My husband and I have finally made the decision to delay our daughter’s entry into Kindergarten for a year. This was not an easy decision to make and we honestly went back and forth about the best placement for her countless times. There were pros and cons with giving her an extra year of preschool, but also pros and cons to sending her off to Kindergarten. In the end we wanted what all parents want for our children; for her to be happy and feel good about herself.
I did my “due diligence” as a parent; I read articles on the subject, talked to parents who had decided to delay their child’s start in Kindergarten and others who had pushed their child ahead. I spoke to her preschool teachers (past and present) and the school director, I attended our district’s Kindergarten Readiness meeting, and so on. We had heard all the information and options from our trusted sources and, while I truly believe she would have excelled in either scenario, we ultimately went with our “gut feeling” and will delay Kindergarten for a year. Phew! We are all relieved that the decision is behind us and are looking forward to our little girl’s experience with a truly incredible teacher in the 5-year old classroom at her school in the Fall.
However, the parenting decisions on this topic don’t seem to end just because we’ve made a decision. My husband and I believe that how we explain this decision to our daughter is integral in helping her feel confident and excited about next year. We made this decision with her best interests in mind and want to be sure that she understands that she is just as bright and capable as her friends who will be moving on to Kindergarten.
So what do we say? How do we explain this decision to a 4 and a half-year-old child?
I think the key to making this discussion successful is to make it short and sweet. Just like other topics we discuss with our kids, clear, simple, HONEST information delivered from a patient and loving parent is paramount and the exact words and explanations secondary.
I recently reached out to a few experienced parents, a preschool teacher, a Kindergarten teacher and a 4th grade teacher to get their insights on how they would suggest explaining to a child why some of his/her friends will be going to Kindergarten and others will be going to another year of Preschool. While these parents and teachers provided many great tips, I chose a few of their suggestions that I thought reflected the wide variety of parenting styles and education philosophies of your children schools. While not all of these suggestions resonate with my husband and I, I hope that one of them stands out to you. And on that note, here are their highly valuable insights!
- Explain to your child that their teacher for next year really wanted to have them in their class and begged you to allow her to stay at school for one more year.
- Explain to your child that when they start Kindergarten is determined by age. So, some of their friends will be going to Kindergarten because they are already 5 years old and others need to wait until they are a bit older.
- Explain to your child that Mommy & Daddy want to give them another year to play.
- Explain to your child that this is how “The Smiths” do it. Assure your child that you made this decision because they love him/her.
- Explain to your child that everyone is different and does things differently.
This is an important lesson to learn at any age.
- Explain to your child that they will be getting another year to grow.
I like this answer is great because “grow” can explain so many situations including, size, emotional maturity, academic readiness, age, etc.
- Explain to your child needs a great helper to teach the new children what to do, like where to put their jackets, where to line up, how to sit for circle time, etc.
This explanation can be very empowering for children and helps boost self-esteem!
As part our discussion about next year’s plans with our daughter, my husband and I wanted to equip her with some information she could share with her friends when they asked her why she wasn’t going to Kindergarten and help her to feel empowered.
Here are some simple explanations she can use when talking to her friends:
- My teacher really wanted me to be in his/her class next year.
- I am just a tiny bit younger than my other friends who are going to Kindergarten.
- Mommy & Daddy wanted to give me an extra year to play.
I am sure that many of you have strong feelings about this topic. Please share your experiences and insights with our “peers” by leaving a comment. I would love your valuable advice!
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