Kindergarten readiness is a phrase that is often used but often misunderstood. This article “Prepared for Kindergarten: What Does “Readiness” Mean?” put out by the National Institute for Early Education Research explains that schools define readiness. Many associate kindergarten readiness to academic readiness. While that is certainly a piece of it Manhattan Christian Academy desires more.

Because we approach readiness by looking at the whole child, we do not utilize an entrance test which typically only assesses cognitive abilities. We want our students to be ready physically, emotionally, and socially as well as cognitively to meet our high expectations. To help us toward this goal we require all Kindergarten students to be 5 years old by September 1st.

In our 40 years of experience we have found this to be the best policy. We, along with the majority of the United States and a vast majority of other private schools, have this cutoff date to allow students the opportunity to mature and hopefully be developmentally ready (cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially) to attend MCA.

  • Academic reasons: We hold our students to a higher academic level than many schools, assuming our students are ready for an advanced level of academic rigor that requires complex critical thinking. Older students are more developmentally prepared for these types of tasks.

  • Physical reasons: Students who have matured physically tend to be more competent in sports. As evidenced in Malcolm Gladwell’s research in Outliers.

  • Social/Emotional reasons: Older students tend to hold more leadership roles and be more prepared for leaving home at 18. Also, social/emotional development influences academic and social success.

No. The nature of our learning environment allows your child to be challenged and grow in Preschool. If your child is ready for reading instruction, they will receive it in a play-based way. If your child is ready for math computation, they will receive it naturally in their activities. Our teachers utilize portfolio assessment and plan differentiated lessons to help each child grow.

While the cutoff date for NYC public schools may be different from ours a September cutoff date is not unusual. Be assured that we hold all Kindergarten applicants to this same standard. Your child will be the same age as his/her peers here at MCA and largely nationwide (think: standardized tests).

While we hope that you give your child the ‘gift of time’, allowing them to have another year of being a kid, we understand some of you may make the decision to send your child to Kindergarten. Please note that even if you determine your child is ready for Kindergarten, we do not make exceptions to our September 1st cutoff date.

What can I read to help me make my decision about my child’s kindergarten readiness?

Many of these articles refer to ‘redshirting’ which is a term describing the practice of delaying entrance into kindergarten of age-eligible children in order to allow more time for whole child development.
We welcome you to check out these articles as you make your decision about your child’s kindergarten readiness:

He Has a Summer Birthday: The Kindergarten Entrance Age Dilemma by Sandra Crosser ERIC (December 16, 2008)

This article concludes that “[academic] achievement is only one piece of the school entrance age puzzle…It would seem to be the course of wisdom to consider the whole…each child is different biologically and emotionally. Each child brings his own special characteristics with him as he lives and works through his unique life experiences.”

Academic Redshirting and Young Children by Lilian Katz ERIC (November, 2000)

Katz shares that the research is inconclusive and parents who are left to make their decision should consider a number of things. Take special note of the “Suggestions for Parents” section near the end.

Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten by Dr. Ruth Peters, Ph. D.

Dr. Peters encourages parents to do their homework and evaluate their child’s progress (using personal and teacher’s observations).  She shares signs to look to help in decision making.

Kindergarten Redshirting: How Kids Feel About it Later in Life, by Jennifer Gonzalez (April 24, 2016)

A study was done by Dr. Suzanne Jones looking at the “Perceived Life Satisfaction of Adolescent Males, Jones looked at how boys fare in adolescence depending on whether or not their parents opted to send them in kindergarten or wait a year. Rather than focus on academic success…Jones wanted to learn about her subjects’ overall life satisfaction—in other words, how happy they were—years after the decision was made.” This article stresses the importance of looking beyond academics and considering the future. “[You] should look at more than just what they’re like at that exact age of five”

Should I Redshirt My Kindergartener? by (January 14, 2015)

This article gives the perspective of a former Kindergarten teacher and answers the question “Won’t they be bored?” and challenges parents to think about the whole child and think beyond Kindergarten. This article encourages parents to perceive redshirting as giving “the gift of time”. “I know many parents who say, “I wish I would have sent my child to [another year of preschool]”, but I have yet to meet a parent who says “I wish I hadn’t done it.”Personally, I am not in a hurry for my children to grow up. I honestly believe that by choosing [another year of preschool], I gave my child an extra year of childhood. 

Youngest Kid, Smartest Kid? By Maria Konnikova for the New Yorker (September 19, 2013)

This article sites reasons why being the youngest kid in the class may not be all that bad. She points out that after the early years academic achievement levels out among peers. It is also noted that the character qualities of hard work and diligence are developed in some younger students and athletes, which in turn helps them achieve more in the long run. She also argues that each child and his/her circumstances are different and each case should be looked at on an individual basis.

Thrive in 2025: Holding Kids Back for Success by Jacqueline Burt for Parents Magazine(August 2011)

This article expresses the difficulty of the decision but reasons that there is no one right answer. The author encourages parents to observe their own child and learn the school’s expectations.

Beyond the Pros and Cons of Redshirting by Alia Wong (August 13, 2015)

This article sites a study that argues that socioeconomic status and parental influence has a stronger impact than age on a child’s success.