Kindergarten is a big step. Based on your child’s age, he or she may be ready to start their schooling, but children with ADHD are often immature, have difficulties in social situations and have a hard time sitting still, paying attention or following directions. You aren’t sure whether you should give it a try, send him off to school or give it some more time and wait until next year.
While there is no cut-and-dry answer or test to determine if your child is ready to begin their schooling, there are some things to consider:
Your child’s birthday. Many school districts use a cut-off date of September 1 to determine if your child is eligible to start school; that means that if your child turns 5 years old prior to September 1, he or she would be able to be enrolled in kindergarten. But chronological age doesn’t tell the whole story. Your child may be turning 5 a few days before September 1 and other children may have turned five a few days after September 1 - last year - meaning your child will be in class with children almost a full year older. Think about when your child’s birthday is and, if he is turning five close to the start of the school year, decide whether he or she will be able to keep up with children who are almost a year older.
How your child did in preschool. If your child attended preschool or has been in a day-care setting, talk to his or her teacher. Ask how your child compares to the other children developmentally. Ask questions about his ability to follow directions. Find out if he becomes frustrated during lessons.
How your child compares to other children in kindergarten. As your school district if you can sit in one of the kindergarten classes to observe the classroom. Watch how the children interact with one another and the teacher. Pay attention to the skills the children have. Compare the activity to how your child acts and behaves.
Your child’s attention span. While attention spans in young children vary, an average attention span is 1 to 5 minutes for each year of a child’s age. That means a five-year-old should be able to sit still and pay attention for about 15 minutes. Pay attention to how long your child can focus on an activity, such as reading or coloring, but keep in mind, watching television and playing video games don’t count.
Your child’s skills. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics state that signs of kindergarten readiness include being able to:
- Communicate needs, wants and thoughts verbally
- Share and take turns
- Be enthusiastic and curious in approaching new activities
- Use pencils and paint brushes
- Count to 20 or more
- Know the letters of the alphabet
Deciding whether your child is ready to start kindergarten is not an easy decision. And while you may wonder if he or she is ready, it is also important to remember that he or she may be eligible to receive services and extra help in school for both academics and social skills. Schools don’t evaluate, diagnose or treat ADHD but you can request an evaluation for learning disabilities, which often accompany ADHD. Don’t rush into a decision, take your time to talk to your child’s doctor, preschool teachers as well as kindergarten teachers and gather as much information as possible before making your decision.
"Attention Deficit Disorder (Short Attention Span)" Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Fort Carson MEDDAC
"Kindergarten Readiness: Is Your Child Ready for School?" 2012, March, Staff Writer, BabyCenter.com
"Readiness for Kindergarten: Parent and Teacher Beliefs." 1995, National Center for Education Statistics
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.