Kindergarten …*sniff a flower, blow out a candle*… Readiness

kindergarten readinessIn the spirit of Dr. Seuss, and with all sarcasm intended, “How lucky, how lucky, how lucky you are” that you decided to have babies between the months of April and August. Because many parents of 5-year-olds LOVE figuring out this gem of a childhood development dilemma: “Do I or do I NOT send my beloved to the hallowed halls of kindergarten this year?” Take a deep breath. No. I mean it. Sniff a flower, blow out a candle. Pause for a moment and realize this is just one of a million decisions you will make for your child where any outcome is a GOOD one.

Let that sink in.

Whether you send them on or not, your decision will be a GOOD one. You are your child’s expert. Always and forever. Believe it.

As an early childhood educator, the number one question I am asked by parents in February is, “Will he/she be ready for kindergarten?” Here is how I respond to parents as a preschool director: “What is your gut telling you? What are your concerns? If they are asking me, usually there is an underlying concern. (And frankly, if I am worth my salt as a director, I may have already have gently addressed my concerns about a child’s progress with the parent.)

How is the child progressing in developmental domains? (Cognitive, Social, Emotional, Language, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Self Help) At our preschool, we offer a developmental screener (the Ages & Stages questionnaires) to help parents have a greater understanding of their child’s development. All year long, our teachers do an excellent job of communicating to parents whether their child is on target or needs some extra assistance reaching developmental milestones.

I hear you, though. “Funky Mama! Give me specifics! Should my child be able to scissor-cut for two hours straight, or know how to write his name in cursive, or be able to count to 100?!” Remember. We took deep breaths. Sniff a flower, blow out a candle. (And, by the way, the answer to all of the above questions is, “NO.”)

Now, here is my advice with my MOM hat on: If I could go back about 10 years, I would have held my own son back from going to kindergarten. He was intellectually, but not socially ready. The social part is a biggie, let me tell you. He struggled with the maturity required in each grade. His age was kindergarten ready, but he was not!.At that time in his life, I didn’t have the knowledge of early childhood development I do now, so I didn’t have all the right tools in my toolbox to make a different decision. As Beth Moore says, “If you could have, you would have.” So I try not to beat myself up about this. He is now a thriving straight-A student, and such a resilient, happy pre-teen. (I know, right?! Happy and pre-teen in the same phrase!)

We moms beat ourselves up over all sorts of things. Those beatings leave soul-bruisings, so be kind to yourself. You are so much wiser than the bruisings will tell you. I would tell my 30-year-old self the same thing.

I do have specific Kindergarten Readiness information and checklists for you, though, so get pumped! Go to colonialpreschoolkc.org and you can print them out for your very own reference. At our preschool, we love to answer your questions this time of year and are enrolling children into our programs (we have Kansas and Missouri campuses!) at this time. If you would like more information about our programs, Kindergarten Readiness, or just need a preschool-director-Funky-Mama-mom-type person to chat with, give me a call.

We can even sniff-a-flower-blow-out-a-candle together. 

As a reporter for KMBC-TV Channel 9 News, Krista Tatschl Eyler earned an Emmy nomination, covering everything from fires to homicides to tornados.  After five years of this intense life, she became the ultimate crossover artist – “Funky Mama” – singing for kids in a bold, straightforward, funk/soul style. She is a singer/songwriter and preschool music teacher in the Kansas City area. Funky Mama scored national recognition when she performed at the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll. When not performing, Funky Mama is a mom to two funky boys and a wife to one funky, handsome man.

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