June 12, 2008,
R.J. asks from Framingham, MA on April 16, 2008
Age Cut off for Kindergarten
My son's birthday is October 5th, which means that he will miss the age cut off for the Westborough kindergarten by about a month. For a while this wasn't too much of a concern because I've received plenty of advice from other moms and from books that boys tend to be better off not being rushed into school. I had no problem with that (even agreed with the philosophy), and frankly, didn't feel the need to push my son unnecessarily.
He showed signs of being an academic kid very early but for quite a while lacked confidence and was easily intimidated by other kids. Again, this was another reason I was totally comfortable having him start school when he is almost 6 instead of almost 5. I'd rather give him the chance to succeed and be confident than throw him to the wolves too early and have him sink.
And here's why I am now in a quandry. He has completely broken out of his shell. He's outgoing, makes friends easily, is confident (and is now a leader among his peers), separates from me like it's nothing, and is extremely interested in learning. We do not push him academically (we want him to enjoy being a kid), but he is constantly pushing the envelope with reading, counting, math, the solar system, nature, you name it. He is mature and self-controlled, has a very long attention span, and is very focused.
He is now at the point, with both his maturity and his academic learning that he is light years ahead of his cousins who, by virtue of their birthdates, will be one year ahead of him in school. The difference between him and cousins who will be in the same year as him is so great that it's absurd.
People who meet him ask me, "He's not starting kindergarten til he's six???? What are you going to do with him?" And I reply, "I have no idea."
I've had some people recommend private kindergarten. Others have recommended homeschooling kindergarten. We really want him in public school for the long run, but does anyone have any thoughts on starting him at home or a private school and then putting him into the public school system when he's the required age for the school's first grade?
I'm not saying I have the next Einstein here, but simply a kid for whom the age cut-off feels incredibly inappropriate. At the end of the day, waiting the extra year may just be what we have to do, or really, the best thing to do, but we'd like to get some advice from people who have had a similar experience.
K.B. answers from Hartford on April 18, 2008
If you are in Westborough, MA try the kindergarten room at a Bright Horizons or a Montessori program. In high school, you will be glad you waited. A freshman high school boy is not as capable at sports as an older boy- not even as good as the girls (my daughter cried when she learned about how mean some of the boys were to a very young freshman boy she beat at a track meet). They look like kids not the young men with 5 o'clock shadows who are juniors and seniors. They cannot drive when their classmates can and you will be sending a boy who is NOT 18 years of age off to college.
A.W. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
Many private kindergartens won't let them start unless they meet the cutoff. One thing that I have talked extensively with teachers about (because my daughter was in a similar situation) was that at this point some kids are ahead of others, but by grade 2 the children that started kindergarten when they were on the younger side tend to get overwhelmed with the work and the social aspects, therefore older is better. I believe there is a way that he can "test" into kindergarten. You might try searching the Dept of Ed website or calling them about that if you're really worried about it. You might be able to find a 5 day pre-k class that he'd be happy in too.
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K.M. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
Many towns still have the cut off age for first grade so it won't matter if you home school or go to private k he will still have to wait to go to first grade. Enjoy another year he has forevere to be in school.
N.E. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
I am actually a kindergarten teacher in a school district that wouldn't budge on the cut off date. Even if you sent him to private kindergarten for one year, he would be put into his age appropriate grade when you returned to public school (although if you did wait until 3rd grade, that probably wouldn't be the case). Some districts will budge on the date though so you may want to find out about that.
The testing that gets done for school entry is not necessarily about academic readiness. The tasks children are expected to do are developmental ones. They really have nothing to do with academics (in the traditional sense) and are just to screen for any learning disabilities. For example, there is nothing about reading in the test. Even if learning disabilities were suspected, students would still enter kindergarten. Teachers would just monitor those areas. Remember, the testing is done about 6 months before the students actually enter kindergarten. And this testing is state mandated so it's the same everywhere.
Personally, I would keep my son where he is. School is not all about academics, especially in kindergarten. There are many other aspects to consider: social, emotional, physical, etc. I think Gigi has a good point about being the last to do everything later in life. Things like that really affect kids in middle and high school.
Also know that there will be other kids in his class who have also missed the cut off date so he will have peers in that regard. Whereas if you pushed to have him start early, he would be the youngest always. Age doesn't always dictate the level of academic ability or even maturity always, but I think it would be a factor if he was the youngest by a month.
He will have 12 (and probably more) years in school, why start early? Especially if he loves to learn now...I would foster that love and make sure it stays with him when he enters school. Enjoy the next year and appreciate his love of learning, because believe me, it doesn't take long for kids to get sick of the rigorous demands of school.
I do have one caveat...does your town do full or half day kindergarten? If it's half day, I would send him to private kindergarten and then public for first grade.
1 mom found this helpful
G.D. answers from New London on April 17, 2008
My son pulls this at 10 To him it seems thathis friends do more than he b/c thier Dad does the fireworks for a LOT of places. So thier trips are work related and the kids really just sit around playing videogames. We actually take him fun places Disney World. Nothing is ever enough. It's just something they go through. It's our job as parents to knock them back to reality. No matter how big or little the situation there is always a learning experience.
The car thing, I get. I was one of very few who had to work for my own car! My Dad actually met me half way but I didn't know it then. Dad knew the people selling me a car and told them to cut the price in half for what they told me the price was. So what I now know was a $1200 car, I thought I paid it all for $600. I did pay my own insurance and gas. It taught me a lot! What I find best is what my Nana used as life lessons. I think a lot of this new stuff about raising children just doesn't work. How do I know? I tried it. I even had a psychologist tell me to NEVER punish my son b/c of his ADHD & ODD. Are you kidding me. I didn't learn lessons on the things I wasn't taught or punished for. My way is actually the only way that works with my DS.
Keep up the good work!
G.M. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
R. - how is he physically compared to other kids? Growing up he will be the smallest in his class if he goes to school early. This is another thing to consider - not just academics. I went to school early myself when I was a child and I was always the shortest, the smallest, the youngest, last to hit puberty (which was brutal as a teenager) last to get my license, etc, etc. But I did excel academically. I probably would have been in line with everyone else had I waited a year to go to school. Hope this helps!
D.B. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
You are still being influenced by people who are pressuring you. Don't! Put him in a preschool program with a lunch option a few days a week, put him in a program once a week at a library or even a museum. What do they mean "What are you going to do with him?" - you could enjoy him! They grow up so fast - what's the rush? You can take him hiking at the Walkup Reservation, get a membership at the Ecotarium, do crafts, look for frogs, paint a birdhouse, and so on. He can learn to play independently and entertain himself. Do a weekly playgroup with others in the same situation - go on picnics or to a playground. If you want to pay for private kindergarten, you can, but you will not be able to move your child into the public schools for at least a couple of years - I think it's 2nd grade. That is at least a 2 year commitment with tuition. Is it really worth it? Let him start at 6 - my son did and is now a leader in the school. I had to fight a lot of people but it was always the right decision. Starting at 6 is NEVER about academics and I'd 'stop worrying about who's light years away from who else. Don't even engage in those conversations - it's not healthy for you, or for you kid. His birthday is October, end of story, problem solved. Have faith in yourself! You are obviously doing something right because your child separates well and is outgoing - probably because you gave him the time and the opportunity. Don't stop now!
C.R. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
Hi! I've found that some of the private daycares have great kindergarten programs that will transfer over easily to a public school setting....he should be able to have kindergarten there and then possible skip right up to first grade the following year, as kindergarten is not a requirement...
M.S. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
I am in the same boat as you my sons birthday is in Nov and we have looked into private schools. They give a test to see if they have the social and acdemic skills to begin kindergarten if they feel they are then they allow them to start at 5 and not wait the extra year. I know that private schools are expensive, but if you compare them to day care you would still save money.
B.B. answers from Barnstable on April 17, 2008
You have described my firstborn. His birthday is October 19, and he started kindergarten at age 6. Same profile; academically minded from the git--he was reading by age 4. His favorite outing was spending the day at the science museum in Boston, and his collection of National Geographics fills a 3x4x6 cupboard. People said the same thing to me: What are you going to do with him?
He had 2 years of nursery school under his belt when I got pregnant with his little brother. I landed a job teaching at the sister school, so he got a third year--I worked mornings 3 days a week--until his brother was born. He finished out the year at his old school while I stayed home. We continued to do outings and feed his brain with movies, books, and outings.
Even at age 6, his transition into grade school was rocky. He was considered hyper and the school psychologist wanted him tested for ADHD. I did a lot of reading and chose not to have him tested. By 5th or 6th grade he began to adjust to the restrictions of school and got along well with his teachers. His classmates stopped picking on "the nerd," and began to appreciate him. His social skills developed more fully once kids accepted him. It wasn't easy--kids like him stand out without meaning to.
Long story short, I am glad he started school later. The extra year at home with us gave him a solid foundation for carving out his own identity. He had the freedom to develop his interests and his personality without the restrictions and limits school and peer pressure inevitably brings.
People thought I should send him to private school; we didn't have the money for that, and in any case, he assured me he'd rather experience "the real world."
He graduates from UMass Amherst with a physics degree in May (he will have no debt because of all his academic scholarships.) He was recently accepted into UNC's doctoral physics program and is happier than I've ever seen him-- doing what he has chosen and what he worked hard for.
Sometimes academically minded kids need that extra year at home; as an at-home mom, you can provide a solid base for his later explorations. You can't get that time back, and he'll thank you for it. My son thanks me often.
Good luck! Keep your own counsel. There will be a lot of people who think they know what's best for your son, but you and he will figure it out together.
K.C. answers from Boston on April 17, 2008
If you truly feel as if he is ready for school then go to the School Board and plead your case. I have seen many children who were ready for school but they missed the cut off date. The children whom I am speaking of were in a preschool program and had the preschool directors standing behind them. Ask to meet with the school and tell them of your wishes and see where it leads you...