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Is my child ready for kindergarten?

My son is 4 1/2 years old and is in preschool three afternoons a week.

Recently, his teacher has reported that he cries when he is pulled away from play time to do projects or school work.

I am concerned about him as I will be hopefully signing him up for Kindergarten soon. Any advice?


Rosann Nichols | Pediatrician

Rosann Nichols

It is not unusual for kids at this age to react negatively to abrupt changes in their routine.  They are also at a stage where they are testing boundaries to see if their behavior can change a situation.

Warn that activity is changing

It could be that having the teacher give a warning of an upcoming change in activity may be helpful.

For example, she could let him know they are going to be stopping with play time and changing to a project 3-5 minutes before with a simple, “Alright, in 3 minutes we are going to put away toys and move over to the rug for circle time.

Consistency is key

The other thing that helps in these situations is consistency. Obviously, you don’t want to force them into an activity in the midst of a tantrum, but I would not let him continue with playtime when he cries instead of participating in the expected activity with the rest of the class.

If he is able to continue with playtime after crying, it reinforces that his crying rendered the outcome he wanted. I would not be concerned about this being an absolute negative indicator for Kindergarten. This behavior does not necessarily mean he will not be ready.

As he continues his work at preschool, the expectations and routine of the classroom will become more familiar. I would continue to keep in close contact with his preschool teacher and your elementary school if you have ongoing concerns about Kindergarten readiness.

Read more answers by Dr. Nichols