My son has almost the same birthdate as my daughter, minus 24 hours and 6 minutes. Even though they are 4 years apart in age, they are 5 years apart in school. She was the newly 5 year old when she started school. At the suggestion of a wise preschool teacher to give him an extra year to grow, he was the newly 6 year old starting kindergarten.
By the time he entered kindergarten he was so ready. That extra year gave him time to mature so he was developmentally ready for the challenges. Thank you, Miss Julie, for recognizing that he needed it!
In a typical classroom you have those children who developmentally are ready to take each new skill taught to them and run with it. You also have those who aren’t and need the repetition over and over until it finally clicks when they are developmentally ready. Some are confident, others are looking around a bit frustrated and often times disappointed.
This is what I have observed over the years with children who aren’t developmentally ready:
1. They become easily frustrated…..who wouldn’t? Think back to a time when you were trying to put together something and you didn’t understand the less than perfect directions.
2. They learn to cheat…..sad to say that about a kindergartner but it happens! It isn’t all their fault. We make it too easy for them by placing 4 to 6 children at a table. Children at this age want to please. They learn early on that perfect papers bring praises. They also learn who the “smart” kids in the class are and if they sit by someone that falls in that category they look on their paper. Then unfortunately it becomes habit and they don’t need to pay attention. So instead of ……..
3. Listening….. they play! I have seen entire monologues between two crayons, listened to “Stomp” wannabes with pencil, art boxes, desk and even shoes, and watch future builders construct anything and everything with eraser tips and markers. The one that totally amazes me though, is the little, teeny, tiny bit of paper that can entertain some children for hours! Not listening also means………
4. Not focusing! How can you learn when you can’t focus on what you are being taught?
So if they aren’t listening or focusing…
5. They become bored. Nothing is making sense. It is like me at an opera. And when they are bored, they play and they don’t finish their work and start entertaining themselves by once again playing……..
6. They get in trouble because they are keeping the teacher from teaching, and their classmates from learning.
7. And the worst…..their self esteem falls. It doesn’t take them long to figure out they aren’t on the same level as their classmates. They want to be. They want to get the 100 on the Wednesday spelling pretest. They want to be the one to read the directions to the class. They want to be successful.
Help them! If the teacher suggests you give your child a extra year to mature, there is usually a good reason. In “Don’t Break The Table” I posted that in a classroom, maturity levels are very evident. You see your child mature everyday and celebrate their successes but in a classroom where the majority have already accomplished those successes, the immature child stands out. They struggle. If that is your child, you should have ………
Listened to the teacher!!