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Should I Put My Son in Kindergarten at the Age of 4 or Hold Him Back

I have a son who will be 4 when he starts kindergarten in Sept 2009. He will turn 5 in Oct. 2009. I am not sure if I should hold him back a year and start him when he is 5 turning 6. I am going to put him in preschool in Sept 2008 in a 4 & 5 year old class. I want to see how he does. He is very bright and very social. I feel he will do well if he starts early, but I don't want him to feel pressured. Would appreciate any advice.

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Amazing 107 responses to my question! Thank you to each and one of you for your time and great advice. We decided to do another year of preschool (pre-K) for our four year old (soon to be five year old). We believe we made the right choice with no regrets. Thanks again, you are all the greatest!

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Hi L.,
I had the same concerns about my son who had a late birthday. In order to make a decision, I spoke with his preschool teacher and had him assessed by the school district (which is free) to find out if he was ready. Both gave the green light and we decided to put him in Kindergarten. We had a bit of a rough start, but I blame that on a 1st yr YOUNG teacher. He did great and just finished 1st grade and is right on target with learning and even excelling in certain areas.
Good Luck!

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I'm a pre-school teacher. My advice is ask his teachers. Some kids are ready at 4 & others are not. His pre-school teachers will help you see what areas he will need help with or if he's ready. I would ask after the Christmas break or new year to see what they say. They see a lot of students & usually have good indications on how to help him. The school I work at, one teacher does at the end of year reviews & usually suggest another year of pre-school if she believes the child isn't quite ready.

Hell L.,
Every child is different. I tried to put my son in kindergarten when he was 4. He had difficulty with learning, the teacher told me to bring him back next year. Some children are ready for it and others are not. Good luck. G.

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I always suggest waiting for several reasons. Boys mature later. Also, when looking at universities, later on in life, the boys (and girls) especially if athletic in nature, gain a great advantage in their testing results for SATs, ACTs, APs and SAT IIs if they are competing a year later. It is so competitive getting into good universities now that there is no rush for getting them into kindergarten at 4.

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Hi L.,

We had the same question when our oldest (now 10) was first going to start school. He was a summer baby and had JUST turned 5 when we put him in K. He also had been in a year or 2 of a preschool program so we were very comfortable with him starting at 5. I had already taught him his alphabet and he was reading and writing his own name so he was READY academically, but he was very young and I think he would have benifited from waiting one more year!

Of course now he is an honor roll student and is doing great so the decision worked out ok.

BUT, as our pediatritian reminded us, he will be in school for a long time so keep him home as long as possible!

If he is in a preschool program for a couple of hours to get him around other kids his own age that would be a plus!

At the age of 4-5 they are a good deal younger (mentally) than at the age of 6-7. Keep him home as long as you can! It will be worth it.

Good luck!

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Hi L.,
I had the same concerns about my son who had a late birthday. In order to make a decision, I spoke with his preschool teacher and had him assessed by the school district (which is free) to find out if he was ready. Both gave the green light and we decided to put him in Kindergarten. We had a bit of a rough start, but I blame that on a 1st yr YOUNG teacher. He did great and just finished 1st grade and is right on target with learning and even excelling in certain areas.
Good Luck!

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The private school we are considering for our son will not take kids into kindergarten until 6 no exceptions....our son is mentally a couple of years ahead of his classmates and would be 5.5 and there is no way they will accept him. They want the kids all at the same emotional and physical maturity. It was a tough because I think he is bored in preschool but we have also been giving compelling arguments of why waiting will be better for him.

Good luck

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Our son turned 5 last October. He too is bright and social. We waited to start him in kindergarten and do not have a single regret. I actually think of having him wait as our gift to him. Our daughter is older and has an January birthday so she was one of the older kids when she started kindergarten and we saw what a difference it made for her. And, kindergarten has changed from what we experienced as kids. Gone are the days of playing in the sandbox and fingerpainting all day. These kids read, write dictated sentences, do homework. I think that is just way too much to ask of a 4 year old.

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I chose to put my son (now 13) in K early...his birthday is mid-November. He had problems every fall through 4th grade. He would cry and tell me he wasn't smart enough and by Christmas break he would be catching on and everything would be fine. This problem really stemmed from the fact that we moved from a small rural town to a rural city and the K standards (what they needed to know entering K) were very different and he WAS behind. He did LOVE schol and did not behave this way in thhe classroom, just at home with the homework. At the end of K I wanted to hold him back because I felt emotionally he was not ready since he KNEW that he was behind and she counseled us not to retain him. Every fall I felt bad, but once he started doing music in the 4th grade, everything seemed to click. The fall of 5th grade was easy. He has always met the standards and gotten good grades it was his self-confidence in his work that was the problem. He is now 13, an Honors student entering high school and will earn his Life Rank in Boy Scouts this fall and begin working on his Eagle project and requirements next year.

My younger son has a birthday in January and was almost 6 when he started K. He knew all the K standard info and at first really liked school. Now, although he likes school, he is beginning to get bored. His 3rd grade teacher did not challenge him at all last year and unfortunately I didn't find out until after Christmas break. I told him that if he is feeling that way again this year, to let me know so that we can change teachers. I worry that if he loses interest in school now that he will grow bored and end up just getting his GED so he can drop out to begin working or something...

If your son knows all or most of the standards required for entryr is outgoing and loves learning, then I would go ahead with it. It is hard to get boys to stay interested in school and if they are ready you need to go for it. You can help him through any tough times and definitely get him involved in music as early as possible as I beleive this madethe difference with my older son.

Good luck and happy school days!


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I would say that waiting is best, In my experience boys are always slower to mature. My son had two boys in his K class last year that started at 4 both boys were held back, which is soo awful because all of their friends are going to the first grade. I wouldnt want to take the chance.

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Hi there,

I am a teacher (4th grade) and I am all for starting kids (especially boys) at age 5 to turn 6 in kindergarten. Boys typically need an extra year to mature before starting kindergarten.

I was tutoring a boy last year who was in first grade, but he was so far behind, he ended up repeating first grade. He started kindergarten at 4. His mom thought he might not be ready but she was pressured by other neighborhood families starting school. Developmentally, he was not ready for kindergarten.

I see so many kids struggle in the upper grades and it is often the younger ones....that's not to say that all 4 year olds will struggle later in school. If you feel like your son is ready, go for it. If you have any doubts, wait. We ask so much of our little guys in school now there shouldn't be a rush. Enjoy him for another year!

I'm lucky, my son was born in January so we have no choice.

I hope this helps.

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L., Although I don't know your son, I'd say that waiting is best. As a teacher in both elementary and pre-school I've seen that generally boys mature in a different way than girls. What I've seen is that girls are more "ready" for the quiet and sedentary activities that make up most of the school day, so they do well entering a grade at a younger age. Boys are active and need to move! Often they are more "kinesthetic" learners so the longer they can remain in a setting where they can move about, and learn by experience and "hands-on" activities, the better foundation they have for later academic learning. I almost always recommend to parents of a boy that they wait as long as they can before entering kindergarten. So having him continue in the pre-school class next year as a 5 year old will probably be perfect for him.
There are also some schools that have a 2-year kindergarten option, which was created to meet the needs of children who might enter school at an early age and may need another year to be ready for First Grade. Waldorf Schools all offer this option, as well as many public schools.
My strong suggestion is to wait; right now the schools are pressuring children academically, and waiting would give your boy one more year to develop a healthy, strong body (including vision/eye development which continues to about the age of 7 years), more time to "get the wiggles out," more time to learn through his physical experiences rather than just mental-- all of which will help him to meet the increasing academic demands with stamina. And the extra time will also allow one more year for emotional growth. Every parent I've spoken to who has waited an extra year to enroll their boy in kindergarten has been happy that they did; every parent who did not, regretted it.
All that being said, you are the one who knows your boy best and maybe his needs will be different. In a year from now it will be much more clear to you what decision to make. You can even visit a kindergarten classroom at the end of next year, to see what the activities are, what the expectations for the children are.
Good luck, and enjoy your children!

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Bright and social -- put him in. It's only one month late.

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Hi L.

my son is a November baby so when he started K, he was 4..
we decided to go ahead and send him and see how he did and in fact he did great. We knew that IF needed, we could pull him out and that wouldn't be the worse thing that ever happened.
I am not saying we didn't think closely about this, but we took the road and oppinion of, he will do better than not.. not the other way around where some worry if their child will fit in and do ok.. we simply gave the benefit of the doubt. again, if it didn't work out, we were ok with the outcome. Sometimes you just have to given things a try and see how it goes. I wish you the best of luck.

That's a tough one. You know he's bright and can learn quickly, so there is that instinct to let him role with it, but you know he is young.

I have a 7 yr old, who is the youngest in her class. She struggles with this all year long. By Nov. 1/2 the class will be 8,and by March all but 5 will be 8. She won't turn 8 until mid-summer. Because the others are so much older than she is, they are developmentally in different places. They are bigger, stronger, more mature, and have a year of skills she doesn't have.

She wishes we had put her in pre-k, instead of K at her current school.She has said it many times, but when asked if she would like to stay with her current teacher next year, so that she will not be the youngest and she likes the teacher (and would continue to learn a ton from her), she says no.

As a teacher, I have students who come through who are too young. At fourth grade, the others in the class see gray, while my young ones can only see black and white. They are confused by the shades of gray.

If you keep him home, what will you do to encourage learning, growing, and development? Will you home school him, in a way....provide him with various learning opportunities, like bi-weekly library trips, museums, gardens, art classes, music classes, sport/athletic activities, etc. Experiences that encourage social interactions.

If you can do all that, keep him home and let him grow a bit more. Then he'll be more than ready for Kinder.


I would put him in. At that age he potentially has these skills already. My oldest daughter who turned 5 in April is at the first grade level but I think it's best to start with K to get a basic feel for school, we are doing the public school cirriculum at home. Good Luck. God Bless


This was my dilemma......my son's birthday, Nov 30th....... he is now a junior in high school.......here is what I experienced.
My son was very bright, by the time he got to high school is where I saw the difference.
His body is a slow grower, his friends were more developed, even with involving girls he is on a slower pace. If I waited, he would have been physically ahead of everybody. He has had to keep himself up at a faster pace (probably without him knowing it, I see it) both academically and physically. But he has done fine, very mature and street smart.

here is the catch...... if I would have put him in the later Kindergarten....... he would have gotten bored and in trouble.

Believe me, listen to your gut. His dad died the last year of preschool and I needed to move on. So listen to your gut, watch him and you will know. I do not regret my choice,
I just know in my gut I would have had more problems personally holding him back. I have had to stay very strict with rules.

Good idea to try the 4&5 year old preschool. Every child is different and as I've been told many times...you'll know if your child is ready. The stereotype is that boys mature later, but again, each child is different. It is early to decide...he will change a lot in this coming year. We had a girl in my daughter's preschool class last fall that didn't seem like she'd be ready for kindergarten this coming fall, but now has matured so much that she is entering kindergarten this fall. You never know...also ask the preschool teacher.

Most of the kindergarten "advice" asks if your child can sit in a group for a 15-20 minute period and then move on when told to do so. Can your child participate in "circle time" or does he want to run around? Etc, etc, etc. Trust your instincts also...

This is a tough decision, one which we faced 7 or 8 years ago with our middle son. We ended up putting him in kindergarten--and have stayed with him as a young student (birthday in early November) all these years (he is now entering 8th grade). He is doing fairly well, but in retrospect, I think I would have waited, even though he did have the attention span, size, and readiness to learn that were considered important factors at age 4. One of the main reasons is that most people do wait these days, and so most kids with fall birthdays are a year (or more) older than my son. Also, if you move to another state with an earlier deadline, you will find even fewer kids the same age as your child. We had felt our son might be bored in another year of preschool, but there are young 5 programs and ways to make this challenging. However, I am sure there are those who really should go ahead. One way to get more information is to take a workshop on kindergarten readiness, such as the one offered by the Children's Health Awareness Council (CHAC). Good luck.

Allow your child to attend kindergarten next year with his age group. When it comes time to place your child in a first grade class, the public school will take care in appropriate placement for his academic and social maturity. Generally, it's parents and not children who feel pressured during the early years of school. A normal child will just go with the flow and absorb what's he's exposed to at school and at home. My daughter started kindergarten at age 4. She is now in college. There is nothing magical about birthdate; it's all in the individual academic and social maturity of the child. Best wishes.

I was a kindergarten teacher for many years and have 2 grown children of my own. I went against my own better judgement and followed the advise of the school to start my 2 when they were on the very young end of their eligibility to start school. If I had to do it over again, I would have waited for both of them (1 girl, 1 boy, both real smart). Its extremely distruptive and difficult to hold them back later on, so much better to err on the side of caution. Also my many years of experience showed me that boys just mature later than girls as a general rule; even bright, social boys. It can also be difficult for boys to be a little smaller than their classmates if that's an issue (my son was huge and looked mature, so everyone expected more of him than was reasonable). Having said all that, each child is an individual and every case needs to be looked at as such. In the end, it is up to your judgement since no one knows or loves your darling son as you do. Best of luck to you with this important decision!

The preschool teachers/director should be able to give you good advice after they have worked with your son for a few months. They see so many kids that, once they know your son, they should be able to provide you with guidance. Also, think about what being one of the youngest kids in his class will be like for him, physically, socially and emotionally, at different times in his life, not just Kindergarten. How about 8th grade, high school, etc.? Being the last kid with your driver's license can be a huge bummer! My son turned 5 in May and is off to K next month, but I was really surprised to see the number of boys, in particular, who head to K as older 5s and young 6 yos. Your son will not only be with 5 yos if you send him in 2009 but also w/older 5 yos and some 6 yos. That might be fine for him; it's just something to keep in mind.

Your son is at a hard stage--my oldest turned 5 in September but my youngest is mid-November for turning 5. The oldest was in pre-school for about 1 1/2 years before he started Kindergarten and he was painfully ready then. :) Social, smart, eager, etc. My youngest has been in preschool since he was 3 (?) I forget if we started him the August before he turned three, but that seems right.

In any case, he was speech delayed so when he turned three he was assessed and qualified for speech therapy through the school district. He ended up with four days a week of preschool between the two programs and he's technically ready for kindergarten next week. My husband and I were very worried about his age for kindergarten but then his speech preschool teacher told me about a pilot kindergarten program in our district. He will have to do another year of kindergarten but in the meantime he will be in kindergarten, receiving extra speech therapy, and going at a slower pace than the regular kindergarten classes. Next year he'll go to his own school as a kindergartner. I was so thrilled with this program--it is specifically for those without learning disabilities but who just barely qualify for kindergarten (those younger kids for whom three months is a HUGE difference in their age).

My suggestion, after all that? Guage your son's progress at the preschool. Discuss it with his preschool teacher. Check with your district to see if they have a similar program and if your son would qualify. I am absolutely ecstatic that my son will be able to receive an extra year of prep while he's feeling that he's going to "the big school". It should make his official year of kindergarten so much easier and I really do feel better about him being one of the older kids in the class rather than one of the youngest (even though he's only a few inches/pounds different from his three-year-older brother).

Sorry for the essay--just that we're going through that right now. :) Good luck and remember that you're one of his teachers, too.


Hi L.,

My first response is that it may be too soon to tell. I know when my daughter was in pre-K I wanted to have all of the school years mapped out. What I am learning with my 2nd grader is that I have to take things one year at a time - or really one day at a time as things can change so dramatically. I have seen that many kids are going to pre-k programs and then beginning kindergarten at 5 or even 6. Many children - particularly boys - are not physically ready to sit in the kindergarten setting before then. Also, schools are filling the kids up with homework at earlier ages these days and the ability to focus after a day of school is tough when they are younger. That said, some kids desire that challenge earlier that others. My girl is doing well in school, she's 7 years old and reads at the 5th grade level. School is going well now but her energy level in kindergarten was low. She was in a fullday program and by the end of the day she was exhausted. It took half the school year to for her to adjust to the day. By then she was 6.
Kindergarten is a big step. The good news is iot can easily be repeated (easier than say 3rd grade ;) Hopefully you have a good teacher who can help you evaluate your son next spring. Whatever you decide it sounds like you are a thoughtful Mom. That is big thing in his favor!

Hope it goes well for you and your family.

Hi L.,
I am a second year Kindergarten teacher and one of the first things I learned about my students is that when their birhday is makes a huge difference in their maturity and therefore their performance. Everychild is different, so you do have to make a decision based on how your son is doing socially and academically in the spring, but in general I would say it is better to wait. Standards in Kindergarten are much more demanding than when we were in school, your son will be expected to read at a beginning level, write simple three or four sentence stories, add and subtract by the time he leaves Kindergarten! (Among other things). He may "do fine" if you put him in next year, but if you wait you may find him excelling. I have a fall birthday neice whom we felt was really advanced and enrolled at 4 (I wasn't teaching yet), and she was fine in Kindergarten, but began struggling in the first and second grades. I have a nine month old with a fall birthday and I can tell you that personally I already know that unless she really blows me away academically and socially at 4 she will be 5 when she goes to Kindergarten.
Good Luck with your decision!

After teaching kindergarten for 8 years I always recommend to wait. I have NEVER talked to a parent that said they regret waiting a year, but I have talked to MANY parents that regret starting them early. Four is very young to start school. My own son had a birthday right before school started and I waited for him to start so he was 6 for his entire year of k.

Only you know your child for sure but it is a good idea to watch him closely while in the pre-school and see how he does. It is very hard when kids sre the youngest in class as theyb grow older because as usual kids are mean and might pick on him. I think I would wait and keep him in preschool.

I am a first grade teacher in the Bay Area and I am so relieved to see this questions. I will face the same issue with my daughter who is an October baby. Your goal should be for your child to be successful in the school environment that he is in. If you believe that he is socially and academically mature then you should let him go. If he is immature for his age he may struggle to make friends and if he is not doing well academically it can make school a frustrating place for him.

Starting your child at 4 is something that is really determined by your own child. My youngest daughter, raised such a fit when she was 3 and her brother started school and she did not. When she was 4 she was ready herself and did not attend preschool. Her birthday is Oct. 25, she is now 23 yoa and just graduated Nursing School. One of the youngest in her class. However my oldest daughter started when she was 4 birthday Nov. 8 and did not do so well. We ended up holding her back in the 3rd grade. So once again I advise, if he is ready by all means send him. School is a wonderful experience for all children, but it can be traumatizing if started before they are ready for it. Hope this helps, Good luck.

It depends on your son and his personality. See how he does in preschool socially, that's a much bigger factor than academically. If he gets shy or is slow to assert himself, I'd wait until he's bigger and more confident. If he has no problem interacting and his confidence is high, he'll probably be fine as one of the smaller/younger kids in kindergarten. Good luck! C.


We are in the same situation with our son. At the begining of this year (Jan 2008), his preschool teachers suggested a program that we have in our area where the kids automatically go to kindergarten for 2 years. He just seemed a bit behind the other kids in his preschool class. As the year progressed he started developing. I took him into the kindergarten classroom for a day and he really seemed to do well. At this point we have enrolled him in kindergarten with an open mind that if he has to do 2 years then so be it. I would rather him stay back in kindergarten then later in his school years. As I said, though he is continuing to grow even through the summer by leaps and bounds. I would say wait until closer to the end of his preschool year and get some advice from his preschool teachers. They are really good at giving you guidance.

Good luck with your decision.

In my opinion, I would not put a child into kindergarten earlier, if there is the option to put them in a year later. There is enough pressure on children these days. When my kids were growing up, kindergarten was still just a partial day and not a much "pressure to perform" as there is these days. Unless I had a child who was really advanced in all areas, I would let them have the extra time to develop their own interests. Four-year-olds are WONDERFUL, naturally curious about everything, and mature enough to want to learn all there is not know about everything. I let my children at that age go to pre-school and I let them take the lead with me in what they were interested in, and then I reinforced their interests with trips to the library where they could pursue (on their own) their natural interests, as well as finding art activities and outings that corresponded to those interests. The age you are talking about may be the last time you really see what your child is "naturally" interested in himself, before the influences of the education system and peers take over. Best of luck - a family of three boys is a challenge, but such a great blessing!

My daughter is an October baby...we put her in a Transitional Kindergarten class after a year of preschool. She wasn't emotionally ready for Kindergarten- my husband and I decided that she has a long time to be in school and starting Kindergarten before she was ready was not the way we wanted to start her school career. The extra year has been one of the best parenting decisions my husband and I have made...we would do it again in a second. My daughter is now 5 (6 in October) and can't wait to start Kindergarten. Good luck!

Our son is in the same situation as yours, except he will be turning 5 this October. We decided to hold him back because he is on the small side and we just didn't think that he was ready.
I talked to many, many elementary school teachers (I am a teacher myself)and the best advice I got was - why not put him at an advantage - he'll be a little older and more mature for kindergarten rather than younger and immature. Plus, if most other boys are held back, we didn't want our son to be a full year behind them. In the end, of course, it comes down to what you feel is the best for your son. Good luck!

It really depends on your child. I would see how he does in preschool, and if it goes well and his teachers think that he's ready to move on to kindergarten (emotionally/academically/maturity) then go for it. I started my younger son in kindergarten when he was four turning five in November, and it was totally the right thing to do - he was completely ready in every way, and has done great. A friend started her child at four and it was maybe not the best idea, just because of who he is and how he was doing at the time. Good luck!

I would keep him home until he's 6. I think that kids have to grow up so quickly that being given a few extra years at the beginning of their life really is a gift.

Wow, 62 responses and counting...clearly this issue is a hot one. Here is a link to a very good archived article from a professional publication of an organization I belong to (NAEYC), which gives a lot of 'food for thought'. The website for National Association for the Education of Young Children is worth exploring as it has much to offer parents in addition to childcare professionals.


My recommendation is that you wait. My mom waited with me and I had a very successful start in school. She didn't wait with my brother and he struggled for years. Your son might do just great. But my philosophy is why push. It certainly won't hurt him to wait. Just my opinion:) Hope this helps:)

Hi L.,

I would say to hold him back. Let him go an extra year to the 4 & 5 year old class. Typically younger boys have a harder time socially once they hit 5th grade and beyond. Dating and driving at the same time his classmates do is a big thing. You have to look to the future when making these kind of decisions.

A little about me--retired school teacher with a bright nephew (October birthday) who was put in school early and struggled 4th grade on....made it thru high school, but put off college for 5 years! I'm married to a fantastic fella--38 years--who was so bright he went from K to second grade all in one year! He did very well in school, but he missed out on all the "play", felt pushed, and couldn't drive till the end of his junior year. Most of his friends were in the class behind him. The only thing that "saved" him with his peers, was his intelligence AND great athletic ability! So take care when making this decision. NancyA.

As a former preschool teacher I will tell you what I told many parents who wanted to start theri child in kindergarten early. Now I taught in Alaska whose cut-off for kindergarten is August 15, which meant that to start a child whose birthday was after that date you had to prove they were ready. I would ask the parent to objectivley look at thier child and then hopefully they know some children 6 months older and 6 months younger. What age group is their child more comfortable with? Is their child advanced academically, socially, physically (in both large and small motor skills)? Kindergarteners are asked to write, can your child handle it? Is your child ready to give up naps? Most schools have an afternoon component for at least part of the year. Then look at your local sports associations (if that is something you will want for your child), they are non-negotiable on age limits. Will your child always be in the level behind all his classmates for soccer, little league etc..? How will your child handle being the last to go through puberty? the last to turn 10 and be double digits? the last to get a driver's liscense? Do you think a move to another state is in your future? What are thier cut-offs? California has one of if not the latest cut-off dates in the nation. I know a boy who started kindergarten in California and now is in fourth grade in Oregon and the youngest by a significant margin. He notices it, as his birthday is September 30 and he is the only one a year younger each year when school starts. The last question to ask yourself is if is wasn't working would you pull your child out mid-year and start over next year? In my experience of teaching preschool for four years (I quit to stay home with my kids) was that only three of the many students whose parents wanted to start them early were truly ready. One was a girl whose birthday was August 29, another a boy whose birthday was in early November (He was exceptionally unique and ended up skipping a grade and moving to an exclusive private school, he will one day whin a nobel prize or something) and another little girl whose birthday was in September. All the other's either waited or in my opinion would have been better off waiting. Now for my personal experience, my son whose birthday is mid-July waited to start kindergarten. We homeschool and he was not ready so we started in January and I simply read to him and did projects with him. We watied until he was six and had much better fine motor skills to do any writing. He just turned seven and we will be doing a combination of 1st and 2nd grade work this year.

Hope I was helpful to you,

H. F

I have 2 boys ages 9 and 11. The 11 yr olds birthday is in Dec. so he is older in his classes and my 9 yr olds birthday is in May so he is on the younger side. In my experience and from what I have seen in my years in elementary school it is much better to start older. No matter what age (even in 5th grade it is evident) the older kids are more mature and can handle the academic and especially the social/emotional parts of school much better.


Hi L. -

This is a perennial dilemma, and it completely depends on the child.

I started both my children at age 4, but they had both been in excellent preschools for three years before they started Kindergarten (I work full time) so had quite a lot of experience with group settings, which is key.

My son is now 15, and I am very glad I started him when I did. He is very bright, and he is also very tall. He would have been a giant had I kept him back, and now in high school, he would be BORED TO TEARS if he were a grade behind.

My daughter started this last year in Kindergarten at 4, and will enter the 1st grade in fall. She is over the top socially, and very bright. She had some issues with fine motor skills due to her age, but rapidly caught up. She has done beautifully with the rest of the program, and I'm very glad I started her. She was ready for the rigor of 'real' education, and she would also be a 'problem child' in high school if she were bored!

The long and short of it is this -- I played to my kids' strengths (both are too smart for their own good!) and gambled that they would 'come along' on the social and fine motor skills aspects. It was the right decision -- for us, and for them.

My recommendation would be to find either an excellent preschool or a Pre-K or Transition-K program for him, and see how he does. If he handles the group setting well, and if he has the ability to sit still (harder for boys), then I'd say go for it.

Good luck!


My son was born in late Sept, so his situation is similar to your son's. When he was 3 going on 4 he started in a young fives class because I liked and trusted the school. I had wanted him in the 4's class, but it was full. So this is similar to what you are doing. Here is what I saw. He was the youngest kid there, the next one was 4 months older and the next one was a couple of months older again. The differene in ages in the class was a year and a half. So there was a big range of ages there, which might be the case in your son's class. My son is a very smart guy so that wasnt an issue. But there were big developmental differences. And the older kids were a lot bigger than mine. Once he was in this class I started to think that I would have him go to K when he was first eligible, since I didn't want to have him repeat the 4/5 class and feel wierd (although he really wouldn't have felt wierd for more than a few minutes - if things are explained correctly then the kids see them differently than we do as adults.) Okay, the long and short is that I got a hanec to switch him to the 4';s class and didn't look back. That was the right place for him. He was in over his head with the games that the oplder kids played, and their more competitive outlook. My guy is competitive, but the older kids are little more insulting! You'll see it. The 4 year olds at the beginning of the year are more guileless. There was a lot of I can do that better than you can. They're better able to handle it a year later.

Then when my guy was 4 going on 5 I put him in the 4/5's class and it was perfect. And now he's starting to read on his own and I can really picture him actually enjoying K this fall. Look up some stuff on the internet and read about waiting a year for kindergarten. I really really recommend it. They say that you can either pay for an extra year of preschool or an extra year of college!

I would choose a great developmental preschool and have him do the 3's class this eyar and the 4's class next year and then go to K. No question in my mind. He'll get to be with friends for 2 year of preschool before elementary starts.

Good luck!

My son turned 5 in late November of his kindergarten year. We put him in pre-school and I waited and watched to see how he did. I also asked his pre-school teacher and she said he was ready. Also his kindergarted teacher was going through her files of her new incoming students and she saw his age and called me. We talked and she asked me some questions and after talking to me she seemed to think he was ready too! So the real test came when he actually went to kindergarten and after having him in her class for a couple of weeks she gave me a call and told me that she could tell that he was where he was suppossed to be (in kindergarten not still in pre-school). So my advise would be to put him in pre-school, watch how he does, take the advise of the teacher and try and talk to the kindergarten teacher too. They have seen enough children that they will be able to tell you if he is ready or not. Good Luck!

See how he does in the preschool and make your decision then. We have a son starting kindergarten in the fall - he turns 6 in November. We held him back primarily because his dad was in a similar situation when he started kindergarten and regrets that his parents sent him on early. He was the smallest kid in the class (for years) which can create many issues for boys particularly - especially in sports. And now days - more parents are holding their children back than are not - so you can be pretty sure if you do send him on when he's 4 that he will be the youngest. Good luck!

my advice is to let him attend the preschool and then see if he is able to study with the kids or see if he is too squirrelly. Sometimes it really is better for boys to have the extra year to get their little bodies to quiet down. I have four kids. Two are boys. One went in as the youngest in his class and one went into school a year later as one of the oldest. The latter would have been impossible for any teacher to handle at an earlier age, and as it was remained incredibly unmotivated and sociable until he finally caught the college bug and settled down to real work. The former was a bright quiet student who actually skipped a grade (not something any parent should ever do with their child!!). The point is that it all depends upon personality and aptitude to the class setting. God bless. Ev


I would keep him home-- 4 is just too early in my opinion. I would definitely continue your plan to put him in pre-school though-

Take care,


Speaking as a Preschool Director, I urge you to seek advice from your son's preschool teachers. They should be able to assess him for school readiness and are an excellent resource to help with this difficult decision.
Also, take a look at the kindergarten your son will attend. If most people in your community hold back their younger children then,there is a possibility that your child would go, at four, into a class with children turning six! There is such a range of behavior and learning that occurs between four and six!
Again, your preschool will be helpful.
Good luck!!

Hi L.,
I went through this too. I have 2 daughters now ages 7 and 3. My 7 yr. old has an Oct. 3rd bday and my 3 yr. old has a Nov. 1st. bday. With my oldest, we thought she'd be bored in preschool another year when she was 4 so we started her in Kindergarten and she turned 5 that October. Kindergarten, she breezed through but 1st grade was a struggle. She was behind and it took lots of work to get her where she needed to be by the end of the year. So in 2nd grade we knew it takes alot more work to keep her where she needs to be. The other thing I noticed is when they are younger, they try to act older because in my daughter's case she will turn 8 in Oct. this year (3rd grade) and has a friend in same grade who will already be 9. A big difference. She does fine but it is just much more work at school & home for her and sometimes gets frustrated. You may think if you wait he'll be a bit bigger than kids by my daughter is much shorter than most kids in her grade.
So now with our youngest we decided to hold off and have her start when she is 5 and will turn 6 in Kindergarten. We don't want every year to be a somewhat struggle like it has been for our oldest. Talking to 3 different Kindergarten teachers we know, they recommended waiting because most 4 yr. olds are ready social & maturity wise for Kindergarten.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!!!:)

Both my son and daughter started kindergarten on the young side (they had each turned 5 only days before kindergarten started) and they both did fine. However, I do know a lot of people who have held their kids back a year b/c of later birthdays. I really think it depends on your child. Some kids are ready at that age and some are not. I would see how he does in preschool and then decide. And if you put him in kindergarten next year and it seems to be too much for him, you can always pull him out. Good luck!

I feel like Kidergarden isn't the issue - it's Jr. High & High School that will be tough. Puberty sucks and kids get evil around age 10 - very competitive, judgemental and cliques start to form. Plus, if your son is normal size for his age - he will be one of the smaller kids in class & sports could end up being tough for him as well as bullies.
The Devil's Advocate has given her 2 cents.

We are in the same situation and have decided to wait a year and put him in when he's five. He is bright and social too, but he is also smaller and seems a little more squirmy, not sure he's be ready to sit in a class. We figure in the long run waiting is best for our son and if he's in sports he'll be a little bigger etc and he won't be behind when he starts puberty (if you put him in younger others in his grade will start puberty and your son may be quite a bit behind.) It is obviously a personal choice and depends on the child I have a friend who put her son in at age 4 and she said it was the best choice for him. In my opinion I think it is best to wait and put him in at age 5. Boys tend to mature slower too. I'd rather my son be a little ahead developmentally and maturity-wise rather than behind. You can see how he does in preschool and get the opinion from his teacher, she should be able to give you some advice or direction.

My daughter is going into First Grade this year and just turned 6. Her Birthday is in early July. She was one of the youngest kids in her Kindergarten class with a JULY Birthday! This has been somewhat difficult at times, she's behind developmentally than most of the kids due to the age difference and to top it off a little sensitive so maybe even a little behind for her age. The teacher has also forgotten she's the youngest at times. She's doing so well academically that I can't justify holding her back at this point and also in a mixed age class, looking forward to the same teacher and some of the same classmates. Anyway, knowing what I know now, I would have given more consideration to holding her back since it is becoming the norm to do so. Take care, T.


This is a tough decision that I agonized over last year. I decided to wait with my son and he will be starting kinder this year. Best decision. He is so much more confident and ready now. As many people have said, there is really no downside to waiting.

You might also check with your local school about the average age for starting kinders and what other parents are doing with fall birthdays. One thing that helped our decision was knowing that our school has a very high rate of starting kinders late (even holding back summer birthdays). My son would have have been a year younger than a lot of kids in his class. That is a big difference at this age and we didn't want to hurt his confidence.

Good Luck! And don't feel like you need to make the decision now as a lot will change in the next year.


My suggestion is go with what your child feels ready for. YOu say he is bright and social, both of which are necessary for school. He seems ready. Why hold him back if he has all the ingredients to succeed now. If you wait, will he be understimulated later and be a source for misbehavior? I think as a nation we under challenge our children. I don't believe in overstressing and giving a million things to occupy their time; kids need time to be kids. But I also believe the spark and love for learning should always be greatly encouraged and guarded.

Hi L.,
I think that putting your son in preschool is a great start! You will see first hand how he handles the school setting so you will feel more confident making your decision. Your son's teacher will know if he is ready for Kindergarten so be sure to sit down and discuss your concerns openly. I don't know what program you are putting him into or what school you plan on having him attend...but Schnell does have a Pre-K program that might interest you? I wish you the best of luck and in the end you know your child better than anyone does so be confident in your decision. :)

L., you obviously have a lot of responses here and I have not read many of them, but let me say...please take a breath...the 2008 school year has not even begun yet. and it sounds like from your post that your son has not yet even been in any kind of structured school environment. Start him in pre school, as you said you are planning to, and then see how it goes. Let your son develop and grow at his own pace and then talk to and work with his teachers about what they think would be best for your son. The cut off for starting your child in Kindergarden before they are five is early Decemeber, so your son will not be too far behind the other five year olds if he starts in 09. But he will be markedly older if you wait another year... good luck to you and your son in what ever you decide.

Hi L.,

If your son has good social skills and he seems like he can recognize letters and numbers and has good hand/eye coordination, especially small motor skills, you might be able to put him into kindergarten if they take 4 year olds. Private schools rarely take children who turn 5 after August, and public schools sometimes draw the line at Sept. 30. Because schools now try to teach children to read and write a little in kindergarten, your son should show signs that he is able to do that. Usually kindergarten teachers screen children before the school year starts and will advise you if your child is ready, however, many years ago (21) when my son was screened, the teacher said he was fine (he was born in April). I didn't think so, and she changed her mind after his first day, but then it was too late for me to find another school for him. I kept him in kindergarten (fortunately, a half day one) and he repeated kindergarten the next year. Since I had two years of kindergarten also, this was not an issue for us. If you have any doubts, I would hold him out a year and send him to a nursery school as well as an extracurricular program (art classes, gymnastics, science classes at the Lawrence Hall of Science--whatever kind of thing he shows the most interest in).

Hi L.,
I think the one year difference in age may not become an issue until around 2nd or 3rd grade and older when there is a significant amount of homework and kids are beginning to bond/form cliques/show leadership. When I speak to friends who have kids in 2nd grade and older, I only hear parents wish they had waited a year, never 'my kid is bored and I wish I had sent him earlier'. The child needs to be ready to focus and understand the importance of finishing homework and have the self-discipline to do so; otherwise you and him will both be frustrated and upset. And the same socially, if the child is older and more mature, he will be better prepared to handle peer pressure, and show better judgment in picking friends, and this is so critical in the teen years. I think you could talk to friends and relatives with older kids and ask them what they think and what they observe in 2nd grade and up, because it's the later years that this will impact.

I was a November child and I wish my parents had let me have an extra year. Academically, I have always done well from grade school through grad school. But, socially, I felt like a 'late bloomer'. I don't think I would have been bored if I waited one year, because there is so much to learn and do in school, unless you're a genius or the school is awful, the chances of being bored is negligible. Also, if a teacher believes a child is way ahead, she will recommend skipping a grade or some other way of allowing the child to take advanced subject courses.

i say wait unitl he is 5. they grown up fast enough.

I teach at a wonderful public school in the city....if you feel your child is emotionally ready for K, DON'T hold him back. He is the correct age for starting K. From how you describe your son, it sounds as if he will be ready. Some children that are held back are bored in school the first year. Many children start to learn to read at the end of K, rather than first grade nowadays. Check out the school he will be attending and talk to one of the teachers if possible or other parents. Good luck. In my experience, the parent usually has a harder time than the child!

As a teacher my advice is to wait. I have seen so many students struggle because they aren't developmentally ready for the curriculum. For example in fourth grade algebra is introduced and half the students can't wrap their minds around it because their brains are not ready for it. Most concepts that were once taught a year later are being taught a year earlier... the expectation is students leave K reading at a basic level.
You know your son better than anyone and will make a great decision, just keep in mind that school is more challenging than ever!
Good Luck!

As a Middle School Teacher teaching in a K-8 school I would often encounter the teenage child who started Kindergarten early. Sometimes it seemed that these kids struggled with maturity a lot more than the kids who didn't start younger. Still, many parents choose to start their kids young because when they are 4 they seem ready but by the time they hit 10 or 11 their jumpstart into higher maturity and social levels has peaked and they sometimes start to fall behind socially as well as emotional/physical maturity. It's a tough choice. Some kids do well the whole time while others suffer a bit for a while. My opinion as well as other teachers (we would talk about this sometimes) is that you keep them out of Kindergarten until they are actually 5 years old. The older 5 year olds don't seem to have the same trouble adapting as the younger kids do later on.

Do not put him in kinder!! I know three people that put this kids in at 4yo with disastrous results. One boy was born the day before my daughter and his mother started him in kinder at 4yo and he got held back. My daughter started at 5yo and she is at the top of her class and she loves school.

Start him off with preschool because it's not a full day and he gain an understanding of how things work. From observing both my daughters kinder classes, there is a huge difference between those kids that went to preschool and those that didn't in terms of paying attention and following instructions, especially when it came time to use scissors and glue. 5yo's have the maturity to sit longer and listen for longer periods.

You a wonderful mother for asking and researching instead of approaching this from the 'I don't want to pay for another year of daycare' and forcing him into kinder.

Hope this helps. :)

I started Kindergarten when I was 4, and I had been in daycare/preschool prior to that. If you think your son will do fine let him go at 4. The only problems I ever had was the fact that everyone was older than me, and that was just my own personal problem. If you wait he may feel too old for the others around him and as he gets older people may assume he was held back (my husband was 18 when he started his Senior year of high school and everyone would always ask that, he wasn't held back). It's better that people think your son is smart than to think he's stupid and flunked a grade.

Hi Linda:

I have a September baby boy too, and was put in that position two years ago. Looking back, I wish I had held him back. I ended up having to put him through kindergarten twice because of it. He just could not keep up in class from the beginning, and the problem was that everything just kept getting harder. He spent a majority of the year playing with erasers while everyone else was reading. It wasn't all bad, but it became frusturating for him and hurt his confidence/self-esteem when all his friends moved on to 1st grade and he had to repeat. There were some perks - like he took school much more seriously on year 2.....and he learned the material really, really well..... so going into 1st grade this fall he is very prepared, which makes him very confident. So that's definately a good thing.


I am a teacher and really recommend waiting until he is 5. Boys do not mature as fast as girls and he will be a year younger than a lot of kids. I think that he will do better in school with social relationships and academics if you let him develop one more year. I do recommend pre-school. Some kids can still do well at 4, but it really depends on your kid.

Hi L.,

I have three kids and my oldest is almost 13 (in Sept.). I started him when he was 4 against the advice of my brother in law who had a son whose birthday was in September. We felt that our son had gone to two years of preschool, was very bright and very social. I do regret starting him that year and wish I would have waited. Academically he is doing fine but he is a litte more immature than the others (although boys are immature for quite a while). My daughter has a November birthday and I waited and started her when she was 5 going on 6. I am sooooo glad that I waited! From all the studies that I've read and also from talking with our principal and other parents, it all says to wait. My son will now graduate at 17 and be off to college before he turns 18. That scares me a little bit. I don't think you can go wrong with waiting.

In addition to the suggestions of all the other moms, I would speak with the principal and teacher at the school he will attend. I think different schools have different cultures and it would help you in your decision to know what the usual practice is at his school.

This is a very hard decision for a lot of parents with children born in the fall. I have taught elementary school for 6 years now and in my opinion it is best to wait. He will have the advantage if he starts K when he is 5 going on 6. I'm sure you would rather him have the advantage not the disadvantage. It is easier to start him later now then down the road there be the possibility of him having to repeat a grade.
Hope that helps.

Hold him back. He will be fine in elementry school. Giving him an extra year to mature will make a great difference in junior high and high school physically, socially and empotionally.


I was a kindergarten teacher & from my experience boys faired better the older they were. From the parents perspectives that I have talked to...no one has regretted holding back a child but MANY have regretted putting a child in kindergarten to early especially boys. The standards held for kindergarteners today is not like the ones we had growing up...pros & cons for both I guess but some kids are not socially or emotionally ready for the "rigors" of kindergarten. If you don't put him in in kindergarten there are options of Junior Kindergarten & some Pre-Kindergartens that are better suited for kids with birthdays early in the year. You are your son's best teacher & you know what he needs...remember that...& don't feel pressure either way!!! Good Luck, C.

Your individual child's readiness should be the guide, rather than his chronological age. Look at all areas - physical, emotional and social. If you feel he will do well, I would go for it.

My son is the same with an October b-day. I held him back, he starts this fall and turns 6. He was not ready last year. I saw that he was not ready -socially and emotionally-I believe academics are for school-it is the job of a K teacher to teach him-his job is to be able to follow directions and interact well with kids. I also relied on his teachers, they both agreed he was not ready. This year he is ready-confident, social, more emotional stable and sure he knows more academics too.

In today's time it is a hard decision. Hopefully you can get some good advice from your preschool teachers. Just wait and see how the year goes and be sure to monitor his progress at school and outside school with playdates.

Best of luck and remember no decision is the wrong one.

While I think it's young (then again, what do I know? I'm only speaking from my 1 experience), if your son shows all the signs that he is capable, why not? There are kindergartens out there who will let you do it 2x if the first one is not successful. I'm taking your word for it and say that I think your son will do well! My daughter is turning 5 this year, just before the cutoff the schools impose, and quite a few people asked me if I was going to hold her back. I told them that I would be doing my child a disservice if I didn't give her the opportunity to try first. She tested really well for kindergarten, very bright! Why not let her show me what she's got, I say? If at the end of the school year I find that she's struggling, then I'll have her repeat the grade. Otherwise, just like my daughter, let your son show you what he's made of. You seem like someone who invested in his upbringing, sit back and relax, watch the fruits of your labor grow! :)

From my experience I recommend holding him back. I started my son in K when he was 4 and I always regretted it. He did okay academically but socially I felt he was always trying to catch up. I finally switched schools and held him back in grade 7 - it was the best thing I've done for him. I wasn't sure what to do when he was 4, so I told myself that if I felt he was too young I would have him repeat K. Well that was the case- I wanted him to repeat K but the schools don't like that - I guess it doesn't look good for the school. They convinced me that he didn't need repeating he was doing fine. As a mother though you look at the whole child not just the academics. Some of the children were close to a year older. By the way my son's b'day is in Sept - older than your son & I still wanted him held back. Just my thoughts - but you know your son better than anyone - do what you think is right for the whole child.

We have a very similar situation, just fast forward to the year in quesiton! My son will turn 5 in early Oct. and we have chosen to put him in pre-k this fall.

After heavily weighing the decision based on the preschool teachers' evaluation and our son's maturity, we are waiting. I believe it depends on the child. My son is bright, but immature, and active. He needs to wait. I think it is better than being held back in third grade or in k. Many teachers will suggest to wait as well.

It is a difficult decision. I think it is wise to see how he does in 4/5's. Consult teachers/director when the time is right. Just consider that you want your son to thrive, to not be at a disadvantage and not struggle through school. Also, you want him on the same playing field, and these days, most parents are waiting for their kids to turn 5 before entering them into Kindergarten.

Good luck to you!

This is always a hard one, and so many people have opinions. My son has a late Sept. birthday and all my friends with girls suggested I hold him back because when he gets in 3rd or 4th he would probably not be able to take it. He was socially completely ready, but I didn't think academically he was ready at all. He is also tall and I didn't want him to be the tall goofy looking kid in the class if I held him back. Well, because he wanted to go so bad I didn't listen to everyone and I put him in early. Well, I was right, socially he was totally ready and did great (wanted to be dropped off on the first day, ha ha), but I was wrong about the academics, he did great! He is now going to be 12, starting 8th grade and he is still doing great. I think you will see when you have him go to the preschool you will see. Also, the teachers at the preschool will have an idea how he would do the next year in Kindergarten.

I will say, the only time that I thought that maybe I should have held him back is when I think about the sports in High School. But, I have given my son the option of staying back if he wants to in order to have an advantage for sports, but he actually wants to graduate early and start college classes soon, so it is all working out.

Good luck and remember that you, as the mother, really know your child the best.

Hi Linda!

This is a TOUGH ONE!!!! You don't want to second guess yourself each year wondering if you made the wrong decision.

I would base your decision on how your son does in social settings and NOT academically.

I have 2 boys, both born in late September. I faced this decision twice. I am going to tell you what I am happy with & what I wasn't happy with, for each of my boys. Maybe that will help you make your decision.

My first son, I waited until he was almost 6 and we began 1/2 day Kindergarten. Of course he did great! He is now entering 6th Grade . He is the first boy in his class to start puberty (very awkward for him), body hair, he's the tallest, good grades, etc...His hardest year was 4th grade, and I was glad he was at the "older end" of the spectrum for that year. Class size changes, grades change from E's to A's, and it's alot for most kids to adjust to.

My youngest son, I started right after he turned 5 for FULL DAY Kindergarten, and actually it was just this past year. I believed at the time he was ready (more ready than my first son), probably because he was the second child and was more socially ready.

For the first 1/2 of Kindergarten, My son would cry EVERYDAY for 2 1/2 months. I almost yanked him right out of school for fear that I had made the wrong decision. But I held on, stuck to my guns, and listened to what my heart knew was right, and by the time the Winter Break was over, he was just fine. I made extra efforts to show up and walk him to lunch, or whatever. Just to 'help' make him feel more secure. The teacher and I agreed that it made the difference. He's very excited about going into 1st Grade, and so far, I'm very glad I started him. Let's hope I feel the same way when he is in 4th Grade :o)

Let me ask you....what's the rush? Do you have to go to work, and need him to go into daycare or school? If not, is it REALLY necessary for him to start school, and have you wonder throughout the whole year whether you've made the right choice, when you KNOW if you had waited, he would've been fine anyway.....

It's a tough decision, and the only one who can make it, is you :o) Oh yeah, FYI: I asked the Teacher/Principal last year, "does the parent have the right to hold back her child and have them repeat a grade?" And they said....Yes. So, I knew that I could always have my son repeat K or 1st Grade, if I ever thought it would be better for him.

Good Luck, Linda...

Oh Yeah...P.S.
My husband began school at age 4, turning 5 (like our youngest and also being born at the end of September). He was held back in 4th grade. Of course, it was years ago, and his mom STILL wishes she knew she had a choice back then. She thought that "back then" they encourage you to put your children in school ASAP, so she did. A decision that she still regrets, and her son (my hubby) is almost 50 now! :o)

:o) N.

We have a son who was born in early November. We opted to give him one additional year of preschool, and enrolled him in Kindergarten when he was 5. It was the best thing we ever did!!!! He was academically ready at 4, but not ready for the long periods of sitting and concentration that come with the high academic standards for Kindergarten. He's thriving now, at the top of his class. It's a very hard decision, though, and we went round and round on it for a long time. Good luck!

Very little is said here about repeating K if the need arises. I know there is a huge stigma around it for some people, but we did it with our son and it was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately we had to start K earlier than I wanted (long story) so we planned on him doing it twice. We told him right away that some kids go to 1st grade, and some GET to do K twice, like it was a priviledge. There was no stress. His K1 (what we called it) friends went on to 1st grade but he made new and, I think, better friends in his K2 class. So I guess what I am saying if you really feel the need to send your son early, go for it. There are so many options if it doesn't work out. Personally I am SO glad we waited and repeated with our son, but our children are probably very different.

Good luck and follow your heart and gut. Only you know your son. Just be sure to do your homework before you decide.

I would seek advice from the Pre-K teacher and your own gut instinct. My son is a November baby. After agonizing over the decision, I decided to wait until he was 5 going on 6. Two conversations pushed me. The first was a conversation with my brilliant cousin, a November baby, who is now a PhD/MD in his thirites. He said he wished his mom would have waited. He still remembers not being able to be on the JV Basketball team with his buddies in 9th grade because he was too small. He still sounded upset! I had already heard that the differences really start showing up in middle school and beyond. The second was an elementary school teacher (mostly 4th and 5th grade) who said that he can always tell the fall babies, and that if I waited, I would be giving my son a gift -- the gift of time. Bottom line, I want my son to not always feel a little bit behind. I would rather he feel a little bit ahead. But again, it is individual based on the child.

Hi L.,

I have the same decision to make, and after talking to a lot of people, several teachers, and weighing my own feelings about how I want him to feel when he starts school, I have decided to start him late. Most schools/teachers highly recommend against starting them early because the standards have changed so much (i.e. they're now doing in K what they used to do in 1st grade) and boys tend to mature a little later than girls. Some schools actually won't allow kids to enroll earlier than 5 - so make sure you check with your school before you torture yourself with this decision.

Good luck!

I feel your dilemma! Not only was I personally the youngest in my class (I went into K at 4 years old and my birthday is at the way end of November) I was in your exact same spot last year at this time -- my oldest's birthday is in mid-November. He, too, is bright, social and very tall for his age, which added another element to our decision. Also, I was a first grade teacher and my mom taught kindergarten and in our experiences, we always encouraged parents to wait. But, I didn't with my son! We actually had him registered for both preschool and kindergarten and waited until the first day of school to make our decision, it was so very tough! His preschool teachers and I both thought that he was ready, and after meeting with the kindergarten teacher before school started, he did great with the meet and greet/readiness assessment. However, upon speaking with her, we determined that we would withdraw him from kindergarten if he exhibited any issues. Withdrawl is not considered a retention if it's done within a certain time period in kindergarten -- I think she said one year she had a child who withdrew about 6 weeks into the school year and it was not considered a retention (since kindergarten isn't mandatory). So, basically, what I've learned is: 1. wait to make a decision until the time is closer 2. listen to the preschool teacher for her opinion, 3. meet with the kindergarten teacher for an informal assessment/readiness 4. if you are not completely sure, register him for k and then withdraw if necessary, and 5. remember that no matter what myself or others have opinions about it is completely personal and every situation is unique. I know that we made the right decision for our son, and you'll know what the right decision is and why you're making it for your son. As a rule, most people (including myself) will say to wait, but that's not always the case with every child and yours may be great for that rule or may be an exception to it. You'll make the right decision for him and remember that you have a ton of time before that decision needs to be made! Enjoy the next year of preschool and have fun with your little guy! Good luck!

Hi L.,
I would strongly consider holding him back. Try to consider what is best for him, not only next year, but 5 or 10 years down the road. The vast majority of parents with boys, hold them back so if you don't, he will be competing with boys a year or two older. You may not notice this advantage so much academically, but if he participates in sports, he will be at a disadvantage. He may also be smaller and shorter than the other kids which could have an affect on him. Also, you don't want him to be the first kid among his friends that can drive.
I have a son who is 16, with an October birthday. I did not hold him back and regret it everyday. While I firmly believe that he is just as bright as any kid, he struggles with maturity and responsibility issues. This was not as noticible in grade school, but in high school it is a bit of a problem. Many of the boys a year behind him in school are actually older than he is.
Life is hard as it is, why not do everything you can do make it a little easier for him?
You might ask the ages of the boys at the kindergarten he will be attending - I think you will find they are all going to be older than your son.

I am all for waiting till he is at least 5 going in. I had the same choice to make with my sons b-day being October 22. We are part of an independent study class so he did kindergarten twice. I am happy we did.This year in 2nd grade he had to do star testing and it was a breeze for him and I don't think it would have gone so well a year earlier. If you are going into a traditional school setting you don't want to later decide he needs to do a grade twice. I think this is really hard on a child to see their friends all advance and graduate ahead of them. So hold back now and I believe nothing but good can come from it.

If I were you I would go to the local school he is suppose to attend and talk to them. I am sure that if he starts school and it doesn't work out they will allow you to pull him and start again next year. Good Luck, N.

Hi Linda,

There are a lot of great insights from everyone on the forum. You definitely need to speak to your child's preschool teachers and director to see if your little one is ready to start kinder at the age of 4. You have to remember boys tend to maturate slower than girls on maturity. You have to take a good look on your son's social , fine and gross motor and academic skills. Like someone said already, the standards for kinders have gotten a lot harder, since it used to be the 1st grader benchmark in the 80's. You also have to consider the change from 20 to 30 students in the classroom when your son is going from 3rd to 4th grade. Presently, our governor wants all 8th graders to know how to do Algebra concepts--NOT pre-Algebra. That's a new news this summer for me. Speak to your local school's principal and future kinder teachers that your child will be attending kindergarten. Good luck in your decision.

Hi L.,

I have four kids who all started kindergarten at 4 - all have fall birthdays. In each case it was the preschool teacher who informed us that our children were ready emotionally and mentally for kindergarten. I think having him in a pre-k class for the coming year will allow educational professionals to help you decide.

Our kids are all doing great, btw, and being the youngest has never been an issue. They are 10, 16, 22 and 26.

Hell L.,
Every child is different. I tried to put my son in kindergarten when he was 4. He had difficulty with learning, the teacher told me to bring him back next year. Some children are ready for it and others are not. Good luck. G.

Hi L.,
Well I was a volunteer parent for 2 years for both of my children's kinder years. And it seems to me that the majority of 4 going on 5 year olds, ended up staying for a few months then leaving or having to repeat kindergarten again. But I would say give it a try and ask the teacher for an honest opinion. FYI the younger children were also almost always much more easily distracted, and overall disrupted the class much more, making it harder for the other kids to learn. Has your son been in Pre-school yet? That also makes a big difference. Well I hope this helps. Thanks for reading my response.


I would wait until he is at least 5 years old because they are teaching so much in Kindergarten these days and at age four (even though he will be five in October), this may be an overload for him.
Nowadays they teach simple math concepts such as addition, counting to 100, and beginning counting money and introduce telling time. They work on printing the alphabet and numbers, sounds of the alphabet, and of course, knowing the alphabet. They want the students to know their address, phone number, and birth date, days of the week, months of the year, and seasons. Also, they want them to read age appropriate books.
What I have experienced is that the children sit at tables for at least a half hour, and at the most, an hour, and then they move to another table and are expected to sit for another half hour to an hour and are expected to sit quietly, behave accordingly, and listen. They do dance, sing, and art projects and have play time, but Kindergarten is not like it used to be, it is almost like first grade was during the 1980's.
I think starting him in preschool would be a good idea so that he can get used to being in school and their concepts. If you still feel strongly about signing him up for kindergarten, ask the teachers what is expected of their students and what curriculum they will be doing so you can get an idea of what they will be teaching and expecting out of your child. There should also be a website for your states school curricula expectations as well.

Good Luck!

M. *~

I am a very strong believer in waiting!!! I have 2 sons who have Sept. birthdays and I waited for both of them. The oldest probably could have gone but is doing fab. He is at the top of his class and a leader. The other one is small for his age and our hope is that he will eventually catch up. He is at the top of his class also. Among my siblings, 3 of us were Sept birthdays. My parents waited for 2 of us and did fine and the 3rd had some social problems. The question isn't whether they will be fine now but when he/she is the last one to develope physically, the last to get a drivers license, the last to get a beard or get her period. Do you want to send your child to college just turning 18 or 19. I vote for the extra year of maturity. I have never heard anyone regret waiting but many who regret sending them early. Can your child tie his shoes or zip his jacket? For your child, please wait. There is no hurry.

I am a SAHM of 4, ages 14, 10, 7 and 4.

L. M - I am facing the same dilemma with my son. He will be 4 Sept 2 of this year. Next year, he will be 4 when school starts the last week of August and then will turn five sept 2, 2009. Like you, I just put my son in a preschool with a more structured program to see how he does. At present, my feeling is that I will put him in kindergarten but will keep him in kindergarten 2 years if necessary. I plan to talk with other moms in the similar situation so I will be following responses to your question also.

Dear L.,
I also have an October baby. I think it really depends on the child, but my daughter came out ready to go on the day she was born. She was walking at 7 months and just raring to go. I put her in pre-school and they said that there just was no reason to keep her when she could be in kindergarten. The good thing about pre-school and K is that if your child isn't ready to move on, they will let you know. But if your child is ready, I say, go for it.
I will tell you right now, there is a down side. I was not emotionally ready for my baby to be a senior in high school at 16 and graduate at 17. I know that may sound selfish on my part, but I really wasn't ready for all of that to be happening so soon. She, on the other hand, was perfectly fine with it.
I am a December baby and had to wait an extra year to go to K. Which, I almost flunked because I didn't want to participate. They finally tested me and I should have been moved ahead because I was bored out of my mind and didn't belong in kindergarten. I already knew how to read. I didn't want to sit in a circle and learn the difference between a triangle and a square. I wasn't naughty or disrespectful, I was just completely disinterested.
Read the cues from your own child. If he is ready, you will know. And at this young age, if he's not, you will know that too and can go from there.

I wish you the very best!

I have 2 boys with December bdays (one entering kindergarten this fall and the other starting 2nd grade)- just beyond the cutoff, so the decision wasn't mine. BUT, I am very glad they are old for their grade. Both we acadmecially ready to start when they were 4 going on 5, both are very social and make friends easily, but I don't think either of them would have excelled as well with the structure and expectations but on them by the school (sitting for longer periods, reading in January etc). My oldest was the best reader in all of kindergarten when he graduated, he went on to a combo 1st/2nd class and is excelling and loving school. I have seen other boys struggle - they get the academic part but still have problems doing the rest of the stuff. My feeling is why put your child in a situation where they might not do as well when you can wait and have them ahead of the curve. OBVIOUSLY its a personal decision and either way you have to be committed to your choice - you might have to help out a child who's young and struggling or give additional challenges to a child who's older and maybe getting bored. One statistic our preschool teacher told me that helped me be ok w/ my boys being old was that approx 40% of all boys who start kindergarten at 4 end up repeating a grade sometime in their education. Best wishes!

My son is 5 in October (and was supposed to start Kindergarten this year), and I have decided to hold him one more year. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, but I feel really good about it. And I REALLY wanted to start him too!
My twins will be starting 6th grade this year, and all the kids were looking forward to being in the same school for one year. I thought it would be really cool as well.....but it wasn't a good enough reason to start him. He did 2 years of preschool, and I saw a definite difference between him and the kids on the "older end" who have January, February, March, etc. birthdays. His maturity level is lower, and he just wants to play! I decided to put him in 1 year of a pre-K, then he will start Kinder next year when he's 5 (almost 6).
I know this is a hard decision. I say go with your gut. That's what I did. I feel confident I am making the right decision. I can speak from experience to some extent....I am also an October baby, and I started Kinder at age 4. I wouldn't say I had a horrible time, but I was always last to do EVERYTHING! I couldn't drive until I was a Junior, graduated at 17....and was just a little more immature than my friends.
In the end I felt I wouldn't regret holding him one more year, but that there was a chance I might regret starting him early and I wasn't willing to take that risk.
Every kid is different. Good luck.

I asked this very same question here a year ago. And I got some wonderful responses. Many similar to what's said in response to your request. I ended up sending my son to kinder, who turned 5 in August. I'm so glad I did. He loves school, was ready for the academics, and got along great with all his classmates. Being one of the youngest was never an issue. I'll have to make this decision again with next year with my youngest son who is an October b-day. My gut is telling me he'll start. With that said, you know your child best. Take the year and observe him, work with the preschool teachers, and go with your gut.
Good luck!

Hi L..
I have a son entering the 8th grade (birthday 10/30) and a son entering the 12th grade (birthday 12/05). Both started school early. Their cousin did too, (birthday 11/24), who is now in college. All 3 of the boys have had maturity problems throughout their school years. The cousin stayed back in kindergarten. It has been, at times, a nightmare trying to instill responsibilities required at the age group/grade they are 'working' in.
Although their dad and I started school early (birthdays in August and November), we did well in school and don't recall having any problems. This is what we based our decision on for starting our boys early. Retrospectively, I would have definitely waited. Oh, and all 3 boys did attend pre-school prior to entering their large, well established, main stream, private schools.

I put my twin girls in Kindergarten when they were 4. Their birthday is in Nov. They have always done very well in school, that is not a problem. They are going into the 5th grade and what I've noticed is that their maturity level is not quite the same as some of the other kids. Most of the kids in their classes are an entire year older than them. This may not matter later in life but when you're 9 it's a big deal. A lot of their friends are already developed, this has led me to have to explain to them the facts of life way before I had intended to. If I could do it over I would have waited a year before starting them in school.

there has never been any negative effects from starting a child in school later. that cannot be said about starting too early.

I agree with Erica. Only you know what is best for your child and family. I have a son who is one of the oldest in his class. His birthday falls right after the cut off date for kindergarten. While I think it has been very good for him academically, it has been a problem socially. He is more mature then most of his classmates and he tends to be friends with a lot of kids a year ahead of him in school. Now that he is a teenager his girlfriends have also been a year ahead of him in school. On the other hand I have a nephew who did kindergarten twice because he was not ready the first time. That worked out very well for him. Discuss your concerns with his teachers and trust yourself. It is a very difficult and personal decision and you should try and do what is best for your child.

I'm a pre-school teacher. My advice is ask his teachers. Some kids are ready at 4 & others are not. His pre-school teachers will help you see what areas he will need help with or if he's ready. I would ask after the Christmas break or new year to see what they say. They see a lot of students & usually have good indications on how to help him. The school I work at, one teacher does at the end of year reviews & usually suggest another year of pre-school if she believes the child isn't quite ready.

I think the preK class with 4 - 5 year olds is a great idea. Boys do tend to benefit from that extra year. I've talked to a lot of educators in the last two years as my now five year old approached kindergarten age, and the consensus was that waiting a year was better in the long run. There's really no downside to it that has any effect on his education, and the benefits can help later on when he has the extra year of maturity for junior high/high school (trust me, I have a seventeen year old who I wish I'd started later - he only has one year of high school left but maturity wise, could use a bit longer before college).

You know your child better than anyone else. You would be amazed at how much a child is capable of learning! Its amazing how much children mature when they are put in a school setting where they are not dependant on their moms for everything. My son was 4 when he started and didnt turn 5 until the end of November. Half way through the year when I enrolled him his teacher said he would need a full year of public school kinder to do well. By the end of the year he was exceding the stadards and did well in first grade. I do notice he lags a bit with his writing (motor skills), but I feel confident he will catch up in that area this year. You do need to look at the pros and cons. They say that kids don't really build long lasting friendships until later grades so that is not too concerning. Kindergarten is only a few hours a day and much of it is fun for the kids. Mine were always cranky when they got home from school but that is normal at any age starting school ( my other son started at 5 1/2). I would have to agree that the con in this situation would come much later in junior and high school with puberty and such. If you feel that sports are going to be a big thing for your son...a year older makes a big difference in high school! I had actually taken all these things into consideration and had held mine out of public kinder and homeschooled with a charter school for the first half of the year...but he begged me to enroll him in public school so I figured why not and it was his choice. Now we just have to wait and see if it was a good choice once he gets a little older.

Hi L.,
My hubby was a year younger than all his classmates and he wishes his parents would have waited. He felt that being with the older kids didn't give him enough time to be a kid. Even though he grew up in a VERY good neighborhood, being with kids older than he was introduced him to things he wasn't emotionally ready to handle. He was 17 when he started his first year of college. He got introduced to partying and girls WAY too young and will be the first to admit it. Don't push your son, keep him in classes with kids his own age. It is in his best interest emotionally and socially.

If you think he is socially ready, then its fine. My daughter is going into 2ng grade now, but in her K class, half the class turned five at the beginning of the school year, and they are all progressing fine.

start him in preschool, its helps so much. I believe your son will do fine.

my son turns 5 this year in October. He is ready and registered for Kindergarten. It all depends on the child. You won't have to make a decision and register until spring of next year. Give it some time, let him go to pre-school and have them assess him. I am sure you will know yourself if he is ready or not.

I was in your child's situation myself when I was younger. I was 4 goin ginto Kindergarten and turned 5 in October. I had just graduated preschool so I already had the social aspects down. I even had the option to skip 1st grade becuase I was so far advanced, but my mom wanted me to progress a bit more on my social skills. I think if you're child's ready don't hold them back.

Dear L. M.

My mom was a kindergarten teacher for 34 years, and I helped out during summer school and if my school had a holiday and hers did not. It was always really obvious which were the younger kids and which were the older ones, not by inteligence gages per-se, but by indicaters of maturity, such as who could sit and pay attention longer, and therefore keep up better. And all those years ago, it was just introducing letters, numbers, colors, and socialization skills to the kids. Now the school standards and requirements have been really stepped up and the children are being expected to be reading and doing simple math in kindergarten. I would be really worried for my child if I had a younger one starting now. The statistics also play out that of the children at risk for failure and retention, the majority of them are the ones that were started early, at 4 and turning 5, rather than waiting until they were a solid 5 to start. Personally, I would put my child in pre-school for the year to give them the headstart and confidence to have a good school carreer going forward, rather than taking the chance that an early start could lead to a failure and have a lasting negative impact. I have 5 children, ages 17, 15, 4 and a set of 2yr old twins. I am lucky in that all of my children were born between January and June, so I do not have the preasure of making that decision, but if I had it to make, I would hold them for the year, no matter how bright they are. Good luck.

N. H. at ____@____.com

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