Make sure that your gifted preschooler can handle kindergarten.

How Gifted Preschoolers Handle Kindergarten

by Kelly Sundstrom

Do you have a preschooler who seems to learn everything super fast? Although most children begin kindergarten around the age of 5 or 6 years old, a gifted preschooler can start school even earlier than that. But, how do you know if your preschooler can handle kindergarten? She might be academically ready for school, but if she is not emotionally ready it could cause her to feel overwhelmed.

1. Maturity

So you know your child is advanced academically, but in order to begin a traditional kindergarten environment it is also important for him to also be emotionally mature. No, little little one does not need to act like a grown-up, just to be able to act like the other children in the class. For example, you may have a 3 or 4 year old who already knows how to read and compute simple arithmetic problems, but he may still throw tantrums like a child even younger than preschool age. He may throw down his book to cry and scream like a baby. This behavioral dichotomy is totally normal for a gifted preschooler, but the kindergarten teacher at a standard school may not have the resources to meet your little one's needs. Talk to your local kindergarten teacher to see if your preschooler can possibly sit in on a few classes. This can give both you and the teacher a chance to see your child in a kindergarten environment to make sure that he is mature enough to handle it.

2. Stress Level

Face it, everybody gets stressed out from time to time. Even kindergarten-aged children can feel stressed at school occasionally. But, if you have a gifted preschooler in a classroom setting that she is not used to, it can cause her to feel more stress than other children her age. Just like you might feel overwhelmed sitting in on a class in the middle of the year full of students who have already gotten used to the class, your preschool-aged child may not have had enough exposure to a classroom-like situation. You may notice that your child will start to seem shy when she was normally outgoing, or she may have trouble sleeping at night due to stress. Even though she may be able to keep up with the academic challenges of kindergarten, she might not be ready to handle the stress that sitting in a classroom involves.

3. Personality Type

Is your gifted child particularly outgoing and social? Or, is he shy and introverted? This can determine whether starting kindergarten early might be a good option for your little one or whether you should wait. What if you don't really know if you have a social or introverted child? Don't feel bad -- it can be difficult to tell, especially if you are a stay-at-home-mom who spends a lot of time with your child at home. Children who are naturally outgoing will talk a lot to family members, friends and even people who they do not know. This can be a challenge when you want to make sure your child does not talk to strangers. A child who is shy and introverted might talk a lot with family members and close friends, but might not speak right away to people who he does not know. Shy preschool-aged children might not excel in kindergarten at much as their more outgoing counterparts.

4. School Options

What if you feel like your gifted preschooler is ready to start kindergarten and can handle it, but your local school system just will not allow her to join the class? Bummer. There is not much that you can do when the school is not willing to work with you, and this may mean that you have to investigate other school options for your little one. Do you have other charter or private schools in your area that accept early entrance students into kindergarten? Some cities even have schools that cater completely to gifted students. If you do not have other school options, consider homeschooling your bright little one. When you homeschool your gifted preschooler, you can allow her to accelerate as fast as she wants to go without worrying about her maturity needing to be at a certain level first.

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