When should my child begin kindergarten? This question is often difficult for parents to answer because a wide variety of opinions exist on this topic, and frequently, these opinions are freely shared, causing confusion for the prospective kindergarten parent. Ultimately, within the parameters established by each school, this is a family choice. This reflection will attempt to assist families engaging in this decision by:

  • Sharing some general thoughts and other articles;
  • providing some questions to consider;
  • outlining specific skills a child should have before starting Kindergarten; and
  • concluding with a brief additional note about reading.

Articles & Initial Reflection

Each prospective student and family has unique circumstances when applying for school admission.  And while the admissions committee at Trinity Academy considers those circumstances for each application, it is our general recommendation that students enroll in kindergarten later as opposed to earlier. History has proven that students on a younger age spectrum often struggle, if not at first, later as their maturity level wanes behind those of their peers. This lag in maturity can impact social standing and friendship-building.  In addition, although Trinity’s classical approach utilizes strategies designed to align with a child’s cognitive development, it also employs a rigorous curriculum that can challenge a student whose cognitive abilities have not yet arrived at those of the rest of the class due to differences in age.

To assist with those wanting to take advantage of an extra year of cognitive and social development, Trinity offers a dynamic Transitional Kindergarten program designed to prepare students for a stronger kindergarten experience. This TK program serves as a bridge year, starting from a traditional preschool-like setting and transitioning students towards a kindergarten setting. In TK students work on letters, handwriting, numbers, and begin our memory curriculum while participating in all of the other elements of school such as music, Latin, PE, and art!

We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your child’s next steps. Whether granting your child the gift of an extra year of maturity through our transitional kindergarten program, or starting out in kindergarten, let us help you find the right place for your little one.

Some articles that may be helpful to you in your decision-making process are listed here.  Please note that these  articles do not necessarily reflect Trinity Academy’s view but are provided as a resource for families.   We have tried to provide articles reflecting differing points of view.

  • From Time.com – Here’s Why the Oldest Kids in Kindergarten are More Likely to Go to Harvard
  • The original research referenced in the Time article
  • From theatlantic.com – The New Preschool is Crushing Kids
  • Another study examining the impact of age on Kindergarten success
  • From educationnext.org – Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten
  • From newscientist.com – A look at the conversation in England around school age

Questions to Consider

  • Does my child meet the age minimum? How close is he or she to that age requirement? Does this mean my child will consistently be one of the youngest? Oldest? In the middle?
  • Does my child present as kindergarten-ready, based upon the skills outlined below? Is there evidence of this based on his/her current setting (preschool, daycare, etc)?
  • Looking ahead to the future:
    • How old will my student be when begining athletic participation?
    • How old will my child’s peers be as they go through stages of life in a school setting?
    • What grade will my student be in when he/she can begin to drive? Do I want him/her to be one of the last in the class to begin driving (and therefore riding with other students) or one of the first students driving?
    • How old will my student be when he/she graduate high school and heads off to college?

Specific Skills

Trinity requires a student to be 5-years old before August 1st in order to enroll in a kindergarten class for the academic year beginning that same August. Beyond the age requirement, students who can demonstrate most of the following skills will typically experience the smoothest transition to kindergarten:

  • Sit for story time of 5-10 minutes in length
    • Fun idea: have a nightly story time of this length using engaging novels for children that take many nights to read through!
  • Hold scissors correctly and cut on a line (straight or curvy)
    • Fun idea: have your child make a collage using old magazines, glue, and children’s scissors!
  • Write their first name correctly using an upper-case letter for the first letter and then lower-case letters for the remainder of their first name
    • Fun idea: practice with shaving cream in the bathtub or with baking materials if you’re making a cake!
  • Recognize all letters of the alphabet (upper and lower case) and be able to identify the letters in their first name
    • Fun idea: have fun with refrigerator magnets or playing alphabet Go Fish!
  • Numbers: Identify numbers 1-20 by sight in any order; count to 20; write numbers 1-10 in proper order; count objects 1-10
    • Fun idea: play “I spy” with numbers and remember to count throughout the day!
  • Identify basic colors & basic shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle)
  • Color neatly inside the lines
  • Follow 2 to 3 step directions

The following skills are not required but are a benefit:

  • Tie shoelaces
  • Tuck in a shirt by themselves
  • Zip up their jacket without assistance
  • Button sweaters on their own

An additional note about reading

In the checklist above you may notice the absence of reading. At Trinity Academy, we do not expect Kindergarten students to be reading! While students enter our Kindergarten program at various reading levels, we have a very specific, intentional approach to reading that we teach all students, beginning with the first phonogram. For more thoughts about reading, please speak with our Admissions Director or other staff member.

 

Matthew Breazeale
Lower School Head
Trinity Academy