Mom-to-Mom Support/I am wondering how to choose what grade to start my youngest in.

I am wondering how to choose what grade to start my youngest in.


I am wondering how to choose what grade to start my youngest in. She is very smart. I read the curriculum for pre-k and kindergarten. I think she would do fine in kindergarten but not sure if it is ok to start her a year ahead of other kids her age. She just turned 4 in June. Do you have any suggestions or ideas on how to decide what grade to start her in?

Dear Mom,

What a blessing that your daughter is bright and appears able to handle the work of a kindergarten student. I am going to assume that your daughter is enthusiastic about starting school because you are exploring options for formal lessons. This is wonderful.

Remember that children 4 years of age are still quite young. Oftentimes the idea of school is more appealing than the formal lessons. For this reason we want to go slowly into the regimen of lessons. Doing a little each day and allowing her time to play and explore is probably going to be less stressful for you and certainly more productive for her.

Another issue to keep in mind is the nature of learning. Small children many times lose interest in work that is tedious or too strict. And it is in their uniqueness that they hop from one activity to another. They are the best of tiny learning machines. It is for this reason that we should be ready to set the books aside for a time until their interest returns.

Education is a life-long process. It is obvious that you and your daughter have already discovered the fundamental key to learning. Imagination fuels the desire to learn. For me, it is exciting to see a child reach beyond himself into the greater world and do so with an eagerness to acquire knowledge. As parents/teachers, we do not want to discourage this process; therefore it is vital that we go slowly, give plenty of positive reinforcement, and be ready to meet the child’s unique needs through our choice of curriculum and method.

I would suggest that you purchase a sampling of pre-k materials with the ultimate goal of beginning kindergarten after the first of the year. Let me explain. The introduction of pre-k material will affect two goals. It will first give your daughter a taste of “real school.” I do not doubt that she will master the skills presented without difficulty. There is an old saying in education: “Nothing breeds success like success.” She will receive the positive reinforcement so vital in quest for discovery and learning, and you will be able to ascertain the type of learner she is from working with her.

After the two of you have worked through these offerings of pre-k and she has adjusted to formal lessons, then it would be a good time to introduce kindergarten work.

One of the great advantages of having a curriculum and lesson plans already prepared is that you are given the freedom to teach according to the child’s needs. It is quite easy to substitute materials, introduce concepts, and reach into your creativity as a teacher when you have the base of sound lesson plans. Because your daughter is still very young and appears eager to “get started,” then start; and realize that you have the great advantage of laying down good study and learning habits at this age. What a blessing. It is quite possible to begin kindergarten and take a leisurely two years to finish. At that time, she will only be 5 or 6 years of age.

Remember that a small amount of time that is set aside and used productively is far more beneficial than long stretches that create boredom and ultimate rebellion in the student. Find a time that is convenient for the two of you. Look at 1-2 hours of one-on-one time. You will see her blossom, I am sure, into a confident student eager to take on new challenges. Good Success.

Jesus, we praise You and give You all the glory. Thank You for the gift of homeschooling. Thank You for the opportunity to be a teacher in the fullest sense of the word. Please give this dear mom all the graces necessary to instruct her daughter. Let her rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is there to empower her with the skills necessary and shower her with grace. St. Ann, pray for us. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.