Hudson Valley Parent

November 2013

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Ready — or not — for kindergarten Is academic redshirting right for your child? By SARAH COPPOLA A s a first time mom, there are some things I just didn't give a second thought about… I never considered not sending him." Lauren Dean of Poughkeepsie was taken by surprise this past May during a meeting with her son Noah's preschool teachers about his recent evaluations. While he was age-eligible to enter kindergarten in the coming fall, it was suggested that Dean consider postponing it another year. Redshirting her son (as this academic practice is called) had never even crossed her mind, but now she had a decision to make. Noah would turn 5 years old after kindergarten began, but before the New York State cutoff date of December 1. Children with birthdays in this range can enter elementary school at age 4 and are on the younger end of the class. Many parents with children in this situation are opting instead to postpone entrance to kindergarten a year, resulting in the students being close to 6 years old when they enter school. "For a child to be truly ready for kindergarten, she is required to engage in a complicated dance between the acquisition of social and emotional, physical, cognitive and language skills," says Dr. Lindsey Russo, an assistant professor of early " childhood education at SUNY New Paltz with 15 years experience as a preschool educator. "The experience can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces must fit neatly together — and this happens at different times for different children." "Young kindergarten kids do not have all the different skills they need to be successful in today's kindergarten." — Kindergarten teacher Tanya Daw Maturity and social skills Saugerties mom Marissa Siracusano chose to hold back her son Tyler, whose birthday is in October. "I felt academically my son would have been OK, but as far as maturity he needed the extra time." Maturity is a significant factor for parents making this decision. They wonder if their child will be able to handle the behavior that will be Beth Zeman of Monroe sent her 4-year-old daughter Sarah to kindergarten this year. Sarah has Down's syndrome, which meant redshirting would have resulted in a lack of necessary services. 18 Hudson Valley Parent n November 2013 Marissa Siracusano of Saugerties chose to hold back her son Tyler, whose birthday is in October. "I felt academically my son would have been OK, but as far as maturity he needed the extra time," she says. asked of them in the classroom — staying seated, keeping quiet during lessons, focusing on schoolwork. Tyler just started kindergarten this fall and Siracusano says she is glad she waited that extra year. For Dean, this was the chief concern regarding Noah. "His teachers said that it wasn't about his level of learning; that he was smart and already knew a lot for his age. They told me his biggest hurdle was he was immature." 'Fall babies' Tanya Daw, who has been teaching kindergarten in the Kingston City School District for 13 years, says "fall babies" can usually be picked out during the first semester of school. "The 4-year-olds are quietly looking around trying to figure out what is going on and how everyone else seems to get it." Kindergarteners are often expected to be on their best behavior for about seven hours, including bus time. "It's like a seven-hour soccer game in which it's expected that that there will be no whining, resting, lap time, Jessica Jackson of Ulster Park sent her daughter Abagael to kindergarten at the age of 4 and now wishes she had done things differently.

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