Kindergarten students in the United States range in age from four years old to six years old. The reason for this is that it is up to parents to choose at what age they want their children to start school. Making this decision is dependent on a number of circumstances and is extremely personal. A lot of thought and research should go into this decision.
Joyous Montessori is a unique school providing children with early education based on the world-renowned Montessori philosophy. It has locations throughout Texas in Keller, Lewisville, and Fort Worth. The organization provides an education guide for parents regarding what age their kids should start school.
Research the Age Rules in Your State
Each state has their own rules and restrictions regarding when a child can start school. For example, roughly 32 states in the U.S. require that a child be five years of age before September 1 of the year they are supposed to start kindergarten. Conversely, 11 states have a cut-off date that ranges between September 1 and October 15. Further, some jurisdictions allow local schools to create their own age requirements and deadlines. Thus, according to Joyous Montessori, the first step should be to research the age rules in your state. The organization even recommends giving the local school district’s office a call as the rules surrounding this change frequently.
Speak to Your Child’s Preschool Teacher
Preschool teachers spend ample time with your children, and they see them in a more educational setting. That is why Joyous Montessori recommends that all parents schedule a meeting with their child’s preschool teacher before making this decision. Hearing what the teacher has to say, whether they think the child would benefit from another year of preschool or is ready for kindergarten, is important. They might feel that your child could use another year to further develop their confidence, motor skills, or even maturity. Whatever your child’s teacher recommends, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from someone within the education system who knows your child.
If your child has not gone to preschool, it is important to consider your child’s level of dependency, says Joyous Montessori. For instance, if your child is not used to spending much — or any — time away from your, how will they react when they are put into a situation with people they may not know? You should consider enrolling your child in a day camp prior to kindergarten to learn the answer to this question.
It is also important to think of your child’s independent activities. Your child will need to be able to speak for him or herself in situations like needing to use the restroom. Your child will also need to know how to use the washroom by themselves and wash their hands. These are important aspects to consider.
Consider the Child’s Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Skills
Joyous Montessori does not want parents to feel pressured to enroll their child in kindergarten before they’re ready. Every family and child grows at their own pace. There is no shame in deciding to hold off on kindergarten for another year. Ultimately, it is a decision that you need to make together as a family. In order to make this decision, parents should examine their child’s social-emotional growth.
The general rule of thumb is that if the child is able to express their emotions in words, rather than simply yelling, crying, or throwing a tantrum, then they are likely ready to move on to kindergarten. A few questions that Joyous Montessori recommends parents ask themselves about their child are: Can they ask for help? Can they write their name? Do they know the alphabet? Can they count to 10? Can they sit still for a short period of time? Do they get along with others? If the answers to most of these questions are in the affirmative, then it’s likely a sign that your child is ready for school. But at the end of the day, you have to make the decision that best suits you and your partner, as well as your child. Assessing your kid’s cognitive, social, and emotional skills is a necessary step in making this decision. But remember that there are pros and cons on both sides.
Final Thoughts from Joyous Montessori
The bottom line is that every family and child’s situation is different. Deciding if your child is ready for school is a choice that should not be taken lightly and needs to be evaluated from every angle. You know your child best, so use your best judgement.
Joyous Montessori suggests preparing young children for school by enrolling them at preschool, where they will develop social and cognitive abilities that will set them up for kindergarten.