Jul 25, 2014
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Moms' Talk: Kindergarten Readiness

Do you think, as many legislators feel, that unless the state offers preschool for all children, that the cutoff date for kindergarten enrollment should remain January 1st?

Moms' Talk: Kindergarten Readiness

This is the time of year when parents across the country are helping their children make life changing decisions from career choices, graduate school decisions, college acceptances and kindergarten readiness. No matter how old your children are, these choices you help them make are monumental.

There are myriad news stories about the college application process, the job opportunities for college graduates and the best graduate degrees to pursue, depending on the economic climate.  What we do not hear about is the angst and handwringing that precedes the start of a child’s formal education, entering kindergarten.

Do you remember when you sent your children off to kindergarten for the first day? How did you feel? How did your child feel?

There is currently a proposal before the Connecticut General Assembly’s appropriations committee to change the deadline for turning five years old from January 1st to October 1st for children to begin kindergarten. Another bill is to require children to start school by 6 years old, instead of the current 7 years old.

As it is now the age range in kindergarten classrooms can be from 4 – 7 years old.  I personally think this is too wide a gap.  The social and academic readiness of a 4 year old can be vastly different than that of a 7 year old.  We need to narrow that gap and change the cutoff date to October 1st for the benefit of all our children.

What do you think?  Do you think, as many legislators feel, that unless the state offers preschool for all children, that the cutoff date for kindergarten enrollment should remain January 1st?

I remember, like it was yesterday; sending my oldest, now almost 16 years old, off on the big yellow bus for the first time.  Ana was 6 years old and totally ready to get the most out of her first year at school. 

This self-assurance came from waiting a full year from when she could have started, until she actually did begin that first year.  There were lots of sleepless nights, conversations with friends and family, inquiries to educational professionals and introspection before deciding that a year of pre-K at Temple Beth Tikvah Nursery School would be best for her.

None of this ever came into play with my 12 year old, Sophia, because she was a mid-January baby and thus was almost 6 years old the September she began kindergarten.

Our reasons for “holding back” Ana were purely social.  She could read, she could write, she could do age appropriate math, but she was shy.  My friend, Jill, and I were always the only parents who ever stayed at birthday parties because our children were too timid to be left alone.  We swore we would be accompanying them to their junior prom, their senior prom and maybe even their honeymoons!

Both these girls followed the same education track, starting kindergarten a full year after they could have by law.  This decision served them well.  They have both blossomed into smart, well-adjusted young ladies with bright futures ahead of them. 

Have you grappled with any of these issues? Do you have any sage advice for parents of young children who are making these monumental decisions?

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