to LOVE school, at least when she first starts off. I’m sure there will be times in the future she won’t!
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” -E.E. Cummings
All in all, I heard the same advice from many of the parents and experts alike. You will have ONE more year with them, so “Give your child the gift of a year.” Also, “You will never regret waiting to send your child to kindergarten, BUT you may regret sending them too early.” This was the difference for me.
Fast forward two years, and she is doing better than we ever expected. She is reading confidently and is still loving school! I do believe we know when to push or pull back when it comes to our children, so no matter the choice you make, it will be the right one.
Ready or Not?
Although the following skills from Parents.com aren’t first-day prerequisites, you should start working on them with your child one to two months before kindergarten (or Young 5s) begins:
- Cutting with scissors
- Recognizing some rhyming sounds and the starting sounds of words
- Counting from 1 to 10
- Zipping or buttoning a jacket by himself
- Packing and unpacking his backpack
- Using a pencil or crayon properly
- Reading a few common sight words, like “mom” and “go”
- Singing the entire alphabet song
- Writing his name