Dear Teacher

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?

What recommendations do you have for parents who are unsure if their children are ready for kindergarten? Unsure

Determining whether a child is ready for kindergarten is a rather inexact science. There is a lot of talk about holding back children, especially boys, who have a summer birthday. This is so popular in some communities that as many as 60 percent of all summer birthday boys are held back. On the other hand, the National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that all children start school when they are age-eligible to do so. The organization believes that it is the duty of the school to take children no matter what their readiness level is and provide them with an appropriate education.

Another way to look at readiness for kindergarten is to use a checklist. Most school districts will have a checklist featuring the skills that are expected of children entering kindergarten. Parents definitely should look at these now. Even if your child is not ready now according to a checklist, he or she may be ready by August, as young children change so fast. So be sure to check again for readiness, if necessary.

You will also get a good idea of your child’s readiness for kindergarten by talking to his or her preschool teacher and asking about your child’s learning level. This is an informed opinion that you need. Finally, go visit the preschool classroom. Notice how your child is handling the experience socially, emotionally, and academically compared to the other students. It will give you a good idea of how well he or she might handle kindergarten.


Conquering Classroom Shyness

My 6th-grade daughter is a great student, has friends and is involved in choir and tennis. She is, however, a rather quiet, shy child. The teacher recently e-mailed me saying that she would like my child to participate more in class, especially by raising her hand to answer questions. How can I help my daughter conquer her shyness in the classroom? – Too Quiet

Some children are very outgoing – always participating in class discussions. Then there are those, like your daughter, who are quiet. Since your daughter has friends and participates in activities, shyness is obviously not a serious problem for her. By all means, don’t label your child as “shy” or push her to overcome shyness. Doing these things could make shyness a serious problem for her.

  There are definitely things that you can do to help your child overcome her shyness. You can praise her when she behaves in an outgoing or friendly manner to others, and you can display more outgoing behavior so she will have a role model for interacting with others.

  Of course, you do need to talk to your daughter about the teacher’s desire for her to participate more in class. You might ask her to make a contribution every day in class. It will be easiest if she does this the first time the teacher asks a question. Then she won’t be worrying about when to respond.

  Talk with the teacher about strategies to help your daughter, including the one above. She could appoint your daughter as chair of a group and have her read the group’s report to the class. Or ask her to read textbook passages in class that answer a specific question.

  As your daughter begins to participate more in class, success in non-threatening situations will enable her to feel more confident to speak up in more challenging ones. She needs to learn how to do this now, as she is likely to run into a teacher who grades very strongly on class participation sometime in the future.


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