Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Ready for First-Grade?

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

Q: Our five-year-old son has a tendency to be extremely shy when he's away from home. His teacher told us that he's not performing up to his level academically. The school suggested he repeat kindergarten. This evaluation was based solely on his classroom performance environment and his teacher's opinion. She said he was deficient because he doesn't know his phone number or address, number skills, letter skills, or motor skills. We believe our son's abilities are very typical of his age group when he's outside the classroom. He seems competent in all the areas she said he was lacking.

I'd like to have his skills evaluated professionally, but have no idea where I can find those services. Can you suggest where I might obtain such an evaluation?

A: Based on your personal knowledge of your son's competencies in the aforementioned skill areas, I would conclude that you assume these academic "deficiencies" his teacher observed are a product of his social and emotional development, rather than his academic abilities. Instead of just focusing on determining your son's age-appropriate cognitive and motor-skill development, I would recommend that he spend some time with an educational psychologist who sees many children your son's age. A professional with this background could evaluate not only your son's academic and motor skills, but also his emotional and social development as it pertains to his abilities to navigate the demands of kindergarten and first-grade environments.

You can call the American Psychological Association's chapter in your area, or their central office, to find the names of such professionals. I would also recommend networking with your pediatrician, as well as the psychology and social work departments of local children's hospitals. Again, your goal should not be just to have your son tested on his first-grade readiness; it should be to evaluate his overall intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development as predictors of which grade environment would be appropriate for him next year.

More on: Expert Advice

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 FamilyEducation.com 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.


Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks