Your child's fifth birthday is on the horizon, and you're wondering if she's ready for kindergarten. But, even if you've heard all the buzz about "redshirting" (delaying the kindergarten start for an extra year), you might not be sure if you need to do this too. How can you decide whether or not your child is ready to move on from her pre-k days?
Ask the teacher.
Your child's day care teacher has insider information. Not only is she a pro when it comes to knowing what to look for in terms of developmental milestones, but she also spends the 'school day' with your little learner. This means that she gets to see your child in a classroom setting. The teacher can tell you much more than if your child knows the A,B,Cs and 1,2,3s. She can tell you how well your child understands and follows classroom rules, if she's comfortable in the class environment, and if she socializes with the other children.
Talk to your child.
This doesn't mean that you put the decision in your child's hands. Instead, talk to your child to see how well she's doing in the language/literacy area. Expressive (talking) and receptive (listening and understanding) language skills are both important indicators of kindergarten readiness. These typically include (for your child's age) speaking in complete sentences, understanding and following two-step directions, commenting and discussing books and stories, and understanding basic vocabulary words that have to do with concepts such as direction and position, according to the American Federation of Teachers and National Center for Learning Disabilities Transitioning to Kindergarten checklist.
Visit the school.
Not every kindergarten is the same. Some have half-day programs, while others run a full-day school. There are kindergartens that focus on academic aspects and some that prefer to work on social and emotional types of skills. Your child may be more (or less) ready, depending on the specific school, their focus on learning, and their educational philosophy. A visit to the school gives you the chance to talk to the administration and teachers and get a better picture of how the school runs. This allows you to make a more informed decision about whether to start your child in kindergarten or not.
Day care does much more than just provide a safe place for your child to stay while you're away. Your child is learning new skills and developing abilities. Now that it's nearing the time to move on, you want to make sure she's ready to take that next step. With some help from your child's current teacher (and maybe even from her future one), you can start making the kindergarten readiness decision.