It's only July, but many parents are already thinking (dreaming? ) about their children going back to school. The districts near me start back the last week of August, which is only 8 weeks away! As a speech therapist, parents often ask me if their preschooler is ready for kindergarten. In my district, children must be 5 years old by September 30th in order to enter Kindergarten each fall. When I was growing up, the cut-off date was in October, but there was more leeway and I was able to start as a 4 year old with a November birthday. My mom said that I nagged her to go to kindergarten, so off I went! Back then, I remember learning some letters, doing a lot of crafts, and finally mastering how to tie my shoes that year, but the expectations for current kindergarten students are much higher.
Now, students are expected to learn a lot more during the year, including how to
If that sounds like a lot, it is!
In addition to the academic expectations, there is also the longer schedule and increased behavioral expectations to consider as well. Even if your child has gone through a year or more of preschool, the lack of time to play corresponds to more time sitting still and doing academic tasks like practicing writing and reading. This can be difficult for many children, especially those who have just turned 5.
Does this mean that no children will be ready for kindergarten at age 5? Not at all! Some kids will transition from preschool to kindergarten just fine; however, many kids will benefit from having an extra year of preschool. Sarah Wu, a speech-language pathologist who blogs at Speech Is Beautiful, shares her personal experience with deciding when to send her son to kindergarten.
If your child is getting ready to turn 5 before your district's mandatory birthday cut-off, there are many options to help them transition well. Some resources are:
Of course, if you have any questions about whether your child's speech or language skills are developing appropriately for their age, call me or another qualified speech-language pathologist in your area! We are happy to help.
Related: My Child Failed A Speech Screening, Now What?
I'm Jill! I love to create and blog about fun, evidence-based resources that make the lives of parents and busy SLPs easier.