How to determine the best age to start kindergarten
Every child is unique and different when it comes to their abilities and capacities to adjust to a social environment. This is exactly what you should be considering before signing up for school admission for your little one! While you wonder about the best age to start kindergarten for your child, we have come up with a few points of consideration before you make a decision!
We know your kid has learned all the basics of pre-school which may make you think that he/she is prepared to take on the new journey of kindergarten! However, the case might be a little different. Since toddlers are learning and adapting various sets of skills during this period, they might find it difficult to adjust to the home-to-school transition. Their behaviour at home alone cannot determine their readiness for starting kindergarten.
In India, the best age to start pre-school is considered to be 3 years, as set by the MHRD. A new concept has been observed in parents where they delay the enrollment of their kids in formal schooling than the prescribed cut off age. This is called ‘redshirting’ or ‘academic redshirting’. Parents who feel their kids might be a better fit in the classroom maybe a year later, they ‘redshirt’ them and enroll the following year. There is no concrete evidence that it increases academic efficiency in kids. However, it has been observed that kids who had been redshirted at the time of kindergarten had better social skills in the later grades than their younger peers. Addition to is, they were also seen to have increased cognitive learning capacity than their peers.
The cut-off age for kindergarten varies from country-to-country. For instance, in the U.S, it is 5years-plus for some kindergarten schools. Toddlers develop various skills between ages 3-6 years, the progress of which should be observed by you. If you are a parent to a toddler who is prepping to start kindergarten soon, check whether your child has developed these 5 skills :
- Gross motor skills – these involve physical activity skills such as balance, catching/grasping a ball, jumping, jumping on one foot, etc.
- Fine motor skills – these involve small muscle movements such as holding a pencil or a crayon, turning pages of a book, etc. which enhances hand-eye coordination.
- Emotional development – observe your children when they are happy or sad. Are they able to express their emotion to determine the best age to start kindergartens? While going to kindergarten, they will be required to converse with other children and teachers which will involve them to express themselves clearly.
- Social skills – a child with good social skills will be able to interact with other students and teachers well. Your child should be able to initiate a conversation (could be simple hello!) or reply when being asked something.
- Cognitive development – this involves your child’s learning capacity and his/her ability to understand things. He/she should be able to retain basic information to engage well in class. The attention span of children also plays a major role in the success of their home-to-school transition.
Once you have identified and observed these skill sets in your champ, you can look for schools that are just right for your child’s needs and abilities. Yes! Your choice of school must be according to your child’s developmental and adaptable abilities. Your child should not feel pressured to perform any activity. As we said in the very beginning, every child is unique in their own skin. The school environment is very different from that of home. It is highly possible that your child may recite all alphabets from A-Z in front of his/her grandparents but can become numb doing the same in front of the teacher. This could be an indication that your child might not be ready for school. And that is no reason to freak out! Let your kid take time to brush up on all the skills.
Kindergarten is considered to be the first stepping stone into the world of formal education. Probably that’s why children who join kindergarten are expected to have
- Conversational skill
- Ability to focus
- Ability to follow instructions
- Knowledge of basic alphabets, numbers, shapes, colours, etc.
The best age to start pre-school in India is 3 years. However, your child might need a little extra time to become school-ready. Toddlerhood is a time when kids indulge in more group-play activities than individual ones. They want to play games where they can share things and play as a collective group. Some kids take time to adjust with group playing while others mingle with their peers in an instant!
How and when you determine to send your kids to kindergarten completely depends on your child’s developmental progress. Age is just a number! He/she should attain a certain level of socio-economic growth to be able to qualify for kindergarten’s best age criteria. If you push them to join school even when they are unready to do so, it might hamper their future academic and social development in school. If you feel they could be a great fit next year, redshirt them for this year and watch them bloom next year!