Kindergarten Readiness - Lafayette,CA

Updated on January 15, 2013
L.K. asks from Lafayette, CA
22 answers

How do you know if your preschooler is ready for kindergarten? My son turns 5 during the summer and I'm wondering how others made their decision to send their 5 year old to kindergarten?

Are there any websites that help with these types of questions?

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answers from San Francisco on

Most 5 year olds are ready for K. If he goes to preschool his teacher will discuss this with you at the end of the school year. You can always talk to his pediatrician as well. I'm in Orinda and I know the Lafayette schools are very similar. Unless he has some serious delays he should be just fine!

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answers from New York on

They do testing usually in the spring and then can offer advice on readiness. Does he go to preschool? What do his teachers say. I don't agree with saying you should keep a child back who is extremely delayed because he might qualify for services if you put him in school. Sometimes "time" is not enough for some kids. My friend's son just made the cutoff and he does struggle academically since he is the youngest boy in the class. Usually though, boys struggle with listening, staying on task, behaving appropriately, ect.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

They turn 5 and you send them. That's how it's done. There is no reason to assume he'll not pass kindergarten. There will come a time when he'll have a growth spurt and he'll be growing hair in odd places and he'll be a head taller than all the kids that are a year younger than he is, that are in his class and he'll have a super hard time.

If you hold him back until he's 6 he'll be 18 before he's a senior and many things can happen. It's just not good to hold a child back before they even give any reason to be held back.

He needs to start kindergarten with the kids his age.

They're supposed to be 5 and turn 6 the year they are in kindergarten. Then they are 17 and turn 18 as a senior.

He'll graduate at 17 11/12 then hopefully go off to college a full 18 years old.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Does your district have an info night or anything to give incoming parents an idea of what the expectations are in kindergarten? We had one here and they passed out some papers about what types of skills kids should have before going to kindergarten. Most of them are NOT academic. They are things like fine motor skills (cutting, coloring), gross motor (kick a ball, catch a large ball, hop, skip, jump), personal care (using the bathroom and doing their own buttons/snaps on their pants and jackets), ability to sit and listen or follow directions, etc. As for academics - it's the basics: ability to write their name, recognition of letters and numbers.

Kindergarten is designed for five year olds. It is academically and developmentally appropriate. If your son does well in preschool, he is ready for kindergarten.

My son's kindergarten class this year only had two students who could have gone last year and were held back. One turned 6 in late September, the other in mid-November. All of the summer birthdays and all the other fall birthdays, including several boys, came as new five or almost five year olds.

Send him.

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answers from New York on

I've taught Kindergarten and the key readiness skills are NOT academic. Following directions, taking turns, sitting still, follow a routine set by someone other than him, how long is his attention span, will he listen to a whole book and tell you something about it or ask for a favorite book? Will he sit and play a simple game like Candyland with you? finish a simple puzzle? Share with a friend? Does he have temper tantrums, meltdowns when things dont go his way? Lot's of bathroom accidents cuz he waits till the last minute? You can judge for yourself if he's ready..... but if he is in preschool, listen to his teachers, they see him in a school setting.

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answers from Washington DC on

Only you know your child's maturity level. Only you can advocate for him, and if he is not mature enough for K by fall, don't send him. It is FAR easier to wait a year than to get a child started and then find that he is not really ready yet, but is already in the system. There is no stigma to waiting a year. If he's ready he'll probably love it but if he's not ready your whole family will have a tough year.

To the ideas others list below, I would add: A child must be able to stop what he is doing when asked, and move on to another activity with the group, without melting down, getting upset or even just resisting. "OK, free play time is over in five minutes, then we will line up to to go music! OK, time to line up for music!" must not cause a kid to have a fit or silently stick with his toys. I think it's an important yardstick. More mature kids will move from activity to activity as part of the group but less mature ones will not want to stop what they're doing in order to move to the next required thing. If he does well with this at preschool, that's great. If his preschool is looser and doesn't move kids along, that could be an issue.

The child also has to consistently follow directions from an adult who is not mom or dad; be able to move down a hallway in the manner the school wants (usually that means quietly and not dancing around); be able to share, of course; and not be flustered by every little change or difficulty. As you can see, none of these is an academic skill -- it's all about socialization and readiness for the school setting.

Talk to the preschool teachers for sure but also see if you can talk to a K teacher or sit in on a K class. Some schools have special events in the spring so parents of kids who would enter K that fall can visit the school and ask questions. K can be very different from preschool -- much longer days if it's full-day K and the child is coming from half-day preschool; more days a week in some cases; and much more structure, with larger classes so the teachers have less time for one-on-one work and less time to direct behavior.

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answers from Portland on

Just wondering-- have you spoken to your son's preschool teachers about this? When my son was newly five, I asked his preschool teachers what their opinions were. (They were both very seasoned and had high school and college-aged children of their own.)

Some things I would consider would be the following:
Is your son able to follow the teachers and group through the day, and how are the transitions and self-care tasks going? Does he need a lot of help, or can he manage himself?

Is your son able to self-regulate his impulses and refrain from hurting other children when he is frustrated? Can he stay in the group setting during gathering/circle times at preschool?

Honestly, these were my two big concerns as a parent. I wanted to make sure Kiddo could move through the day with the group and I knew that it was important that he manage his body and emotions so that the teacher would be able to do their job. Personally, I did not sweat a lot of the literacy/math stuff, but just introduced those ideas as games. At the kindergarten age, it actually takes teachers more time to teach children to take care of themselves and to follow the group through the day than it often does to teach the actual course material.

If you google Kindergarten Readiness, you will find tons of information.

For what it's worth, kids learn what they learn when they learn it. My son knew about 12 letter going into kindergarten (I am a preschool teacher myself, and knew he wasn't interested)... five months later and he's reading simple words now. I urge you to keep any readiness prep fun, and to keep your prep very light.

As I said, I checked in with the preschool teacher, but my son turned five in April and I just figured he'd be okay. I was actually the youngest in my class--- an October baby, who started in Hawaii, where the age cutoff was in December in the 1970s. My husband is also a younger one, same circumstance in New York. We did okay being younger. It's what you make of it. We figured he would be okay--or not, and then we'd find some help for him. You just have go forward doing what you know in your gut is right for your family and your child.

ETA: someone on this thread asked the question "what have the parents been doing with their kids up until that point?" (in regard to readiness... and I am *only addressing letter/numeral identification* here, the other qualities suggested are appropriate-- but I really don't want parents to fret too much on letter/numeral identification, because this is one that keeps coming up)--I can assure you that even parents who do introduce these concepts (like myself) don't always have kids who absorb this information in *our* time. Kids have different can learn a lot of math and language concepts through exploration and play without having all of the 'symbols' internalized. Doing activities which provide relevance and meaning for the ideas presented augments the experience of using those symbols later on. THIS is precisely why I did not stress when he didn't know so much in this area-- and why the teachers who assessed him at his school suggested he was ready-- even without complete numeral and letter recognition. I felt that if he knew just part of it, he could go into kindergarten and have plenty to engage him and to learn. I just wanted to add this so that parents who have kids who aren't quite proficient yet do not think that it is a requirement for being successful at school. I prefer to spend my time with my son doing things we both enjoy like exploring our world, going on little adventures, cooking, doing puzzles, poring over the oversize books at the library on topic we are interested in, building things and the like-- not worksheets. (I'm not suggesting that's what DVMMOM did, but that's what *we* would have been relegated to.) He'll get a million of those, and for him, they do not cultivate a love of learning. The experiences, however, do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

both of my sons began KG at age 6. One by default (6 weeks after the cut-off, zero exceptions)....& the other by our choice. Both excelled, both benefitted by waiting.

In the case of my younger son, his BD was just days before the cut-off. He aced the KG screening, but took twice as long to complete the testing. Because of this + what we'd noticed at home, we asked for our son to be placed in the KG Bridges program. & interestingly, only 1 girl in the class...& all the students had late birthdays, with the exception of 2 or 3 boys needing academic assistance. Several of the boys were teachers' kids, & I think that says a lot!

When making our decision, I asked for opinions from quite a few of my friends in the field of education....both teachers & administrators. Consistently, they preferred "waiting"...when it came to those late birthdays.

My recommendation for you: check with your school district. Ask for a preKG screening. Get a handle on his development, ask for prep ideas/info packets, & without him....visit a KG classroom. Really get a handle on KG in today's world.

Not trying to be a downer, but in the last 30 years, most of the kids I've known (with late birthdays) truly did benefit from waiting....which is why we requested it for our younger son. I know a handful of kids who repeated grades (ranging from KG to 2nd grade), & they all were late birthdays. Every single one of them. & I want to be very clear: each of the holdbacks were late birthdays....NOT that late birthdays cannot succeed. :)

& one more thought: both of my sons + my husband/I fully appreciate having the older kids in the classroom. 1st to drive, 1st for many benchmarks.....& it feels good. + it helps us being able to set the rules for hanging out....& not feeling parental peer pressure to follow along with the other families!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I put my 5-year-old (summer birthday) son in kindergarten and it did not go well. I would not do it again. I'd wait until 6.

He was ready, sure. Even his teachers said so. But it was not developmentally appropriate. Kindergarten expects too much, and 5-year-olds need less structure and more play! It's critical to their well-being. Even though kindergarten is 2 hours where we go, it's still too much academics at that age.

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answers from Springfield on

My son has a summer birthday. We chose to have him begin kindergarten when he was 6, and it was definitely the right decision for him.

I truly believe that emotional and social maturity is so much more important than ABC's and 123's. I love what Hazel had to say. Can he button his own jacket and take care of his needs in the bathroom. Can he listen to the teacher and take turns on the playground. These are the things that come with maturity. The teacher can help him learn his shapes and colors, but if he has a meltdown because someone else got their milk first he's going to struggle.

When our son was in preschool I was leaning towards having him start at age 6 and my husband at age 5. We let his teacher know we were on the fence so that she could think about it before our P/T conference. That was very helpful to her, and she really thought about it and let us know that she thought he did need some extra time to mature. Also, our school has kindergarten screenings (with 6 kindergarten classes, it helps to try and group the kids). We both listened with an open mind, and he was recommended for the TK (Transitional Kindergarten). His TK class had 11 students - 9 boys, 2 girls, 9 with summer birthdays. They are all in kindergarten this year, and he is doing great.

I think it's so important to watch your child interact with peers. Our son went to preschool for 2 years. During the first year he was right on par with his peers. During his second year, it became increasingly noticeable that he was younger and less mature. Nothing wrong with that, but it definitely helped us decide to give him that extra year.

Try to sit back and watch him, and ask his teachers about their observations. They really will be essential in helping you decide what is the right decision for your son.

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answers from Columbus on

My son was in preschool when we decided, so we had the help of the preschool staff who did kindergarten readiness evaluations. He has a summer birthday -- they recommended an extra year before sending him, and we were already leaning that way. Academically he was fine, but he benefitted from an extra year of pre-k to learn how to sit, follow a teacher's directions, interact with peers appropriately, that kind of thing. His kindergarten was 5 full days, so I knew that would be too much -- he was coming home from preschool tired and ready to nap. The extra year was extremely helpful and I am very glad we did it. What we were learning was that children who are too young or underprepared may do okay in kindergarten, but problems may arise when they are older, starting around third grade. It is much easier to start them a year later than to hold them back a year later on. When they enter high school, they are slightly more mature than their peers and able to deal with the social conflicts and academic load better. And it will be the same in college. I feel keeping him back was one of the best decisions we've ever made. I think the calendar is the worst way to make that decision.

ETA: I wanted to add, my son is very small for his age. So while some people express the concern that he will always be identified as being older than his peers, he looks to be one of the youngest, he THINKS he's one of the youngest because he's so much smaller, and his parents are both very short, so he will never be very large. We were not trying to red shirt him for sports, because he has zero interest in team sports, but in terms of physical size, he will be (and is) picked on a lot for that (just like his father was) and having the social and emotional maturity of being slightly older is/will be a plus.

ETA again: sorry, I just remembered another factor in our decision. My sister was one of the youngest in her class, and she was one of the last of her friends to drive, one of the last of her friends to be old enough to date, one of the last of her friends to get a job, and always felt much younger than her peers (she, too, is very small). It had a rather negative effect on her socially and psychologically, so that also factored into our decision.

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answers from Las Vegas on

Here is a book title and author you can read to help you get an idea. In my view, if they are of age, you get them ready as opposed to assess if they are ready.

What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten (Core Knowledge) [E. D. Hirsch Jr

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answers from Minneapolis on

I just took my 4 year old (He turns 5 at the end of May) to our ECFE class last night. We were told that the spring session of ECFE is completely geared towards Kindergarten Readiness and we will be having a new speaker each of the 7 weeks. Our family facilitator told us that if we are ever unsure if our child should start or if we should hold him back to ask a Kindergarten teacher. They will give you the best advice.

Otherwise, I say use your instincts...for example you said he has a summer birthday, how late in the summer? With boys it's almost best to hold the back a year if they have a late July or August birthday. It has to do with maturity. Also, do you want your 17 year old to go off to college or do you want them to be older?

Can you son do certain things like print, cut, stay focused on something for 5- 10 minutes at a time? Those are all indicators too.

I've looked online for websites too, like you and have never found something specifically to answer those questions, but I have searched for a Kindergarten checklist or "what a child needs to know before kindergarten" and have had pretty good results looking at what some schools expect their Kindergarteners to know or be able to do. Maybe even looking up a Kindergarten report card would give you an idea of what your son would be expected to know or be familiar with by the end of the 1st quarter etc.... just some ideas!

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answers from Los Angeles on

If they make the cut-off day for your school district, then you send him. It is K...he will be ready. Especially since he has already been exposed to a school setting at pre-school. If you are truly concerned, ask his pre-school teacher what she thinks.

~All my boys have October birthdays, so none of them made our cut-off date, which is Sept.1st. This means that ALL 4 of my boys have been and will be 18y/o at the very beginning of their Senior year in HS...which means they can all sign themselves in and out whenever they please! Just something to think about when considering whether or not you should hold him back another year.

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answers from Sacramento on

I've taught kinder as well and every child is different. Trust your gut as a mom. And remember, if you feel it nessecary, kindergarten can be repeated without the stigma of older grades. Practice fine motor skills at home and also practice with a visual behavior chart to prep him for the rules.



answers from Detroit on

Like others have said, generally, if your child turns 5 before the cut-off date (Sept 1, or whatever), you send them. Unless there are some major delays where emotionally or socially they are not ready, I don't see why everyone gets worried about sending their "on-the-younger side" child to kindergarten when it's time to start. Our cut-off here in MI is Dec. 1, also there has been talk about pushing it back to Sept. 1. Our district offers a "junior kindergarten" program that is for kids with late birthdays (Sept to Nov) that also have other qualifying factors, such as speech delays, learning delays, or social/emotional issues. So then they get another year under their belt before going to kindergarten and they are turning 6 shortly after the school year starts. Kindergarten here is also a full day, so that's another thing they have to adjust too.

My daughter turned 5 in August and had done 2 years of preschool, and her preschool teacher told me she was more than ready and would do fine - and she has, despite being one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, kid in the class. She wouldn't have qualified for the junior kindergarten program anyway, but even if she had, she probably would have been bored. One of our neighbor friends has a son who is also 5, but his birthday is April, and she was still worried about how he would do and was thinking about trying to hold him back - and the answer was umm, NO. I do wonder sometimes about some of these kids turning 18 their senior year of HS and how that affects them. My one stepson has his birthday mid-Sept, and their cut-off is Sept. 1. So he turned 18 just after school started and it's been a struggle keeping him in school just to finish his senior year and graduate - because he knows he's 18 and legally an adult and nobody can make him go to school if he doesn't want to. Sometimes I wonder if holding a child back instead of putting them in causes them to act more immaturely, because they are in class with kids that are younger than them, rather than the other way around.

As for what will help your child do well in kindergarten...

If they can identify their alphabet letters and numbers 1 to 10
If they know colors and shapes reasonably well
If they can read and write their own name, and can hold a pencil or crayon correctly
If they can cut with scissors and use glue without making a huge mess
If they can get on their own coat, zip and button
If they can manage themselves in the bathroom without needing help from anyone
If they can function in a group, listen to another adult besides Mommy, move from one activity to the next without getting upset, speak up for themselves, and follow simple instructions and rules

ETA: I like what another poster said, about doing more to get the kids ready to start kindergarten, rather than always wanting to wait a year. I don't doubt that there are some kids who will do better if they wait a year, but sometimes I suspect some parents are not doing enough for their kids to prepare them. I did see on one website a list of things that would helpful for your child to know and be able to do when they start and some people had made the comment that it seemed like a lot, and too much to expect a child to know their alphabet and how to write the letters in their name. It didn't mean that every child HAD to know these things, just that it made K a lot easier for them and for the teacher if they didn't have to spend half the year catching up to some of the other kids. But I also had to wonder, if your child is already 5 or 5 1/2 when they start kindergarten, and they can't recognize most alphabet letters, or tell colors or shapes apart, or can't sit with a group for story time or participate in a game and follow the rules (barring any obvious learning disabilities or other delays), what have the parents been doing with their kids up until that point?


answers from Dover on

Typically if you child makes the cut off (and with a summer birthday he clearly does), you send them. .When I was in school (and up until my son was born) the cut off here was Dec 31 (so some kids started when they would be turning 5 in Sept, Oct, Nov, and/or Dec). It is now Aug 31.

The only time that really isn't the case is if the child is extremely delayed either socially or academically. If there are questions, his preschool teacher can help and/or the school district can evaluate.

You can look up Kindergarten readiness and read through many results to get a good idea but the fact is it varies by district. As with every other "milestone" there is a wide range of normal.


answers from Los Angeles on

If he's in preschool they should have been gearing him towards kindergarten readiness all along, and keeping you informed of any areas needing help. My guy will be 4 in April, I met with his teacher today to discuss her observations and recommendations on how he's doing in social and academic skills, all the parents did this week, and we'll do it again in May. Talk to his teacher, she should be able to help you, and check out the sites below.



answers from Dallas on

Is he in any kind of pre-k or preschool? If so, the school should definitely be working towards the goal of Kindergarten readiness and should be doing assessments along the way.

You also can have your child screened for Kindergarten readiness through local testing agencies for less than $100. I had my daughter screened this fall, and it was a nice confirmation that she's on pace to be well prepared for next year.


answers from Grand Forks on

In Canada kids go to a program called Literacy Links before they start kindergarten just to ensure they are all starting on the same page. All kids start kindergarten the calandar year in which they turn five, so it is not a decision for the parent to make.



answers from San Francisco on

Is your son in preschool? Have a conversation with his teacher about his readiness. My son turned 5 on August 4 and started kinder on Aug 31. He is one of the youngest but he was ready and is thriving in his class, he teacher was surprised that he was such a young 5, because he was so ready
good luck

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