As you celebrate your child’s 3rd birthday, you must be thinking about the day he/she will finally become a school-goer and join kindergarten. While ‘3’ could be the magic number to enrol your little one into kindergarten, you might want to observe your child to assess her readiness to join formal schooling. Parents who think their child might be a better fit in kindergarten a year later, often redshirt them. But is redshirting the right choice for your child? We have listed a few pros and cons of starting kindergarten late to help you decide better!
“Age is just a number.” Yes! Although it’s a common practice in India to focus on the age of a child while looking for a kindergarten. There is another factor that should (must) be taken into consideration. The developmental age of your kid. How well your child can manage activities conforming to his/her age is largely based on his/her developmental capacity. Toddlerhood is a period where major developmental changes occur in a child – physical, mental, cognitive and emotional. These, when combined together, must be the deciding factor for you before you start your kindergarten-hunt for your toddler. While your child might be good-to-go for kindergarten in terms of biological age, he/she might not be ready considering their developmental age.
Pros of Starting Kindergarten Late :
- Social Skills – If your child still feels shy around people, it may indicate his/her lack of social skills. By the time a toddler reaches 3-4 years of age, he/she starts getting comfortable with kids his/her age making him/her socially sound. Having social skills in kindergarten is essential for your child to adjust to the school environment, wherein he/she would be required to interact with other kids and teachers. Redshirting your child for a year may benefit him/her to sharpen social skills.
- Reading Skills – While your kid has mastered his ABCs, he/she may require brushing up his/her reading skills. As kindergarten provides a wide range of subjects to be introduced to children, acquiring good reading skills is really helpful in the long run. Delaying kindergarten by a year or age 5 may provide your child with the time to refine his/her reading skills to ace his academics when he/she joins kindergarten.
- Motor Skills – Toddlerhood is a time to bag all fine motor skills needed to start kindergarten effortlessly. These skills include holding a pencil, writing, cutting paper with scissors, etc. Since a lot of kindergarten activities involve utilizing these motor skills, it is essential your child acquires them beforehand. If you feel starting kindergarten late will allow your child to be in better control of his/her motor skills, then it could be helpful in the long run.
- Another Year of Play – Delaying kindergarten late may help your child get another year of play. It is found that children are getting a reduced amount of play time nowadays as they become busy with school and other related activities too early. Play is important for children as it helps in their overall development, even increasing their cognitive capabilities. A healthy child who remains physically active is sure to excel in the educational field for years to come!
These advantages may urge you to hold back your child to make him school-ready a year later. However, you must weigh both the pros and cons of starting kindergarten late. There are three such benefits of starting kindergarten early or at the correct age.
Cons of Starting Kindergarten Late :
- Learning disability – Holding back your child may seem the right choice to you initially. However, if that one year is not utilised to sharpen your child’s skills, it can become an unfriendly decision. By not reading or writing enough to prepare for kindergarten, your child may develop certain learning disabilities, which could have been identified by teachers had he/she gone to school.
- Feeling of being ‘older’ to peers – This is a rather common feeling that children might feel if they are redshirted during kindergarten. While toddlers may remain unknown to this feeling, as they turn into teenagers, they are likely to get the feeling of being older to their peers. This may also affect their social and emotional state of being.
- Difficulty to mingle with friends – If you are planning to start kindergarten late, it will mean that your child will remain a year older to his/her peers throughout school life. Younger peers may not be allowed to drive or go for late night parties. While your child might be allowed to do all of these as they turn 18. Similarly, due to the age difference, your kid may find certain activities ‘silly’ which will be age-appropriate for his/her peers. This can make them feel frustrated as he/she might not have friends whom he can have fun with according to his age.
To be honest, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to whether you should delay kindergarten for your child. The answer lies in the accurate weighing of the pros and cons of starting kindergarten late. The basis for consideration should be the developmental as well as the biological age of your little one to give him/her the perfect start to formal schooling. If you are facing trouble in deciding on your own, you can also talk to :
- Your child/s pediatrician to understand his/her developmental abilities
- Kindergarten teachers/counsellors to know about their curriculum – whether it matches with your child’s abilities
- Other parents whose children have already started kindergarten or are in the same boat as you
What you decide now, will have an impact on your toddler’s entire school life, at all levels. The decision might be putting you in a dilemma, but make sure to not force anything on yourself or your child. Breathe easy, think and act. Don’t miss out on the fun years of toddlerhood!