I recently sat down with Kathy Seaton, an old friend and former colleague, to talk about when a child is ready for Kindergarten. Kathy has worked in early childhood education for her entire career. She has been the head of an N – K preschool, taught PreK 4 at a private all-girls school in the Philadelphia suburbs, written EC curriculum, worked as an adjunct professor of Early Childhood Education, and is a mother of five children who all have late summer, early fall birthdays. She’s an Early Childhood expert any way you look at it.
Kathy breaks Kindergarten readiness into three basic categories: social, physical, and cognitive skills. (It should be noted that these tips or guidelines are for typically developing children.)
How does your child get along with other children?
Can they join a “new” group of friends, or do they cling to their caregiver?
Can they answer basic questions about their name, what they like to do?
Can they pump their legs on the swings?
Can they hop and ride a bike with training wheels?
Do they have an appropriate pincher grasp (can they pick up a crayon or marker and color or use scissors for basic cutting)?
Can they recognize some letters and numbers as symbols?
Can they tell a short story?
Can they communicate with their peers or a new teacher? (This is less about a developmental speech delay than the ability to communicate.)
A child’s birthdate is another important consideration. An August or September birthday in places where the cut-off is late September might benefit from being held back a year.
As a parent, ask yourself, “Can I see my daughter getting on the bus, riding to school, and getting off the bus by herself?” If the answer is a resounding no, then maybe another year of preschool is the answer. Giving kids time to grow and develop is hardly ever a mistake. A child’s strengths or innate skills won’t go away if you give him an additional year to grow in areas of relative weakness.
Kathy ended our conversation with some very wise words for young parents, “Whatever you do will be ok – you’ll make it work. Trust yourself to make a few bad decisions and live with them. And remember that you’ll make many good decisions, sometimes by accident.”
By Erin Brady
Erin Brady serves a dual role as Co-Director of Private Client Services and one of Bennett’s Global Team Leads, supporting Bennett’s consultants in Canada and parts of the U.S. In the latter, she oversees consultants working with families relocating to Greater New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Phoenix, and Toronto. She also serves as the Bennett International liaison for a leading global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm in New York. Erin joined Bennett in 2006 and has worn many hats over the years, consulting with families relocating to areas throughout the U.S and to non-U.S. locations; she eventually focused on U.S. boarding school and New York city placements, PreK through grade 12, though she was frequently called on for other tasks such as co-managing special projects and serving as the Senior Account Representative for a large Global Relocation client.
Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by helping them make informed decisions about the best-fit schools for their children; with our guidance, they secure placement in preschools, private day schools, public/state schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, including schools with particular programs, such as special needs support.