Early Kindergarten or Not? Also, Food Allergy and Schools.

Updated on February 02, 2009
M.O. asks from Phoenix, AZ
10 answers

Well, I'm sort of torn on what to do over here. For a few years, I have done in home childcare/preschool for both my son and other people's children. For my son being just a couple months over four years old, the doctor says he's a little more advanced then most his age. Not saying that my son is a genius, but due to all my work with him, he knows his alphabet by sight and sound, his numbers through 20, he's beginning to spell, he knows how to spell both his first and last names, he's just barely beginning to read (he read his first word the other day). He, of course, knows all his shapes and colors (even the odd colors, like Gold). He's very independent and actually a leader when it comes to other children (sometimes too much, where I have to tell him to let other children do things, too). He shares beautifully with other children, but is a little shy around "stranger adults". I know, I'm bragging... My question is:

My son's birthday is in late November in which he will turn five years old, so he misses the cut-off date for Kindergarten in the Paradise Valley Unified School District (which is September 1st that the child has to be five years old). So, in that case, he wouldn't be able to start Kindergarten until August 2010 (because he will be turning five this late November). I did find a charter school that has a cut-off date of December 31, which means he could start Kindergarten this August 2009. The part that I'm torn about is O.: he's been home with me with absolutely no preschool and I don't want to just take him from full-time home to full-time school. I think that may be a little traumatizing to him. So, maybe I should start him with part-time preschool Now until Kindergarten starts later this year (or next year). Two: With him being a boy and starting a little early (he'll be four, turning five in late November this year), will he miss out on anything due to him being a younger guy throughout school in the years to come? What about when puberty starts? Will he feel a little behind if all his buddies are hitting puberty and he may not because he will be of the younger guys? What about socially?

I did call and verify credentials on the charter school and found out that if he completes Kindergarten with them this year and I decide to put him in a public school (PVUSD) next year, they would put him in first grade on a two-week trial basis to see if he's ready for first grade or not. If not, he goes back to repeating Kindergarten with the PVUSD, which takes him back to the original schedule according to the PVUSD cut-off date schedule.

The other question is whether or not anyone has heard of Mission Charter schools? The O. located on 11th avenue and Glendale. I went and checked out the school and the report card and even though the looks of school may not be the best, I really liked the "center-based" learning style they offer and the small class sizes in comparison to the public schools. I also especially liked the diversity of both the teaching material and the children within the classes. Of the ratings I have seen, they have a four out of five star rating, according to parents that have/had their children there (not the Department of Education). According to the Department of Education, the report card was a little on the lower side, but you have to take in consideration the smaller student-body size and the number of disabled children that may bring the scores down a bit. This, in comparison to the thousands that are at the public schools, the scores equal out.

So, what would you do? Should I put him in preschool part-time now and wait and see about Kindergarten as the year comes to a close (play it by ear)? Should I just put him in preschool part time now and until he can start with the public school system next year (August 2010)? Or, maybe I could just wait and put him in preschool early next year and then into the public school late next year (August 2010)? What would you do?

The issue I am coming across any school system, whether it be a preschool or public school is the fact that he has a severe peanut allergy. The preschools I have been looking at either tell me that they would seat him at another table while they serve pb&j sandwiches (which I am NOT happy about having my child isolated) or that they personally have Never had a child with a severe allergy as his is (or ANY peanut/food allergy). That concerns me. He does have an Epi-Pen that needs to be carried around with him at all times (in his bag), but it definitely scares me because he could have an anaphylaxis reaction within minutes of ingesting any form of peanuts, which could lead to death soon after. It's a struggle and definitely a tough call.

So, I know this was a long post, but I really need some advice on whether I should put him Kindergarten this year, starting at four years old, turning five later this year, or just wait until next year. Also, any recommendations on preschools that are 100% peanut-free or can handle a child with such a severe food allergy?

Thanks for everything!!!

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answers from Phoenix on

My daughter was pretty bright before pre-school as well. She was reading chapter books in kindergarden and was a little bored. They couldn't move her up a grade since he spelling wasn't where her reading level was. But, the teacher kept her motivated. She later moved into the gifted class at her school. I too was torn about what to do. I did have her go to preschool,not for academics, but for socialization. I also enrolled her in a gymnastics class where she would take instruction from someone besides me while still having fun and interracting with other kids. I would have him go to preschool now and wait to see how he does. Is he ready emotionally ?? My friend had her daughter go to kindergarden early at North Pointe Academy ( 51st Ave & Union Hills).

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answers from Phoenix on

I have been through the early kindergarten issue, so I'll let you know my experience. My older duaghter's B-day is 10/5. As you said, the state's cut-off is turning 5 by 9/1 to start kindergarten. I wanted her to be in Madison School District, and they will actually test any kids with B-days between 9/1 and 10/1 for kindergarten, so we missed their cut-off by only 4 days. My daughter had been reading since 3 1/2 years old, and was very academically ready, but many people cautioned me about her emotional readiness, and worried that she might fall into more of a follower role because of her youth. I was also at home with her fulltime and she had never been to pre-school at all, but she has never been shy.

Anyhow, we decided that she really needed to start school at 4 years old. I just worried that if I kept her out until she was nearly 6, that she might be bored in kindergarten. I found Montessori Day School Public Charter (at 14th St & Dunlap), and they were willing to test my daughter, and found her to be ready for kindergarten. She did very well in kindergarten, and even though she is a little younger, she remained assertive and a leader. I didn't initially tell her that she was starting earlier or that she would be younger than most of her class, though. Though she has now figured out that she is a little younger than most of her classmates, I didn't want her to go into kindergarten worrying that she was littler or anything. I didn't put her in preschool before starting full-day kindergarten, and she did great. She loved starting school and being there all day was fine with her. She's never been especially shy or clingy, though. I cried like a baby when I left her school the first day, while she just smiled and waved! After kindergarten, we moved her to Madison Simis for first grade, and she is also doing very well there.

I honestly believe that we made the right decision in starting her early. After over 2 years of being a reader, her reading has progressed to the point that she has been put in the advanced reading class for 1st grade. After doing kindergarten last year, she is also advanced in her math, and is in the advanced math class for 1st graders. So, I think that if she were in kindergarten just this year, she would probably be too far ahead and maybe bored. With her very assertive personality, I'm actually glad that she is on the younger side of her school peers, because she can get bossy, and if she were on the extreme older side of her classmates I would worry about her running them over. She is actually a little tall for her age, so she isn't any smaller than her classmates. In fact she is about average height in her class. As I said before, she has recently come to notice that she just turned 6 in October, but all of the school friend's birthday parties that we are going to are for kids that are turning 7. I've just told her that she'll be turning 7 later this year (2009), too.

We don't have any allergy issues, so I can't really advise you there. I can tell that at Montessori Day School the kids all bring their lunches and eat in their classrooms. They might be able to make some sort of provisions if a student has severe peanut allergies. My friend's son has a severe peanut allergy and his preschool classroom was appointed as a peanut-free zone, but that was at another school.



answers from Phoenix on

Seeing as you are teaching him at home now, and are obviously doing a good job, have you considered home schooling him? Our son is an August baby, we waited the extra year to enroll him in school so that he wouldn't be the youngest in his class, to help benefit him in high school, if he were to want to play sports. I believe that it's not good to rush kids into growing up so quickly. They are only young once, so why not let them stay home for one more year and be a kid. However, I had been home preschooling my children, therefore they were more advanced than other children in their classes. I was told by both teachers and other parents that it was not fair that I had educated my children and that I needed to quit working with them. Also, because I had worked with my children they were so BORED in school, not just in kindergarten. Other kids were not kind to them either and would give them a hard time and be really MEAN to them as well as always ask "why do you have to be so smart" and that made it hard on the kids, because others didn't like them because they were smart. As far as the allergies go........... be careful!!! My son has really bad allergies (He's allergic to all grains and can not be anywhere near rice!!!). In kindergarten they would isolate him and not let him eat with any other child at all, because he does eat nuts, and one child in the class had a slight peanut allergy. So, they essentially punished my child because of his allergies. (His bread often times has nut flour in it, as he can't have grains) Also, they schools didn't care that he had allergies and although I told them that they couldn't do projects using rice (due to his allergy) they did many times use rice, either for projects, or served it to all the kids in the class, excluding him. (Just being anywhere near rice, cooked or raw, sends him into an asthma attack.) Everytime I was told "oh, it's just a little misunderstanding". So, my experience is that the schools, really don't care!!! (It's not their kid and they just don't love them like you do) Needless to say, we have pulled our kids out of school and now homeschool them using the sonlight curriculum. I wish that I would have done this from the very start. We no longer have issues with bordom in school, no longer have issues with people not caring about allergies, and no longer have issues with kids being mean, just because the kids are smart. So, my personnal recommendation would be to consider homeschooling. (plus, once they go to school, they are always sick. Parents do not keep sick kids home, so the germs are always circulating throughout the school) There are tons of opportunities out there for homeschooolers to do. There are organized field trips with other homeschoolers (at grate rates), there is homeschool PE with lots of other homeschoolers, there are organized "get together park dates" for the homeschoolers and many many more ways to get together with others. The kids are so much happier, and get a better education too. Plus, you're already doing it, just keep going.



answers from Phoenix on

My son's birthday is in May, he is the third child and very intellegent. He obviously made the cut off for kindergarten but he is still one of the youngest in his class. Even though he has no problem keeping up with any of the school work he doesn't make the cut off for little league so he plays a year behind his peers which is no fun so he has to try-out to get to "play up". there is so much more to school than just the accademics. My oldest is a Nov birthday and one of the oldest in the class. It seems everything was always easier for him than for the little one with the late birthday.



answers from Phoenix on

I vote for the later entry year. It does make a BIG difference around the time when the boys start growing beards and get their driver's licenses. If you held him back he would be first (or almost) in his class for both and there is some positive from that. Also, he will benefit from a year of "trying out" day care/pre/k. I can't speak about sports as my son wasn't much interested in that, but he was in the Px Boy's Choir and it was a great experience for him. You have many opportunities to help your son find areas that he excels at and you have a whole year to explore the opportunities.
Consider: there has always been a difference between boys and girls (LOL) and social maturity is on top of the list.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi there! I am a Mom of a 19 year old, a 15 year old, and a 5 year old. My 15 year old has a summer birthday and was always very advanced for his age. At that time, I did not even know you could hold your child back for his grade level. Now at 15, my son keeps saying, Mom you should have held me back. I know this sounds crazy for sports reasons, but a lot of people hold their children back one year, and now my son, although a great athlete, is much smaller than a lot of the boys who are a full year older than him. Also, all of his friends are older and driving.
I know it is a lot to consider for their teen years but I think it is best to hold them back. I am lucky my other boys have winter birthdays so that was not really an option in what to do. If you want him to try kindergarten, you can always have him repeat it as you spoke about. As you stated he may not be emotionally ready. I have heard from a lot of moms that kindergarten is the new first grade. There are a lot of children in pre-schools who are very prepared for kindergarten also, and you may not want to put a lot of pressure on him. I have a friend who held her son back because of his birthday. This child is in high school now and he is extemely gifted academically. Her pediatrician told her- Just consider do you want him to spend an extra year as a child or as an adult? She decided to hold him back and it has worked out perfectly for them. Good luck- it is a hard decision- just know there are going to be other children in your sons class held back by their parents due to summer birthdays and he may wind up being very young for the class. Once again- good luck in your choice!



answers from Austin on

As a high school teacher, I can tell you that boys mature much later than girls. That alone can send their hormones into a spin. The boys who are smaller or behind in physical maturity to the other boys seem to fall into two categories: quiet, shy and introverted with an inferiority complex or overly aggressive (trying to act bigger than their size) to try to make up for their size.

If sports are a possibility, it is really hard for a teenage boy to compete mentally with boys more physically advanced than he. He will be told continuously that he needs to work harder to make up for his lack of size, speed, etc. Or he will hear comments like, "He sure plays well for his size." Both are hard on the ego as boys go through puberty.

As far as the allergies go, I'd look into smaller schools or home-schooling. As cut backs continue during these difficult times, the teacher-to-pupil ratio will go up and the number of aides will go down. They will want to help your son and his allergies but their hands will often be tied.

Enjoy this time with your son. Get him involved in music or other fine arts to keep his brain challenged but not so advanced that he will be bored in school. Be sure to teach him how to entertain himself and not rely on you or a teacher to entertain him when he is bored.

Be sure to stress the positives of having a late birthday so he doesn't ever feel like life dealt him a bad hand.



answers from Phoenix on

Just a quick response...my children are grown. Two of my sons had birthdays in the fall. Both were extremely intelligent and well prepared for school long before they were old enough. With my oldest son, we started him early. He never had trouble with the educational part and was always in the "sage" (advanced) classes, but for a boy, the social maturity did not work and he really struggled throughout school with relationships with friends. He was the youngest in his class. With our youngest son, we waited. He was the oldest in his class. He also thrived with the educational part, beginning college with 23 credit hours earned in high school. He, on the other hand, did wonderfully with social relationships. Today, the oldest one is 34 and has his own staging business and the youngest, at 21, is beginning his senior year in college, working and paying his own way and getting a degree in electrical engineering. I would recommend holding your little one back and letting him enjoy learning with you some more. The other aspect of having intelligent kids is boredom...We learned that with all three of our children. Make sure that they always have something challenging to try or learn. School doesn't always offer that.



answers from Phoenix on

Did you check out Little Scholars through PVUSD? I believe it is a early kindergarten program vs preschool and they can start at 4. Once he starts kindergarten they will evaluate him and if he is ready they can move him to 1st grade if you choose.



answers from Phoenix on

Hey Mystyque,

I think that putting him into some kind of pre-school program is a good idea. It will make it easier for him to transition. My daughter goes to a co-op pre-school Mon-Thurs from 9-12. She started going when she was 2 1/2 for a couple of hours twice a week. She will be going to kindergarten this year and she will be 5 in April. I think pre-school has been a positive experience for her, overall. It's a great social opportunity for her, which she enjoys immensely. And, I chose a school that is play based. That sounds like something your son might enjoy, since he's had such great academic stimulation at home. Kids learn best through play with other kids. All of my friends who's children went to kindergarten this year talk about how exhausted their kids are when they come home, so that full-day schedule takes some adjustment time. Also, since you have a new baby on the way, this might be a good time for you to make a transition for your boy, before that new cutie-pants arrives. It gives him a place to go to do his own thing, and it will give you a break. I would like to say, though, that your boy will be fine whatever you choose. He has a great mama who cares about him, and in the long run that's what makes the difference. Also, concerning the peanut allergies, most schools have a firm policy regarding peanut allergies, and the teachers should know how to use the epipen you leave with the pre-school director.

Good luck!


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