WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News

Time for kindergarten? Deciding when to enroll your kids

(WEAU) - One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. Famous words written by Dr. Seuss that many adults may remember and many kindergartners are learning. But, when is the right time for your child to attend kindergarten?

Now's the time parents are trying to figure out whether to put their 5-year old in kindergarten or to hold them back for the next school year.

Legally, parents can wait until their child reaches 6-years old, which is called "red-shirting."

Learning by drawing pictures and playing games, is a time many adults miss.

"They’re sponges. They just soak everything in,” said mother, Tracey Smiskey.

This mother of three from Chippewa Falls says she thought it was best to hold her oldest, 6 year old son Grant, back before starting kindergarten.

"It was hard to determine the best route for him would be. We didn't really have anything to compare it too," Smiskey.

"For parents this is a very important milestone for them," said Susan Hintgen, Altoona 4K Coordinator.

Susan says it’s difficult for first time parents to decide. The Wisconsin Department of Instruction says there's been no proven benefit from holding a child back.

"Usually is social emotional readiness. Perhaps their child is shy. Perhaps their child seems immature,” said Hintgen.

Susan says she sees this more with boys and that's why Grant was held back. But, he says he likes being one of the oldest in his class.

"I have a new teacher and she's really nice," said Grant Smiskey, 6 years old.

But whether your child is a boy or girl, a common problem that comes up is a child's summer birthday. Although Grant's birthday is in spring it was a concern.

"I think he would have struggled. I think that you know when kids struggle they get really discouraged and they get frustrated and sometimes they want to give up” said Smiskey.

"If you delay entrance it can actually increase the age range in the classroom and make it even trickier but not impossible for the teachers," said Hintgen.

Tracey says even though she's held her son a year back from kindergarten, she says she doesn't regret the decision one bit.

"When we started with the Pre-K program, he really started to talk a little bit more and open up," said Smiskey.

So if you're on the fence of sending your child, meeting with teachers and other parents can help. But, then again mother knows best.

"I think that was one of the biggest benefits that he was more mature, and his attention span had developed a little bit more,” said Smiskey.


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