16 answers

Preschool Vs. Kindergarten

My daughter recently had her 4 year old evaluation at her preschool. She turned 4 in December but has been evaluated by a student of teaching and her achievements are at a
5 1/2-6 year old level. She is ready to go to kindergarten, academically, socially, emotionally, etc. I am torn about what to do, put her in pre-K or Kindergarden. She is at a private preschool right now that has K-4th grade. I don't know if she will be able then to go to public 1st grade if she goes to Kindergarten there. I am afraid to set her up for failure in the future and I know kids just need to be kids whatever their education is. In addition to all of these questions are that her father and I are possibly going to separate after this year of pre-school and we would be moving to a different area. Please, any thoughts, opinions, experiences are welcome.

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Thank you all for all of your input. This is what my dilemma was based on, her 4 year old evaluation she is ready in every aspect, academically, emmotionally, socially. I will continue to listen to the professionals.I am going to keep my daughter in pre-school. I will just have to challenge her more at home and hope that if she continues to be advanced in school, they will challenge her or advance her as well. All of your input is very much appreciated!

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I dont' have anything to add... I just wanted to say that I've loved reading this thread! All of the comments were so great, and helpful to me... the mom of a almost 3 year old! I have a few years before this might be an issue for us... we are told constently by her pre-school teachers that she is advanced... and this very subject has been on my mind.


I am on the opposite end of parenting, ie, we're doing college visits. As a June birthday, she's one of the younger ones in her class as it is. I would hate to see her leaving home any earlier than she is already. So, my advice is to also consider the long term.If you take this step now, will she be going away to college a year earlier? If so, are you OK with that? (one less year to save as well!)


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I just got off the phone with a private school because I am in your same situation, only my daughter is now 6. I have lived in two different districts in IL now and have been told repeatedly by both that there is no way that they will compromise the age requirements for any grade. It is VERY frustrating.
My daughter's birthday is Sept 3, and the cutoff date is Sept 1 for kindergarten. She is only 2 DAYS TOO YOUNG!!
Last year she was accepted into K in NC (where I am from) because the age requirements are different there. They also have full-day K in NC, which is hard to find (from my exp.) in IL.
I was told that she could not transfer into K in IL even though she was already in that grade in NC and that even if she went to private K that she would not be allowed into grade 1 the next year...
Welllll... we homeschooled her a full day of K instead of putting her into preschool, etc. and she was testing at the 2nd grade level on most things, but went ahead and decided to put her into public school where she would only go for 1/2 day of K! I was upset, but felt like maybe it was for the best, so we would not have to struggle with getting her in the "right" grade later and having to backtrack her a grade. To make a very long story short, I was VERY displeased upon registering at the school- it was chaos!! The school was run-down, etc. and she was unhappy when she found out that she would be "repeating" K AND only being able to go half a day of school.
We ended up putting her into the only private school in the district that would place her in a grade on her abilities and NOT her age, which is a religious school (I can give you the name privately in email if you wish.) I have been very pleased with the academic side of this school and she has excelled on her report cards, etc. However, they do not teach Science and the religion that is being taught is a bit extremist for my tastes as well.
Unfortunately, since U-46 will not accept her into grade 2 next year, we are in a bind and are in the process of seeing if another private school will now let her transfer in at grade 2.
I know this probably was not helpful in regards to "what you should do" but I wanted to let you know that you just have to take the path that you feel in your heart of hearts is best for your daughter's personality and growth.
Personally, my daughter was bored and ready for school. She is bright and curious and keeping her at home was making her act out because of boredom, and I believe putting her in K again this year would have made more of those "babyish" tendencies come out more! I am happy with what we chose for her, even though the path is quite complicated now!!
Feel free to contact me via email if you would like to chat, want school names and info, or have any questions.

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I had to make similar decision with my eldest son, who is now 18 yrs old and in his 2nd year of college in Champaign/Urbana, doing very well by the way. He was always very matured for his age and was going to a private school,I was a divorced mom struggling to make it, so saving a whole year's tuition was part of the decision. He went to private schools up to college, he was always, still is, the youngest one of his friends but it has never being a problem for us. He adjusted nicely, always done well in school, his friends did have an advantage when it came to driving, but he always had a ride to school from them:). What you have to look at is the level of maturity with your daughter, I did not have that problem with school dristrics, because he always went to a private school.

I had the same situation with my oldest son. I chose to send him to Montessori Kindergarten which is very different from public school. Then the next year he went to public school kindergarten. It was the best decision for him. He was always at the top of his class all through public school. He is now a senior in college with straight A's and going on to graduate school. I have never regretted my decision to keep him with his age group. You have to also think about when your daughter is 15. Do you want her "hanging out" with the older kids in her same age group? They grow up way too fast these days anyway. Good Luck with your decision.

I dont' have anything to add... I just wanted to say that I've loved reading this thread! All of the comments were so great, and helpful to me... the mom of a almost 3 year old! I have a few years before this might be an issue for us... we are told constently by her pre-school teachers that she is advanced... and this very subject has been on my mind.


In certain school districts if your child will be 5 before December 31 in the year you wish them to start kindergarten they will test the child to see if they believe they are ready for kindergarten. I know our school district (Valley View Community District 365U) has this policy. I don't know how difficult it is to have your child start, but I would think that if they completed a program in a public school setting they would be allowed to continue to the next grade. I am not certain, but if they do end up allowing her to begin the program, she should advance yearly if she meets the criteria.

On a side note... if you are going through a separation you may want to think twice about pushing her ahead. The separation could be hard on her and the kindergarten program might be too much for her to handle along with the separation.

Here is what the Illinois School Board of Eduacation has to say on the matter:

(105 ILCS 5/10‑20.12) (from Ch. 122, par. 10‑20.12)
Sec. 10‑20.12. School year ‑ School age. To establish and keep in operation in each year during a school term of at least the minimum length required by Section 10‑19, a sufficient number of free schools for the accommodation of all persons in the district who are 5 years of age or older but under 21 years of age, and to secure for all such persons the right and opportunity to an equal education in such schools; provided that children who will attain the age of 5 years on or before September 1 of the year of the 1990‑1991 school term and each school term thereafter may attend school upon the commencement of such term. Based upon an assessment of a child's readiness to attend school, a school district may permit a child to attend school prior to the dates contained in this Section. In any school district operating on a full year school basis children who will attain age 5 within 30 days after the commencement of a term may attend school upon the commencement of such term. The school district may, by resolution of its board, allow for a full year school plan.
(Source: P.A. 87‑359.)

I would start teaching her kindergarden/1st grade stuff at home and continue to do preschool also. In public school kindergarden it is only a bigger preschool even if you put her in she is not going to be learning anymore then what she already knows they will keep her with the other kids and at their level as a group, 1st grade they start learning more stuff but again as a whole group and they review alot of kindergarden. They really learn alot of new stuff in 2nd grade then again 3rd grade reviews 2nd and so on.
Your best bet is to move her along on her own at home and if you move then I would put her in the grade she has advanced to You can start her in whatever grade you want the school will want to test her which is up to you or you can test her yourself and tell them what grade she is in.
If you move her up to kindergarden where she is at and they are willing to let her work at her own pace that would be good. And again public school has to put her where you want her to be.
You are the mom and know her best and you are in control not the public school. The way it sounds you are doing a great job just keep it up and she will continue at the pace that is good for her.

It seems to me that everyone who's child "just misses" the cut off wants to find a way to get them into Kindergarten because, "they are so ready" and that my be true they may be absolutely ready for Kindergarten. But as another mother said, will they be ready for first grade? Do you want your daughter going to middle school when she is only 10? Do you really want your 10 year old sharing a lunch table with a 14 year old boy? Or further down the road, do you want your daughter to go away to college when she is only 17? Not to mention the fact that it isn't very much fun to always be the youngest in your class. We as parents have got to remember to think about the big picture and do what is best for our children as a whole and not to worry so much about them being the first 4 year old who reads at a 3rd grade level.

I taught for 9 years before staying home with my children. Now I have a few friends with similar situations. From my experiences, very few parents have regreted keeping their children in the grade their own aged peers. But, I have known several that have regretted letting their child skip a grade. School gets harder as the grades progress, not to mention the social emotional "stuff" and sometimes kids get stuck in the later grades.
Something else to think about--are their any schools in the area where you may be moving with a gifted program? This way she could stay with her own age group, but still get the advanced education that she can handle.

I do really feel for you! It is important to remember that what they call her learning experience is not as important as what the learning experience actually is!! Girls usually can be put into kindergarten earlier than boys. They just thrive a little sooner. Transitioning to a new school district or into public school is not as difficult as it first feels!! She should be allowed to be tested again and placed whereever she is developmentally. Just be sure to keep reading to her everyday at home!!! I can't stress this enough because being a single parent, I was often tired and neglected that. Don't make the mistake!! Just be sure she is being taught the basics of phonics early on or it will make reading much scarier. A few years back, some schools in Wisconsin decided to put phonics on the back burner and adopt a "whole word" approach. It has set back a lot of children who otherwise would not have struggled with reading. Don't let that happen to your daughter! It is not the pace that matters in the earlier years, but how their minds follow a learning sequence that makes reading understandable. It takes at least a year to transition into a new school system, so just be patient, verbal with the school, and make reading fun and easy at home... and school will be much more adaptable, no matter where you go. Also, my CHILD magazine issue this month has a short segment on children of divorce. Academic learning is used to measure the adjustment of the child for many things, and it is noted that children of divorce, especially girls, do better than children whose parents stay miserably married.

Hi. I would keep her in a pre-K program next year, but try to find one that has high academic achievement among the students. Ideally, you might want to try and find a multi-age classroom where she can learn those higher skills that she's ready for and then continue to keep her at a school with multi-age classrooms. This way, she could do 5-6 year old work while being allowed to regress a little bit if the separation and move affect her negatively. I think with the coming change in her life, to expect her to be a kindergartener would be too much for her. Remember, she'll be in school her whole life. She can always advance once her personal life is more stable. However, you're the only one who knows what your child is capable of, and ultimately, you should go with your instints. Best of luck.

I have been a kindergarten teacher in the public schools for 7 years and I saw this situation year after year. We do not allow children to "go ahead". They need to be registered in the correct grade based on age. I think the policy is great. Please do not push your child ahead!! They are only young for so long. There is a lot more to kindergarten these days than just playing! Also many parents think their child is "ready", but let the experts decide! If she gets into kindergarten or first grade and is that far above the school can always promote if they feel it is best and neccessary or many have gifted programs where she could get some additional help. In my opinion send her to preschool and continue to help her out with additional things at home. She is an only child and the socialization of pre school will be fantastic. Believe me when they get to kindergarten it will be lots of work and little play so she should enjoy it now!!

I am on the opposite end of parenting, ie, we're doing college visits. As a June birthday, she's one of the younger ones in her class as it is. I would hate to see her leaving home any earlier than she is already. So, my advice is to also consider the long term.If you take this step now, will she be going away to college a year earlier? If so, are you OK with that? (one less year to save as well!)


Hi, I also have a daughter who misses the cut off (by a few weeks) and we will be giving her an extra year of preschool. I'm not at all concerned with this potentially slowing her down...she gets a lot of additional support through other activities outside of school anyway like foreign language and music classes. These sorts of activities might not be the "conventional" academic thing, but they greatly challenge her emotional IQ which is very important. It's not all about academics that makes a child successful. I do understand your concern--but after weighing all the factors, this just made the most sense for us.

I totally agree with the last two comments. Especially about taking the "big picture" into account. There's really no rush...they'll have time for the harder stuff later.

Good luck--especially with your pending personal issues. All the best.

Definitely check with your own district. My son had a 4yo in his K class last year (Oak Park). But then if you're moving, you may have problems in the new district, so I don't know.

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about it. There's a wide range of abilities and readiness and, at least in our district, the first graders have a lot of pull-outs to allow them to do their reading and math work at different levels. Unless your daughter is really extraordinarily ahead of her peers (and I have known a few kids who are, so I'm not mocking) she will find enough to challenge her.

Looks like you are leaning toward sending her to Kindergarten. I think it depends on the child. my son made the cut-off and started K in public school the day he turned 5. He is absolutely the youngest in his class in our school. He did just fine in K but 1st grade has been a tough trasition. They say it will come with maturity, but it was tough. Something to think about with your potential changes coming down the road...

There's more to school then academics. My daughter's birthday is in October and when it came time for school I thought of having her tested to enter kindergarten early. I talked to a child social worker and decided not to. She would always be a year behind her friends in classes outside of school. Most dance clasess, park district classes etc.. are done by age and this may be hard for a child. I did not want my 15 year old hanging out with 16 year olds who just got their drivers license. Would you be ok with your daughter doing the same activities as her friends when she's a teenager, even though she's a year younger? My daughter is now 15 and a freshman in highschool. She's doing great!!! She's adjusted well to highschool and has made many new friends. She is extremely confident and I think that sometimes it is best to be the oldest in class vs the youngest. All I ever asked from her school was to teach what was supposed to be taught in each grade level. There are 25-30 kids in each classroom and we can not expect our teachers to teach each child at their level. I would make sure I challenged her at home through games, trips, books etc.. Plus your child may be fine now, but you will see that as school progresses things may change. Children are being taught at a faster rate. My daughter is doing college algebra freshman year of highschool just to give you an idea. My other daughter is taking college credit courses in highschool as a jr.
I hope this is helpful and best of luck to you.

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