Should 4-Year Olds be Allowed to Enter Kindergarten? A proposed bill in Georgia would bar them





I want you to imagine a 4-year old.  For parents - recall your 4-year old.  Maybe they're 16 now.  Maybe they're 2-years old right now. Either way, you can picture what your child was at 4, or how they will act at 4.

For non-parents - recall a 4-year old in your life.

Do they seem socially ready for a standard classroom setting?  Emotionally ready?  Do they seem like a good candidate for kindergarten?

The answers will be mixed, I assure you.

I have a 5-year old (who just turned 5 a month ago), who would've been ready for kindergarten in the womb.  No joke.  Okay, maybe a little exaggeration. She was talking a mile a minute before she could walk.  She's been writing letters and numbers since she was 2-years old.  She's been logistically, calculating my every move since she was 18-months old.

This is not a brag fest- believe me.  It's still uncanny to me how much she understands.

Before Christmas break, me and my daughter had this exact conversation in the car.....

4 YO: "Mom, this is NOT the right way to gymnastics."

Me: "Yes it is, it's just a different way."

4 YO: "No, you took a different way last week, and that different way, is not the same way we're going right now."

Me: " Well, there are two, maybe three or five or a million different ways to get to gymnastics."

4 YO: "Oh."

I mean, damn, I can't get nothin' past this chick.  She's constantly contemplating and calculating like a 30-year old.

My other child however.......

She's 3-years old right now.  She's too busy counting butterflies in the sky and making funny faces in the mirror to care about letters, numbers, which way we're going to gymnastics today or anything that involves a whole lot of critical thinking.

Two different children, who will be assessed as two very different 4-year olds.  One clearly ready for kindergarten, the other one, maybe not.

State lawmakers in Georgia are considering a bill that would prevent 4-year olds from entering kindergarten. 

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, House Bill 100 would require a child to be 5 by Aug. 1 for the start of the 2015-16 school year or by June 30 for the 2016-17 school year.

Proponents of the bill say some 4-year olds aren't developmentally ready to enter the kindergarten classroom.

And I get it, right - you have these students that have possibly never been in a pre-school or classroom setting before, and BAM - here they are surrounded by all of the other students that are ready.

As a result, teachers are then being forced to spend extra time with these 'un-prepared' students.  Which compounds the problem, because now the 'prepared' students are left behind. The prepared students aren't challenged, or given the quality time they deserve in the classroom because the teachers are too busy with the 'un-prepared' students.

That's a sucky scenrio.

Here's something to consider though - even your 6-year old may not be developmentally ready for kindergarten!

Yes, by and large, a 5-year old is ready for school.  That's the average age kids start school.  Medical communities and academic communities agree  that 5-years old is a mature enough, ON AVERAGE, to enter school.

All children are not made the same.

The issue here with the proposed bill is two-fold.

One, parents need to be properly assessing and evaluating their children at every age.  Is my child emotionally ready for kindergarten?  2nd grade? High school?  Is my child developmentally ready for kindergarten? Middle school? What have you.

And I get it parents.  I don't want to pay for pre-school anymore.  I don't want to drop my kid off at preschool, unload the dishwasher and then feel like it's time to turn back around again to pick my kid up! (Courtesy of a 4 hour pre-school day, ugh).  I want to work more!  I want more free time!  I get it.

But, parents need to be honestly evaluating their children to determine their readiness for all sorts of things, ie, school, sports, classes, certain friends, certain responsibilities.  No proposed bill is going to change the parental role we have as parents to determine the readiness of our children for certain situations.

The second aspect that is definitely worth talking about is - maybe Georgia isn't doing a good enough job preparing pre-shoolers for kindergarten?  Maybe the Georgia Pre-K program isn't living up to what it's supposed to? Maybe private preschools aren't developing our children enough?  Maybe the whole pre-K program (public and private) needs to be re-vamped.  Re-evaluated at the very least.

And let me tell you from experience, just because a pre-school has a solid curriculum, that doesn't mean they have an overall solid educational experience.  Children need to learn independence.  Good behavior.  Their creativity needs to be nurtured, especially since we live in a society that educates our children out of creativity.

There are several factors that contribute to a child's pre-school experience.  And too many times, a program will focus on one or two of these key areas, and neglect the rest.

Bottom line, lawmakers need to look at the pre-school programs - and look into whether or not they are adequate enough. They also need to look into what changes may need to be made to better prepare our children for kindergarten.

And PARENTS!  Do your due diligence.  Evaluate your child.  And if you feel moving the deadline up is UNFAIR- then get involved in the discussion.  Don't let something you feel is unfair, get passed!  It's time to be an advocate for your child.  Whatever that means to you.

Hear me talk about this bill on FOX 5 Atlanta


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