To send a child to school at the age of six or to wait another year? Thousands of parents ask themselves this question on the eve of school year. This year, according to the data of Education Ministry of Ukraine, for the past five years the number of children starting school at the age of six has increased by 22.5 thousand, and of seven year olds - by 7.1 thousand. "In 2008/2009 school year there were 168 800 six year old pupils more than seven year olds, and in 2012/2013 school year the difference makes 184 400 pupils," the statistics reads.

Regardless of such dynamics, many parents keep asking age-old questions "may be he is too small?" or "why should we deprive him of childhood?".

"We had a long discussion whether to send our daughter to school to his year, and decided to wait till the end of preschool courses. Having talked to teachers and decided to go to school. She knows letters and numbers, does not have problems with communication," Svitlana, mother of a six-year-old girl, tells.

Parents of seven-year-old Rodion say they did not sent the son to school last year. "Our kindergarten teacher told us to wait. And now I understand we did right. The boy has changed completely over the year. Before he showed no interest in studying and misbehaved during classes, but now he is more responsible and even reminds us it is time to study," Rodion's mother tells happily.

Such stories are numerous. On the eve of the school year social networks are full of questions about better age for school. Some parents are afraid their six-year-old child will not be able to handle the school program, others, on the contrary, believe their child already knows everything he is supposed to know for the school and cannot wait to send there. Who is right?

Neither teachers nor psychologists dare to state concrete age formula of child's readiness for school life.  Every child has his own, but there are several factors indicating the child "has matured" for school lessons.

ForUm has examined the factors helping to determine whether your child is ready to change the status.

If parents estimate future first graders by their knowledge, experts note that reading and writing skills are not enough. Children must be psychologically ready to obey the teacher and perform tasks. Physical fitness and health are of no less importance.

Moving to a severer schedule than in kindergarten is a trial for a child, and his further academic progress and attitude to studying depends on his mental readiness to such changes.

"Preparing a child for school means not only teaching him read, write and count. The child must have certain psychological readiness to understand requirements, follow them and fulfill tasks, set by teachers. Moreover, the child must know to control himself, to be patient and consider others. If there is no such maturity, the child will be overwhelmed with stress, which in turn may cause low self-esteem,  asocial behavior and psychosomatic disorders," director of the International humanitarian center "Rozada", psychologist Valentyna Bondarovska.

Psychologist Valentyna Yefimova agrees. She notes that if a child is not ready for ongoing classes, he will get tired fast, will get stressed and may disturb other pupils. "Moreover, the child may start hating the very process of studying and it is very difficult to make him love it again." The experts adds that communication skills are also very important - the child must know to socialize with agemates and "a stranger who calls himself a teacher".

Thus, parents should pay attention and ask kindergarten teachers about child's behavior during lessons or a play with peers.

Experienced kindergarten teacher Larysa says parents often consult her on these issues. "For the long years of practice I have deduced my own factors. The best way to determine whether a child is ready for school is to observe child's reaction when a teacher says 'children, we start the lesson'. If the child drops his toys and come to study, he is ready, but if he starts grizzling, it is too early to send him to school."  She also adds that the child should aspire after knowledge on his own, and parents should not force him.

"You can force your child to learn even times table before school, but as the saying goes, love cannot be forced. Forcing into study will provoke quite opposite reaction. Studying process must begin as a game to quicken child's interest and to ease in," Larysa says.

At the same time, it does not mean you should neglect studies with your child. Specialists note - all in good measure. "There are parents who say "when he goes to school he will learn everything" or "why to deprive him of childhood and make him studying before school?". Such attitude is wrong. If your child learn counting at the age of 2 or 3, it does mean you deprive him of childhood. It means you simplify the studying process for the future. Just remember not to force," Valentyna Yefimova says.

According to the psychologist, it is preferable for a first grader to know reading, as it will help him to formulate his thoughts and better understand the tasks. Generally speaking, it will simplify studies and shield from stress. 

The final word rests with parents

Even such short list of factors gives you a possibility to estimate the level of readiness of your child for school life. Do not hurry, there is still time. According to the Education Ministry, signing up for schools continues till August 31. Despite the fact that according to the laws of Ukraine "On education" and "On secondary education" children start school studies at the age of six, the final word rests with parents.

If you see that your child still needs time to prepare for school, do not be afraid he will  not be taken back to the kindergarten. "If the child has reached the age of six, preschool education establishments have no right to deny further preschool education. However, parents should realize that their child will feel more comfortable among children of the same age," the department on preschool and secondary education explains.

Meantime, those parents to send their children to school this year, should remember to take active part in their school life. "Observe your child from the first day at school, try to compensate his problems and stay in contract with the teacher and school psychologist. Always try to find time to support your child and help to understand the new system," Valentyna Bondarovska recommends.
Tetyana Matsur


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