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Is My Son Ready for First Grade?

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My son just entered first grade this year. His birthday is Sep 16, so he barely made the cutoff and is the youngest child in his class. He's had a rough start at school, primarily with being able to focus on completing tasks at hand. He doesn't listen well in school and he's constantly distracted by the simplest pleasures of life -- just being a little boy. He's almost always the last to complete anything and is constantly running behind. He's a bright kid. He reads above his age and talks very intelligently. But my wife and I are wondering if he's really ready for first grade. What do you think?

A: I think as long as he can enjoy first grade, in the main, that you should consider this a very typical response, age and stage-wise to the overwhelmingly novel experience that is first grade. In hopes that he has an understanding and creative teacher, meet with her and form an alliance with her to make sure your son's learning styles are being nourished and that special attention is being given to keeping his self-esteem intact. I know you'll do your best at offering him encouragement and appreciation for being who he is and for his efforts. If you see him faltering emotionally (sadness, not wanting to go to school, fearfulness, not being his usual chipper self) don't let those feelings go on for too long. Encourage his love of reading by continuing to read to each other and keep engaging him in animated conversations. Keep me posted.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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