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How Do I Know If I Should Send My 5 Year Old Boy to Pre- K or Kindergarten?

My son will be 5 in August and is scheduled to go to kindergarten in September. He's in preschool now doing fine except his fine motor skills need work (writing, cutting, etc.)which we are working on outside of school. I've found only 1 Pre-K program in the area which I have to apply to as a school of choice (not in our district). I'm thinking of having him complete the Gesell test. Any suggestions on how to know if you child is ready for Kindergarten or if he needs another year before Kindergarten? I've asked his teacher and she doesn't know yet and to give it to the end of the school year to decide.

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I think this decision is so hard! I have a daughter who will be 5 at the beginning of Sept. and I've struggled with whether to send her to kindergarten or not. I finally decided that I would wait a year. Mostly because I thought another year and she'll be more confident and she'll do better in all areas. She could probably go but I don't see the rush. As parents we get so little time with them before they go to school and grow up and leave. Why not enjoy them one more year =)! I hope this helps!!!

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I can give you my opinion. I have a 5 year old little girl who breezed right through pre-k and they suggested kindergerten for year insead of young 5's for the nxt yr..
All my friends were telling me to put her in young 5's but I didnt listen. Now that she in Kindergarten she is behind. Most of the other kids are already 6, she wont be 6 until November. Its weird she communicates like shes 10 and sometimes I cant even understand the other kids but all the little things like counting by 2's and backwards counting and all the little things I never taught her shes having trouble with.
So my advice to you is pre k then young 5s(If his bday is around November) then Kindergarten...Hope this helps.
I know its so hard because you want them to excel and not be "behind" at the same time.

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I am in the same boat as you. My dtr's bday is in October. After talking with the teacher and doing some research, I have decided to move her on to kindergarten. If you look at the research, there is no evidence to support that holding them back a year will help. The stats show that by around 3rd grade they all end up (for the most part)at the same academic level. If he has already mastered preschool then that would be another whole year of repetition and not learning new skills. We have decided to enroll my dtr in all day kindergarten (Montessori) as we did with my son. I think you are best to wait until the end of the school year and see how he does. An August birthday really isn't that late and you might be surprised to see how far he comes between now and the end of the year. Good luck to you..
L.

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I am a mom of a boy with a November 2nd birthday who also scored at the "top" of his KG Round-UP class. He knew all of the "stuff" that he needed to know to begin school, and then some. My husband could not understand why I would want our child in a DK (developmental kindergarten) classroom. Well, I also am a Speech-Language Pathologist in the school system. And, I had a lot of observation information about the impact of later birthdays and maturity on school progress in the later grades. My husband's greatest concern was that he would be bored. However, I am of the opinion that boredom is a concept that we teach versus something that kids just know about. Anyway, the academic demands are so much different for our children than they were for us; and, if the maturity development does not keep up they just cannot handle the changes and the workload. My son is now in 6th grade and is at the top of his class. I cannot imagine that he would have the ability to handle the curriculum and social demands on him. So, my advice to you is to consider what type of demands he can handle currently and how do you think he will handle the demands as they increase from the first day of school. And , then think about how he will handle the demands in 3rd grade (MEAP's begin then) and in 6th grade and, 10th grade. I hope it helps.
B.

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All three of my sons were almost six (one was six) when starting kindergarten. It was the best thing I could have done! My middle son's birthday was end of June, and we did not start him in kindergarten until he was six. It gave him another year of maturity, and school came much easier for him. I was told it is much better to have school come a little easier for them rather than them having to really struggle through. I am so glad we made the decision to wait until the following year to send him. Never have regretted a day of our decision. Best of luck on yours!

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I think this decision is so hard! I have a daughter who will be 5 at the beginning of Sept. and I've struggled with whether to send her to kindergarten or not. I finally decided that I would wait a year. Mostly because I thought another year and she'll be more confident and she'll do better in all areas. She could probably go but I don't see the rush. As parents we get so little time with them before they go to school and grow up and leave. Why not enjoy them one more year =)! I hope this helps!!!

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I also have a little bot with a fall birthday. He is very bright and big for his age, but I am holding him back. I don't know that it makes much of a differance now, but when he gets to high school, if I sent him ahead he would be competing aginast older boys for sports, trying to date older girls, and graduating at 17. If once he is on school and he wants to try and skip a grade, he will be old enough to make that decision himself. At this age I feel it is my job to look out for what could be complications to an older, more hormotionally unbalanced son.

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I am a elementary teacher with a Master's Degree who is currently not teaching but home with my kids. I have a son who could have gone to Kindergarten this year and we debated it but in the end put him in Young 5's. I am so glad we did! I volunteer with the Kindergarten and Young 5's classes and there is such a difference in the two. My son who is a little timid would have not had the confidence with the older kindergartners. Many children are nearly six now in kindergarten. When I was a teacher I never saw, in ten years or talking to other teachers, a boy who waited to attend school who had a problem with it. However I did have a few students whose parents had pushed them ahead and they really struggled socially and academically. They just weren't at the same developmental level. Not to sound sexist, but I have a daughter with a Sept. birthday who we will send to Kindergarten because as a girl she has developed faster and already reads a little and knows her letters and numbers, etc. If you worry that he will be bored academically, you can do lots of things at home with him on the weekends, or over the summer. It's tough with a late summer birthday. My son was a late fall birthday. The academics are also changing fast in schools and Kindergarten students are now expected to do many things that first grade students used to do. A friends suggested I think ahead to high school. Do I want him being the youngest kid exposed to older things sooner or the older one, more confident, and developmentally ahead a little? Some kids especially boys have a hard time when their friends can drive and they have to wait. Just a thought...

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My first child was a girl and I sent her (Aug birthday) at 5. My other son (July birthday) I waited. Both get great grades, but it is hard when everyone else is in drivers training and you have to wait a year....for everything. WAIT!

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I just went through this dilemma last year. My son was in preschool and the three teachers all said he was ready. I was not sure about his readiness. I have a daughter 2 years older. She was ready @ 5yrs old to go to kindergarten and did great. However, when I was getting ready to send my son to kindergarten I didn't feel he was ready. His fine motor skills were also lacking. Because his teachers and kindergarten round up said he was ok, we sent him to kindergarten. I should have gone with my instincts. He was so frustrated, he couldn't keep up and his self esteem went down the tubes in a matter of months. The teacher was great in recognizing the problems. We worked with him at home and it was just too much. Between 6 hours of school and then us working with him at least an hour on and off each night he hated school and was getting worse at school. He is very busy and just wasn't ready. We ended up repeating kindergarten. The school agreed. The hardest part was to see him struggle and try to get him interested. I have talked to alot of people about this and some of the feed back I got was, he is a boy, and they are busy, sometimes just not ready to learn exactly at 5. This was him, because he couldn't comprehend it all he just shut it off and was just like he didn't care. I even talked to a psychiatrist, she said this is exactly how it works. He didn't have anyohter way to cope. So his teacher started expecting less and praising him for his efforts he started to come around and began catching on. He is doing great this year, not one problem other than his self esteem. He still thinks he is bad at school and we have had to really work on that this year. He has the same teacher this year and she can't believe what a difference a few extra months made. I wish I could tell you everything. As a parent you want your kid to succeed and excell in everything, and we hit a wall. We went hrough the feelings of him being held back, and if we work with him more he will catch up but for us it came down to what he needed and after watching him so frustrated we had to, and it was the best thing ever He loves school and is proud of himself now. With the school systems expecting more from kids today why not give them every chance to succeed and if that means being a little older than fine I would rather do it now than have him be even more hurt when he has to be held back later, or constant struggle at home. He is a very well behaved kid and it was very difficult to get him through it at times. hoper this helps.

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I can give you my opinion. I have a 5 year old little girl who breezed right through pre-k and they suggested kindergerten for year insead of young 5's for the nxt yr..
All my friends were telling me to put her in young 5's but I didnt listen. Now that she in Kindergarten she is behind. Most of the other kids are already 6, she wont be 6 until November. Its weird she communicates like shes 10 and sometimes I cant even understand the other kids but all the little things like counting by 2's and backwards counting and all the little things I never taught her shes having trouble with.
So my advice to you is pre k then young 5s(If his bday is around November) then Kindergarten...Hope this helps.
I know its so hard because you want them to excel and not be "behind" at the same time.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter had a late birthday as well. At the last minute I decided to wait with her, and I am glad I did. She is in Kindergarten this year (at age 6). The year from 5-6 made a huge difference in her mental and social skills. I too didn't want her to watch all her friends turn those golden ages almosta year before she did...13, 16, 18 21 etc. It does depend on each child, but I didn't want to constantly be trying to catch up or have her compare herself with her friends.

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From a retired first grade elementary teacher who also taught K-6 and English as a Second Language Learners: August is a very late birthday. Please be aware that the cut off date for entering Kindergarten is usually December 1 or September 1 depending on the state. This means that your child will have children in his class that are up to 12 months older than your child. Their skills will be at a much higher level than your child. Many of the things that children do in kindergarten today are things that they did in first grade years ago. Writing of words and stories is pushed heavily today. The testing would be worthwhile. Nothing is sadder than seeing a child in your class whose cutting and pasting and writing lags severely behind everyone else and looks totally different. My own son had a Sept. 21 birthday and there was no question in our minds about not entering Kdg. the year he was eligible. The extra year gave him a chance to grow in inumerable ways. My friend whose child was sent and had an August birthday ended up having to do into a pre 1st grade transition year. Another friend who sent both of her children when they had Aug./Sept. birthdays had major problems with both. One was diagnosed with a learning disability in reading and the other cried with frustration through 3rd grade because it was so hard to keep up. They are doing fantastically today having graduated from college, but was it worth the early years of that frustration for them and not feeling that they were as capable as their peers, thinking they were dumb or not smart and fully expressing that? That is the question you need to answer. It is much better to be at the top of the class 1 year later than be at the bottom struggling when they start school. With all the mandated testing and less time for "fun" projects in school today, No Child Left Behind mandates, and much more pressure on teachers, students, and schools it is not the place it was when you and I went to school. I would arrange the Schools of Choice PreK now so that you have that and can make the right decision once you see the Gesell. Don't rely on just that test though. Look at the whole picture of maturity and make an educated decision including size of your child. If you have friends, neighbors, or relatives that are in education, consult with them and see what they think. Good luck.

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Hello T.,

Two of my kids were late birthdays...August and October. I had them start Kindergarten when they were 6...Best decision I made!! I work in the school district and see kids that are not ready academically or even emotionally. They are not as mature as the other kids and it shows. I have NEVER heard a parent complain about giving their child that extra year....however, I had heard from parents about how they wish they would of waited. They don't want their children to repeat 3rd or 4th grade and watch their friends go on ahead. So they have left them...struggling. It is so much better to do it when they are younger. I have been pleased that my children have been able to excel the academics and not fall behind. My vote is YES...give him another year!!

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Hi T.,
My son is bright, writes the alphabet, and all the numbers 1- 100 but has an October birthday. I am choosing to start late because I have had the opportunity to see so many moms have to switch it up later. The social maturity that is demanded of little boys today is not congruent with how little boys are wired. They are expected to sit still for long periods of time and too often their is a social worker in the back of the kindergarten room who is observing for signs of ADHD and recommending drugs to help them pay attention. I feel that I would rather he have the edge (in education as well as physical&social developement) and I can always give him more to challenge him then have to spend his whole life playing catch up. Someone once asked me- would you rather give them an extra year of childhood or adulthood. Hope it helps good luck with whatever you decide.

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Hi T.,
I am the mother of 5 children and I would strongly recommend that you choose the pre-kindergarten. It seems that boys need a little more time to develop social and academic skills. I always thought it was healthier for my children to be more mature and be a leader in the classroom rather than the youngest one struggling at the back of the pack.
Good Luck, J. R

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My son turns 5 in September, and we have decided to have him do Pre-K through our district, even though he is very bright and ready (intellectually) for kindergarten. He needs as much emotional, mental, and physical maturity as possible before starting school. Really, my deciding point was because he would be 17 (almost 18) when he leaves for college if we started him in kindergarten this fall and I know that he should be as mature as possible at that point. Sports and school in high school is so demanding that kids (especially boys) need every edge they can get to be successful. Plus, he will now be one of the older ones in his class instead of the youngest, which gives him an advantage that I know my brother (an August 30th birthday) always wished he'd had as a kid. Good luck!

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T.,
As a mother of 2 boys with summer birthdays. I placed both of them in young 5's. They were certainly ready for K at age 5 but I felt better knowing that if I waited they would always be the older ones in the class, more mature, more sensible,
physically taller, (makes a difference in sports) and that they would always be a little bit ahead of everyone else.
On the plus side, being all of those things helps them to have
great self esteem! When it comes right down to it, having school be a little easier for your child, than having them struggle makes life a whole lot happier for you and them!
Both of my boys have been exceptional students, because we never struggle with school or homework we have lots of extra time to do fun family things! Good Luck!
D.

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T.,
I have a son who did well in preschool and when it came to him going to kindergarten, the teacher said,he should be held back, his motor skills were slow and his attention span also. I did not hold him back but since found out that boy's are socially/emotionally not ready like girls that age. I wish I would have held him back a year, I think that would have helped him alot!
K.

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My thought on this has always been to go ahead and put the child into kindergarten. The worst that can happen is they have to take it over again. My son was very immature for his age and his preschool teacher thought I should keep him in pre-k another year. His father also died just before the start of kindergarten. I went ahead and put him in and he did great. He is now in 7th grade and thriving.

My son has a September b-day, so we had to make this choice also. I think when in doubt hold him back. What my mom told me was she never heard of anyone regretting the decision to hold back, but many people that don't do it, regret it.

You should take into consideration his size, attention span, napping habits, social skills,as well as academic skills.

I am very glad we held our son back back. . He is in 4th grade and doing very well.

GL:)

The school usually won't make the decision for you but the preschool teacher should tell you what she reccommends. The preschool my kids attend will tell me in March what she thinks I should do with my 4 year old who will be 5 Sept. 4. At this point I'm planning on the young 5's (pre-K) program in our district. I have a current Kindergartener and he was much more advanced this time last year. I'll tell you what my school requires to be sent on to 1st grade. They have to count to 100 unassisted and recognize all the numbers. ABC's recite, write and recognize upper and lower case. Tie shoes, know all colors, they also have to recognize a list of about 60 words. They basically have to beable to read. If you have any doubt in your sons ability to do all these things in the next year and a half you should definately do the pre-K program. Socially it will be good for him also. He's better off being one of the oldest in the class rather then the youngest. Boys mature slower then girls in most cases. Good luck in your decision!

Hi T.,
I also have a son that is turning 5 at the end of August. My husband and I have talked and we are sending him to young 5's next year. The preschool he is attending this year has a program and a lot of the kids in his class will be in his class next year. My son isn't behind much compared to other kids but I'm thinking when he is in high school. He won't be 18 when he graduates plus he would probably be one of the smallest kids. I guess I can't find many negatives to holding him back a year. I want to give him every advantage in life. Not to mention that in many other states he would have to wait. The deadlines are different in every state. Good luck in your decision.
Chris

T.,

You have gotten some really great and thought-out advice. My two-cents is to contact the school counselor where he would be a kindergartener. Schedule an appointment now and have a nice long talk. Find out what kindergarten is really like. Then YOU make the decision based on what you've seen your son do and what you think he can do come September.

At kindergarten round-up you won't have time to sit and really talk about the class routine and academic demands. If you're lucky you will get 5-10 minutes from the teacher who tests your son.

My son has a December birthday (6 yrs old now) and loves kindergarten. But when he turned 5, I knew he wasn't ready for the academic demands, much less the self-control requirement. I was very glad he missed the cut-off date.

By September he was ready and has really worked hard in school. It was an adjustment at first, but he is learning a lot and enjoys showing off his new writing skills, practicing his sight words, and brings home a variety of art projects. I think he has benefited from starting later and being older than some of the other kids in his class.

I hope this gives you some ideas to add to the others that were offered by the other moms.

Good Luck!

Hi T.,
I would call the district that your son is supposed to attend and see if they do any Kindergarten readiness tests. Many schools do this during Kinder round up in the Spring, and the teachers at your building will help you decide if he is ready or not. Also, keep in mind that in seven months time your child will most likely make many advances developmentally and he may be more than ready come Fall. I don't think that writing and cutting are things that need to be mastered before entering Kindergarten either. (I used to teach K, but have been home with my kids for about 8 years) Good Luck with your decision, but it sounds to me like he may be fine by August!!

C. H

I had the same decision this past year with my daughter. She turned five last August. I decided to put her in Kinderstart which is a similar program to Young Fives. I wanted her to get familar with the structure of a classroom. Plus in this program she experiences some of the same things as kindergarteners do, like gym and art classes and going to the library. A kindergarten teacher once told me that they can see a big difference between children who attend a pre-k class from those who don't. Someone else told me that a year difference now might not be a big deal, but in junior high or high school it could make a big difference. Especially with boys because they mature slower. My opnion was it couldn't hurt to wait. The truth of the matter is you know your son better than anyone else. I am sure you will make the right decision. I would apply for the pre-k class you were taking about. At least you that option if you decide to go that direction. My daughter was almost not able to go because I waited to long to sign her up. Plus some programs meet with parents in the spring to help parents decide if there child should go to pre-k or kindergatren that fall.
Good Look!

Hi,
I am a stay at home mom but was previously a first grade teacher. I would agree with what a lot of the others are saying - esp. with a boy because they mature later, if you are on the fence, an extra year won't hurt and will probably help. But do give him until the end of the school year - springtime is really when a lot of kids blossom and maybe by then there will be no question about it for you that he is ready. Legos, playdough, and crafts are great for fine motor skills and don't feel like work to kids. Or if he is into transformers, they are a great fine motor workout, too! :)

Here is a funny trick I have learned - and to be honest, it always seems to come out accurately. Stand or sit so that you are facing your son. Pick up your arm and put it over your head and grab your ear opposite ear (so your arm is sort of wrapped around the top of your head, right arm grabbing left ear or opposite of that). Say to your son, "Can you do this?" Just like it is a game or something. If he can coordinate that movement correctly, he is ready for Kindergarten, if not, hold him back. Crazy but it usually works!!! The only exception is if he really is coordinated enough and his arm is just too short - that counts as doing it right.

As a former 1st grade and Kind. teacher, this would be my advice...
*unless he is big/tall for his age and very social and quite academically inclined, I would try a young 5's 1st.
My reasoning is this, boys tend to mature slower than girls, and when he is older, he will be better off being on the older side than on the younger side of his classmates (ie. sports, driving, dating, etc.) These should not be reasons to hold a child back, but if he is not "old for his age" in the above stated areas, than why push it? I have known a number of over-achiever parents who have sent their child ahead only to have their son do kind. over again (which would be an option too) or have their child come home from school for the next 3 years complaining because of recess issues or school issues as a result of him being younger than the others. I also have a friend who's son had a Sept. 5 birthdate, his son is now quite tall for his age and does quite well acedemically (he's now in 7th gr.). They held him back for kind. and do not regret it one bit. He's right where he should be.

Hope this is understandable and it helps.

T.,

Just keep in mind if you do decided to keep him in preschool one more year (if he is in a 4yr.old program) there is no difference between that and a Pre-k program. My son who is now in 1st grade I called around to all the schools in my area when it was time to send him and that was the 1st question I asked and they all told me the same thing. The programs the same just different names. So If you like the school he is in you coukd just keep him there, or try another one close by. I agree with all the other moms you should go by maturity That is the most important thing. He has to be ready socially and emotionally that is probably more important than academically. Children can learn the academics but they have to develop the other stuff and that can not be rushed..

My son turned 5 on August 31st. His cutting and writing skills were not so hot (in my mind), but I've found that's what some of what they learn in Kindergarten. He knew his letters and could read in pre-K, so I had no hesitation in sending him on.
I do agree with letting his teacher (and the Kindergarten roundup assessments) factor heavily into the decision. There are many books out there (JumpStart pops up in my mind) that cover the academics and writing, getting some scissors and paper and gluesticks and letting him go at it will help. But really, he's got a good six months of developmental opportunites before he really needs to be prepared.

Hi T.~

My oldest son just turned 5 in December and he is still in preschool-2nd year. He won't actually go to Kindergarten until next year. Honestly, my husband and I didn't even consider the way he was doing in school when making this decision. We looked at his age for each school year when compared to the other kids and how old he would be when he graduated. We agreed that it would be better for him to be a little bit older rather than younger than the rest of the kids. Plus, we felt it would be best for him to graduate when he was 18 vs. 17. Our son is very intelligent, but the fact that he is innately studious also helps. He LOVES to learn and loves school. The extra year of preschool won't hurt. We had the option to put him into Developmental Kindergarten or Young 5's, but chose to go with a second year of preschool just more days than his first year. I am a SAHM and just wasn't ready to let my baby go to school all day and I still won't be next year. They are young only once. In my opinion we as moms should allow them to be kids. They have the rest of their lives to be burden with responsibility. Why make them experience it sooner than they really have to.

Either way, you need to do what is right for you, but if it were me and my son had an August b-day I would wait to put him in Kindergarten.

Good Luck!

T.,

Each school has a kindergarten "round up" or testing. Usually the kindergarten teachers of said school will do a little one on one time with children wanting to come the following year. THey will tell you if they believe he is ready or not.

R.

My August baby started kindergarten this year. He is right there with the rest of his class and doing fine. I don't think that there is a "blanket" answer for this, it is a decision that needs to be made on a child by child basis.

Well, he will change a great deal over the coming 6 months. While it is difficult to tell the differences in skill levels and abilities between a 22yo and a 26yo, the differences a few months make in young children is dramatic. So, your teacher is right.

Your son will be able to do fine motor control when his brain develops. You can 'work on it' if you want to, and it's relaxing and fun, as it won't do any harm... but you can't make his brain develop any faster.

You may like to read Better Late Than Early, which describes the advantages to waiting until development happens naturally, and the futility of trying to make it go faster. Also, take a look at some of the new books about boys and how they have been shut out of early years education by the promotion of a style that favours the pace of girls' development (fine motor before gross motor, language above physical activity, etc.)

Hi T., even in Kindergarten and first grade they are still working on refining those writing and cutting skills. Your son is not behind. Some kids get it more than others and boys have a tendency to take a bit longer to get it than girls. Pre-k will prepare him for Kindergarten and is more geared towards the basic skills and socialization. My 7 year old had a great time in Pre-k and is now doing well in 1st. I would not worry about him not being ready for Kindergarten he will pick up a lot of skills in there and sounds as if he is prepared for the structural situation in there.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

C.

I am a retired elem. teacher. In the past years it was seen as important to get the kids into school when they were as young and possible but in the past 20 years, educators have recognized that it seems to be better to wait until the last possible time to have children embark on their school adventure. Speaking anecdotally, I myself was a year younger than my peers and I did well, and all 4 of my children were Sept. /Oct. children and went in just as they were turning 5. They did well , except one of them was not ready to start reading when the school curriculum had it, and she would have benefitted from waiting a year. I had a grandson who was definitely not ready to start reading and had to be in a remedial class in 1st grade. This did a lot of damage to his own feelings of "reading for fun" even though now he's at the top of his class in HS.
I've watched kids, esp. boys who are very bright, but they're not ready to "break the code" for reading and wouldn't be until about 7 yr. old and who suffer from the disappointment of not catching on when their peers are.
Some of the great geniuses of the world, esp. science, didn't learn to read until they were 7 or 8. Once a child is read to break that code, you can't stop them, but if they're not ready, you can't push it.
So my advice as a teacher and mother, is, let them mature. You can't undo it if you put them in school and find them not ready. Why not wait and give them a chance to mature. Besides, the curriculum in schools is so geared at getting the children reading so early, that they miss the chance to play and do the child things they need. When they're ready, they catch up immediately. I know that from teaching piano lessons. By the time a child is 10, you can't tell whether they started at 5 or 8 years old (that's unless they're prodigies). Same with reading.

My son's b-day is Sept. 1. He is in Kindergarden this year. I decided he was ready, it was a hard decision. The more I talked to people and researched the subject itself, I found that it is different for every child. Also, something to think about is, the age might not be a factor now, but when they are in middle school, particulary boys, they could have a problem with teasing, because they are smaller, or haven't begun to mature yet. My son is taller and seems more mature for his age now, I hope he continues to mature and grow at "textbook" figures, but it might not work out that way. Anyway, I am happy with my dicision so far, he has learned so much this year already!

I have asked the same question regarding my son. I went to the library and checked out a few books on Kindergarten Readiness. Those books were reassuring and also gave me a few things to work on in areas that are not his strengths. My sons's Pre-K Teacher was also VERY helpful! Good luck!

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