How Should I Handle Kindergarten for a Child Who Can Already Read?

Updated on June 16, 2011
K.M. asks from Englewood, CO
30 answers

Hi Mamas,
My 4-year-old son has one more year of preschool. He is an active little guy and socially and emotionally fits right in with his preschool friends. However, thanks to living in the same home with a grandpa who has plenty of time to spend with him as well as having the interest in doing the work, my son is flying through a pre-K workbook and is pretty much teaching himself to read. He can also do basic math, addition and subtraction, and can handle logic problems with ease. My concern is that he's going to get to kindergarten and be bored out of his mind. At the rate he's going, he's going to be done with kindergarten work before he even gets there! I'm sure some of you have faced this problem before. How did you handle it? Private school is out of the question financially. We are planning on putting him in an academically oriented charter school but still, I'm afraid he's going to be bored and it will sour him on school. Thanks ladies!

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So What Happened?

Wow, ladies, thank you all. . . you never fail me when I have a question. Just a few points of clarification - he is choosing to do the workbook and reading on his own. We are just there to help him when he wants help or just have someone sit with him for awhile. We spend a lot of time outdoors biking, scootering, swimming, and catching lizards (one of his favorite things!). So, we aren't pushing the academics just helping him when he's interested in something.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

K is so much more than academics. It's a LOT of social skills. Academically, they will ALL be reading by Christmastime and most kids level out in K.
Don't "assume" he'll always be this far ahead. He may be but more likely that he will level out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Kindergarten is not what is used to be. Many kids read before K these days. Good schools and teachers know how to differentiate instruction so that everyone is learning at their own pace (I was a 3rd grade teacher). My daughter just finished K. Her teacher had a group of kids that she read with while the other kids worked on their letter sounds (luckily there was an aide). Ask the school how they accommodate advanced kindergarteners.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My school tests the kids at the beginning and end of every year and they are put into to groups to do academically correct level of work. My son is one group for math but in the more advanced group for reading. I don't think he will be bored.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter was the exact same way- reading chapter books before Kindergarten even started. I ultimately decided to put her in K anyway, because emotionally and socially, the kids learn a lot in Kindergarten. And, she did! She loved it! K is so much fun for kids, my daughter was never bored, and her teacher did a great job making sure my daughter was always challenged.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My son was the same and we put him in a regular public school Kindergarten. The non-academic things he has learned in Kgarten and 1st grade are amazing. Personally, I would not worry about it yet and put your child in Kindergarten. They learn so much in the way of social skills and becoming independent. Our son had such a wonderful teacher last year (1st grade) who really encouraged his reading and he is reading now at a 6th grade level. She has recommended that he be tested this summer to be put in the gifted program (which I have mixed feelings about). In his classroom last year he was able to read at a higher level and he was not held back in any way whatsoever. If your child gets a good teacher they will not hold them back and will make sure they get to read things that are on their own level. For our school district kids usually can start working with the gifted/talented teacher starting in 2nd or 3rd grade. Kindergarten is amazing though for all the non-academic things that the kids soak in throughout the year. Also, you can keep working with him at home on more academic things if he keeps his interest in that! And if at some point you decide his classroom experience is making him bored then you can reevaluate and change what you are doing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

my oldest just turned 9 last week and he will be in 4th grade next year. He was reading at 4 (Junie B Jones books) and was easily able to add and subtract. His Kindergarten teacher was amazing and asked to get him into the gifted Ed program at the school It usually starts in 2nd grade but he was allowed in in Kindergarten.

He will be fine. :) The school will work with him, and its likely he won't be the only one who is ahead. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I learned to read at four and so did my son. I would not worry about him being bored. Let him go to K and absorb what he needs. I did not really pay attention during the reading lessons and did not pick up on phonics (I learned to read from an elderly neighbor who used McGuffy Readers, which are from the 19th century!). I wish I had learned phonics as it would have helped. My oldest son was like many of the early readers here; he would end up helping other children. Some parents think that means that those advanced readers are not getting enough attention. I think that is not true as they are learning other lessons, important ones, like how to be helpful and respectful at the same time.

BTW, I have noticed that early reading usually results in kids that love learning in all forms, so becoming bored may not be an issue. Also, kids academic abilities do tend to even out. My son is going into 7th grade right now and some of the kids that were really late and who struggled when it came to reading are now doing extremely well academically.

I do understand your concern about providing the best environment for your particular child. It is a valid concern, but you should let him enjoy the early school environment. Also, he might pick up on your concerns (bright children are very aware of things like this). Also, try to avoid talking about "gifted-ness" in front of him as it is a lot of pressure for a kid. Let him discover who he is without having to deal with labels (even ones that are perceived as "good"). I say all of this as a person who was bussed to a gifted program starting in 4th grade, as the mother of two gifted kids, as a former teacher of gifted kids and now as a professor who teaches in an honors program.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I thought all kids were supposed to read before kindergarten. In any case all my kids could read going in and they didn't complain that they were bored.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My DD attended a Montessori pre-k and Kindergarten and by the time she got to 1st was way ahead of the other kids. Her teacher recognized this and since she wasn't quite ready for 2nd grade in other areas, asked if she could help with a special ed child who was being "pushed-in" to classes (opposite of being "pulled out"). My DD was a huge help to this girl through many years in grade school. In 4th & 5th grade she was asked to be a part of a peer lunch group that helped socialize a group of high-functioning special ed kids. Now in HS my DD has a specail place in her heart for kids with special needs. She's the only kid who can babysit for two different kids at our church, on is autistic another has Down syndrome. She has a special gift about her that seems to ahve been developed when she made herself available when she was only 6. The mom of the girl my DD helped for so many years will stop me in the grocery store even these 7-8 years later and tell me how special my DD was to her becuase she helped her child. What a blessing. ;o)

Also - if your child has mastered all of the skills they'll teach in kindergarten they may decide to move him to 1st grade. I've seen it done before - they don't want a bored child any more than you want him to be bored. See how the first week or two goes then talk to the teacher - give her a little time to get to know your son though.

Good luck mama!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

He'll be just fine. Kinder is different than pre-school.

Kinder has more structure, more "work", and the newness of it will also slow him down a bit. They have to learn the routines of being in school and how that works. If he is still excelling at that point, he will be tested and given more work that challenges him.

I am a sub teacher, have been over 10 yrs in the same elementary school. It is common for some children to be given more challenging work after the initial assessments are done.

Relax, don't push him or put pressure on him... let him enjoy himself. Like a few moms said... Kinder will level things out.

They grow up too fast.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It is not your son who is too fast. It is the school system that is too slow. Unfortunately, US schools are geared and tailored for the lower spectrum of learners (aka kids who come unprepared to schools and never seen a book in their life) and I do not know how long it will take and what it will take for everyone to realize - we are BEHIND in our efforts to educate our children in this country.
I also have a 4 y/o who starts reading, speaks 3 languages, can add and subtract simple numbers...
With my older one - we are in a private school plus we supplement and tutor him. I home schooled him for 2 years before the little guy was born. My sons are incredibly intelligent and fast learners, my older one is bored at school, we are hoping to get into a very challenging HS to get him education that will keep him interested.
Please make sure your legislators know about your struggles. I do not know why but education is low on the list of priorities in every election. That needs to change. This is our future we are talking about.



answers from San Francisco on

Are there any langauge immersion programs in your district? Spanish and Mandarin are popular around here. He probably wouldn't be bored!


answers from Kansas City on

One of my daycare children has been doing PreK-1st grade work for the last few years at my house. He's a math wizard and probably reads at about a 1st or 2nd grade level. He's going to skip Kindergarten and go into 1st grade. I hope that's enough. 2nd grade would be too much for him maturity wise. Mom has had to be on the school with lots of calls to get it arranged and she even had him evaluated by a psychologist that has said he is gifted. He wants her to try and get him into gifted classes.



answers from Chicago on

I don't have advice, just want to thank you for asking this question. I've also wondered about the same 4 year-old is reading...very well. And he also knows basic math and a lot of Spanish. He won't be 5 until October, so he won't go to Kindergarten until fall of 2012. Socially I think he'll do well as the 'big fish,' but I wasn't sure if he'd be challenged enough academically. These answers are very reassuring. Good luck with your little smart dude - sounds like he will do great! :)



answers from Pittsburgh on

My one son came into Kindergarten reading chapter books and doing double digit math in his head. They really didn't know what to do with him so had him sit with a basket of books to read by himself. I asked to test him for GATE to get some pull out and they strongly talked me into waiting. The next year I did test him and he got in. I was really mad at myself for waiting.
Since my son our district has really come a long way in their K curriculum. They group by ability for reading where the teacher works independently now with the kids. They will also pull out so the child can go to first grade for reading only. So it really depends on how much the school will work with you. I do advise you to fight for him to get reading instruction on his level. Have him GATE tested too if you think he should be.

I will say that while my son WAS advanced he still absolutely loved Kindergarten. He wasn't 'bored' as you hear some kids are. He just loved being around the kids and doing all the fun projects and stuff. Accelerating him would have been a bad move -even though he could have done the first grade work.



answers from San Francisco on

Supplement at home with areas he finds fascinating. Keep him excited about learning and look at school as more for social learning and taking instruction from someone other than mommy.

I had considered homeschooling but now looking back as he is going into 6th, I am so glad I didn't. He lhas earned so much socially,both good and bad stuff, from being under the direction of teachers and dealing with classmates.

My oldest was sent to first grade for Reading time then came back to his Kindergarten class when it was over. Talk to the teacher about doing that. If you are met with reluctance then keep pushing the issue.

Good luck!



answers from Merced on

Please let me know when you find a reliable solution because I'm dealing with the same problem. Thank you and I hope that your little man doesn't get discouraged with school!



answers from San Francisco on

Hello, I totally agree about the Immersion school comment- in SF, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese immersion being an excellent way for them never to be bored- and to humble them that no matter how smart you are, there is always someone who can teach you something and knows more than you, and if you are really good at something, then you can turn around and help your classmates and the teacher. Immersion is 90% other language (we're in Spanish), 80% 1st grade, up to 50/50 where they are expected to be bilingual and biliterate. Those of us and some teachers with graduate/advanced degrees definitely agree this is the way to go for bright kids. I really have a pet peeve about parents and/or kids who say they're bored, bc either they can channel that by helping others and gain lots of self esteem, or they can really learn from others languages and other subject matters that they're not proficient at yet (i.e. language). No need for private!!!!!


answers from San Francisco on

As others have said, it's about more than academics, and he won't necessarily always be "ahead." Kids go through learning spurts, just like growth spurts! There is a wide range of ability in the kindergarten/first grade classroom and teachers adjust the work accordingly.
If you ever do decide to skip ahead, keep in mind the middle and high school years. Not a good time to have peers a full year, year and a half older than you. I'm going through this with my daughter now :(



answers from Allentown on

My son was bored with kindergarten WORK, but there were plenty of other interesting things going on in the classroom to keep him happy.

We did pull him out to homeschool when he was a few years older, but kindy wasn't a problem at all.


answers from Kalamazoo on

My daughter learned to read in PreK when she was 4 (well I taught her, but she was in PreK). She turned 5 in July and then started K in Sept. Her K teacher was great and just gave her harder stuff to read throughout the year. Her first grade teacher this year did the same. There are a few others at her reading level and they read the same books and discuss them etc - it's just the higher reading group. K is harder than it used to be, it's like the new first grade, so be glad if he is starting with a leg up. They expect kids starting K to at least know the letter sounds and blends (sh, ch), some are already early readers and some learn in K.



answers from San Francisco on

I haven't read all the other responses. However, you may be worrying too soon. My friend is a kindergarten teacher in Los Gatos. Every one of her students (in certain years) have come in knowing how to read. I don't think K is what it used to be. It is also an expensive area so maybe those kids are ahead. Hopefully, your child is not the only one who can read in his class. He could always be moved up a grade.



answers from Pittsfield on

I would recommend talking to someone from the charter school about your concerns.

My son will be starting at a charter school this fall (6th grade, though). The way they have it set up, they can accomodate all different learning abilities.

All schools are different, whether they be public, charter, or private, so I think it's best to speak to someone from the school you're interested in.
Spending some time on their website might help too.

*Make sure you find out what the earliest you can apply is...ours now has a waiting list. The remaining slots are picked by lottery from the wait list.

Best wishes!! =o)



answers from Boston on

He'll do just fine. I was like your son, as was one of my kids. The "work" was easy but the teacher always found extra things for me to do (and did the same for my son and others who started the year with all of the skills that they need by the end of the year). There was a lot more to K than just learning to read and write and master number concepts. He'll still have fun playing, doing art work, going to the library and PE, doing music, field trips, classroom jobs, the weather, holidays, concepts of time and money, etc. Kindergarten is a lot more academic than when we were kids and he won't be the only one who can already read, write, add, subtract etc.



answers from Joplin on

I do not think he would be bored, both my kids were taught to read the first year in Kindergarten, also they kept a "journal" all year long. Any more, all the classes seem to be stacked at a scale, and the kids are encouraged to learn at their own rates, where this seems to work best is the kids who ARE advanced. The only down side I have seen is for my daughter who is not very proficient in math, and so now to my way of thinking she is behind...but she excels in reading. I would not worry, gone are the days when Kindergarten is just for socializing and coloring...they have big expectations now, at least that has been my experience in WI and MO.



answers from San Francisco on

I do not think reading at 4 is that uncommon any longer. My daughter recently turned 4 and is a preschool class with kids her age and most all of them can read and write basic words. Kindergarten is huge milestones is more ways than academics, so I would get let your son excel at his own rate and see how Kingergarten goes for him overall. If he continues to advance at a quicker pace than his peers you can get him tested for special programs or skip a grade down the road.
Keep fostering his love of learning!


answers from Los Angeles on

LOTS of kids can read and do math and logic stuff before they enter K. Your son will be fine. I think it's a trend these days that a majority of kids can read before they enter K, so the teachers have all seen it before!

~My own son has had 2 years of preschool and can read and can do triple digit addition and subtraction in his head, I had to tell him one time how to 'carry' his numbers over and it just clicked for him, he has started to quiz me on multiplication and division, he finds it fun and has taught himself. I am not worried, it will all work itself out one way or another...I just think that he will have fun in math...not get bored.


answers from Dover on

My 4.5 year old is in basically the same boat. She is starting to read sight words and loves to "read" adn retell stories. Super advanced. We had her tested, told she was ready but they won't let her start K because her birthday is in December. She is going to a private Pre-K next year (graduated from Preschool this year) and then when she is 5, almost 6, will move on to our local public school. I plan to stay vigilant in making sure they challenge her when she needs it to keep her from being bored which can lead to behavior problems and poor grades.



answers from Pittsburgh on

First I would quit teaching ahead and let him progress at his own rate. All kids go into kindergarten with strengths in a particular area and might be bored while the other kids are learning those skills. I would never ever introduce the thought or idea of being bored to my child though otherwise you're setting them up for failure.

Also kindergarten is so much more than academics. It is learning social skills as well as life skills.

Talk to his teacher (without him present) and tel her your concerns. Maybe there is challenge work she would be able to give him to keep him entertained but I would not expect it.


answers from Norfolk on

I learned to read in first grade and so did my son.
The teacher might have your child read to others (as a reading buddy).
There are lot's of things to learn besides reading.
There's always some things that will be boring at school, but you get through the easy things quickly/neatly as you can so you have time for more interesting things.
Keep teaching him to his interests - it really helps keep them engaged.
Don't let any school limit his learning experience.

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