33 answers

When to Go to Kindergarten - Enroll Before She's 5? - Littleton,CO

My daughter will miss the Oct 1 cut off date for Kindergarten by three weeks. She is only three now, but I am thinking about when she should go to Kindergarten. I was a "young" student - young for my grade. I did well academically, but socially struggled a bit from time to time. Therefore, I originally planned that I would her go with the established schedule - meaning she would turn 6 her first month of kindergarten, and be "older" for her grade. However, I am now wondering if that is the right decision. She goes part time to daycare/preschool now and does really well academically and socially. She seems bright to me (as I know all of our kids to to us!)and thrives in a structured environment. Maybe it would be best to get her into Kindergarten a little early? Anyone who has experience or advice on how to make this decision would be much appreciated!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I did learn by calling JeffCO schools that the October 1 date is not negotiable. SO... there is no such thing in the public system as putting your child in "early" for Kindergarten. My new plan is to visit schools as the time gets closer to see which is the best fit for her - maybe a philosophy that will teach children within the class at different levels and a teacher that will be willing to give her a bit more challenge within the current curriculum - if that exists! Thank you all for your insight. Take Good Care.

Featured Answers

Personally, I never heard anyone wish that they didn't hold their kid back. Despite how she is now, I think the more challenges would come later on, in junior high and high school. But, that's just me. It's a tough decision.

Good luck!

p.s. She'd get her license sooner than her friends, which she would probably love! (I was one of the last ones...)

I was young for my grade - when I graduated highschool I was still 17 until the end of the summer. I never even noticed that I was young for my grade - it never affected me academically and I thought it was pretty awesome that I got done with school sooner instead of later. I would always think it was funny when I met people who were a grade behind me but were actually older than me. If I were you, I would say GO FOR IT and let her try out school! If she lags behind you can always hold her back with no harm done! :-) Good luck!

I know several people that started their kids early and only one thought it was the best idea for her kids. They all felt it was too soon when it came down to it. I say play it safe and send her when she is older. The best thing that can come of it is she will be ahead socially and academically, what a confidence booster that would be for her!

Good luck and don't cry too much on her first day of Kindergarten. = )

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Hi D.:
I have a son who has a late Oct birthday and he went as a 6yr old for the most part. I have another son who has a July birthday and he is going as a young 5. I have seen alot of birthdays is my sons kindergarden class, but they are all 5 before the deadline or mostly 6's. If the schools have a deadline then I think that you have to follow that. You can hold them back for 6, but I do not believe you can start them ahead. I think. If she is in Preschool then Let her enjoy that fun time. My son did headstart as a 5 yr old and it was great for him. They also learned alot, but at the same time had more field trips and outside play. I wish you the best. I struggled with sending my 5 yr old this year but he is doing well.

Our little guy was also young. Now he's 2 years younger than some of the kids in his class. It's a struggle, but we're glad we did it. We're now looking at some of the other options, such as charter schools that let you work ahead in the subjects of interest, etc. Even though he's so young, our son is still bored most of the time with school. I can't image if we had put him in at the "right" time. GL! I know it's a tough decision.

D.:

I've been wondering the same for my daughter. I turned 5 in the beginning of Kindergarten. I did well academically. I was a "late bloomer" which made me self-conscious, but didn't really seem to be a factor in my social skills development. Researchers say that on average, girls are better off being late bloomers than early bloomers. On average, boys are the opposite: better off being early bloomers than late bloomers.

I'll be interested to see what others think.

D.- I was in the same exact situation this year. My son just turned 5 the end of September. I was worried that he was too young to go to Kindergarten, but with the cut off date, I was told I could not re-enroll him in Douglas county pre-schools if he's 5 by Oct 15th. I could go to a preschool outside the county, but after talking to his pre-school teachers, they thought he would do just fine in Kindergarten. Being young, and a boy, I was hesitant, but I'm really glad that I did it. (He only did 1 year of preschool) He is keeping up just fine academically and doing great socially. My daughter is now in 4th grade and she was born the end of August and is currently the youngest in class. She's very bright and I'm really glad that I didn't hold her back. (She would've been bored if I held her back)

I just let my son's teacher know my concerns, and if I need to re-evaluate next year, then I'm more than happy to do that. You know your child, so go with what you think would be good for her.

I say, go ahead and put her in. The cut off is silly, especially if you only miss it by a few weeks. In several other states (ie California) children are enrolled in school based on the calendar year NOT some silly academic year. For instance, all children born in 2005 will enter Kindergarten in the fall of 2010.

I disagree that Kindergarten is "a lot different than preschool." I have a preschooler and a kindergartener right now. Guess what? They are learning the exact same things. Kindergarten is technically optional in the state of Utah anyway.

Also, with the whole "no child left behind" plan, the curriculum in all of the grades has been geared way back. We used to learn multiplication and cursive at the beginning of 2nd grade. Now, children do not learn either of those concepts until 3rd grade.

Listen, we are struggling with one possible outcome of this problem here. Our son has an October birthday. At the time we wanted to have him go to Kindergarten he obviously "missed the deadline." We didn't know all of the other options (like private Kindergarten, etc) so he ended up suffering with boredom through 3 years of school. Yes, you can do extra homework projects with them, but when they have to sit and right letters and words over and over again in Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade (the "boring & tedious" homework) they are in no mood to do your extra "stimulating" homework. They are practically bleary eyed from the tedious stuff that gets sent home already.

This year, we ended up skipping him a grade. He went from 2nd grade to 4th grade. THAT has been a challenge. It is much harder to have to do it later on. Third grade is not a grade I would recommend skipping.

My guess is that if your child has even average intelligence (and she sounds like she is actually above average) she can definitely handle kindergarten next year.

It is much harder to have to skip her later on. If you do end up waiting and down the line you end up skipping, I would recommend skipping 2nd grade. It is the most useless grade--It is basically a repeat of Kindergarten and 1st. We have been through 2nd grade with two of our kids already (within the last 3 years) and both of them nearly died from boredom.

Good luck with your choice. The most important thing to remember is this: While we clearly all have an opinion on this subject, it ultimately is YOUR choice. If you decide to wait, great. If you decide to put her in, that is great, too. YOU know what is best for your child. Don't let anybody make you feel bad about the decision that you make because they cannot possibly know your child as well as you do.

I was in the same boat with my daughter (our cutoff is Sep 1 her birthday is Sep 21). Because I was among the youngest in my great and did great academically I thought that she should be able to go that year early (in Utah, though, they are very unyielding in public schools. I actaully thought about having her go to private school for just this purpose)

But, I talked to her preschool teacher near the end of the year before turned 5 (so the 'early year') and the teacher suggested we go ahead and wait. I thought she did well in the school environment but the teacher told me that she was still somewhat immature and would probably do better a bit older. So we waited and had her do another year of preschool. I'm so glad we did. She was emotionally immature and "real" school is different from preschool, especially a daycare/preschool (I've had kids in both). She needed that extra year, and as among the oldest in her class her immaturity hasn't stood out as much as if she was a full year younger than some of the students. She is in 5th grade now and is still adequately challenged. And in high school, she won't be the last in her group to date, learn to drive, etc.

Before my daughter went into school, I would never have said wait. Now, I think it may be a good idea. (On the other hand, my son's birthday is in June, and a lot of moms are having their little boys with summer birthdays wait, but I didn't. He's doing fine too, but sometimes those few months can make a difference)

I don't have any great advice except talk to her preschool teacher. Get her/his honest opinion about whether your daughter is really ready for kindergarten. With the 'no child left behind' she will always be passed from grade to grade, even if she is not ready. She can always do another year of preschool.
I am a Nov birthday and therefore was always old for my class, I am shy by nature so have always struggled socially. I really think this is a decision for you. Think about the future too. Will all of the girls mature before her? Will they all be driving way sooner than her? Will age become a factor down the educational road?

Good luck. Once you make your decision, try not to second guess yourself too much!

I was young for my grade - when I graduated highschool I was still 17 until the end of the summer. I never even noticed that I was young for my grade - it never affected me academically and I thought it was pretty awesome that I got done with school sooner instead of later. I would always think it was funny when I met people who were a grade behind me but were actually older than me. If I were you, I would say GO FOR IT and let her try out school! If she lags behind you can always hold her back with no harm done! :-) Good luck!

You have the experience to help her when she is feeling a little "young" for her grade, so why hold her back? I think that says to our kids that academic achievement and learning is not important. It may be out of your control though -- your school system may not accept her because she falls past the cutoff date. You should look into it now so if you need to file for an exception you will have time to do it. I know in my area the first couple weeks of school for kindergarten are spent doing evaluations of the kids to make suer they are socially and academically ready for kindergarten. I also know in my area many people hold their kids back a year because they think thier kids will be more "ready". Good luck to you!

Personally, I'd just leave her with the class she's supposed to be in. I skipped kindergarten completely. While I was fine academically, I was constantly being told by teachers that I was less mature. Well, of course I was! I was a full year younger than most of the kids! But I didn't understand that at the time. I couldn't understand why I felt so socially backwards and I felt bad that I bugged my teachers. If I could go back and do it over again, I would advise my parents to just leave me where I was at. It wasn't worth it to skip. Just me personally!

My son was in the same situation and we waited with him and do not regret our decision at all. We actually put him in a private Kindergarten at a learning center in which there were many children in his situation with the cutoffs, and then he attended public kindergarten the following year. He was fine academically to have been in K when he was younger, but looking to the future both emotionally and socially, we chose for him to wait. Any parent I know that has waited with their child has not had regrets on their decision, but I know several who have "pushed" their child early and have had regrets. With all of the upcoming pressures and "life" situations that your daughter will have upon her, the extra year is actually a gift:)

I would absolutely wait. School is not just about academics, but social too. My son was a late May birthday and I waited to send him. My daughter was Februrary and I ended up having her do half day kindergarten and then full day kindergarten the second year. That was hard because she would be quite a few months older than all of her classmates, but maturity wise, I cannot imagine her in fifth grade at this point. My sister in law had twins with a July birthday, that she started "within the deadline." They never struggled academically or socially, but almost from the beginning the amount of responsiblity they could manage well was about a year behind. They are both in college now, but to wait a year certainly wouldn't have hurt them. I think a parent always has the best judgement, but my rule of thumb was if I am wrong they are the oldest, maybe biggest kid in the class. If I sent them and was wrong they would struggle for the next thirteen years on some level. Hope this gives you food for thought.

I know several people that started their kids early and only one thought it was the best idea for her kids. They all felt it was too soon when it came down to it. I say play it safe and send her when she is older. The best thing that can come of it is she will be ahead socially and academically, what a confidence booster that would be for her!

Good luck and don't cry too much on her first day of Kindergarten. = )

D.,
My daughter just missed the deadline also. I thought about early entry, but emotionally she was not ready. I did have her in a year of preschool which she did great socially and academically. She started kindergarten this year and turned 6 in the third week. She too can read already and knows all her numbers and can do math. But I would rather have her be one of the best for her self esteem, then just average or just getting by. She is not board because there are still things that challenge her, like fine motor skills and the newness of a big school setting and figuring out how to do everything. Doing her best is easier because she can focus on that rather then trying to learn everything for the first time.

I used to think that holding back a child after they have started school was not a big deal. How ever after experiencing it through my niece, I highly recommend that you keep her out of school one more year, rather then start her and then hold her back. Children are not as understanding and kind as adults. To a child, being held back = Stupid. She wasn't with her friends anymore and when she did see them they told her she was a baby still because she was in kindergarten. They didn't want anything to do with her. And the new kindergartners thought she was too big for them. It has been three years since then and she still is feeling the effects of it. Her self esteem has been drained. Poor little girl. Academically it was a good move, but socially and emotionally not so good.

My first child has a birthday in July, I was so close to holding her back because she was not interested in learning the alphabet at all. She would get so mad at me for trying to help her. But about three weeks before kindergarten started she decided that she wanted to learn to read. And has been a great dedicated student since then. I am so glad that I waited to see if she was ready and didn't make my mind up to early. She does very well in school and applies herself well. Even though she is one of the youngest, with her summer birthday, it works for us.

If you do choose to have her be one of the oldest and she is board, you could give her school challenge missions. Like trying to help three people during the day, or answer ten questions when the teacher asks them. You can also talk to the teacher and just see if he can keep an eye on her and when you both feel she is board then you can come up with more things for her.

I would just "wait and see". My guess is that she would do better with being one of the oldest especially for the emotional aspect. But if she is ready emotionally, socially and academically, buy all means, do what is best for her. Good luck with your decision.
E.

Kindergarten is not what it used to be (academically or socially) and I would recommend waiting. Whether she is "old" or "young" for her class she will not be alone. I have talked to several parents, some who sent them early and others who waited and NONE of the parents who waited were sorry and almost ALL of the parents who sent them early wished they hadn't. I was concerned for my daughter because she did make the cut off (ours is June 1 and her birthday is May 1). She just didn't seem quite ready socially although she was doing very well academically. One reason I didn't keep her back another year is that there were several kids in her class that made the cut off by a month or two so it was going to be a younger class anyway. My youngest daughter will miss the cut off by 4 days and although I am sure she will be ready for kindergarten academically, I will not try to get her accepted early.

I would look into the actual school schedule as well. If you are looking at 1/2 day kindergarten you might think differently than if you were looking at full day. Our district is on a four day school week so our day is non stop from 7:45 to 3:55. This is extremely demanding for younger children especially.

I have no doubt that your daughter will do just fine either way. Best of luck!!

She may seem ready now, but think about how it will be for her when she is the youngest in her class when she is 15. This is the case for my niece, and she hates being the youngest. She has many friends in the same grade, that can drive, and she still has another year. She is a sophomore, and turns 15, this week. I think waiting is a better idea, go to a junior kindergarten, and she will be so ready to go to regular school. I have never heard anyone say they regreted holding back a young kindergartener. Everyone I have ever talked to said the were so glad they waited.

My son is turning 6 tomorrow, and he just started kindergarten this year. We enrolled him in a full-day pre-k program last year (rather than start kindergarten), so he was in a structured academic environment that was very similar to his kindergarten class this year. I personally feel this worked out really well because he now has such a strong foundation of all the academic pieces of his kindergarten class that he isn't stressed or overwhelmed about what he's expected to already know and what he has to learn. Like you, I wrestled with the decision to start him last year because he seemed bright enough to succeed in kindergarten and I was worried if I put him in the pre-K first he'd be bored or too far ahead this year. But, doing pre-K first worked out well because his teacher is recommending him for the gifted learners program at his school this year, and he's really enjoying school because his teacher is still able to challenge him but he's not struggling at all due to everything he learned last year.

I guess I'd say that even though I felt the same way as you, my experience so far has been that my son is doing great with waiting until this year to start kindergarten. I'm more comfortable with him being one of the oldest rather than one of the youngest, and feel my decision to wait to enroll him in kindergarten until he was actually 5 is working out just fine.

**I just read your update and want to let you know we're in Jeffco also, and have our son at Foster Elementary. It's in Arvada and might be something to look into if you hold your daughter back and feel she needs an extra challenge in kindergarten because they have a dual-language immersion program. Our son is in that program, and I think it helps keep him challenged because not only is he learning the regular kindergarten curriculum, he's also learning a second language at the same time.

Once you start full-time school, there's very little opportunity to turn back and opt out for many, many years. These early years are your chance to establish yourself as her first and best teacher, and set the example of learning because it is fun and interesting, and not just for a grade.
Consider taking a wait-and see approach, and looking into programs in your area that cater to motivated students with supportive families. (Are you familiar with Montessori philosophy? Good Montessori preschools encourage students to learn at their own pace, and that often means working on projects many would consider "advanced" for the student's age.)
Three weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but losing a year of time with your child is not something to be too casual about.
I was reading fluently when I started kindergarten, so I was bumped up to first grade. It was so hard socially and I was not ready for some abstract math concepts that I ended up repeating fourth grade. My memories of elementary school are not completely joyful because of this. BTW, my birthday is the day after the age deadline, so administrators were always unsure about where the best place for me was. I wish I had stayed where I was and enjoyed social and academic success, with my parents doing extra projects with me at home for interest, but I am a perfectly happy and well-adjusted person now. I just can't say I'd recommend my path to another family.
Best wishes!

I also have an October birthday. I waited another year to start school. Worked out well for me not being the youngest one in my class.

My son turns 5 today. They wouldn't even LET him start kindergarten this year. They said there was nothing they could do and although he missed the cutoff date by 5 days, there were no loopholes to let him in. My only option is to keep him in preschool one more year and then maybe next yeat he'd test in to skip Kindergarten, which I think is a horrible idea. Kindergarten is important. Does your district even give you the option of starting her early? If not, you've got nothing to worry about.

I would suggest having her wait - unless you find that she is academically, socially (most important) AND physically (not super petite). The 'trend' anymore seems to be to have one's child wait. Many parents it seems are even holding their 5 year olds off an extra year. I don't think it was like it was when we were in school (I was a young one, and loved it!), but I realize I was 'ready' in all 3 categories. We sent my DS at barely 5, and I have regretted it off and on, although he towers in height over all the kids in his own grade, so we may have had other 'issues' if we'd held him back.

I'm really curious though what state you are in. In UT they WILL NOT let you put your child in K early - PERIOD! and their cutoff is Sept 1, so DS #2 (very mature, huge and smart) misses it by 3 wks like your DD. They do allow a child to 'test' into 2nd grade (thereby skipping 1st), but I have been told that the test is quite difficult.

Another suggestion would be to try private kindy and see how it goes, then decide if skipping a grade makes sense. First grade was kind of a waste for my oldest DS (bad teacher), and he caught up fine in 2nd and is doing great now in 3rd.

My sister is going through this with her Sept baby. I say it's too early for you to decide. Get her in preschool and make the decision as the time gets closer. I think when it comes to it, you'll know what you need to do. If you decide to put her in "early", you'll have to fight the school since she will miss the cut off. But if she meets all of the academic and social requirements they will have a hard time rejecting her. If she doesn't, it's probably best to give her another year to get there. What will it hurt for her to be on the more mature end of the class?

I agonized over this decision, wanted to send her at age four, but couldn't. It's good that I couldn't, because I was wrong.

What I've learned after tons of reading and experience and observation of other children is that it's more important for children to be five when they start, NOT four when they start.

I've noticed repeatedly that parents who send them at age four invariably end up with a child who struggles socially. Often times the child is immature and acts out. I've also seen them struggle tremendously academically, but not always. The social aspect tends to be a big problem with the too-young-to-start kids.

I taught all my kids to read at ages 3, 4, and 5 (they were ready at different times), and we always have cool stuff for them to learn at home (science, psychology, etc.). So even though they were "smart", they were never bored with regard to outpacing their peers.

The most important thing you can teach your children at a very young age is compassion. (I've never seen a parent successfully teach this at a later age, such as 7-17. You've GOT TO start young, so that they live and breathe the concept.) Children who fail to learn this turn into monsters, and there are a shocking percentage of children who are never taught kindness and thoughtfulness (not unlike the "What Would Jesus Do?" concept, whether you are Christian or not, it's the way to grow a wonderful child who people want to be around). As an example, a 13-yr-old here was taunting a neighbor because the kid's parents had gotten separated, as in "Ha! Ha! Your Dad doesn't live in your house anymore!" I was horrified. If I had a child like that, I would consider myself to have completely failed as a parent.

Hi D.,

I was a teacher for 9 years befor I became a stay at home mom, two of those years teaching Kindergarten, one teaching first grade, two teaching second grade, and four years teaching middle school. Here is advice from a teacher's perspective: In every grade level that I taught, including middle school,the students that were very young, as your daughter would be, struggled socially and were simply immature compared to their classmates. Sometimes, especially in the older grade levels, the struggles socially led to academic struggles as well because the difficulties with classmates were overwhelming enough that it made it difficult for them to concentrate in class. Here's my advice from a mother's point of view: I have two friends who had this choice to make with their daughters. The friend who kept her daughter out of Kindergarten until she was six has a high school freshman who is a straight A student,is on the varsity volleyball team ,is very responsible and mature for her age, and is a leader in her class socially. The friend who sent her daughter to kindergarten at a young age has an eighth grader who has struggled academically and socially from the beginning and is constantly trying to stay home because school is such a chore for her. She is a follower and often makes poor choices because of this. This is a true story. I learned from them and kept my son in preschool an extra year (this would provide your daughter with the structured environment that she thrives on, especially if you put her in a different, slightly more challenging preschool prior to Kindergarten). My son is in Kindergarten this year and so far is doing exceptionally well, academically and socially. He is a leader in both areas. He is self-confident enough to deal with the kids who are his friend one day and the next day decide that they don't want to be his friend (He says "Okay, I'll just go find another friend to play with." in a matter of fact voice. Then he does just that and takes away the manipulative abilities of the fickle children in his grade level.) He loves school and was very upset when I kept home one day because of a fever. For what it's worth, my advice is to enjoy your daughter while she's young, give her the gift of another year to mature and grow, and give her the ability to be a leader in her class rather than a follower.

My mom is a preschool teacher & discourages most of her parents from enrolling early in kindergarten. Some are okay going early, but most aren't. Kids really do need that extra time to socially develop & work on their motor skills. Some of her kids who go to kindergarten early have problems w/fine motor skills-something that develops with age. I'd say keep her back the extra year.

Personally, I never heard anyone wish that they didn't hold their kid back. Despite how she is now, I think the more challenges would come later on, in junior high and high school. But, that's just me. It's a tough decision.

Good luck!

p.s. She'd get her license sooner than her friends, which she would probably love! (I was one of the last ones...)

My suggestion is to wait and see how she is doing next year and also to find out what the policy for early enrollment as well; you may not have a choice. If you are looking at your neighborhood school and you can enroll her at any time then it will make it easier because you can talk with her preschool teachers and get a sense of where she is and how she will do.

There really is no point making a decision that is almost 2 years away, wait and see and make a decision based on where she is and how she is doing and recommendations from her teachers. She may well be ready or she may not, but you cannot know that until you get closer. And as other's have said.. she'll be in school long enough. My son just started kindergarten and it feels like a whole new world to me; just when I figured out the other one.

My 2 cents.

If you are sending her to a public school they probably won't let you enroll her early. Sometimes they will move you up to 1st grade if you are too advanced for kindergarten. I would guess your options are to pay for a private kindergarten if you want to send her early. You may want to check with your school before you make a decision to see if they would even allow you to send her early.

I just read this book, Outliers, it' s about success, they discuss how big this is in the book. She isn't even close to the cut off, I would wait! I was an August kid and it really has impacted my whole life( mostly in terms of maturity). I have a 12 ( almost 13) year old son who's b-day is October 10 and we waited, I am so glad! He is just right where he is now. Hope this helps!

My son and daughter both have Autumn birthdays, and, even though both were academically and socially fine (and both had gone to preschool), we opted to give them an extra year, rather than rushing them. When I was considering sending my daughter to kindergarten as a very young 5 year old, a wise teacher told me, "Many parents have regretted starting their children too early, but no parents have ever regretted giving their child a little more time." So, my daughter got an extra year of preschool, and we have never once regretted our decision.

As a Kindergarten teacher I would say to wait. She may be doing great "academically" and socially right now in daycare/preschool, but Kindergarten is very different.
As a parent I also say wait. Our kiddos will spend so many years in school why rush it!
Good luck with your decision! :-)

If you had said she was going to miss a September cut off date, I would say go for it. We did it and haven't looked back (although my son has suffered socially in school only). Since you are on an October cut off date, I would say wait. I'm not sure where you live but most states are now using the Sept. 1st date so if you were to move or when she goes to college if she chose another state, she would be really behind most kids.

Our plan is to put her in young....My daughter will be 5 just 30 days after the cut off. Our sentiment is that it's not that big a difference. I'm sure that there will be kids in her class who are 30days older than her and just made the cut off by a day or two. If she was months younger, that would be different, but I don't think weeks will put her at a disadvantage. And if you see that she is suffering socially or academically, then you can always hold her back in Kindergarden or First grade, so she'll be in the next class. I would rather hold my daughter back a year if we find she really isn't ready then wish we had put her in earlier.

As a special education teacher, I would recommend against doing this. There is a cutoff for a reason. The extra year of developing and learning will benefit her greatly in the future. Give her a chance to excel instead of just getting by.
Go to the school where she will be enrolled and talk to the administrator. They should know their program better than any advice you can receive from strangers.
If she is bored or you feel she's ahead, be proactive as the parent to seek challenging activities for her.

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