A Baby Ready For Kindergarten, College, and Life

A parent recently asked my advice about choosing a preschool for her son. I responded with my belief that the purpose of preschool is socialization, and that a developmental ‘learn through play’ program is best. She agreed in theory, but admitted she worries about kindergarten readiness. Will a school that does not teach academics provide enough preparation for kindergarten?

This made me think — what do children really need to succeed in kindergarten?  Yes, there are some simple skills that can give a child a leg-up. But parents are inclined to make the mistake of sacrificing the long view of a child’s needs for the peace of mind they get when the child has mastered letters, numbers and scissors.

A successful school experience (or, for that matter, a successful life) is not the result of skills taught in preschool.  It is sown from the seeds of a parent’s trust. When an infant, toddler or preschooler is ‘taught’ something he may not be ready to learn, he does not feel that trust.

My husband and I are planning an East Coast college tour for our eldest daughter, a high school junior. This is the girl whose babyhood brought me to my knees, to Parent/Infant Guidance Classes that follow the RIE philosophy, and finally to my life-changing mentorship with Magda Gerber.  This child was my “guinea pig” for the approach to child-rearing that I not only parent with, but also teach, write about, live and breathe.

In spite of my daughter’s accepting, laid-back parents, she is shooting for the moon in her college search.  She is self-confident, ambitious and deeply in tune with herself. The conviction she has in her choices, her effortless poise, and her no-nonsense maturity have a way of erasing any doubt in her capabilities. While I am often riddled with self-doubt, I have never doubted her.

What children need to succeed is our undying trust in them.  Feeling trusted by parents, who are godlike beings to an infant and toddler (alas, much more mortal in the eyes of a teenager!), gives children trust in their instincts and belief in themselves.

Trusting a child means having faith in his capabilities from the very beginning, and wholeheartedly accepting our child for all he is…and isn’t. And that means allowing our baby to show us what he is learning, rather than the other way around.  He doesn’t have to perform to grab our attention or approval. What he chooses to do while he plays is enough. (see this video on self-directed play.) 

When we teach or stimulate our babies, they receive the message that their interests, the things they choose to work on, are unimportant. Their parents want them to do something else. They lose self-trust.  Infant expert Magda Gerber went so far as to say, “How do adults dare to believe they know what an infant is ready to learn at any particular moment?”

Implicit trust means letting go of our lifelong desire – projected onto our child — to be a tennis ace, a violin virtuoso, or a valedictorian. It means allowing our child to struggle and flounder, to be (gasp!) average.

It means allowing our child to be a ‘quitter’ when he loses interest in the soccer team, in completing a puzzle, or in learning to tie his shoes. It is valid to quit something when one feels finished with it, and a trusted child knows when he is done, or when he needs a break.

Trusting in a child’s capabilities also means not encouraging him to quit by needlessly helping him.  If a child is working on something, we wait and respect his process. For instance, we do not take him down from the play structure he climbed on his own, but instead give him the opportunity for a successful descent by spotting him, calmly supporting him, allowing him to struggle. Children can be easily tricked into believing they are incapable by a caregiver’s well-intentioned help.  Parents can solve a child’s problems in a jiffy, but doing so robs the child of a profitable learning experience.

Children build true self-confidence — not by being showered with praise, but when they have opportunities to solve their own problems and overcome the frustration that often precedes eventual success.

Secure and trusted children are any teacher’s dream. They have the self-confidence to raise their hand and say, “I don’t understand.” They don’t crumble when they make mistakes. They are persistent in their struggle to grasp something challenging. They are their own people – enthusiastic learners with a unique point of view that they are eager to share. Because they are secure, and like who they are, they are kind to others. They are never afraid to be themselves, a ‘self’ that has been honored and encouraged since they were born. And eventually, they’ll learn to use scissors like the best of them.

I share more about the power of trust in my book: 

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. wow… brilliant post. I absolutely wholeheartedly agree. I try to really let my daughter just ‘be’ with the thought that this way she will grow up to be who she wants to be and feel strength in herself. I believe that feeling secure in your family unit and feeling praised for who you are and what you want to do, provides the solid base from which a child grows into a confident adult.

  2. angela mancuso says:

    This is a great analysis, and I agree, but I also believe that alot of parents miss the cues from children when they actually need to be pushed. Preschool is not the time to push, and nor is elementary. but children do have to understand on the other side of this arguement, that they are NOT allowed to quit at whatever they choose to quit at. Allowing them to quit soccer is different than allowing them to quit at math because they decide they dont like it.
    I recently read Ted Kennedy’s book. It is fascinating in that the mistakes of the parents and their offspring have all been immortalized in American history, but in reading this book, you can also see where Teds fathers absolute sticktoitiveness got the family through so much. The absolute demand not to quit for the sake of quittting.
    My own oldest child would have dropped out of high school had I not demanded that he look at the bigger picture and do more for himself. And the reason, I believe, is because I did not express strongly enough my own interest in his education. I was too involved in my career. The upshot was that if I wasnt paying attention he didnt care. And it almost turned a straight A student into a drop out. The lesson for me was that my child did need to be pushed, and I did need to tell him I knew what was best…..

    1. Angela,

      Thanks for your insightful and articulate comment!

      Yes, of course we must ask children to honor a commitment to go to school! Even preschool requires a commitment – the child can’t just attend when they feel like it – which is one of the reasons it’s so important to choose the right one, and then feel confidence in our choice. The child picks up any ambivalence we might have. Children do not always want to go to school or do homework, and we have to say, “I know you don’t want to go today, (or do your math homework, etc.), but life is sometimes doing things we don’t want to do.”

      It’s always interesting, and sometimes illuminating to explore the reason behind the child’s resistance. Sometimes we’ve find out that our children’s feelings have been hurt by a peer or a teacher. Or maybe, as in your case, it is a call for attention. But, once the child begins school I think it’s even more important to trust her to direct her free time, and not coax her to do extra-curricular activities that we choose.

      My focus is on the first years of life, because that’s when the relationship of basic trust is formed between the parent and child. A child that feels trusted, and not pushed, gains self-confidence that lasts a lifetime. When I told an acquaintance the other day about my daughter’s ambitions for college, she said, “Great. You don’t have to push her, because she pushes herself. ” I thought to myself, “She pushes herself because we don’t push her.”

      Angela, thanks again for sharing your experience.

  3. housewife bliss says:

    I really enjoyed this post. My 3 children are all very different and all under 6 right now. Education is key for us, but so is social skills, I fear that in many respects American schools do not focus enough on nurturing social skills from an early age. We are moving from London to Arizona this year and I will be interested to see the US system first hand. However, I think that as parents the best thing we can do for our children is to support them, give them wings and encourage them to fly regardless of where they go to school.

    1. Wow! London to Arizona will be a big change. I haven’t heard about that particular difference in the British and US school systems. Please keep me informed, and…welcome! I hope you like it here in the US. Thanks for commenting!

  4. This is a wonderful, insightful blog post, Janet, that I hope many people see. I agree that we need to allow children to try things out & end when their interest ends – especially when they are young. Learning to attend to task is an important skill for successful learning. I know from my own experiences as a child & as a parent there are times that words of encouragement to stick with something just a little longer is all it takes to allow for mastery of a new skill. The wisdom comes in knowing the signs of whether stopping or continuing a little longer is best – something I am still developing.

    Part of that wisdom is awareness of where our child is developmentally and what skills require nurturing. For example, as a musician I have seen many children quit after a year or two of beginning band. Those students quit just when they had developed the skills for making “real” music that impacts us mentally & emotionally. With our daughter, she chose to participate in both band (on clarinet) and orchestra (on cello) rather than our encouraging her to give instruments a try. With clarinet as she initiated this long before it was offered at school, it was encouraging 15 minutes of practicing 5 days a week before she was “hooked”. As she took part in orchestra at her elementary school, we requested she play a full year and try various venues for playing before making a decision to continue.

    Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and allowing us to comment!

    1. JoAnn,

      Thanks so much for adding your wisdom! I totally agree with you that in certain situations (especially with music lessons) older children might need our encouragement to “get over the hump” and hang in longer. In those instances we have to wrestle with whether to push or not. Sometimes we have to dig deeper to know why children want to quit. I have never experienced this situation with my 2 daughters, but my 8 year old son recently wanted to quit a soccer team he had been extremely excited about for weeks. We were baffled, but wary of putting any pressure on him to continue since it is a big commitment for someone his age. We wanted him to know we trusted him and we didn’t want to “ruin” soccer for him. We asked all kinds of questions, but got nowhere until my husband had the wonderful instinct to ask if another boy had said something to hurt his feelings. That was exactly what had happened. Then we were able, with the coach’s help, to encourage our son to continue doing what he loves.

      JoAnn, thanks again for your comment!

    2. I absolutely love this blog post. We home school, my son will be 4 14, October. People think we’re nuts because we let him pick what he wants to learn…we play allot as well. It’s a Blessing to watch his eyes light up when he figured out something new on his own!

  5. So true. I find at preschool that the motivation behind a lot of parental concern about our play-based curriculum without the more formalised literacy learning and structure is fear. Fear that their children will be behind when they arrive at school on the first day, fear that they are not giving their child the best start in life. Behind that fear is societal pressure (you have to do well, you have to succeed, you have to keep up) as well as a lack of information about how children learn and develop in the early years.

    If we as early childhood teachers can articulate the reasons WHY we offer the program that we do and provide parents with the information they need to feel confident that they are doing the best for their child by giving the opportunity to experience a play based early childhood program then we are also giving them the tools to trust in themselves.

    1. Jenny, thanks, very well said! I totally agree. When we lack confidence in our children’s abilities and parent out of fear we project those feelings onto our children, and sometimes create what we fear, a child who not as able as he could be (because parents don’t believe in him!) I see this happening beginning in infancy.

      Learning about our child’s true developmental needs is the key to trusting our children and ourselves.

  6. I was chatting with one of the teachers from the 4/5 room at my daughter’s preschool. I asked her what they do differently at that age. She said, we don’t worry about letters or numbers per se in terms of kindergarten readiness. We want our kids to learn listening skills. She said that is what they need for kindergarten. She also said they do teach letters and numbers as well as art, music etc… but the goal in the older class is to get the kids to listen… the other stuff will come easily then.

    your thoughts?

    1. I agree that good listening skills are vital. And, unfortunately, exposure to TV, videos, computer games, etc., interferes with the natural development of healthy listening skills (according to Jane Healy in a compelling book that I highly recommend: Endangered Minds). The visuals are so engaging that “listening” is unimportant. The developing mind is trained to NOT listen. So, the ability to listen has a become an issue beginning in Kindergarten for a while now, (and I imagine it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem) and it sounds like your preschool is trying to help. That sounds positive to me depending on how they plan to do it.

  7. This article speaks so much truth. I can instinctively feel that it is correct. Even watching my son grow, he changes his interests week by week. Not long ago he loved numbers and hated colouring in, now he is the opposite. I am allowing him to follow his interests and finding that he is learning and absorbing so much. With my second child I didn’t encourage him to do anything, even to walk. He has been the master of his destiny and is growing into an incredible intelligent little boy.

  8. Slightly off-topic, but: if you’re looking into East Coast colleges, do check out St. Mary’s College of Maryland. It’s a wonderful liberal arts College in a stunning location, and with an excellent student-teacher ratio.

    I spend 4 years there, and those were some of the best years of my life. And no, it wasn’t because of the parties 😉

    1. Ah well…I just saw that 1) this post is from March, and 2) that she got into Stanford – great news, congratulations!!

  9. Jan, that sounds great…including the parties. We didn’t look at that school, but I have two more children, so I’m definitely open to hearing your recommendations!

  10. I agree with all this, except I’m not sure that “A secure and trusted child is any teacher’s dream.” The school system is strongly slanted to obedient and conforming children! My kids, who were allowed to learn as they wanted in the early years, chafe at the restriction of school. The older one (age 11) lost much of his love of learning upon starting school. The younger one hasn’t, yet, but he’s only done preschool so far.

  11. First off – congrats to your daughter, and you too mama! Second, beautiful post. I taught 1st/2nd grade before losing my job (budget cuts). I do believe in exposing young children to the basics of ABC’s and 123’s but that can all be done though reading, playing, and talking! It seems so simple, yet so many parents do not play, interact and play with their children. I absolutely do not believe that academic type worksheets need to be pushed on young children in preschool. They will get plenty of that once they start Kindergarten. Children are pushed so much starting in elementary school. I do not believe in it, but as a public elem. teacher my hands were tied. Young children only have so many years where they will be simply allowed to play. Let them play.

  12. Thanks Janet – love this! I am SO lucky that we live across the street from Bev Bos’s preschool and my daughter will get to spend 3 years of playful bliss at Roseville Community. But when I tell my friends who are also moms looking at preschools about how great it is and try to explain it I don’t think they “get it” – usually they ask me about the academics and don’t like that it’s not a fulltime all day thing. You and Teacher Tom really help keep my morale up. Personally I can’t wait til she starts going this September for my own benefit so I can actually meet some likeminded parents in my area- there’s really no RIE community where I live and EVERYONE I meet at the playground seems to be of the good job / forced sharing / timeout mentality.

  13. “Children build true self-confidence – not by being showered with praise, but when they have opportunities to solve their own problems and overcome the frustration that often precedes eventual success.”


  14. Laurence P says:

    As a teacher I can only agree with you. I teach in hign school and many teenagers do not try anymore. They are convinced they will fail no matter what they do.

    And this is very difficult for us to find a way to deal with them, even with all the comprehension and gentleness in the world.

    Unfortunatly apart from a style of education, I also see a lot of social determinism in it… And both are often linked.

  15. Hi Janet, love the article. I’m curious what your thoughts are about Natural Learning/ Unschooling? It just seems a perfect fit for RIE. I have only just started learning about it, but the more I hear it just makes sense (much like RIE) Infants and toddlers learn on their own schedule, following their own interests- and it all works beautifully. And then they turn five and all this changes and they must sit and be taught ? Love to hear your thoughts 🙂

    1. Hi Brooke! If parents are able and willing to homeschool/unschool, I think it can work well. For the daughter I mention in this post, it would have been akin to a punishment to not have the day to day social experience of school, but I know that other children thrive. I personally think group experiences are important, so ideally there would be a community of unschoolers in your area to provide some peer interaction.

      The other side of the coin is that children 5-6 years of age enter the stage Piaget termed “Concrete Operational”. At this time children are developmentally ready to be taught and they can do some sitting and listening. Since I provided my children uninterrupted free play and choice in the previous 5 years, all three were ready (and eager) for Kindergarten…and they have done well in a traditional school setting. Whatever they choose to do outside of school is still completely up to them, even if it’s “nothing”, although that has seldom been the case.

  16. Thanks so much for your thoughts Janet. I also wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your articles. I was thinking about something my Psych professor said one day- humans are not well suited to learning from textbooks- we learn best with small chunks of information at a time. For so many of us who receive your articles, you give us ideas to think about and slowly work into our lives in nice bite sized pieces. Having worked with children for the last ten years or so it is still exciting learning new things about children. Thank you so much for the wonderful work you are doing spreading the word. You are making a difference in so many lives 🙂

    1. Such lovely, hopeful words to wake up to this morning! Brooke, you are so welcome…and I agree that children need more than textbook learning. I think it’s wonderful that you are looking into more exciting ways to educate. 🙂

  17. I think there is a balance to be struck. Had I never “pushed” (encouraged, supported, not given up) my daughter to do certain things, she would likely not have realized she was capable at them. What I teach her is that if something doesn’t come easily, be it hanging from the monkey bars or counting past ten or kicking a ball or saying words in another language, we try and try and try and try and keep trying until it works.

    I teach her that those failed attempts are good things that are worth her time and effort. Rather than seeing that she fell from the monkey bars and allowing her to quit because she doesn’t like it (what does that mean anyway? no one likes doing things they’re not good at), I say, “That was two seconds longer than last time that you held on! That’s your new all-time record! Let’s try to beat it!”

    I know that my daughter cannot be good at everything, but I feel that a completely lax attitude toward her learning (yes, she will learn through play and yes, I will be watching closely to see what she naturally gravitates toward and nurture it) would be lazy parenting on my part. I’m much more in the Concerted Cultivation camp, which I think is not only the result of my training as an educator, but also a result of growing up in a low SES environment. Had no one encouraged me and actually taught me things, I would likely have ended up in a very different place in life, as many of my peers did.

    Something to consider is that this hands-off approach is a luxury touted by parents with a substantial social and financial safety net and does not necessarily work well for those in under resourced communities, and especially not for those living in generational poverty with almost insurmountable obstacles between them and their basic needs being met. As a kid, I grew up in a better economic place than my parents did, but my family certainly didn’t have the resources (and perhaps even more importantly, social capital) to get me into Stanford. I had to compete academically for scholarships because otherwise, college would not have been a reality for me. Should my parents have just let me learn through play and quit things at my whim and hope it all turned out all right? My SAT scores were basically a life-or-death matter in this regard; how much would experiential learning have helped me? I’m sorry, but sometimes you just have to crack a book.

    I personally love experiential learning and will seek out many such opportunities for my daughter. But I am in a socioeconomic position to do so. It felt very different when, as a kid, I had to compete with kids whose parents made lots of money, who always had groceries, who didn’t value toys (motorcycles etc) over saving for college, who had college educations themselves, who had connections, who could afford to take their kids on college visits. Yes, I went to college sight-unseen. Had I not realized the reality of my social and economic position, I couldn’t have competed with these people.

    No, you don’t have to push your kids too hard, if your socioeconomic status, education level, and social connections are above a certain baseline. But if you’re trying to help kids with significant obstacles in those areas, the “go where your heart leads you” non-academic approach won’t cut it. Making it okay for your child to be “ordinary” is, in my opinion, a luxury for those who can afford it. Those kids are going to college regardless. Their parents will hire expensive SAT tutors and find them jobs through their connections. There are no consequences for mediocre performance in a real sense. This is not the case for all.

    1. Bee, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Your view about it being lazy not to shape our children and engineer their education is a popular one. I know many parents who believe this is their role…and it then becomes their role, because this is what the child knows and learns to expect.

      One of the problems with this approach is that it assumes our children share our interest in “hanging from the monkey bars or counting past ten or kicking a ball or saying words in another language”. We decide what is important. Being capable of performing a task is one thing, giving a hoot is quite another.

      Every time young children must learn the things their parents believe are important, they become less encouraged to discover and pursue what is truly important to them. Inner-directedness is a fragile, precious thing…and there will always be the questions, “Will my mom be impressed with me even if I can’t perform on the monkey bars? Is what I like to do good enough? Do my mother and father know me better than I do?” The disconnect begins. Much better to go to school empowered with a parent’s trust…and a passion for making mud pies at the park that has been honored.

      1. Yes, I see what you mean, but I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Introducing a child to a new skill or area of development doesn’t mean squashing their love of “mud pies.”

        Personally, I didn’t develop several of my very strong interests until I was introduced to them. Without that introduction, without it being required to try various things just once (doesn’t mean a commitment to an activity, just giving something a shot even if it was a one-time deal), my comfort zone would have been very small, and I doubt I would have had much motivation to reach outside of it very often.

        I don’t see anything wrong with exposing children to a wide range of options and activities and seeing what piques their interest and what doesn’t, in addition to giving them space to explore the world on their own.

        I find articles such as this that stress a strict dichotomy among parenting styles to be problematic and misleading. It’s not always either/or, good/bad, internal/external. Sometimes it can be both/and.

        1. Bee, these ways of parenting tend to be “either/or” because one can easily undermine the other. Every interaction we have with our children develops our relationship. Introducing a child to an activity is one thing, keeping him or her on task because we believe they should learn monkey bars, numbers or certain languages is quite another. Whether or not a parent considers this a positive thing to do, it does discourage inner-direction and affect trust in oneself. Even “introducing” is best done with a light touch, because children are sooooo aware of our agenda.

          I really appreciate this discussion, Bee, so thank you!

  18. Introducing is fine. The critical question is “Whose activity is it?” Self-directedness is critical for optimal brain development.
    This sentence is interesting to me:
    “But parents are inclined to make the mistake of sacrificing the long view of a child’s needs for the peace of mind they get when the child has mastered letters, numbers and scissors.”
    because it implies that there is a choice. There isn’t. Optimal mastery of letters, numbers, colors, etc. depends on optimal brain development.

  19. Such common sense and balanced perspectives are sorely needed in this modern age of pushing academics earlier and earlier. Achievement should be defined by the joy the child finds in learning, not by our own expectations. I suppose my biggest challenge with my own children is being able to balance those expectations. How many times have I allowed my kids so much freedom that they didn’t experience the boundaries they needed to feel secure, or pushed them too hard to do something they weren’t ready for? With my third child, now 2, I am so much more aware of her capacities than I was with my other two. Reading blogs like this really help keep my parenting eyes wide open! I am getting much better at helping when it is needed, but allowing her to do for herself when necessary. I wait for her to do things for herself, rather than just swooping in and fixing the situation for her. I find that often she asks for help, and I help her to do it for herself, rather than doing it for her. The only thing taking away from my joy as a parent in being able to observe more mindfully is my guilt that I didn’t have these resources and perspectives with my first two kids. Thanks so much for boosting awareness of respectful, developmentally appropriate approaches to raising and caring for children.

  20. I love your RIE posts, but will keep questioning this “play-based preschool” point of view, which I really don’t get. I am a Montessori teacher, and what I see is that,yes, all children need to play, and, in a group, will find it easy. I see children first walk outside and be unsure of “what to do”- (I even had a little boy ask me that: “What do you do out here, anyway?”) I smile and wait, and soon they are buzzing around like bees.

    However, children want to learn skills. They want that with an intensity that I can rarely match. They show this when they learn to walk and speak their native language. They want to use tools (scissors are the first attractive thing in the classroom, evey two year old is drawn to scissors, so they need a little instruction and supervision that scissors are for paper, and not skin, your friend’s hair, or your clothes!)They want to understand numbers and letters, because these are obviously important, or people wouldn’t always be asking you: “How old are you?” and writing things down.

    So I see our job as parents and preschool teachers and other grownups with whom the child interacts to not just praise them, but to teach them the skills everyone needs to be successful, how to learn, how to get help.

    After the huge tasks of walking and talking, how can we leave an amazing, talented 18 month-2 year old with a bunch of plastic toys and a world of pretend play? Pretend play is vital, but not all their is. Imagination is nothing without some skills.

    I literally have children in preschool who do not know the physics of building with blocks, do not know and do not know how to figure it out. They do not know that they can do something which is initially difficult, so they give up. Give up at 3 or 4!!!!!!!

    Yes, social skills may be one of our most important teaching goals, and, fortunately, Montessori recognized the need for practice, and fun practice, so she wrote it in the curriculum. But our self esteem is only real if it comes from actually accomplishing something.

    Yes, I agree that we should not be deciding what skills are important: I certainly don’t care if a child likes the monkey bars or concentrates on jumping from one stump to another without falling, but they need the time to perfect some skills that their body or mind is calling out for, and sometimes the encouragement to try something, in order to see if they like it. A teacher is not doing it out of her own ego, but out of concern for the child. And self care and knowlege of the world, including what numbers and letters are and what they are used for, is part of skills for life.

    1. margarita says:

      Mary, you raise some interesting points about the role of the teacher. Giving children the opportunity to master things is important, and I think there can be a place for a teacher “offering” something for the children to consider. I think there are things that children can learn from having something explained or modeled. I wonder, though about your statement “I literally have children in preschool who do not know the physics of building with blocks….” etc. Your focus when you look at these children seems to be on what they lack — not on what they can do. Why judge the child for letting the task go? Why not trust them — even when they seem to be “giving up” — that they are making discoveries even from that? I think there’s a balance to be struck between no guidance and too much guidance, but I think children also need to be free to walk away from something for awhile without that being seen as a flaw or something that a teacher needs to fix or remedy. I have often thought of sending my child to a Montessori school, but my fear is that, despite Maria Montessori’s admonition to follow the child, too many teachers in Montessori schools are really trying to lead rather than to follow….

  21. Kim van Zyl says:

    Hi, Thank you for the post. We live in Cape Town, South Africa. Here school has become like the beginning of your career. You almost have to give in an CV(resume)to apply to go to that school. Also what happens is your child gets interviewed by the primary school to see if she is ready for school. So can she count to 100, can she count backwards etc. So how to I not push my child to learn these things to atleast get into primary school

  22. Shannon Douglas says:

    How do you balance both this concept of respecting the child, while also teaching them to respect adults, follow directions, and behave politely in public? I feel we have done quite well in rearing a confident, and trusting child, but he does not listen to us when we tell him to sit at the dinner table, or do not un-buckle your seat in the car, and if we want to eat out with him at a restaurant but don’t want to ruin any other patrons meals, we have to let him watch netflix from our phone the entire hour. He is an extremely wiggly and active child, and I am more worried about this aspect of kindergarten preparedness than whether he has his ABCs memorized.

  23. Hi Janet! I am such a fan of your work and love this article. I am wondering what your opinion is on waiting a year for kindergarten for a child with a late spring birthday? It isn’t something we were considering until very recently. My daughter is highly sensitive and has separation anxiety. We started her in preschool at 3, then took her out (at her drs advice) due to pretty consuming anxiety. At 4, she has absolutely flourished at the same school. She started out the year cautious and now is much more confident it has been amazing to watch!
    Her kinder will only have one 20 min recess (which seems cruel for 5 year olds). She is already having anxiety about kindergarten. I was young for my class in school and had anxiety and know I could have used an extra year. I know she is capable. I just want her to enjoy school instead of feeling scared and nervous and wonder if given an extra year she may flourish emotionally like this year. Do you have thoughts on this? I really appreciate it!

  24. Edith Esquivel says:

    Your article is great. Congratulations on it. My son is two and a half and I trust him completely, even when he falls down and hurts himself at the park! However, he doesn’t talk yet. He is speech delayed (we think it is due to a past exposure to screens, our doctor thinks it is genetic because he doesn’t believe in studies showing the effects of screens on speech development). My son is working with two different therapists three hours a week, but I can see he doesn’t like it much. I often wonder if it is the right thing to do to subject him to different activities he is not very keen on doing. Ultimately, most of his achievements have come from us using language with him and playing with him. We could reduce the hours a week he receives therapy… should we? Is it helping him just a bit at the cost of hurting his confidence? Or the fact that a stranger is doing it helps?

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