First Grade Vs. Kindergarten Placement.

Updated on August 30, 2010
R.B. asks from Ashburn, VA
20 answers

My daughter tested out of Kindergarten and her public school has approved first grade placement for her. I am proud as a parent of this accomplishment, however, don't want to mover her ahead at this stage. I feel confused if I am doing the wrong thing by her and not letting her move ahead if that's what her teachers feel. At the same time, I went through a double promotion in elementary school and then had to repeat 5th grade because we moved cities and when I came back to our hometown all the kids I grew up with were one year my senior. So I don't know if I am projecting but I feel strongly to keep her in Kindergarten - in a private school where she will be challenged more and then move her to public school in first grade. What are your thoughts out there? I have been struggling with this for the past month.

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So What Happened?

I want to thank everyone for your responses today - it's been a really big help to get all the perspectives and I feel reassured that there are other mom's out there with the same real feelings and thoughts as mine. I am really grateful for this website and I hope that I can offer some help to someone out there down the road. So here is what we are going to do - she will go in to a Pvt K program here where she will be challenged more the Public K. She also plays Tennis and the Piano so I don't think she should be getting bored any time soon. If she does, I know to tweak it.
Thank you all once again - all your c omments helped me make a more informed decision.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would send her to K and not promote her to 1st. The kids in 1st will have a whole year's worth of knowledge on how this works and schedules/teachers/friends. K is a very important step and Ks are given a lot of help and patience that the older kids aren't given.



answers from Dover on

If you are considering allowing her to skip any grade, I recommend kindergarten because skipping other grades w/ more content is where the struggle comes in. Additionally, it then changes her peer group...better to do that now than later.

Consider if she is a younger or older kindergarten student (does she just make the cut off or did she just miss it last year)? How is she socially...did she attend preschool or daycare before? If she is socially ready, especially if she is at the older end of her class, I would definately let her go into 1st grade...if she struggles she could always repeat (which is better now than later) and still finish school on time. I know she is young but what does she think? How about her dad?

Best of luck to her!

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answers from Chicago on

There are so many factors that play into this decision. I am a teacher and a mom of a very bright little girl, and I also just took a class on gifted education. I knew as soon as I visited our public school, that it would NOT be sufficient for our daughter. And even though she does GREAT socially, I did not want to grade skip her. So, like you, we have chosen a private school that has a much more enriching K program. We will stay there for as long as I feel that her needs are being met. If it comes to a point where I feel she is not being challenged, I will look for a public school with a program that will meet her needs. One important thing I took from the gifted ed. class is that intelligent children absolutely need to be challenged in order to keep learning. They should not just go along for the ride in a class where they already know the curriculum being taught... it is a waste of their time and they will become bored and frustrated (as you may know). Likewise, we have to consider their social and emotional needs. I feel like the K program I chose is the very best option for my child at this time. I don't know what we'll do in the years to come, but we can see how it goes and decide year to year. Good luck to you and your daughter... if you feel like the private school K is a good match for her needs right now, I would start there. Hopefully they can continue to challenge her and maybe in the future she can be placed in a gifted program at the public school if they are available.

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answers from Columbus on

This is a tough question. There is one more factor (like you need more) to consider here, and that is that kindergarten red shirting is very trendy right now. She is likely to find that she is in a first grade class made up of more 7 year olds than 6 year olds, and some may be nearly 8. You may want to find out how often this is happeneing at the school she will attend. This has a significant impact on socialization and peer relations. I expect that the curiculum based standards are in for a huge adjustment very soon. It certainly makes the normative data (based on age) more difficult to apply to your child.

The other factor to consider is how giftedness is identified. There is a large element of the early learners for whom the quick learning will slow down, and they will find themselves in the big part of the bell curve by the time they start 4th grade. This may have had some bearing on what happened to you in 5th grade, especially since you were bumped up two grade levels early on.

Through third grade, children are primarily learning to read and write, and suddenly, when the inverse is true, and they are reading and writing to learn, the expanded demands of conceptual learning can overwhelm some who do very well at learing the mechanics of reading and writing, and the learning speed slows down to a more average pace. For some that had difficulty with mechanics, conceptual learning is more fluid, which is why early intervention is so crucial so that these otherwise gifted children can move on to conceptual material with their grade peers, or even move on to a gifted program based on their conceptual ablities.

Math is different, and you will notice that children are identified for math programs seperately, because conceptual skills are part of the early learning process along with memorization skills for math facts. The concepts become progressively more complex and cumulative, but some children who memorize math facts readily will find math concepts (fluid reasoning skills) more difficult and vice verca, some children had great difficulty with memorization and have little difficulty understanding math concepts because they are two different skill sets. Memorization and memory retrieval skills continue to be important for math.

It is important for you to know which of these skills are strong for your daughter so that you can know the best placement for her, whether you expect for her quick pace to continue or even out, and the weigh her social ease and maturity levels carefully with the age of actual students in the class, not just the age you would normally expect to find in a first grade classroom.

If you can get a copy of the testing that the school did on your daughter, you might see what kind they did. If it was curriculum based (meaning, she was measured compaired to the content of the curiculum, or how much she knows about reading, writing, spelling, math...) Then you might want to invest in an evaluation that will tell you how she processes information and how strong her skills are in more psychoeducational terms. This will include an IQ test that measures many differnet processes, and will give you standard scores that relate to her age. The problem here, is always going to be that you won't have her processing skills compared to the kids in her expected grade, which now, more than ever, will include children who are as much as three years appart from the youngest to the oldest.

If you have standard tests, like an IQ test from the assessment the school did, there is an article at called "Understanding Tests and Measurments for Parents and Advocates." While written for parents with children who have special needs, it will give you the kind of understanding that will be helpful to you to make educational decisions for your daughter too.

As an advocate for children with disablities, my advice to parents is always to send their children to school on time, but that is usually in response to the question "should I hold my child back?" The answer to that question is a resounding 'NO!" because the data is clear that holding children back is a very bad educational strategy for children with special needs, and has very poor measurable educational outcomes assoicated with it. Children who are older than the grade expectation are at very high risk for reading failure. Children who enter school on time are at an advantage academically becasuse they get more years of instruction while thier brains are still flexible and elastic and can learn language and verbal skills most easliy. That window closes around age 9, so kids who need reading intervention actually get a full year more of targeted reading instruction before that elesticity is gone, and children who are older don't benefit from that extra year. Even though children have been entering the system later, intervention is still based on grade, not age. Children with the misfortune to need reading intervention, enter school late for age, and be enrolled in an unresponsive school system that does not identify properly, may not get the instruction untill it is way too late for them to the most productive and easier gains; they also end up learning to read and write while thier grade peers have moved on to the process of reading and writing to learn. It is an educational disaster.

The question is for you is, is that educational advantage extended to your daughter by entering the system earlier? That is how I would approach the situation. I know the answer if your child is at the left side of the bell curve, but being on the right is more difficult to answer.

I can share an anecdotal answer, which is much less reliable than data, but you may find interesting. One of my neigbors has a child who is very gifted; Dougie Howser gifted. His parents sent him to kindergarten on time. He plays with kids his own age, and breezes through all his school work. He does not appear to have any trouble with boredom, and is not a behavoir problem. He does enriched activities, like chess club in kindergarten, and reading news papers and chapter books, which he clearly understands conceptually, but his parents want him to have an age based peer group. His social skills are dead on for his age, and this is one happy little boy. I think that this family did things right. Your situation should be judged by you, and her temperament should play a big role in your decision, because I am sure that every child will not be as happy as my neighbor's son in a class where they are clearly way ahead, but it is worth wondering if his happiness is due to his ablity to socialize so well, in additon to having his academic needs met through enrichment, instead of promotion.

Sorry to be so windy, but I hope this is helpful.


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answers from Jacksonville on

Do you think that your child would qualify for "gifted"?
I ask because we had the debate in our home about whether or not to push for our daughter to skip a grade early also. I knew she was gifted (I was too, so I was aware of the things to look for, and I followed up with my own reading on the subject), but not sure I wanted the social issues that may come with being a year behind all her friends at school. Particularly as the kids age... when all her friend get drivers licenses and begin dating, for instance.

In private school, there typically is not any sort of gifted development. Our daughter was in private from K4 - 2nd grade. She did very well, but the school did more than academics. She was allowed a 30 minute (one day per week) pull out for a private piano lesson during school hours, plus they rotated a class period each day between PE, music, art, spanish, and computers. So she got a lot of "extras" that she wouldn't have in public. When she started public school in 3rd I insisted she be tested immediately and she was admitted into the "challenge" program for gifted kids. It is a one day per week pull-out program where she goes all day to a different class with other gifted kids. Their curriculum there is much more intense, fun, and outside the box.

If you think that your daughter is ahead due to giftedness (very likely) then you might consider staying in grade, but testing for a gifted/challenge program that will provide a broader more stimulating environment for her, so she can practice using her talents. She can be guided by someone who specializing in gifted education. Gifted kids learn differently. They don't require repetition upon repetition upon repetition to learn a new skill or fact. Once or maybe twice and they usually have it down and are ready to move on.
Good luck with your decision.

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answers from Detroit on

You can always start her in kindergarten and see how it goes - if it becomes apparent she really should be in 1st grade, you can always move her up. I would think that whether or not she should go right to first grade depends not only on her overall intelligence but also her maturity level. And maybe how close her birthday is to the cut-off date - i.e. in kindergarten will she be 1 of the older kids, 1 of the younger kids, or somewhere in the middle? If she would be one of the older kids, maybe you could give 1st grade some consideration, again if she has the maturity to handle it. There is a lot of life experience that happens in the 1 year of life between kindergarten and first grade and if the private school is going to be more challenging anyway, you might be right to start in kindergarten and see how she handles it.

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answers from New York on

Think about your daughter. Is she a young or old kinder? Has she had a lot of social opportunities before entering school? Will she really be challenged more in a private school setting? Will the kindergarten classes be stimulating enough for her. These will influence whether she'll be ready for the 1st grade or not.

If later on you do need to move out of district, have her tested to the grade she should be in.

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answers from Sacramento on

Personally I would not promote her unless she is quite mature and has good social skills. There is so much to learn in kindergarten socially like listening to the teach, taking turns in a large group, ability to focus in a large group, getting along with others, the concept of fairness, sharing, expressing themselves verbally to others their own age, staying on task and many other things. It is your choice in the end but you and your husband need to ask yourselves what is the benefit to your daughter of early promotion in school? Do you want her hanging with older kids in her teens and wanting to do what they are doing? realize at 14-15 her friends a yr older will be driving, they will want her to ride with her in their cars and do what they are doing. Ask yourself, down the road, do you want her leaving home for college early? are you prepared for the expense and social things that happen in college at 17? I know families who have done this and so proud of their very bright child, but they dont always look at the big picture in the teen yrs? The world is a big (and can be ugly place at times) do you want to expose your daughter to it sooner than she has too? We have an "academically gifted" daughter who could have taken that route since kindergarten, but why? She is quite social, involved in sports and other things and does quite well in school. For her it was the best thing for her to keep her with others her age. Hope this helps.

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answers from Ocala on

You do what you feel is best for her.

She will be fine.

Take care.

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answers from Atlanta on

I think it all depends on her social maturity at this age. Does she enjoy playing with kids who are 6 and 7? Does she fit in with them? If so, then I say go ahead and send her to 1st, but if you see signs that it's going to be rough for her socially, then I would keep her in kindergarten.

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answers from Detroit on

I would put her in the grade with her age peers.

You have to think of the big picture of her entire schooling.. my friend started their daughter a year early.. she was the last of her friends to date, drive and so forth.. she went off to college (out of state) when she was barely 17.

School is just not about the academics.. social skills, emotional maturity, physical skills... I would keep her with her peers... maybe do some special homeshcooling things with her after school if her class is not challenging.



answers from Toledo on

I would say maybe move her to 2nd after Kindergarten instead of 1st as usual. Kindergarten is VERY IMPORTANT as far as social development is concerned. My good friend had her son tested in Kindergarten (same age as my daughter) and moved him up 6 weeks into Kindergarten. He could read and spell and add and subtract so he was right on track with the 1st graders, but he was (and still is) sooo far behind socially. Not to mention that as she gets older, she will be younger than all of her friends and will be behind all of them. I would check and see if your school district offers a gifted and talented program. Ours does and both of my girls do wonderfully in their appropriate grades, even though they are testing well above their level every year.



answers from Washington DC on

Go with what your heart tells you, you know what is best for your child. There is a lot that goes into placement in school besides just academics, there is social, physical, mental and all the rest. If you feel like she is going to be better off in Kindergarten, do that. We had the same struggle with my son (and opted to enter him early), but there were a ton of things to think about. Do you want her going to HS a year early, and behind on the puberty scale? Do you want her to leave and go to college when she is only 17? If she is bright, she will do well in school no matter when she gets there.



answers from Washington DC on

My personal advice is to keep her in Kindergarten. Yes, maybe she is smart but is she as mature as a first grader? Maturity plays a huge role as well (trust me I have been there with my son.) Also, keep her in the private to have her challenged, my kids were in private school and then went to Stafford Co. public schools last year and they are now being home schooled this year. I feel that the public schools do not teach at the same level as a private school. Also keep in mind that if a public school pushes a kid ahead a grade (like her skipping K) then that is one less year that they have her in their system which = savings to the school system!



answers from Washington DC on

I think you should leave her in kindergarten unless she is completely on a different level (a friend of mine's 5 yr old grandson is doing square roots and has his multiplication levels down, now that is a different level). Personally, I skipped kindergarten and went directly to first grade. I was the youngest. I also was completely lost for 2 years. I spent the first 2 yrs in private school and then my parents moved me to a public school. I had to have tutoring in third grade to get to level. The biggest issue I think is socially. If she is really outgoing, maybe you could let her go, but I really do believe that there is a lot of things you can learn socially in kindergarten that are the basis for future years.



answers from Washington DC on

I have an advanced daughter. She skipped second and I foolishly let her stay in fifth and seventh. Last year she spent the entire time bored stiff in her AP Calc and AP Chem classes.
I didn't have the option to move her in kinder or first.
I would let her go into first. We have moved 7 times in 15 years, my daughter is 15 and has been through 6 different school districts. THey always put her in the grade she is registering for. If I wanted her to go into a different grade then I would bring on the testing. We opted to keep her in 7th at the move before this one. She is now a junior.
Don't stifle her. As as advanced student you also know that schools dumb down everything and she will be so bored.
THere are some programs for her to take advantage of. In NC the 4th graders can take the Duke TIP programs tests that is a precursor to the SAT that they take in 7th grade. Then there are gifted summer school programs for her to get involved in during the summer after 6th grade. MY daugher loves her "geek" camps, they are all kids like her.
In VA the schools go through Johns Hopkins for these tests.
She will make friends. My daughter has always had more mature friends that her age group.

Private schools are ahead in some areas, reading and grammar, but way behind in the math and sciences. We had my daughter in a Christian school for two years. Great foundation in morals and humanity. No math, good biology, no chemistry.



answers from Chicago on

OK do what your gut tells you. I have 5 kids two born in the summer and held back until they were 6 to start kindergarten my almost 12 year is in 6th grade she had an easy time in the primary grades and was a good helper to the teacher, was given extra jobs in the classroom as not to make her idle and now she is still an academic leader however she has more challenges. I feel unless a child has the emotional maturity to handle the rigors of the social dynamics of being the youngest and the smartest then put them in the chronological grade they belong in. My kids are in a Catholic grammar school. Good Luck!



answers from Washington DC on

I have worked in a public school system for 35 years, 16 of those were as a kindergarten teacher, dealing with parents struggling with just this type of decision.
Bottom line--YOU actually know YOUR child best. You have done the thoughtful correct things by listening and considering the input of the educators. But, ultimately the GREATEST success and satisfaction for your child and you will come from your decision to do what YOU BELIEVE is best. I guarantee you that. Once you have decided...NEVER look back and second guess. You and your child will be happiest if you remain resolute to your decision, ever after.
In truth, the public school is actually charged with meeting your child's needs in the age group to which they belong, regardless if they test high or low. But, if you're not confident this will occur, you seem convicted that your decision to put her in the private schools is the best of both worlds. Do it with confidence, then...and you and your child, undoubtedly, will be BEST serviced by that decision.



answers from Columbus on

I would let her go through kindergarten to get the feel for school then next year or later in elementary school move up. If you never let her move up, she'll just get bored.

Can I just say I strongly dislike when a mom asks a question and someone says, do what you feel is right for your child. DUH!! This site is to get other perspectives and if we just answered do what you feel is right for your child on every question, no one would ever get other points of views. Sorry, just had to vent. I was really annoyed when I saw a mom say that to you. Obviously you want what is best or you wouldn't have posted the question.

Good luck in your decision. I know it’s so hard to have to make a decision like that.


answers from Kansas City on

I think you should let her move up. Think of it this way. If you decided in the future you needed to hold her back, she would not be behind in any way. But if she does well, then you've allowed her to start her grown up life one year sooner. When is her birthday? I would think that would have some influence. If she's an early 5, she'll be graduating rather young anyway. But if she missed the cut off she might not appreciate not being allowed to move up. Ultimately, it's up to you. It's definitely true that different schools move at different rates. You can't plan for every contingency.

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