This is the time of the summer when many children are starting to get excited or anxious about going back to school. School supplies are on sale and children are hearing their friends talk about school. For those of you with children soon to be first graders, this can be a very anxious time for them. Many of these children will be going to full day school for the first time and may be worried about that and have lots of worries. Today I would like to talk to the parents who are thinking that maybe their child is not ready for the big jump into first grade. Many of you may have spoken to your child’s Kindergarten teacher in the spring about first grade readiness. If you were told that your child wasn’t ready for first grade but you are pushing ahead just the same, it is you that I want to talk to. You may be thinking that your child will ‘grow up’ over the summer months. He/she may in fact ‘grow up’ but keep in mind so are all of his/her classmates from Kindergarten. Emotional maturity can’t be forced, it happens over time. If you are having second thoughts about your child’s readiness for first grade, I would go to school and talk to the principal and see what their first grade class is like. Most schools are closed now for the summer but principals work on a different schedule and are usually there well before their classroom teachers arrive. IF you are questioning your child’s readiness for first grade it is probably with good reason. The Kindergarten year is an important foundational year and we put lots of stress onto little children who are all not necessarily ready for that stress. Not all Kindergartners are ready to be sent on to first grade when it is time and may need extra time for emotional growth. Kindergarten IS the new first grade with such high expectations for a little person with a 5 year old brain. I am a firm believer in waiting…I would much rather have an older child who is a leader in the room, because I tell parents it is not just the kindergarten or first grade class that you are worried about, it is middle school when friends start to skip school and your child might follow, then in high school when friends are driving cars and your child is always the passenger in someone else’s car. I also encourage parents to keep in mind that if your child is a little behind in Kindergarten and you as the parent need to always stay on them to get work done etc., this doesn’t change. You will always need to stay on them to get their work home and then completed, all the way through high school. Is that what you want? All first graders are totally overwhelmed during the first 6 weeks of school with new routines, teachers, friends, etc., so you can only imagine the additional stress placed on a young and immature first grader. Please think this decision through and be certain that your child’s fall placement in school is the right one for both parent and child.