Determining A Child’s Readiness For Kindergarten

Question: My son is a summer baby who will be 5 this July. I’ve been told to meet with a kindergarten teacher to find out if he’s ready to start school. But I’m also looking down the line to middle and high school, when he may face another set of maturity issues — something no one can predict, obviously. I’d like to know what the experts think. Do most children with summer birthdays begin kindergarten as 5-year-olds? When is it a good idea to send a child to kindergarten as a 6-year-old? — Decision Time

Answer: The experts are all over the place in answering this question. The highly-regarded National Association for the Education of Young Children says to send children to kindergarten when they meet the age requirement. On the other side, there are books and articles galore about the wisdom of holding children, especially boys, back if they have summer birthdays. And over the years, we have received countless letters endorsing one view or the other because parents have sent or redshirted their children.

Since no one has a crystal ball, we advise considering: opinions of preschool teachers; children’s relationships with their peers; interest in academic areas, especially reading and math; the age of most of the children in the local kindergarten; and the appropriateness of the kindergarten curriculum for young children.

It also can be helpful to visit the kindergarten that your son will attend and see if it might be appropriate for your child. And do use the school’s readiness checklist or the one on our Dear Teacher website ( to get more information on your child’s readiness. Finally, remember, you are the one who knows your child best and will make the best decision for him.

Here are some statistics for you: The National Center for Education Statistics reports that academic redshirting occurs at the rate of about 9 percent nationwide among kindergarten-age children. Boys are more likely than girls to be redshirted, and in affluent communities the rate of redshirting can be as high as 20 percent of the students.

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Question: I’ll be taking the new SAT next month. I’m sort of curious about what other students have done right before the test. — High School Junior

Answer: Interestingly, the people at the College Board have learned a lot about what students have done before taking the test. Here’s what some of the students said that they ate for breakfast:

–Three hotcakes with maple syrup, one sausage patty and a hash brown

–Sunny side up eggs with cayenne pepper on oat nut bread

–Avocado on corn tortilla and a pumpkin protein bar

–An English muffin with butter and peanut butter and a banana with coffee

Many of the SAT takers revealed to the College Board that they had listened to the following music to focus before the test. Here are some of their favorites:

“Work” by Rihanna

“Stressed Out” by Twenty-One Pilots

“Sorry” by Justin Bieber

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

To celebrate after the test, students said that they did such things as treated themselves to ice cream, ordered Chinese food and went rock climbing.

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(c)2017 Compass Syndicate Corp.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

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Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, in care of this newspaper, 1 North Illinois Street No. 2004, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or log on to, or email