I had a friend of mine ask me my take on three common questions among her pre-K school age moms…here are my thoughts:

What would you say to the parent who feels that their child ‘is just not ready’ for kindergarten?
I think there are so many times it seems like kids are not ready for kindergarten, but I encourage parents to get started with kindergarten because learning how to be ready for kindergarten is exactly why kids go to kindergarten!  As a former kindergarten teacher, I remember thinking that every year kids started SO LOW (in my mind it was the lowest group of kids I always had!), but as the year progressed I was reminded about the astounding amount of information that kids were learning! So much so that I would forget how far they’d come!  If you really feel like your child isn’t ready, I would write down the very specific reason that you are concerned and then I would ask for a talk with the teacher and principal and calmly express your concerns.  I found that when parents were able to succinctly express their concerns to me, we could make a very rational decision that was best for the child!

How do they express these concerns to school personnel without making their child sound completely inept?
I think it’s really important to become acquainted with the expectations – I HIGHLY recommend that parents go and visit the kindergarten classroom at the beginning of the year prior to their child going to that classroom and just observe.  Then, as I stated above, start to create a list of concerns and then ask for the professional opinion of the teacher and principal before making a decision.  More often than not, the teacher will be able to talk to the parent and give perspective on the child’s readiness in relation to other kids.  I think this really helps parents feel like they’re not alone!  You could also ask for the teacher to do a Pre-K readiness test, if that’s available.  The most important idea is to have a very direct conversation with the teachers and say, “I have some very serious concerns about John’s readiness to go to kindergarten and I’ve been keeping some notes of my concerns.  I would love your professional opinion and some perspective on this…”  I think teachers will be more than open!

What can they do at home to gauge readiness and to promote readiness?
I’m really interested in whether kids can say the ABCs, whether they can rhyme, whether they can write their name and are starting to learn the names of the letters in the alphabet.  Other than that, a solid kindergarten teacher with strong classroom management will be able to teach the rest!  After all, that’s the purpose of kindergarten!