35 answers

What Should a Child Know by Kindergarten?

I have a 5 year old who has been in an excellent preschool for the past 2 years. Recently, his preschool teacher told me he will be bored when he goes to kindergarten.

In his preschool the kids learn: to recognize & print their ABC's, the sounds the letters make, how to cut with scissors, how to write their names, & they begin to read. I've been told this is all stuff he will have to do again in kindergarten. Is that true? How do I keep him from getting bored & being disruptive?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone who responded! I wasn't trying to have him skip a grade but was thinking of putting him in private school. After reading the responses, I've decided to try our local public school first. It sounds like I didn't give kindergarten teachers enough credit. I assumed they would help the kids who didn't know things & ignore the ones who did. I'm

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Hi T.,

I do think that it is true that he will relearn all that in Kindy. Could you send him to a different kind of Kindy where it is playbased instead of academic based? Then maybe he could just have fun and learn other physical skills until he is ready for 1st grade. I love the Waldorf philosophy. The schools offer more than just the usual reading, writing, math.


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My son started Kindergarten this year reading at a 3rd grade level and able to do 2nd grade math along with the other things you've listed. Since I taught him at home, I felt that the social learning of Kindergarten would still be valuable for him. I debated about having him skip to first grade, but in the end decided that what I most want him to learn this year is that school is fun and how to interact in that environment. He is always excited about going to school and loves telling me what they talked about even though a lot of it is stuff he already knows. I try to supplement his academic learning at home to keep him moving forward.

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I am a teacher and a mother of a kindergartner. It sounds like your son is right on track. The knowledge base that you described, is just that a base. His kindergarten teacher will appreciate having at least one child who knows his letters and sounds (it always amazes me how many children start kindergarten and do not know how to write their name, or know their letters, colors, shapes). Unfortunately, yes kindergarten is the new first grade and so much more is expected of 5 year olds than was in the past. For some children they are ready, others are not. Check out your local kindergarten and see what is expected of children by the end of the year. Ask if the teachers differentiate the learning - so children are getting instruction at their level. I know some schools allow more advanced kindergartners to go to first grade for reading. My son is reading at a beginning second grade level and is pulled out for small group 3 times a week with other children who need more of a challenge than the rest of the class. Also find out what areas of study are also taught - science, social studies, geography. Do the kindergartners get to have gym class, art class, etc?

The key to having a succesful child in school is to be proactive. Volunteer in the classroom to observe what types of activities are going on. Talk to the teacher. Ensure that your child's needs are being met, you are the expert on your child.

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I was shocked to find out what was required in my state! It said that children should know the basic colors (I'm guessing red, yellow, blue, green, orange, black and white) and basic shapes (probably square, circle, rectangle, triangle). And they should be able to count to twenty.
That's all it said!
My son is going to be bored stiff in kindergarten, because at 3 1/2, without preschool, he taught himself all the letters and their sounds, and how to write them. He could sound out short words, too. Now at 4 he's teaching himself lowercase letter and addition. And he's known colors like blue-green, pink, and tan since he was 2 1/2. I was considering putting him in preschool just for the social aspect, but he's past the 5 year-olds in the preschool here.
But my sister said that her kids were asked to know all the letters and their sounds when they were tested before kindergarten. That was in a different state, though, so I don't know!
My friend went through this just the past September. Her daughter could sound out and write some words (spelled wrong, but how they sounded) the spring before she started kindergarten. She was so excited for school, but after about two weeks, she cried and screamed about going to school. She was bored stiff. So they had her tested and got her into the gifted kindergarten program.
I was so relieved to hear that they exist! I know that we can find ways to keep him challenged in school while so many other kids learn their letters (which I remember doing in kindergarten!).
In the meantime, I've tried to focus on other things he can learn, and have not been teaching him any more letters, words, and numbers, unless he asks me to. There is so much beyond letters! We've gone to the library and gotten books on one topic at a time. He loved volcanoes and earthquakes, penguins, polar bears, the solar system (he's in love with that one, and now has a space bedroom!). and I try to focus on pretend play, because that's something he's not naturally inclined to do.
You know your son. If you think about it, you'll see some things to do with him that will help him be a more well-rounded kid, and ignore the letters and such until he starts school. Either he'll be interested in them again by September, or he'll still be bored and you'll have to ask his school to put him in a different program.

1 mom found this helpful

He will be bored out of his little smart mind!!! I had the same problem. First, GO to your local school and find out how they handle children who have already met (and probably surpassed) the entire Kindergarten curriculum. I suggest you make an appointment with the principal. Ask for a copy of the policy in writing and/or to actually see what they do with the kids. Bring with you and tests (such as the Kindergarten Readiness Test if your preschool administers it) a letter signed by the preschool director stating the child's abilities, and any samples of your son's work. DO NOT wait until starts Kindergarten. Public schools tend to tell you that they'll accommodate your child's needs, then they're too busy at the beginning of the year and/or they are coming up with a plan. By then, they get the "headcount" money from the state for your child being registered and attending. Now you'll be stalled until around Christmas when you'll be told that the holidays are coming up and it makes more sense to wait until January. Before you know it, they'll say it's too late to start anything. A year and a frustrated child will be the result. If the school asks for an independent assessment, have it done. A little time and money now will save you a lot of heartache later.

Also, don't buy the "they all catch up in third grade line". If that were true (and it's not), it would be because they don't do anything with your kid for all those years until he can "perform" on the state assessments. You'll see that he's "equal" at the beginning of the year, and lo and behold, they love him at the end of the year based on his scores.

Don't fall for the full-day Kindergarten line either. It's just repetitive and usually includes naptime.

I would not recommend skipping to 1st grade. He'll be the youngest and a boy. Socially, this could be a nightmare for him, especially in middle school and high school. Also, if he has any aspirations at sports, it will be difficult. Sports Associations outside school usually go by birthdate and not by grade.

If you are not happy with your local public school, see if the school districtcounty has a Gifted & Talented school (either a full school dedicated to G/T or one with a program for younger students). Some public schools also have mixed grades (half advanced Kindies and half lower 1st grade students). I would also investigate local charter schools and private schools. See if your area has an IB elementary school. A Montessori school may be a good choice as well, though you need to really investigate the program to see if it's right for you.

Whatever you do, ADVOCATE, ADVOCATE, ADVOCATE!!!! You are your child's only advocate. If you're not willing to, no one in the system will. Don't wait until he's frustrated and is labeled a behavior problem to act. Find the best situation for him now, before he starts school.

Been there, done that THREE TIMES! Can you tell?? You have a bright child who should be encouraged, not discouraged.

My very best wishes for you and your son! God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful

I have two daughters...the eldest is 23 and the youger is 7. Let me tell you how much things changed in 16 years. My eldest had to know how to zip and tie, write recognize and say her alphabet, and cut and glue. My younger daughter had to know how to read the first day, they even had spelling tests in kindergarten. She went to a very prestigous pre school for two years and she was not ready for scholl academically. School has been very stressful for her and she feels "stupid" at times. Luckily I moved to a school that is in a little town where there are 5 children in her second grade class. She improved an entire grade level in one semester. She is the youngest in her class and will graduate about a month before her 18th birthday. If you are concerned that your son will be miserable I suggest he be tested at the school he is to enroll in. That way you can get some honest feedback. School is much harder than it was when we were young and the expectations are much higher. Don't be surprised if struggles a little, even if you think he is more advanced than the other children...M.

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Hi T.,

I do think that it is true that he will relearn all that in Kindy. Could you send him to a different kind of Kindy where it is playbased instead of academic based? Then maybe he could just have fun and learn other physical skills until he is ready for 1st grade. I love the Waldorf philosophy. The schools offer more than just the usual reading, writing, math.


1 mom found this helpful

I can't imagine boredome in kindergarten! Don't let his preschool teacher discourage you. I have 3 daughters and my youngest is in kindergarten now. They will be doing much of what you explain he has been exposed to in preschool but it will be turned up a notch. Paige (just turned 6) loves to learn and there are so many activities and exercises they are involved in, not to mention the social aspect of it!! She was also in a very good preschool program for almost 2 years and she has loved every minute of kindergarten - she is always excited to talk about what she learned in class. I wouldn't worry about it too much...wait until he is closer to starting and talk with his teacher about your concerns.
My middle daughter is my little braniac and is now in 5th grade. She tends to finish her in-class work quickly but her teachers recognized it and gave her additional activities, which she loved, to keep her focus on what the rest of the class was doing...that being said, she was never bored in Kindergarten!

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Hi T., I am both a grandmother and a teacher.

First, my children found a book that phonetically teaches children to read. They each worked with their children, and had them reading--real reading-before they started Kindergarten. Each of their kids could have skipped a grade, but they chose not to. Now each child is a strong student with good self-esteem, and some have been passed up, in reading skills, by the other students.

What is harder to change than reading skills, is our self concept. Had each been put ahead, they would have been with children one year older. That means that they are always behind in growth, social skills (that are developed as the brain develops, not as how parents wish it to be!)and even learning abilities.

You might drop by the class room and see what size todays kindergartener's are, compared to your son. Watch them, and notice the things that they have learned, half way through the year. They will go into 1st grade with that whole years training, that your son will be missing if he skipped ahead.

One of my daughters had to keep reminding the teacher that while her son read well, he needed all the other skills that Kindergarteners learn, that only she (the K. teacher) could teach him.

As a teacher, I can tell you that the older, smarter children in the class are generally the leaders in scholastics and in games, etc. Put a group of little kids together, and they usually sense who is older, and follow them. Kindergarten teachers can usually tell, within a few weeks, which children are the older, because their brains are able to process sociability on a higher level than the younger students.

As a Mom, I sent my oldest to school a year early--(where I was living that year, the cutoff day was Dec., but where I would live the rest of my life, the cut off day was Sept. I chose to send this Oct.29th baby to school that year.)

Yes, she is smart, but she always had to try her best, which makes her an intense, high-achiever person today. Also, in sports, and emotional development, life would have been that much better for her had she had another year at home.
These are my experience. Hope thay give you some insights.

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I don't think you have to worry. The public kindergarten my son went to after 2 years of preschool was amazing. They had spelling words by the 2nd week, they were already expected to know what you are describing your 5 year old has learned in preschool. I would call and make a meeting with whatever school your child is going to attend and find out what their curriculum is. I have friends that moved their kids up after 1st grade because the kids were doing so well. For one of the kids that worked well for the other it wasn't only the academic but also the age appropriate friends, he wasn't ready for the social difference of kids a full year older and ended up going back and doing advanced things in the class with kids his age and did great.
Definitely make an appointment with the school.
Hope this helped.

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