Did you know there is strong evidence that delaying kindergarten can have psychological benefits and is associated with lower levels of hyperactivity? A 2015 study on the mental health effects of kindergarten enrollment ages found strong evidence that a one-year delay dramatically improves a child's ability to self-regulate attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school, even into later childhood (see Study Finds improved self-regulation in kindergarteners who wait a year to enroll). Another 2015 study found that forcing some kids to read before they are ready, as required by the Common Core State Standards, could be harmful (see Report: Requiring kindergarteners to read - as Common Core does - may harm some). The authors of the study found that active, play-based experiences in language-rich environments help children develop ideas about symbols, oral language and the printed word - all vital components of reading. Unfortunately, today's kindergarten is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills and a reduction in opportunities for play (see Kindergarten the new first grade? It's actually worse than that.)
This rigorous environment can be particularly difficult for a child born in the later part of the year who will be one of the youngest students in his or her class. This is why St. Mark's offers our unique KinderPrep program for children who turn five before December 31. KinderPrep is a "Transitional Kindergarten" program that provides children who have completed a four-year-old program with the pivotal skills and experiences needed for success in Kindergarten, along with the "gift of time" to fully mature and reach their potential in a fun, play-based and welcoming environment. Children learn best when they are having fun, and our program, while academically challenging, focuses on the child, allowing him or her to acquire the academic skills, confidence and maturity they need to succeed in school. KinderPrep runs Monday through Friday, from 9:00am - 1:00pm.
What Our Parents Have to Say About KinderPrep
“I've had two of my children go through KinderPrep. They both have late birthdays, and I felt they just weren't mature enough to handle kindergarten when they were eligible. While the simple passage of time did give them an advantage, KinderPrep was instrumental in cultivating their intellectual and social growth during that year. Mrs. Cameron and Mrs. Ferro helped our children to feel safe, while encouraging them to take risks and grow. Without a doubt, I feel that the KinderPrep program prepared my children for kindergarten. 'Holding them back' turned out to be the best way to propel them forward.” - Michelle Herrick
“Last summer my husband and I bought a home in Rockville Centre and planned on moving just before the start of school. Our oldest daughter was all set to start kindergarten in Brooklyn. However, because her birthday is December 5th, she missed the December 1st cutoff in this district. My husband and I were more than a bit panicked about what to do. She had already spent two years in Pre-K and suddenly we had to find a place for her to be in school without watching her repeat everything she had already learned in her 4s class. That's when fate intervened and I made a phone call to St. Mark's. I found myself talking with Shirley Perri about a program called 'KinderPrep.' She walked me through what it meant to have a fall/winter child when it comes to kindergarten and what KinderPrep could offer. By the end of the conversation I was calm and felt like we had a place for our daughter to spend her first year in Rockville Centre. Now as this year closes, I see my daughter thriving at St. Mark's. Being in a classroom with Jackie Cameron and Joan Ferro, my heart swells with gratitude and love for this school and these teachers. Maggie is reading, writing and has made friends who I believe she will be friends with for life. KinderPrep has offered her a bridge to elementary school and has prepared her for entering Kindergarten in the fall. I will be forever grateful for this school. And I'm also so happy that my three year old still has more time to grow at St. Mark's!” - Liz O’Keefe
“It is a difficult situation when your child has a birthday that puts them in a situation where either the district says they can't start or maybe a parent feels they aren't quite ready. This is where St. Mark's Nursery School comes in and wraps their arms around your child and makes sure they are ready for elementary school. Like many parents who have children with autumn birthdays, we were conflicted about holding our son. Would he be bored; would other people think there is something wrong with him; would he think there is something wrong with him because he was held back; would he be crushed to watch his friends move on? We quickly learned not to worry about what other people think. We are our child's advocate, and we need to do what we know is best for our child. There weren’t any academic concerns. There wasn’t anything wrong with him. Our son was not mature enough yet to go to Kindergarten. He whined. He was petrified to try new things. He was 10 months younger than the oldest kids in his class. It was completely understandable that he didn’t cut, write his name, or hold his crayon as well as his classmates did. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that, and he would shut down when he did realize that he was behind the other children. He simply wasn't a Kindergartener yet. But he wasn’t a preschooler anymore either. Repeating the four-year old program didn’t seem like the right solution. KinderPrep was. The program got our son ready for Kindergarten. We gave him the time he needed to figure out how to hold his scissors and crayon the way he was supposed to. Most importantly, KinderPrep allowed him to develop with his peers at that time. His peer group was made up of children born in the fall who were about to turn five just like him. The children in KinderPrep weren’t trying to catch up with their classmates. Everyone was on the same level. No one was left behind to try to catch up. As a result, everyone’s confidence improved. We interviewed many parents with children who were born in the fall before we made our choice to send our son to KinderPrep. Every parent who held his or her child did not regret the decision. About 80% of the parents who did not hold their child, however, did regret the decision. All of those children are now past third grade, “the year when everything evens out.” Those parents still regret their decision. We held our son, and it was the best decision we ever made. No regrets. He was not crushed when his classmates moved on (he quickly made new friends), and we told him he had to be 5 years old to go to Kindergarten. And now, he is not bored in school. He is exactly where he belongs. This year our daughter went through the KinderPrep program. Like our son, we know she will be more than ready for Kindergarten - academically and socially. She will be used to a five-day program. I leave you with the question Mrs. Lombardi asked us: “Do you want your child to go away to college when he or she is 17?” Think about it! Social media has made it a whole new ballgame compared to when we were 17.” - Kerri Kauffman