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When to Start Kindergarten

Updated on November 9, 2010

Before your child ever goes to Kindergarten, it is a good idea to have him or her enrolled in a preschool program. This enables your child to be introduced to the basics of school and have varied social interaction. While it is not impossible for children to do well in Kindergarten if not having been exposed to preschool, it does make for extra work on your part as the parent and eventually on your child's Kindergarten teacher.

The age cut-off for Kindergarten is at 5 years old by anywhere between July 1 and October 1 (it varies by state). Students should be able to start coloring within the lines and be able to write and recognize letters and numbers, but it is not necessary for them to already know how to read or spell. Many parents feel that if they have a young 5 year old that his or her maturity is not quite where it should be to start Kindergarten at that age, and you therefore have the option of waiting another year. This is highly appropriate for a child whose attention span is low, or who seems somewhat more shy compared to his or her peers. Being one of the youngest in the class can be a positive and a negative thing - and more outgoing children will be able to bridge the differences more readily than a sensitive child who watches his or her peers get taller, lose teeth, and mature faster.  Yet you don't want to stifle a child who is clearly willing to learn, regardless if he or she is younger.

If you find that your preschooler seems bored with preschool and has a firm grasp of the curriculum, your young 5 year old may be more ready for Kindergarten than you think. Any child who is of age for Kindergarten will be tested ahead of time, though, to confirm readiness on the academic level.

Keep in mind that children who have been in daycare from birth are increasingly more ready for Kindergarten than ever before because of their preschool formats. Some even have preschool programs for those who are reaching Kindergarten age, making it that much easier to transition to school.

Ultimately, it is your choice when to send your child to Kindergarten, or even if Kindergarten is necessary for him or her, since it is not a mandatory grade for students to attend. You can even successfully teach from home before (if ever) switching to a public or private school and your child will be just fine.


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