By Dr. Heather
My third child turned five in January. We set up his “Kindergarten Readiness” testing appointment recently, aiming to have him join his big sister and brother at their school this fall. He bravely marched into the classroom for his testing, reaching up to hold the teacher’s hand. I choked back tears. Off to school, already?! I so clearly remember cradling him as an infant, in the hospital soon after he was born. This was the sweet, easy baby who made it possible to consider having a fourth child. I was almost hoping the teacher would find some surprise reason for not accepting him this fall. When she flashed me the “thumbs up” sign after his testing, I was proud. But I also had a little pit in the bottom of my stomach. It’s all going too fast!
All over the country, parents are going through the same process. For many, like those with “early born” kids, the decision is easy. For others who have “late-borns” (like our fourth child — an October baby), or for those who’s kids struggle with one or more aspects of readiness, it’s a tough call. There’s no “magic” test for readiness, and no single developmental area that means your child is 100% ready. Much of it is a judgment call.
In some parts of the country, the practice of “Redshirting” — holding an otherwise ready child back from starting kindergarten in order to provide him with a competitive “edge” — is gaining in popularity. My advice: consider YOUR child’s readiness, and make the decision independent of the “trends” in your neighborhood. The pressure to “go along with the Joneses” may be strong. But stand your ground — you know your child best.
Whether your kiddo starts kindergarten this year or next is irrelevant compared to the fantastic developments that he’s gone through in the past 4 or 5 years. Remember that tiny newborn bundle they handed you that day 4 or 5 years ago? Look at your baby now! Good work, Mom and Dad!