4 Things to Know About Early Kindergarten Entry

March 29, 2014 in Blog | Comments (0)

Although children are typically five years old when they begin kindergarten, some children develop more quickly – to the point where parents may feel their child is ready earlier.  Deciding whether your child is ready to start kindergarten early can be challenging, but being well armed with information can help make the decision a little easier. Here is a list of four things parents should keep in mind about early kindergarten entry.

1. Know the early entry cut-off date. In North Carolina, children must be five years old by August 31 in order to enroll in kindergarten for the coming school year; however, children who have reached their fourth birthday by April 16 may enter kindergarten early if they meet early entry criteria.

2. Assess your child’s school readiness. Kindergarten isn’t quite what it used to be. Not only are many kindergarten classrooms full rather than half day programs, but the curriculum can be rigorous. To this end, it’s important to assess your child’s school readiness, which refers to the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills necessary to learn and function in a school environment. Characteristics associated with school readiness can be divided into three general skill categories:

  • Functional skills include a child’s ability to take care of him or herself and function relatively independently.  Behaviors include following routines, self-help skills like dressing and eating, and working independently (with appropriate supervision).
  • Social/emotional skills refer to a child’s ability to cooperate and play with other children, as well as behave appropriately. Sharing with others, taking turns, following directions, and handling frustration all fall into this category.
  • Early learning skills refer to beginning academic concepts. These include fine motor skills (e.g., coloring and cutting with scissors), identification of shapes and colors, and academic skills such as counting, understanding basic math concepts, and literacy skills such as reciting the alphabet, letter/sound relationships, rhyming, and reading some common words.

3. Be aware of your school system’s requirements. Public school systems in NC each have specific early entry requirements. See the links below for more information from nearby school systems.

Wake County (Raleigh, Cary, Holly Springs, Garner, and surrounding areas)

Johnston County (Smithfield, Willow Springs, Benson, and surrounding areas)

4. Obtain the appropriate testing. To consider your child for early kindergarten entry, schools require a psychological evaluation including an IQ and achievement test in reading and math, scores from which must fall at the 98th/99th percentile.  This testing must be submitted to your child’s base school prior to the start of the new school year – keep this in mind if your child will be attending a year-round school!

If you are considering early kindergarten entry, GRAY Psychological Associates can work with you to assess your child’s readiness as well as provide testing as required by local school systems. Rest assured that our evaluations are interactive and engaging, designed to elicit optimal performance from your child.

The start of kindergarten is a big milestone and can be an exciting time for young ones as they anticipate doing “big kid” things like riding the bus and buying lunch in the cafeteria – even getting homework can be a thrill!  Well, at least until the newness wears off…

Posted by Dr. Kim Getty

Reference: Rafoth, M. A., Buchenauer, E. L., Crissman, K. K. & Halko, J. L. (2004). School readiness – preparing children for kindergarten and beyond: information for parents. National Association of School Psychologists.