Kindergarten Or Pre-K? The Do's And Don'ts Of The Decision-Making Process And Daycare Centers

Is your child ready to move on to the next stage in their education? You're not sure if your five-year-old is really ready to start kindergarten. Before your family leaves their time in daycare centers behind, take a look at what you need to know about school readiness and an extra year in pre-k. 

Do—Learn About Age and School Readiness 

Every state has its own compulsory school age requirements. These age minimums and maximums can help to guide the next school steps your child takes. If they don't meet the kindergarten entrance age, they will need to complete another year of preschool. But if they are nearing or over the compulsory school age, it's time to start grade school.

Along with state requirements, most districts have specific cut-off dates. A child with a late-summer or early-autumn birthday may fall into an in-between category. Some of these children are developmentally ready to start kindergarten right away—while others may need to stay in their childcare centers for an extra year.

Don't—Assume You Know Everything About Your Child At School

Your child is old enough to start kindergarten. Does this mean that they are done with preschool? Even though age is one factor in the decision-making process, it isn't the only one. Before you decide to end your child's pre-k days, talk to their teacher. Not only is your child's daycare teacher an expert in early education, but they may also see a different side of your preschooler. 

The daycare educator can help you to understand where your child is developmentally, their strengths, the areas they may need to improve, and how all of this impacts the decision to stay in pre-k for another year or move on and start kindergarten. 

Do—Think About the Preschool Program

How will your child's current pre-k help them to prepare for kindergarten? You want to make sure that your child is ready for kindergarten. Even though it seems possible that an extra year of daycare will provide educational, social, and emotional development types of benefits, this isn't always true. 

A high-quality early childhood program can help a preschooler to build a foundation for later learning and develop new skills or abilities. But not every program has the quality level to accomplish these goals. If you feel that your child hasn't changed much during their pre-k years (or years) or you have questions about the program's curriculum and staff, consider a new option.

Explore child care centers in your area and look for programs that meet your preschooler's needs. This gives you additional options—including educational environments that aren't kindergarten.