5 Year Old Trying to Get into 1St Grade

Updated on June 30, 2011
G.M. asks from Naperville, IL
24 answers

My son is 5 years old and will be 6 Oct. 19th. He recently graduated from Kid's Kampus' Private Kindergarten program in Naperville. I am trying to get him into 1st grade and am having trouble because of his late birthdate. I tried ot get him into the public elementary school near me (Longwood Elementary in Naperville), but they want to put him back in Kindergarten. I really do not want to put him back in Kindergarten due to the fact that hee was in a all day Kindergarten, and do not want to put him back in the same grade for 2 1/2 hours a day. The program that he was in was advanced, and I believe that he would regress after a full year of redundant learning.
Has anyone been in this situation, and have any suggestions? I have called around to about a dozen private schools, and they are saying that they adhear to the same strict standard about age for 1st grade. I am willing to put him in a public or private school that has a great curriculum where ever. I will move if need be. Please help!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of the responses that I received.
I first want to clear up some confusion that I saw from the responses. For starters, I do not classify my child as "gifted". He was in a private Kindergarten that had a very challenging program, and the curriculum there was more advanced than the Kindergarten curriculum for the Naperville schools. For that reason, putting him in a 2 1/2 hour Kindergarten in a public school that has a less advanced program than what he just completed does not make much sense to me. I was aware that in the state of Illinois that Kindergarten was not necessary. I was told by various sources that Kindergarten is in large part for socialization purposes (not at all minimizing the fact that there is a curriculum taught in Kindergarten). My son misses the cutoff by a month and a half. I'm not trying to "skip" my child or put him "a whole year ahead"; it's just that he has completed and mastered the skills for that level, and outside of the cutoff rule, he should be advanced to first grade. There will always be a "youngest person" in the class. In his Kindergarten class he was the youngest, and that did not phase him. There are many children who make the cutoff age wise, however for one reason or another should not be advanced. It seems like no matter what the decision, some negative ramification is eminant. If I leave him behind, and he gets bored, and starts misbehaving (which is usually the result of boredum) then he gets labeled as ADHD or a misfit. If I put him in the grade he should be in academically, he may have to work a little bit harder. I believe that he is up for the challenge, and I am willing to do whatever I need to do as a parent to make sure that he excels in whatever grade he is in.
I checked out Montessori school in my area and they would accept him, and teach him on the level that he is at, but because they have no grading system, I would most likely face the same issue next year when trying to get him into 2nd grade. I wish that option would have worked out, because I really like the philosophy of the Montessori school. On thing I find interesting is that when parents put their children in Montessori schools, and they advance further, it isn't viewed as "pushing your child to quick", but if a parent does it on their own in the public school arena, all kinds of road blocks appear.
I tried some of the Catholic schools in the area. One told me that they had a waiting list, but were not accepting any non-Catholic children. The other ones told me that they adhear to the guidelines of the Illinois Department of Education.
I have put my son on the waiting list at Calvary school in Naperville, IL, and also am in the process of getting him admitted to Aurora Christian in Aurora, IL. These schools both will test him and admit despite the age.
Thank you all again for your responses, and I hope that the information and recourse I have chossen may help someone else!!

More Answers

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

As a primary grade teacher, that has taught kindergarten in the past, I don't see any harm in having your little guy complete one more year before he enters 1st grade. Boys are less mature than girls at that age, so socially, he will be ahead of the game. Think about when he is a sophmore and all his friends are getting their drivers permit, and he has to wait one more year. Or if he goes off to college, he will only be 17. One year can make a HUGE difference.

As for the possibility of regressing, I don't think that would happen. I think it's great that he is advanced, but maybe you can look into some afterschool activities that challenge him, such as a language class or a math camp.

I have tutored children in your son's situation. There are plenty of ways to keep him developing academically without pushing him into first grade.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

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L.

answers from Chicago on

As a former kindergartn teacher(7 years)in the public schools, I say what is the rush?? Every year we would get at least 3-4 parents who would say the same thing--their child is too advanced for kindergaten. Public schoold will not let you in early--it is state law. Kindergaten teaches MANY things beyond the ABCs and Numbers and most all our kids were reading by the time they went on to first grade. Your child will not regress(I have NEVER heard of that!) If your child is really that advanced your school district should have a gifted program or the teacher would be able to modify the curriculum. Even though it is rare to accept kids this young in the gifted program--I had a few who qualified and received services.
Please just relax and let your child be with their age group. The rules are put in place for a reason. Why does everyone want to push their kids into a grade that may be above their level and cause them stress? Let your child enjoy their childhood and learn naturally in school. Kids who are naturally talented will learn and progress no matter what grade their are in and can also be supplemented at home and with outside programs. You only get to be a child once!!

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D.H.

answers from Chicago on

As a teacher, I really have to agree with what you are being told from your local schools. I realize how frustrating this can feel right now, and your son does sound academically ready for 1st grade.

The social piece needs to be considered. I once had a student that had skipped a grade a few years prior because she was gifted. She had great grades and a miserable social life with very few friends. Eventually, she went back a grade. This was a great move socially for her. She was still challenged with curriculum because she qualified for the gifted program.

If it were up to me, I would find a kindergarten for your son that offers differentiation for his skill level.

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J.

answers from Chicago on

G.,

I am so sorry to hear of your situation. I am on both sides of the fence here.

I have a son that has an October 23rd birthday and wanted him to start kindergarten a year earlier AND am an Elementary school teacher, although did not teach kintergarten.

I called my public school and asked BEFORE putting him in private kindergarten a year early, seeing his thirst for knowledge. The school principal told me that she is not required to take him but CAN if he has completed a year of private kindergarten.

After discussing the situation with several friends that teach kindergarten, they gave me many reasons NOT to do it. For sports, they MUST stick to birthday requirements so my child will quite possibly have school friends, but not be able to play soccer or baseball with their best friend because of their age. Also, because your son is going to be so much younger than the children in his class he will most likely be smaller than everyone. Fortunately, my husband is 6'4", 270# so size is NOT an issue! Also, when he gets older, when concepts do get more complex, there may be more of a learning gap. Unfortunately for boys especially, maturatity issues also arise later on too. He may always be the kid that "doesn't get it" because he is just a year behind too.

I understand where you stand, but now after waiting the year, I am glad I did. I would rather bite the bullet now, even if you have to find a full day kindergarten program to repeat, than to have him struggle later.

I ended up putting my son in a very NON sturctured preschool in order for Kindergarten to be a real challenge for him. For our public school we are blessed to have a very structured all day program. I also did some volunteer work with both the kindergarten and first grade class (the first grade is the class my son would have gone into had I pushed the issue). The first grade class was a VERY wild bunch! It happens sometimes like that. I look back and think that God had his blessing on this and guided my decisions wisely! Although you may look at this as a defeat, it may be what your son needs for a different reason!

Look deep inside and think of the exact reason you are doing this. Is it really going to make a big difference?? What is one more year? Can your son join another activity to develop maybe a sport or fine art while he is waiting for school to start??

MAKE LEMONAID!!

Good Luck!!

J.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

I know you only want the best for your son, but as a former elementary school teacher pushing him into 1st grade early may not be the best for him. At the school I taught in they strictly enforced the age requirement. We had several "gifted" kindergarteners... one who was reading Harry Potter books by himself! The teachers are supposed to find enrichment opportunities and advance his education while keeping him in the same age group as his peers. As a previous poster said, as he gets older and is much younger than his peers he may feel out of place. My youngest brother had an August birthday and was the youngest in his class. Things like getting his drivers license after all of his friends and going off to college when he just barely turned 18 were difficult for him. The oldest of my brothers was held back a year, not because he wasn't smart enough to go from Kindergarten to 1st grade (he has a birthday of October 3) but because he wasn't socially ready. He was at the top of his class and "fit in" much better through his middle school years.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

For those families in the Naperville area that have children that will be attending a school in Distsrict 204 that narrowly miss the cut off date, have an option of sending their child to a state certified kindergarten at 4 years 9 months and can transfer to a district 204 school directly into first grade. One school that offers this program is Montessori Moppet Centre. in Naperville, You can call the school for details. My son did this program and was admitted to first grade. IT worked out perfectly.

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N.K.

answers from New York on

I am going through the same thing right now. Were you able to put your child in the first grade?
We were not ablw to enroll our son to the first grade. So we put him in a private school and he completed the 1 st grade with High Honors. Now, our school will not take him to the 2nd grade. I am looking into the researches that show that retantion leads to the low performance, higher drop out rates, and other disadvantages.

They have tried to prove that he does not measure up tho the "gifted" program and theirfore cannot be "advanced". I am not trying to classify my son as "Gifted" nor I am trying to "advance' him. i simply believe he is just on the 2 grade level as his freinds of the same birth year.

I really do not know what to do. Do you have any suggestions?

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J.R.

answers from Chicago on

Have you contacted the school system to have him tested?

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L.A.

answers from Chicago on

G.,

My daughter just finished 3rd grade, and she told me that a 2nd grader would come into there class for math. Maybe the school could accomodate in this way if they do not have a gift program.

Just a thought.

L.

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M.C.

answers from Milwaukee on

I haven't been in this situation, but I was just reading that exposing boys to school too early is detrimental to them in the long run. I guess your son's maturity is a consideration.

Good luck!

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K.S.

answers from Chicago on

I really don't have any advice about any schools but I just wanted to provide the counter side to the teachers who spoke.

First, both my husband and I have October birthdays. We both started school early and we both graduated HS at 17 years of age. We both were at the top of our classes all throughout our entire elementary and HS years. My husband joined the marines at 17 (his mother had to sign.) I started college at 17.
There were NO adverse effects of being the youngest in our classes ever.

My oldest daughter was tested in early to kindergarten out here in Merrillville. When we first moved here, the cut off date was June 1. Her birthday is July 17. The school system had a rule that they only tested kids who's birthday's fell in the month after the cut off date; so at that time June 30th. When we realized that the school wasn't going to let her in we found a private Christian kindergarten out here that didn't have a cutoff date.
Well, luckily for us, that same month, they increased the cutoff date to July 1 which allowed us to test her in. She passed with flying colors and was able to attend the regular home school.

When she did begin kindergarten, her teacher pulled us aside and told us that she was GLAD that we got her in early because our daughter was more than ready academically AND socially and that it would have been a disservice to her to keep her back a year.

Fast forward, my daughter is now 10 and in 5th grade. She's still the youngest and she is in HONORS CLASSES. She gets straight A's and is involved in several extra curricular activities and very social.

The bottom line is that YOU know your child better than anyone. Don't let these teacher's dissuade you if you know better about your son.

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L.N.

answers from Chicago on

Why don't you try a Montessori program. His activities would be based on his skill level, not necessarily his age.

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D.M.

answers from Utica on

Same problem in 2011! Hello, I am in the same situation this year, I live in São Paulo , Brazil and here the cutoff is july first, my son was born on august 5th . Everybody is against me because I think he is ready for first grade. This is agonizing me. I read all your story so I am so curious (since was in 2007 )What decision did you make and if it was worth it?
Please answer me!

D.

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A.

answers from Chicago on

I would not try to push the issue with getting him to first grade. Districts have these age requirements for a reason. As a parent, you can do the extra work atr home or talk to his teacher to get him more advanced work.

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S.H.

answers from Chicago on

My sister in law tried getting my nephew into Kindergarten a year early bc of the same situation, he was ready for it and the way his birthday fell, he'd turn 6 two weeks after starting Kindergarten. When she called the school, they told her he would need to be "examined" for his abilities and she'd have to petition the schools. She didn't go too far with the process because he wound up being diagnosed with ADHD and she didn't want to put too much stress on him and the Pre-K programs out here in the public schools are designed to help ADHD kids and getting them ready for "real" school. I would not let the school dismiss you so easily. I think that the biggest problem is because so many people try to get their kids in so they won't be older than all the other kids and they really aren't ready for it. So, I would just suggest doing your research and be vigilant with the schools. I think you are right that it would be bad for him to stay back, he would get really bored and wind up doing poorly from lack of stimulation.

PS: I too am an "August" baby and was the youngest in my class. I also transferred to public school from private Pre-K and Kindergarten in Louisiana where there were no age restrictions. Obviously, they wouldn't move a five year old to first grade but I HATED kindergarten bc I had already been in it and learned nothing. I was so bored. I was advanced through all of my years of school and I was ALWAYS bored but because I was so "young" I couldn't advance. I started college at 17 and was the youngest person at my COLLEGE! It didn't hurt me. In MOST Illinois public schools you take drivers ed in school your sophmore year unless you pay the big bucks for private lessons, so actually the older sophmores are the ones who get left out.

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

We had this same problem. My daughter attended a partial year of kindergarten in NC and then we moved to IL (La Grange Park.) I was told in fall of 2005 that it was IL state law that a child had to be 5 yrs old by Sept 1 to start K here, and she was 2 days late (b-day is Sept 3!)
They would make NO exceptions for us, not testing, not anything- even my husband tried to pull strings since he worked in that district as a HS teacher- nothing worked. I ended up homeschooling her K as she was soooo eager and ready to learn- and she ended up reading at a level that is considered 3rd grade in public schools here by the end of her K year!

We moved to Elgin and tried to transfer her to 1st grade thinking that since she had had a year of K under her belt and was testing so high that it would not be a problem- nope, again, they told me that it lowered their test scores to admit children who did not meet the age requirements and wanted to put her into a half day of K again! Arghhhh! We finally found one private school that would test her- Highland Christian Academy http://hcaconnection.com/ and the principal said upon her testing that there was NO WAY she would have put her into K again- her tests were off the charts.

We just completed a year of first grade there and while it met her needs peer-wise with social interaction and she did learn some new things, it was still not challenging enough and I had some problems with the religious teachings on a personal level. We have decided to change schools again for second grade.

We will be having her attend Elgin Academy http://www.elginacademy.org/new_site/menu/index.html
for second grade. She also had to test in and again passed with flying colors- and they teach almost 2 grade levels above public school and a grade level above what HCA was teaching her last year! AND they teach "hands on" which is better for her learning style than bringing home 20 worksheets for homework each night and sitting rigorously behind a desk all day! They also go through highschool, which means she will never have to repeat a grade at public school. (The superintendent told me that even if she transfers to PS in 8th grade, they will make her repeat a grade!!)

Do whatever you can- is my best advice. Look into every private school, etc. Some will bus your child in if you are out of the area. Ask to pay for testing yourself out-of-pocket too- some don't tell you they offer placement if YOU have the testing done. I feel so sure that my daughter would have regressed both emotionally and academically if we had put her back into K for another year- she was at the top of her first grade class this year and the youngest in the class! SHE was the one chosen for math competitions, writing competitions, the spelling bee, the speech meet, etc!! AND she managed to do all of this and make straight A's while having missed 30 days of school due to various illnesses thoughout the year.

Go with your instinct! If kids aren't challenged and encouraged, they lose hope and drive- they stop trying, and they become bored which leads to acting out, which leads to... yep, a label. They now aren't gifted, they have ADD or ADHD or whatever!!! It's disgusting that they do this- but apparently it's easier than just testing them into the grade they should be in to begin with! I guess there is more funding for counselors than for gifted programs, but I *REFUSE* to be a part of such a crappy system, and like you, if we have to move or go broke or homeschool or WHATEVER!- I will give my daughter the education she deserves and is so hungry for.

So, kudos to you!! I hope you find a school that will suit his needs!
If you have ANY questions, don't hesistate to ask. I'm actually thinking we should start a freaking coalition or something to get this age-requirement junk STOPPED!
-Amanda

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S.

answers from Chicago on

Try the Chicago Grammar School. I would suggest speaking to the Director, Phillip Jackson. He can be reached at
###-###-#### (www.chicagogrammar.org). It's a wonderful program.

If you have any questions about the school, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]____.com luck in your search.

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A.K.

answers from Chicago on

KidsKampus is a Preschool and Childcare Center. If he was in the kindergarten program, did he get tested? If so, if the tests come out that he is gifted then he will probably advance. Just for sake of arguement, when is his birthday? My 6 year old is just now going into second grade (he is supposed to be going into 1st)because of his late birthday but he tested above level at age 4.
My suggestion is to take him to an early childhood assessment. There, they will assess his strengths and his weaknesses and suggest the best action that you can take.

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D.K.

answers from Chicago on

G., I too was in a situation similar to your's however, the issue was Kindergarten admission, not first grade. The state law is 5 yo by September 1 and my oldest daugther's birthday is September 2nd. So she was techincally still 4 when I wanted her in Kindergarten. My public school does not have a policy for exceptions, so none are allowed. I searched for a preschool with a rigourous PreK program, because she was very eager to learn and I knew she was ready, and her previous preschool teachers agreed. I talked to Cornerstone Christian Academy (http://www.cornerstonechristianacademy.com/ in Sycamore) about their preschool program, but they offered to test her for Kindergarten and she passed and was admitted. We love it there and if money were no object, she would stay there for all 12 grades. She is still there, going into 3rd grade in the fall. But I have 2 other kids and we are not sure what will happen once they are Kindergarten age.

I agree that putting your son back in K is not optimal, however, like the others, you may want to make sure your have considered other issues like his size and social skills. Once you have determined that you have reconciled those type of issues in yourself, I know you will be able to find a program that will work with you. Keep looking.

In regards to the law, I was told by a public Elementary principal that the law for 5 yo on 9/1 only applies to Kindergarten admission. There is no law about what age a child has to be for first grade. However, I would imagine that a school policy may not allow "transfers" into first grade unless they meet the age requirement, but unless they have a written procedure or rule about it, you could claim discrimination. Why should they not allow a kids transfer into 1st grade once they completed Kindergarten. BTW, in Illinois, Kindergarten is not even required. A child can go to first grade, depending on the school policy, without going to Kindergarten. You may want to go to http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ to see if you can find the exact laws. You may be getting a bunch of BS from your public school. Contact a school board member also. You may find an advocate there. I did that because no one in the adminstration would give me an answer about if she could be tested. So, the board member found out that they could not allow for exceptions to the law, unless they had a specific procedure. BTW, the law does allow for excpetions to be made, at the discretion of the local school board.
If you want more info, contact me at [email protected]____.com

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S.G.

answers from Chicago on

As a middle school teacher, I agree with all of the posters that say wait. The boys struggle later on in school when they are younger. I would say wait. If you find a great program for him, the teacher will find enrichment for him.

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M.O.

answers from Chicago on

You might have better luck with Catholic schools. I know they are little more open to it. St Bede's in Lake Villa were for a friend of mine.

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R.R.

answers from Chicago on

We had this same situation in Lisle with my daughter. We ended up putting her into a private school for first grade. But my husband lost his job and we had to move her to a public school the next year. The school agreed that she was at the 2nd grade level, but refused to put her into 2nd grade until after the first quarter-when she would have been established with a teacher and friends and then have to be moved again. So we decided to let her repeat 1st grade. It was horrible. Her grades suffered tremendously.
My advice would be to scrutinize your financial situation and determine if you can afford to pay for school through 5th grade. If not, you may want to seriously consider letting him go through kindergarten again. I know it's tough. But better now than in a year or two.

Good luck

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S.C.

answers from Raleigh on

Hi G., my name is S.. I was curious what happended with your situation. I have a 5 year old who completed kindergarten at Pinewoods Montessori school in NC. She too will be 6 on October 19th! We registered her in a public school and they too are insisting that she repeat kindergarten again...saying she is a strong kindergartener but not ready for first grade. I feel she is way above academically and socially but they seem to not care. So, what happened with your son? Did you eventually beat the system?? Luckily we are able to send her back to the Montessori school to do her first grade year. These people are just NUTS when it comes to kids age...it should be more about what is best for them and their learning!

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D.F.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter has a classmate that skipped a grade. She was supposed to start kindergarten this past year,but they tested her to see what grade level she was at. Ask the school to test your son & see what level his abilities are at. Good luck with it.

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