Starting Kindergarten

oh_my

Coming up this summer I will have to decide if my youngest is going to start kindergarten next year or not. She will be five in September, and her birthday is one day before the cutoff for starting kindergarten. Essentially I can either choose to send her or wait a year.

She is in pre-school, and she gets along well there. She seems to be pretty social. She takes swimming and dance and never acts very shy or timid. She knows most of her colors, shapes, numbers, but not too much of the alphabet, other than how to write her name.

I was on the younger side of my kindergarten class, and my mother likes to attribute my difficult teenage years to the fact that all of my friends were a year older than me, and she is strongly encouraging me to keep my daughter home the extra year.

If anyone has any experience or advice on this subject, I'd love to hear it. Do you think that barely five is too soon to start kindergarten?

SaveComment16Like
Comments (16)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lindac

I have 2 grand kids that are "on the cusp" so to speak. My daughter chose to keep her son who was born on cut off day out a year. My DIL chose to send her son who was born 5 weeks before cut off day.
The one who is the oldest in his class is now 13 and in 7th grade. He's the star of the football team and a "chick magnet", smart always had straight A's in school.
The one who is among the youngest in his class has always has straight A's as well, he's a good athlete but not built for football, and also a chick magnet.
The one who was late starting to school is the youngest of 4....the other the oldest of 3.
I guess you have to judge...is she academically ready? Is she mature enough? And is she socially ready? If so, send her....let her get an early start on her schooling!
Linda C

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kathyanddave

FWIW Where I live we have 'parents as teachers' which is basically an employee of the school district that comes to your house from infant to kindergarten and just plays games and checks to make sure they are on the right track age wise. When I asked here about sending a child whose birthday was just a little before the cutoff she told me that sometimes they do fine if they go early, and sometimes they struggle a little bit, but she's never ever seen a child who didn't do better when they waited an extra year. Besides all of that, my birthday is in July and I was one of the youngest in my class. I HATED it. All of my friends got to drive before me, date before me, wear makeup before me, etc. It did cause alot of fights with my parents along the lines of "everyone else in my class is doing it why can't I?" I didn't care that I was basically a whole year younger than everyone else. So my vote would be to give her an extra year at home and enjoy her before she goes to school because they change so much when they do.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
imamommy

Attributing a difficult teenager to when they started kindergarten? That's a new idea I haven't thought about. I remember one year in grade school, there were two brothers that were in the same class. They were the same age but not twins. Then found out they were 9 or 10 month's apart. The older one was outcast a little because the kids thought he was held back or not very smart (I guess thinking he should be in the next grade up since he was the older brother). I don't know if he was held back or if the parents decided to just start him with his brother, but he was teased for being older. This was probably in second or third grade.

I would say it depends on if your child is ready to learn the concepts of kindergarten. To me, age is irrelevant because some kids are ready at four, others at six. and fitting in socially has to do with personality, maturity, and age. Only you know your child and should do what you feel is best. Other's, including your parents, may be well meaning, but the final decision is one you (and your child) will have to live with.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
finedreams

My niece turned 5 in October and she started kindergarden that year, so she was still 4. She had a bit of a problem at first complying to the new rules and she did struggled with reading a bit. She is in the first grade now and she does very very well, no problems. So they didn't regret, but they worried at first.

My DD was a year older than other kids at her grade level and she nagged about it when she got older. "Now I have to graduate at 19". "If you would send me to school earlier i could be in college already". "I am older than everybody". etc It was just inconvenient for me to send her earlier.

So send your kids to school this year, it should work out. It is not like they'll do algebra there.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
amyfiddler

I wish I had held mine back.

The damage that occurred to him over the next four years was worse than the possible complaints later of being older than his classmates - Each year the teachers suggested we hold him back but we were afraid to. Finally we did this year and it was the best thing.

If you wait to enroll, what's the worst thing that could happen? If you put her in, what's the worst thing that could happen? Just don't let your excitement to get her in school affect your decision. If she is emotionally and physically comparable to that class, then she has a better chance.

There is so much more than academics to think about - go with your own instincts too. Each child is different, and you know what is best.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jonesy

I wish I had held my son back, he was to immature. He would crawl under the table and take a nap when he got tired. My son was very smart, his first grade teacher was in her 60's and she said he was the smartest child she had ever taught. That didn't mean he was ready.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
freezetag

I've had to make this decision for three of my four kids. It was a different decision each time. Have you talked to her preschool teacher?

First child - birthday after cutoff. Meticulous and organized, and (academically) would have been fine starting early. But also pretty shy, and not very confident, so I'm glad she's among the older kids in her grade - I know it has helped her socially. Straight A's and tall for her age, and she sometimes complains that I should have started her early. But I think she's where she should be.

Second child - birthday before cutoff. Impulsive and immature, so I would have held him back had he not been reading on his own at 4, and shown some early math skills. I was worried that he would be a problem in class if he were not challenged. I think he seemed immature to me, compared with his older sister, but I worried less after seeing the other boys in his grade, who also tended to be fidgety and less mature. He's doing great this year in school (fifth grade), but we have a lot of problems with him at home. I think he's just a more difficult child. The only place he would have benefitted from being held back is sports, because he is pretty decent, but would stand out more if he were playing with kids in the next grade down. Not a reason to hold a child back, though!

Third child - March birthday. What a relief - no decision! So glad he is not any younger, though, because he could not read at all in kindergarten. My older two learned to read gradually, but with him, something finally "clicked" when he started first grade, and he's been fine since. But it was a little frustrating for him in kindergarten that he knew the letters and sounds like the other kids in his class, but was given easier books to bring home since he wasn't reading yet.

Fourth child - birthday after cutoff. Started her early (last fall), because she has always played well with the older girls in the neighborhood, and tends to be a little bossy and/or condescending with the younger girls. Loves school, is doing well, and comes home from school, only to play "school" with the neighbor girls. Her teacher says that she fits right in with the other kids, and that she would never guess she is a little younger. So far, so good.

I don't think any of us can say what is right for your child. For me it was helpful to volunteer in preschool regularly to see them with other kids. I think a lot of kids with "cutoff" birthdays would be fine either way - they are pretty resilient. Our elementary school screens all incoming kindergarteners and will make a recommendation that they start/wait if you ask. So talk to your elementary school - they will probably be helpful, since they want your daughter to do well in school, too!

Sorry so long - this has been a big issue for me. Should have planned better and had them all born in the winter!

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
oh_my

My daughter's only been in preschool a few weeks, but they said at the end of this school year they would make a recommendation for me. She is young enough that they could have placed her in the 3&4's class, but since I was thinking about starting her in kindergarten next year, they placed her in the pre-K class to see how she gets along in a more school-like environment.

My daughter and SD are both 9, but my daughter has a December birthday, and my SD has an August birthday. SD is in 4th, but BD is in 3rd.

When my SD started kindergarten I thought she could have used an extra year, but it really wasn't my decision. She had never been in pre-school or taken any extra-curricular clases, so she really was not accustomed to being told what to do and when, very intelligent though. She's done very well academically, but she has ALWAYS HATED school, and I worry about a child already hating school in the elementary years.

My BD's birthday wasn't an issue, and she started when she was supposed to. She loves school, but her speech was delayed, and reading has always been a problem. Our school system does offer free speech therapy, and this is the first year they've felt she no longer needs that, so that's good, but reading is still a big struggle. I've often thought that if her math scores weren't so strong that they might hold her back a year. I wish they split the classes in elementary into ability levels like they do in junior high and high school.

Anyway, in my heart, I think my youngest will be ready to start school next fall, but I will strongly consider the recommendations of the pre-school and more likely than not defer to thier suggestions. The problem is that my husband is totally for her starting next year, so we might have a little discussing to do if it turns out I don't quite think she's ready. When I suggested to him that maybe SD needed an extra year at home (and maybe a chance to try pre-school or other group activities first), he thought that was ridiculous, but there was no argument over it because it really wasn't my place to make that decision...actually, I doubt if her mother would have even taken my husband's thoughts on it into consideration either way.

Thank you for all your stories and thoughts. Hearing some first-hand experiences is helpful!:)

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
finedreams

for all of those parents who worry what happens if their kids don't do well in a kindergarden or first grade or if they are mature enough.

DD was a smart child, but....My DD didn't read normally until she was 8, I mean she knew the letters, but didn't read. And she started school later! She refused to do anything with reading and writing. She loved me reading for her, but hated to even try putting letters together herself. Even when she turned 8, her teacher said her speed of reading was one of the lowest in class. Only in 2nd grade she started to pick up and only in 2nd grade she read, wrote and did math the way she should for a grade level.

Now pay attention 1. DD is National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. 2. DD had perfect verbal SAT score (800 out of 800 in reading, 800 out of 800 in writing), near perfect score in math (700 out of 800). 2300 total out of 2400 possible. I don't have to tell you how high it is. Similar scores in ACT. 3. DD got international baccalaurette diploma along with high school diploma. 4. DD is in a good University now. And reads and reads, she is a typical bookworm child.

I don't have to tell you how i worried she would always be behind.

Now she laughs remembering her ordeal in KG and 1st garde. She remembers herself screaming doing homework: "I hate this! I don't want to... (insert read, write, do math)"

lol

Don't sweat too much if they do poorly in KG and 1st grade.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
carla35

I know each child is so different, but if your child doesn't appear to be overly ahead or overly behind just go with the cut off date. When we were kids the date was used and that was that. No need to try to make a decision; it was made for you.

I don't really understand why parents of kids who are born within a week or two of the cut off date get to decide what grade they get to go into when other parents of a kid born within a month or two of the cut off date don't. I know a lot of parents with the same dillema. Why do they even give a date if no one uses/enforces it? I think it just causes more confusion for everyone. Plus, I'm not so sure you can really tell a child's intellectual capacity at that young of an age anyway.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
popi_gw

My DD started school when she was 4. In Australia we start the school year in February. So my DD only turned 5 in the May of the school year.

All her school life she was the youngest in the class.

She did have minor annoyances at being the last to learn to drive, the last to be able to go into a bar, or pub, the last to register to vote, the last to go into a restricted movie.

She is 20 now.

Now she is older, she is GLAD that she is just about to start her 4th year of university, and all her piers are older than her. She has achieved so much and yet she is still so young. I think she is rather pleased about that.

Now, she thinks having a headstart has been good for her.

When it all boils down to it...it depends on the child.

If they start too early, you will very quickly know that it was a mistake, a mother always knows these things !

They can always repeat, but as long as its early on.

I am sure you will make the right decision.

You still have a bit of time to decide, and they can change quickly.

P

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
livvysmom

Where I live the cut-off is December 1st. So you could be four years old and not turn five until November and still start KG.

I would say send her. You have all summer to teach her her letters. The more she learns before kindergarten, the better. My DD is halfway through KG and is expected to recognize and write both upper and lower case letters and know all letter sounds by now.

Unless she has separation anxiety issues, I would say go for it.

BTW I have one nephew with a Nov BD that started when he was four -- he is so smart and now completing a masters in accounting. Another nephew had a BD in Oct and started at age four and barely graduated.

The biggest problem my nephew had was he always felt he was small compared to other kids in his class. A BIG problem in the eyes of a boy.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kitchenmom

I don't have much to add regarding the starting age, except to repeat that it really depends a lot on the child. I was so glad my DS was on the other side of the cut-off because he wouldn't have been ready right when her turned 5. My DD, on the other hand, is ready now and she won't be 5 until summer.

I did want to address the issue of being young when graduating high school, college, etc. I teach in a law school and consistently see that the students who handle it best, both in terms of grades and emotionally, are a little older. When we occasionally get those students who graduate college at 20 or younger, they really have a difficult time dealing with the stress of law school. Also, the only advantage to finishing schooling young is more years of work. Why is that an advantage compared to the relative freedom and intellectual stimulation of school? While I certainly believe that a child must be stimulated and engaged in school during the elementary years, I think the way to do that is through individualized academic programming, not by pushing them ahead a grade or more.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
freezetag

Carla35, in our school district it is not only the parents of kids with birthdays close to the cutoff who "get to decide" when their child should start school - all parents can adjust the year their child starts school, within reason. The only difference is that there are no questions asked if your child's birthday falls in the recommended age range.

Kindergarten sign-ups are in the spring, and all the incoming kindergarteners are tested individually to give the teachers an idea of their class' knowledge and maturity level. That way, summer classes can be offered for children who are old enough, not quite ready. And they also use that time to make decisions about any children whose parents have requested an early start. Usually there are just one or two early starters - it is more common for parents to delay kindergarten.

I agree with you that it's generally better to just go with the cutoff date. It works for the majority of kids. But I'm glad the schools recognize that a few kids mature significantly faster or slower than the others, and should be allowed to start when they are ready.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dirt_yfingernails

Two of my four kids went at the age of 5, and two at age 6. Of the two "early" ones, one did just fine, but the other struggled outrageously. Both those who started late did great! I should have waited the extra year for her, but she was my oldest and I had no experience

So much more is required of kindergartners now than when they were small. One thing that helped immensely with the two youngest was pre-school testing at age 4. It identified no delays with one, and significant delays in the other. I'd find out if there are such tests available for your child to help figure out if she is ready for kindergarten. My son ended up with 2 years of pre-school and a year of transition kindergarten. It helped keep him at an A/B level through school and now in engineering college. The transition kindergarten was a great bridge for him.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jessyf

Another factor is what everyone else is doing. Our kid was ready to go and he was born near the cut-off. What did the trick for us (to hold him back)- we met with the kindergarten teacher and asked her how many fall birthday boys were held back. She said pretty much all of them. Would we have wanted our child to be a year to a year and a half younger than all the kids in his class? No. Had it been half and half, we would have put him in K.

Save    
Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Life Simple Pleasures: A Real Sit-Down Breakfast
Give grab-and-go the heave-ho. To start the day right, treat yourself to a proper breakfast in a cheery spot
Full Story
Eclectic Style See How a Bright Victorian Apartment Got Its Collected Look
Arriving in San Francisco with little but a chair and bed, a couple hits on an interior style that feels collected over time
Full Story
Green Color Guide: How to Work With Green
With as many green hues as leaves in a forest, it's easy to find one that grows on you
Full Story