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Written by:  Cathy Downs
Date: June 1, 2009

Kristen Wynns, a child psychologist in Durham, shared her thoughts about some of the advantages and disadvantages of starting kindergarten before age 5.

Advantages:
- It is important to provide a challenging environment and enriching curriculum when a child is ready for the next stage of learning.
- Hitting the “window” for a child’s excitement and readiness. It’s helpful to enroll a child when he is excited and ready to go to “big school.”
- If your child will attend a public school, you will have not have to pay day care or preschool fees.

Disadvantages:
- If the child is immature emotionally, socially or behaviorally, you may be setting your child up for failure or frustration. If your child has demonstrated in preschool or day care an inability to sit and attend to a lesson, get along well with peers, or transition easily from one activity to another, he may be put in a situation for which he is not ready, and it may set his entire educational experience off to a negative start.
- If the child is not ready academically, she will likely have a frustrating year and may develop a negative attitude towards school.
- If for whatever reason, your child is not developmentally ready for kindergarten, other behavioral or emotional problems may pop up.


Basic facts about assessments:
- The assessment includes an IQ test and achievement test, as well as a brief parent interview.
- The achievement test focuses on reading and math skills, while the IQ test focuses on a child's innate cognitive abilities such as verbal skills, nonverbal skills and processing speed. According to Wake, Orange and Durham counties, the child most score at the 98th percentile or higher on the IQ test and on either the reading or math achievement test.
- The assessment typically takes between two and three hours, depending on factors such as the child's attention span and activity level.
- School systems do not offer testing for early entry to kindergarten. Children must be tested by a psychologist in private practice.
- The cost may range from $500 to $800, possibly more. Some insurance plans cover testing under mental health benefits, but many do not cover strictly academic testing. Check with your insurance company for coverage benefits.

To learn more about the process and criteria for early entry to kindergarten visit your local school district Web site:

Wake County Public Schools
www.wcpss.net/forms/early-kindergarten-application-process.pdf
www.wcpss.net/newcomer/getting-started/registration/kindergarten.html

Durham County Public Schools
http://kindergarten.dpscalendar.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11:chronological-readiness&catid=13:child-readiness&Itemid=125

Orange County Public Schools
http://www.orange.k12.nc.us/curres_Earl_Admis_K_Letter.pdf

Johnston County Public Schools
http://www.johnston.k12.nc.us/education/components/docmgr/default.php?sectiondetailid=18110



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