48 answers

Go to Kindergarten or Wait a Year?

Hi Moms!

This question goes to all you moms who are tackling this issue now or have experienced this in the past. My son's 5th birthday will be August 25th. He is a week ahead of the Sept 1st cut-off for school. My husband feels strongly that we should wait a year and put him in a 4 day a week preschool this Sept. I know each child is different and the final call is up to the parents. He is a good child and I try to work him 20 to 30 minutes a day on school stuff (letters, words, sounds, numbers, etc) He is a little immature only b/c he sometimes has an issue with focusing on who's speaking or doesn't always want to listen. I wish he could go on to Kindergarten, but know that he would be ahead of the game if started the following year. Please let me know of your experience as I am trying to make since of this issue. Would love to hear how it worked out for your kid/s. Thank you.

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My son has an August birthday. I think it is an intensely personal decision and one which I struggled with through most of last year. My son was completely ready academically but I was concerned about socially/emotionally. In the end I felt that he would be bored in Pre-K and decided to send him. The bottom line for me is that someone has to be the youngest and the cutoff dates are put there for a reason. I personally feel that the holding back in the area that I live has gotten out of hand. All of that being said....my son has done GREAT! Any of the issues he had I think he would have had whether he started this year or next. He is ahead of most of his class in reading and was actually put into an accelerated reading group. I don't see a difference between him and the other boys in his class.

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I am the single parent of a daughter born in May to avoid that question. However, I taught grades 7- 12 for 38 years. I noticed that boys that started young had trouble socially and with discipline. I never knew a parent who regretted holding back a son, but I knew many who regretted NOT holding one back. We as teachers could also see what parents could not, that even though the boys were academically qualifed, the personal problems were often overwhelming.

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My son is 8 and his birthday is 8-5. We held him out a year and it was absolutely the best thing we could have done for him. He is at the top of class and doing very well. We got a lot of flack from some people, but it was by far the best thing we could have done for him!! Most boys have a little bit of a listening issue, as does my son. All the other mom's say the same thing, it's just a boy thing!!

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My son has an August birthday. I think it is an intensely personal decision and one which I struggled with through most of last year. My son was completely ready academically but I was concerned about socially/emotionally. In the end I felt that he would be bored in Pre-K and decided to send him. The bottom line for me is that someone has to be the youngest and the cutoff dates are put there for a reason. I personally feel that the holding back in the area that I live has gotten out of hand. All of that being said....my son has done GREAT! Any of the issues he had I think he would have had whether he started this year or next. He is ahead of most of his class in reading and was actually put into an accelerated reading group. I don't see a difference between him and the other boys in his class.

4 moms found this helpful

I have 2 children that are born in August. One is grown and the other isn't yet. By holding them back (in my case they did miss the cut off), my 3rd daughter turned 18 just before her Senior year. I believe that she was more mature when she ended highschool. She still had her share of troubles. But she's now in her first year old college and doing very well. I like the fact that she had another year to mature before taking on life's struggles on her own. In fact, I think in many ways it's helped her to realize she doesn't have to be on her own. She's accepting more help from us now than she did when she was 17.

This is a judgement call and there is no right answer.

My brother was one of the younger kids in class. He graduated early and went straight into the military. He did well. My 2nd daughter was one of the youngest in the class and she got a real big head on her shoulders the moment she turned 18 (one month before graduation). She got a DUI the day she graduated after her graduation party.

You have no crystal ball. So do whatever you think is best for him now. Don't worry about later.

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I am an elementary school principal, wait a year! You hit it on the head when you said he is a little immature. Kindergarten is all day long and it is a day of academics. Send him to a pre-school 4 year old half day program. Then he will be just right for going to kindergarten.

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Good question! I have 2 very good friends who have had this before. I have lunch with them from time to time, and we have known each other's kids for 8+ years.

My friend, R, did not keep her son out of K that extra year. Elementary school went fairly smooth, though. Middle school was a little rough, as the work and demands and responsibilities increased a lot. Her son did not make the transition to middle school work as easily as many other kids.
Freshman year was really tough. He was 13-14 while all the other boys were 14-15. That makes a big difference in maturity, stature, development, social issues.... He was the small boy with the high, squeaky voice while the other boys were entering puberty. He started acting out in class to try to get attention and got into quite a bit of trouble. They all had a really rough freshman year--- dads understand that competitiveness/ top dog thing more than moms.

My other good friend, C, decided to hold back. They have a "Gift of Time" pre-K class here that she enrolled her son. It was filled with kids in the exact same situation. He did so well, b/c it was tougher than pre-school and required a little less focus and concentration that K does. When he enterd K, he was really ready mentally! And as he matures in middle school and high school, C's son is academically and physically more like the other boys.

Best of luck in your decision.

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My son has a summer birthday, and we chose to send him to kindergarden at 5. He is turning 7 next month and finishing first grade with straight A's and good conduct marks. Although most people in this area would opt to hold a boy back an extra year to gain "confidence," I feel that maturity and confidence develop when there is a sense of mastery. Appropriate parental support and guidance and teacher contact are very important as well. My son has an 8 year old in his first grade class, and I have heard children tease her on the playground for not being "smart enough" to be in second grade. In assessing readiness, you might want to consider the preschool experience. Is he academically prepared for kindergarten? Is he a reader?
Most, if not all, 5 year old boys are a little immature! Boys mature later than girls. Good luck in making that decision!

You may want to check out this U.S. Dept. of Education study on the practice of academic redshirting in younger children. You can see the long term effects of this practice and make an informed decision.
http://www.kidsource.com/education/red.shirting.html#Effects

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I went to kinder when I was four back in the good old days when they left it up to the parents and while I was a bit immature, it was the right decision and I caught up, and surpassed most of the class by the end of the year. My son went to kinder at five...he also had a hard time paying attention, but the teachers know how to deal with five-year-olds and quickly had him working at least as well as most of the class.

Keep in mind that kids change quickly at this age. A kid that's immature for his age in May may be amazingly mature by August!

What I did with my son may work for you. I sent him to a private school that had preschool, pre-k, and kinder classes. Most of the parents started their kids in kinder at five (even a few at four since the school wasn't bound by the state cut-off age). Several of the younger children ended up being moved back to a pre-k class when it became clear they weren't ready for kinder...and at least two in my son's class were repeating kinder. In addition, a couple of them repeated kinder in the regular school system the next year.

Another thing to keep in mind...if you don't have your son in pre-k now, then your assessment of him is likely biased by your own experiences with him. I was convinced that my son was immature for his age and had a hard time "focusing on who's speaking or doesn't always want to listen." ...but now that he's nine, I can tell you for sure that most kids pay attention to "outsiders" FAR better than they do to parents! My son loved kinder...and I was always amazed when they told me how attentitive he was in class..."are you sure you're talking about MY son...the one who doesn't listen to anybody"??? LAUGH

Another thought...can you find a summer "pre-k-type" program for him...to test the waters so to speak? Perhaps something like Sylvan or Kumon or maybe a "camp" affiliated with a private school? My son went to preschool at two (I'm a working mom blessed with a flexible job so I could do preschool instead of daycare) so I had a LOT of input from professionals related to his readiness and aptitude before making this decision. I know I always thought my son was a bit "behind" his peers until I had the opportunity to see him with large groups of children his own age...then, observation and the input from people who have worked with hundreds (or thousands) of young children allowed me to see that he's a "normal kid"...advanced in some ways, a bit behind in others...like ALL of them!

A final thought...if you're working with your child every day, I can virtually guarantee you that he's ahead of at least half the students in his potential kinder class (especially if you're talking about a public school)! Even in my son's "academic-oriented" preschool/kinder, he started the year as one of the few that could write his name and knew the entire alphabet. Sadly, many parents don't work with their kids on academics before they start kinder!

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I have a friend with two boys born just before the cut off. She sent them to a local pre-school that offered a pre-kindergarten class. The next year they went to the local school for kindergarten. This worked very well for both of them. They are smart little guys, but a were a little too wiggly for kindergarten that year. :) Check your local pre-schools for pre-k classes. It may be just the ticket!

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I agree it is up to a parent. My oldest turns 5 in a week and is headed to Kindergarten in the fall. He is one of the youngest in his pre-k class. I noticed drastic differences developmentally when he was in the 3-year class and even some as he started pre-k with the other kids. Now I see almost no difference. He also plays frequently with a friend who is younger with an August birthday who seems to be able to do everything my son and his older friends do.

So, my advice is that if he is in a preschool program, talk to the teacher about his abilities and how they compare to the other kids. Our teachers even sent home an "assessment test" with how high he could count, letter recognition, etc... If he is progressing on par with other kids who are going, let him go to kindergarten.

If he is not in preschool or is lagging behind according to the teacher in a class he is in now you could enroll him in a Kinder Ready program for the summer If he's not prepared by the end of summer, then hold off. If he hasn't been in any preschool at all, then he may not be ready socially or academically but you'll be better able to decide after you have seen him in a program. If he does well, you'll know he is ready for the next step.

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