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Is Your Preschooler Ready for Kindergarten?

Questions To Help Decide If Your Preschooler Is Ready For Kindergarten

How old were you when you started kindergarten? Chances are, you and nearly everyone else in your class was about 5 years old. Not so anymore. These days, kids often start after age 5, whether it's due to their state's age requirements or their parents' choice.

Kindergarten age requirements vary by state; the birthday cut-off -- the date by which a child must be 5 before entering kindergarten -- is July in some states, December in others. But studies by childhood development experts suggest that chronological age should not be the only factor when it comes to determining kindergarten readiness.

The U.S. Department of Education recommends that if your child meets your state's age requirement, ask yourself the following questions to help decide if she's truly ready for kindergarten:

  • Kindergarten is, naturally, a group setting. Do you think your child could get along in this type of cooperative learning environment?
  • Can your child follow two or three oral directions, start and finish a task, and listen to a story in a group setting?
  • Is she able to follow rules and respect the people around her (and their belongings)?
  • Does she know the difference between work and play?
  • Are her gross- and fine-motor skills on track for her age? Meaning, can she run and climb, and use a pencil, crayons, and scissors?
  • Does she recognize colors and shapes (at least the basic ones)?
  • Does she understand the concept of a story?

If you have concerns that your child is not ready for kindergarten, make arrangements through your school district to meet with your school's principal and/or kindergarten teacher. They'll help you decide if you should send her on her way, or keep her at home or in preschool for one more year.

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