This time of the school year, while children’s thoughts are turning to spring break and being able to play outside, as parents, our minds are beginning to focus on the What Next Steps?
If your child is moving forward into kindergarten or grade one this year…read on. 🙂
If my child isn’t 5 by the time kindergarten starts, what should I do?
My daughters are all December babies. Which means when it came around to kindergarten time, I had some decisions to make. I did the reading, and followed the research, and spoke to as many parents as I could to see what the best decision would be- should I send them in when they were 4 turning 5, or wait and keep them learning in a smaller, more personal setting until they were 5.
For my eldest I chose to send her to school after she had already turned 5- so she turned 6 in the December she was in kindergarten. I chose this for a few reasons, the biggest being really that I wanted more time with her. For my second daughter, she was WAY more independent and strong minded at 4, and I was struggling with teaching her- as she just wouldn’t listen in class. So I sent her to kindergarten as a 4 year old who turned 5 in December.
IF I could go back, I would have waited with her too. It levels out around grade 5 or 6, but for the years before that, I found that my youngest struggled more- NOT with the academic side of things, but with the emotional developmental growth. My older daughter was just able to handle all the emotions and life changes that come with beginning elementary school SO much better than my younger.
Speaking to dozens of parents over the years, I have shared my experience, and listened to theirs, and I have yet to come across a parent that doesn’t wish they would have waited a little longer. This can be particularly relevant with boys, as their early development tends to come at a slower rate than girls.
Take a read through this article!
This all being said, ultimately you must do what is best for your child, and for your family. 🙂
Will my child be ok for kindergarten? Do you have concerns?
Let me say first off, that my answer is almost always yes. If they aren’t potty trained, or have severe separation anxiety, or have dramatic learning issues, then we will talk about that. But I have found over the years, that we, as parents, put a crazy amount of pressure on ourselves, and sometimes on our children to have skills when they begin kindergarten that just are not developmentally appropriate. Can your child separate from you? Do they make friends? Can they take off their own jackets and put on their own shoes? Do they show some basic problem solving skills? Can they recognize what written letters are (they don’t have to necessarily recognize WHAT the letters are- if they ask you “What does that sign say?”- then they recognize writing. Do they enjoy learning new things? Then, yes. They will be ok. I have had to reassure many families over the years as they aren’t sure what the expectations are for kindergarten. I have found that in most cases, what we think they should know…they just aren’t developmentally read for. A child does NOT have to know how to read- if they can recognize their name, GREAT! If they can write their name? FANTASTIC! Some children are reading at 4 (not chapter books, but words), some don’t begin this until 6 or even 7. I promise you, if your child enters kindergarten not being able to read, it doesn’t mean they are behind, or that they will struggle with school for the rest of their lives. I truly, whole heartedly believe that if they are happy, well-adjusted, like to learn, like to be around other children and have some independent life skills….they will be fine. Trust in the processes of their development- those first 6 years of life are incredible! Have a read through this article and hopefully it will alleviate some worries.
Where do we go from here? What type of program should I look for for my child?
As a Montessori educator and parent of Montessori students…I’m a little biased. However, what I will tell you is this: If your child has had a successful couple of years in a Montessori environment, I truly believe they will be successful no matter what program they move into for kindergarten or grade one. Montessori is about creating independent, passionate learners- and if they have that, they will do well no matter the program. If they are entering a school where they are expected to sit at a desk all day, and do worksheets or lots of homework…certainly there will be an adjustment period, as in the Montessori classroom they have freedom within limits to choose their interests. But if we are immersing them in a “how to learn, not what to learn” environment- then they will know how to learn in ANY environment! 🙂
Why is my child coming home with incomplete work?
This was a new one for me- first time I’ve been asked this type of question in parent conferences, but it’s a great question and I love that I have the opportunity to explain it! Children learn at different rates, and some children can colour a perfect picture at 3, and some don’t want to colour at all at 6. It doesn’t mean either way is right, or appropriate, it is just how it is. The example I was given was a colouring activity- most of the children in the class had coloured a picture of a flower for the first day of Spring. One of the youngsters didn’t finish colouring his page, and when I asked him he said he was done and didn’t want to colour anymore. ( He also likes to chat and therefore that can cause colouring at a slower pace). I told him it was fine, and he could go and choose some other more challenging work. THIS is the key- he already knows how to colour. He does a great job, gets in the lines, uses lots of different colours, often meticulously cutting out his work when he’s done. We are all about learning new and challenging things in our classroom. So since I know he already knows how to colour, and colouring isn’t a skill that he will forget if he doesn’t finish this flower picture…I let him go and choose some math work- something he hasn’t worked with before and that will challenge and expand his knowledge. Please, please don’t compare your child to other children. They are all amazing and unique and have different gifts than the child beside them. I have 3 year olds that know all their letters and sounds, they colour and cut out a picture better than I can! And then I have other students who are 4 or 5, working on their letter recognition, and with zero interest in colouring a nice picture. AND THAT’S OK. <3
What is my child learning, and what is the curriculum you follow?
With this one, the Montessori curriculum is pretty specific, but also encompasses a large, huge amount of material. We can be working on pouring water without spilling one day, and mathematical equations the next. I’ve tried to host a couple of parent education events and no one signed up. 🙁 However, if you, as a parent, are interested in spending a couple of hours one evening going through curriculum activities, and actually doing some of the work that your child completes, then check out our next Parent Education evening which will be held on Tuesday April 24th from 7 to 8 pm. Check out FB for the event sign up! 🙂
What should we focus on at home? How can I support my child leading up to kindergarten?
This one is easy. Read to them. Give them a print rich environment. Give them lots of opportunities to be with other children their own age. Let them figure out some of the personal issues they might have with other children (if they are not getting along or disagreeing, how do they deal with that). Talk to them, about everything. Point out signs when you are driving and tell them what they say. Do simple math with them when you are counting out crackers for their snack- take them to the grocery store and have them count how many cupcakes are in the package. Lots of play time for gross motor development. Have them learn to dress themselves, put on their own socks and shoes, jackets. Ask them questions, and let them ask you the millions they have! Keep screen time to a minimum…as a parent of now teenagers, I can tell you that they will get MORE than enough of that when they are older. Make sure they are comfortable talking to their trusted adult if something is bothering them. And just love them, lots and lots! I know I do. 🙂