Five Year Old to Kindergarten

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Dear Dr. Turben:

Congratulations on your award. You sound truly remarkable! Our question is the age-old one of whether our son should start kindergarten in the fall or wait a year. He will turn 5 May 29 and our "gut" feeling is we should wait. He is making a lot of progress and has met many of the milestones for his age (counting, recognizing letters, numbers, shapes, etc.) but in some areas he seems behind. For instance, he is having difficulty writing his name. It seems that he still lacks the motor skills necessary for that. Our experience with kindergarten with our daughter was that the children need to write, learn phonics, and even begin reading by the end of the grade. Also, he seems a little overwhelmed socially when in a group and often needs to be encouraged to interact with other children his own age. He plays happily for extended periods of time by himself or with his older sister (she's 7), but sometimes withdraws and plays alone when there are more children present. And when boys his age in our neighborhood call him to play (they're nice kids), he often would just as soon not. I know we probably should have him tested for readiness but we're not sure where to go. The screening method used by our local schools seems very quick and not very thorough. In fact, they might say he'll do well enough, but we're having nagging doubts. Do you do those assessments? Do you have any advice? We are very dedicated parents who just want to help our son get off to a good start. As far as his social behavior, he is generally friendly and polite, but maybe just is more introverted. Any suggestions, advice, or resources that you could provide would be appreciated greatly!

Thank you so much for contacting our site. Thanks, too, for noticing the newspaper article. Of course, if you feel an assessment in the home setting will give us a better picture, I'm happy to come and do a play learning assessment which takes an hour or so, I bring the toys, kids love the play and you observe. I'll write up a Learning Profile and then you can debate the problem as you and your husband discuss the pro's and cons.

I am sure that if you feel hesitant, then you need more information and children do not test well at that age in a strange setting. Your observation of what he can and cannot do, coupled with my knowledge of personality and child development will give you a clearer picture of what to do. Empowerment or shy temperaments often predict a slower start in gaining self-esteem and confidence. Call me if you want to proceed.

Dr. Susan Turben, Ph.D.

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