Here are some simple  guidelines to decide if your child is kindergarten-ready.

Starting kindergarten is one of the biggest milestones in a child’s life. Here are some tips to help you decide whether your child will be socially, academically and physically prepared to start  school.

School cut-off dates

School districts around the country differ widely in their cut-off dates for students entering kindergarten, a factor that is certain to cause confusion for parents, especially those moving from one state to another, or considering private as well as public school. Your child may be deemed ready in one state or type of school but not in another. In most states, a child must reach the age of 5 for public school, but the birth date can range from June 1 to December 31. To find out the cut-off date in your state, visit this kindergarten cut-off dates by state website.

Experts  suggest that parents look beyond their child’s chronological age when enrolling him/her in kindergarten. Development and maturity play a huge part in making a decision weather your child is ready for Kindergarten or not. If the cut off date is September, summer birthday children are advised by most districts, to “wait” before entering Kindergarten. Another year of development can make a huge difference in a child’s life and in his/her future education. The advantage to being the oldest in the class verses the youngest gives children the greatest advantage for success.

How do I know if my child is ready?

There isn’t just one indicator that determines whether your child is ready for kindergarten. Experts agree that a child’s development needs to be evaluated in several areas.

Some school districts use assessment tests to determine kindergarten readiness. Children are asked questions to test their cognitive abilities. They might also be asked to perform tasks such as drawing shapes and sorting objects. Experts advise parents not to make a decision based entirely on test results, but to consider observations by teachers, pediatricians and parents.

The following is a guideline that includes a range of social, academic and developmental factors to consider when deciding if your child is ready to enter school:

  • Enthusiasm toward learning. Is he eager to explore and discover? Is he comfortable asking questions? Does he persist even when a task is difficult?
  • Language skills. Does she communicate her needs to other adults? Express her feelings appropriately?
  • Ability to listen. Can he follow simple instructions? Is he able to listen to an entire story without interrupting?
  • Desire to be independent. Does she separate from parents for the school day? Is she starting to take responsibility for her personal belongings? Can she follow simple two-step tasks? Can she use the bathroom by herself?
  • Ability to interact with children and adults. Is he able to share, respect others, compromise, take turns and problem-solve?
  • Strong fine-motor skills. Is she able to hold and use a pencil? Cut with scissors? Is she learning to write her name?
  • Basic letter and number awareness. Can he  recognize some letters and their sounds? Can he count to 10, order  and identify the numerals?

Get advice and observe

  • Speak with your child’s preschool teacher. If your child has attended preschool, talk to her teacher. As an educator, she will have experience and knowledge to be able to clearly see  how your child compares to other children at the same grade level and whether she thinks she is ready or not. Her opinion on readiness should be taken to heart, since she has the experience of observing and working with  children as they develop in the early years.
  • Visit pre-k and kindergarten classes. Spend some time visiting both a kindergarten and a pre-k class. Does the teacher focus on writing and phonics, or is the curriculum based on hands-on activities? Look for a setting that would best fit your child’s personality, temperament and abilities.