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Kindergarten Decisions

Karen TaylorIt’s the beginning of a new year, and that means your unpreschooler’s not-in-school year is almost half over. If he or she will be kindergarten age next year, you’ll have a decision to make sooner than you might expect.

Will your child go to kindergarten or will you homeschool? In a few months, school districts will start registering incoming kindergartners for the next school year. It’s the annual kindergarten roundup. While you are not obligated to make such an early decision, it will be advertised in the local media and you may receive pressure from friends, neighbors, and relatives.

If enrolling in kindergarten has been your plan all along, you’re all set. You’ve given your child such a great foundation by keeping him/her home with you during the early years! When you register your child, ask what skills they would like children to have before they start in August or September. That way you can help your child be ready, provided the school expectations are realistic.

A basic list might include being able to listen to a story, write (or at least recognize) their name, know basic colors, be able to tie shoes (or buy Velcro shoes), and be able to put on their own jacket. Taking care of basic needs is important. Knowing some of the alphabet might be a plus, but I wouldn’t force it to the point of tears, because some pre-schoolers aren’t ready.

Google “kindergarten readiness” and you’ll find lots of lists. Just know that all children won’t be at the same level of readiness, and that’s ok. They’ll also be learning by leaps and bounds between now and September, so you don’t have to panic and begin formal teaching.

If you have doubts about kindergarten, it might be better not to enroll early because while it’s possible to exit the school system, it’s easier to have never been in it. This would be a good time to start researching homeschooling:

• Attend homeschool park days and let the other moms know about your concerns. Ask questions.They will be happy to help!

• Read as many homeschooling books as you can find at the library.

• Join Yahoo homeschool lists and Facebook homeschooling pages.

• Attend a homeschool conference.

And if you’re still not sure, check into your state’s laws. Is kindergarten required in your state? If it isn’t, you have the option to consider one more year at home!

If you look at some kindergarten readiness lists and it appears that your child just isn’t ready, or is still very attached to you and not ready to be separated, you might want to consider homeschooling for kindergarten and giving your little one an extra year to mature. It could make a huge difference. Children who attend kindergarten before they are ready are sometimes held back to repeat kindergarten the next year. While it’s “no big deal” for adults, some kids have a hard time recovering from this feeling of failure. Instead of sending them before they are ready, consider homeschooling because that extra year can make a huge difference in future academic success, not to mention their happiness and self-esteem!

Whatever you decide, planning ahead will ensure that your decision for your child is made on your terms, and that the needs of your child are fully taken into consideration. But even that decision is never final. As the parent, you will make many adjustments as your child grows, and that may include educating him/her in different ways. That is your right and obligation. It can be an intimidating experience, and we are here to support you!

By the way, UniversalPreschool.com offers a free “Typical Course of Study for Preschool that explains all of the “readiness skills” young children are expected ot have to attend Kindergarten. It’s a useful guide in assessing your child’s readiness for formal schooling.

And don’t miss these free, playful activities that help build a good foundation for developing the skills needed to be an eager lifelong learner:

o Winter Bird Watching Fun!

o Rainy Day Activities

o The Active Alphabet for Kids Who Can’t Sit Still!

o Groundhog’s Day Fun!

 

*Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California. 

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