When to Start Kindergarten - TeachersAndFamilies

When to Start

Suggestions for Parents
From the National Association
of School Psychologists


Conclusion References

Should My Child Start Kindergarten Early?

While some parents choose to delay their child's kindergarten entrance by one year, there are others who request that their child enter kindergarten one year early, at four years of age. With birth dates one to three months after the kindergarten cutoff, children accepted for "early entrance" tend to be early and quick learners, socially mature and most often girls. Schools that allow early entrance usually require some formal testing and possibly a "trial" kindergarten experience to determine if the children are advanced beyond the typical kindergarten skills.

Research on early entrance to kindergarten has shown that, when the early entrants, whether boys or girls, have superior intelligence, and when their parents and the teacher support the decision and have realistic expectations of the child:

  • Academic achievement, athletic involvement and social adjustment are at least as great as children of similar intelligence who entered at age five;
  • One researcher who reviewed several studies noted that, "there is no reason to conclude that the early entrants would have achieved more and adjusted better if they had entered school at the usual time."

If you are considering early entrance: If you believe your child is advanced intellectually and socially, early entrance may be one option. Before deciding to request early entrance, parents should consider:

  • Meeting with the prospective kindergarten teacher to discuss how the school program would meet their child's individual needs and advanced skill level if the child entered at the regularly scheduled time.
  • Exploring other enrichment options available in the community during the year prior to regular entrance to kindergarten.

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Parenting Start

Much of this material was originally developed by Paula Laidig, Ph.D., NCSP, a school psychologist in the Stillwater (MN) Area Schools. An earlier version of this article was published in "Helping Children at Home and School: Handouts From Your School Psychologist" (National Association of School Psychologists, 1998).
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