Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kindergarten Ready or Not

A friend of mine recently asked for my advice on whether or not he would put his son in kindergarten this year or give him one more year of preschool. He and his wife have decided that they definitely want their son to be older in kindergarten. However, they wondered if there would be a benefit to starting him in kindergarten this year with the intention of having him repeat it again next year. His reasons were that it would save a considerable amount of money by not having to pay for preschool. Also, it would give him one year of practice in kindergarten and then he could do it again next year as the real deal.
I remember my son being quite a bit younger than the other kids in his class and I wondered about putting him into kindergarten for 2 years or giving him one more year of preschool and making him a year older before he began. So, I could relate to this logic.
But, here are some things that I recommend for people who are considering putting their child in kindergarten before the child is ready to take it seriously. Kindergarten is rather rigorous now, not like it was when we were kids. There is a very high expectation for behavior and achievement. A child that is not mature enough will feel like they are not able to keep up with the other kids. This could result in being labeled by the teacher as immature and possibly being labeled by peers as well. He may also develop self-confidence issues when trying to compare himself to other kids that are older and more mature. Once a child has experienced an entire school year, whether or not they were ready, they have experienced all of its special moments. When they repeat the same grade level, none of those special moments are a surprise. The year may seem a little less magical and for a child, may even seem boring and predictable.
So, here are some alternatives that parents may want to consider when waiting for one extra year to start kindergarten. Some preschools offer a pre-K program that is a transitional year between preschool and kindergarten. Parents may also choose to increase the days that their child goes to preschool. Kindergarten is five days a week. For older kids, preschool can be an opportunity to begin getting into that routine.
But I definitely do not recommend using kindergarten as a dress rehearsal, or a training camp. It is something that should be taken seriously the first time through.
Here are some other articles to read about kindergarten readiness:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Countdown to the End of Summer Vacation

For schools that follow a traditional calendar, August marks the end of summer vacation. And the end of summer vacation means headed back to school. Here are some things you can be doing this month at home to help kids ease back into the routine of school.
1) Resume an early bed time. Often times in summer we let the kids stay up late at night and sleep in each morning. Use the month of August to work back up to whatever time it is that you need to wake up during the school year. Waiting until the last minute will result in tired children showing up for the first day of school. Not a good impression for the student or the teacher.
2) Try to simulate an eating schedule that will be similar to the schedule your child will be on at school. Often times kids are rushed in the morning and forget to eat breakfast or are used to eating breakfast later during the summer. But, missing their opportunity to have breakfast at home before school can sometimes mean that they will not be able to eat until lunch time. Kids have a hard time concentrating in class when they are hungry.
3) Give a refresher course for the brain. If you haven't done so already, pick up a summer workbook from your local bookstore or online and have your child work in it for a predetermined amount of time each day. There are so many workbooks out there to choose from. We recommend Summer Bridge Activities, but there are others out there that are similar and will accomplish the same goal.
4) Rediscover reading. If your child read all summer, good for you...and good for your child. If your child was not so consistent with summer reading, head off to the library, the bookstore, or an online bookstore and pick out a couple new books. Actually, because summer should be about reading for enjoyment, let your child select his/her own book(s). Though, even after your child selects a book, you should check it to make sure the content is appropriate and that it is a good reading level.
5) Get organized. Start clearing out a work space that you will use when homework starts. Gather supplies in a pencil box or another container to keep close by.
6) Finally, enjoy the last days of summer!