BIRMINGHAM (WWJ) – It’s a problem faced by many parents: What if your child is too old for preschool, but not ready for kindergarten? The answer may lie in a program called “Young Fives,” a stepping stone between the two.

“If you think of all the grades as being stones going across a pond or stream, some children need a stone in between pre-k and kindergarten in order to make that jump,” said Anita Mezner, Lead Teacher for the Young Fives Program at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham’s Hand-In-Hand Early Learning Center. Mezner said that many children need that extra year of maturity in order to succeed in kindergarten.

Parent Shea Riga has her daughter enrolled in the program. “It’s just a wonderful program and anyone who can give this opportunity to their children who are on the younger end of the spectrum, it’s a great gift and the teachers here are just wonderful,” said Riga.

Parent Jennifer Kaschner said she decided to enroll her daughter in Young Fives because she wasn’t ready for all-day Kindergarten, and had struggled as a four-year-old in preschool. ” School should not be a struggle,” said Kaschner. “School should be fun. She’s too young to not enjoy it. We thought Young Fives was a better fit for her, and we’re so glad we did, because she loved it.”

Michigan is also going through a transition for kindergarten age requirements. In the past, students who turned five by December 1st could enroll in kindergarten. That limit has been changed to October 1st this school year. And for the 2015-2016 school year, students will have to turn five by September 1st to enroll in kindergarten that year. But some parents prefer to wait another year, even if their children are technically old enough to start kindergarten.

If parents aren’t sure if their child is ready for kindergarten, Heidi Wilkinson, Director of the Hand-In-Hand Early Learning Center said it may be better to wait another year. “We have never found that people have regretted holding their child back. But we have talked to several parents who regretted not holding back and pushing them forward, when they weren’t ready.”

The school is now accepting enrolments for next fall for Young Five and younger preschoolers. [For more information, visit this link].



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