How Did Your Young 5 or 4Yr Old Do in Kindergarten?

Updated on May 23, 2012
M.D. asks from Auburn Hills, MI
24 answers

I am looking for stories from moms who had some doubt but ended up having their 4 yr old or young 5yr old go to Kindergarten last year and are glad that they did so. In contemplating what to do for our daughter I hear many many stories of those parents who either started young and regretted it or waited and were so glad they did. I even often hear..."I have heard many parents who regretted going early but none who regretted holding back". There has to be someone glad that they put their young one in Kindergarten early!!! Please...any stories would be helpful. I keep feeling that I want to send her this coming year but all advise out there seems counter to that. She will be 5 in November and her state has kids start school up to turning 5 Dec. 1st. Help :)

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for your answers so far. It seems like kind of a gut thing that leans me towards sending her this fall. I have been trying to figure out why...I was a young 5 and my best friends were a 4yr old and an almost 6 yr old. We all did well academically - the youngest one excelled and the older one ended up moving out during her senior year and didn't go to college. It is emotionally where she needs to catch up but I think it is because it has been kind of a rough year of moving and such but lately in the past couple of months it has been settling down. Her teacher and I see her doing much better in this area and I feel we will continue to see that improve over the summer. She is in preschool and I have seen with her peers that she is physically at their level and academically fine. My husbands parents put him in early for what they admittedly see as the wrong reasons and now feel strongly that it was a mistake. He also has other family that more recently feel that they started a youngster too early. I have a lot of people telling me based on their experiences why to keep her back and I knew it could not all be bad out there. I would love more feedback - thanks again for every answer!!
PS The early kinder program is discontinued in our district and the nearby district is too late to get into :(. It may be private school early program ( tough financially but maybe worth it) or another year of preschool which just kind of breaks my heart because she loves learning so much and it seemed so simple and a stronger academic preschool just seems pricey...grr. I know there are no easy answers and at the same time we could always pull her or do kindergarten again if needed. Thanks again for all of your help...and a chance to write this out :) ! still getting such good this opportunity to hear from so many caring moms! I do know that MI is changing the start date but the change is not in effect until 2013-14...for me, thinking of putting her in, this made it even harder to know what to do. Reading your responses is helping me to be more open to waiting a year and for sure getting her evaluated. Thanks again!

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answers from St. Louis on

I didn't send my son as an early 5. His BD was 4 days before the cutoff, & I knew that he wasn't ready. He aced the KG screening, both socially & academically.....but had trouble focusing on the task at hand.

Instead, he attended the Bridges program....& it was the best choice for him. He is now 15 & headed to 10th grade. He loves that he'll be going back to school driving himself! We are 2 months from that 16th bd!

I wish all school districts had a Bridges program!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I didn't read all the answers, but isn't MI rolling back the age limit ("must be 5 by") to Nov. 1 for K this fall?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My son was in head start starting at 2, preschool starting at 3, and kindergarten at 4. His birthday is less than a wek before the state's cutoff (Dec. 1). Not only has he not had any issues but in first grade, his teacher asked about promoting him. He's always been a classroom leader, assisting his classmates when they don't receive the teacher's help very well.
His kindergarten class was a full-day program. He's always done extremely well in school.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My grandson started Kindergarten at 4. He turned 5 several weeks after the start of school. They had to get a special waiver for him to start that early. He did have a few weeks of adjustment to school. He had only been to a preschool for two days a week prior to that, so all day K was an adjustment. Now that his first year is finishing, he has done very well. They do not regret sending him at 4. He was academically and socially ready for the structure of school.

We can't know at age 5 what will happen to a student by high school, we can only judge what will be beneficial to them right now.

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answers from Dallas on

My son was a young Kindergartener this year (he won't turn 6 until June and our cutoff here is August). He did absolutely fine! He has had no problems socially or academically. I will say, though, "redshirting" Kinder is really big here in Texas and we attended several 7th birthday parties. If your child attends preschool- talk to their teacher about whether they are ready for Kindergarten. If you think she is and her teachers agree- I wouldn't hesitate. I am glad I sent my son and his teacher even told me that she thinks it would have been a big mistake to keep him back. Follow your gut instinct!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My son has a late July birthday and our cut-off is August 31. He was ready! I heard the same remarks you did, but we had to make our own decision. He just finished 1st grade and is no way struggling. Each child is different, just keep that in mind. I think a better idea would be to send her and if she struggles, then have her do kindergarten a second time.

I have a BA and a M.Ed. in education, so I did a lot of research. There is research out there about the pros of being the youngest in the class. Also, there is research out there that says "red-shirting" for kindergarten has advantages up front, but some disadvantages down the road.

Do your research and decide what is best for your daughter. Oh, and do you ever plan on moving? If so, many states (south & midwest) have a cut-off date that is much earlier (July, August, Sept), so she would be really young in those states.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

The reason you are not hearing "we regretted holding them back" is you are probably not friends with or acquainted with parents of high school kids. On the other end of the system you end up with kids struggling because the work eventually catches up with them.

My older kids started at the beginning of this nonsense. The two kids most held back dropped out of high school, pretty bad don't you think? The kids found out they couldn't keep up. Not sure if it would have been different if they had been in the correct grade but it is obvious in the long run holding them back didn't help.

My kids are spring babies. March, April and May. I wish I had sent the March child a year early which would have made her turning five at the end of the school year. She could have handled it and who knows how it would have changed things. I don't regret sending her when I did because she turned out just fine, ya know? She just graduated from college.

The rest of the clan was fine going when they did. Even the one with Autism spectrum. I thought for sure he should be held back with all his issues. Looking at where he is going into eighth grade he would have been bored out of his mind had I held him back.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My daughter was a young 5 for kindergarten.... Aug birthday and turned 5 after the start of school. Cutoff was Sept 1.

She was fine academically and she was also fine socially. In Kindergarten. And I don’t regret putting her in Kindergarten when I did – I didn’t ever wrestle with holding her back and if I had it to do over again I would still send her to kindergarten.


You should know that as kids ARE *held back*….. that will make them EVEN OLDER than your child. Which is going to widen the gap on when and how you need to give information to your child.

For example:
When my daughter was in 2nd grade there were girls who were a full year to a year and ½ older than her….. and were starting their periods and wearing bras.

She’s in the 6th grade now. She’s 11 ½. It’s the end of the year and she won’t turn 12 until August. But MOST of the girls she is friends with turned 12 at some point in the last year…. Some have already turned 13.
They are kissing boys and dating boys. They are watching shows that I don’t always let my daughter watch, which makes it tough for her. I don’t relent…. But again, these are conversations and issues that it would be *easier* (for BOTH her and I) to not deal with 1 - 1½ years earlier than other kids/moms.

When she is 14 – these girls will have their driver’s licenses. Be dating.... .and who knows what else!!!!


Would I change my decision? No, she was ready. She does well. She is academically on par, and socially on par.

But, it’s just something to be cautious of….. this whole “I didn’t think I’d have to have that conversation so early…..” well, for you it’s going to be even earlier!!!!!! So, you will need to ramp up when and how you have these conversations.

And that’s a LARGE part of their educational experience…. The social aspect. You’ll have parents that will say “Just don’t let them be friends with kids older than them or who do that or who watch this show or that show……” It’s not that easy. It’s tricky for them. Fitting in is important. So, you have to guide them and teach them. And it’s harder if they are trying to figure all of that out a couple years earlier than their age.

Good luck.

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answers from Sheboygan on

My son also has a late July birthday and the cutoff is August 31. We sent him to K in September right after he turned 5, and it was a really rough road for us all. He was the youngest in his grade, and not ready to sit through the 'academic' charter school kindergarten that we thought would engage him. We pulled him after winter break and are re-enrolling him in K this upcoming year in a regular public school (hopefully...still haven't heard if his open enrollment application for that school was accepted...but that's another post!). We would have never even considered redshirting him if we hadn't gone through what we did last year. If your daughter is ready, by all means send her, but don't rule out keeping her back if you have doubts.

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answers from Detroit on

You are the only person who knows your child. I put my son onto young 5s thus year and it was the best decision for him. He was educationally ready for kindergarten, but emotionally he wasn't ready. It has been a great year for him and he's going to do great next year in kindergarten.

I've heard many parents say their daughter was ready before their son. I've also heard the excuse that for boys it's better for sports if they wait. Me... I just knew he wasn't going to succeed later in life if I started him so early.

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answers from New York on

Depends on the kid. My son is a November baby too and I could have sent him to Kindergarten last fall under our state's cutoff, but there is no way he would have been ready. Intellectually he probably would have been OK (he knew the alphabet at 18 months) but socially he has always seemed about 6 months behind his peers, for some reason. He attended Pre-K this year and is completely ready for Kindergarten in the fall. Many of the other kids attending turned 5 during the winter months as well.

I'm sure there are quite a few kids who go in at 4 that do just fine. My best friend sent her eldest (October) daughter in at 4 and she's keeping up with her peers. She sent in her youngest (September) daughter just before she turned 5 and she is really struggling. You'll have to take cues from your daughter and from her current teachers to decide.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Does your school offer any type of screening? Ours does, and my son was recommended for the Transitional Kindergarten, not kindergarten. This class is for those who are age eligible for Kindergarten but are not quite ready. There are 11 kids in his class - 9 boys, 2 girls, 9 summer birthdays, 2 spring birthdays.
He started preschool at age 3 (just), and did great at first. He loved it! I was always watching him, as I had concerns about such a late birthday. His teacher said she thought he was doing well and wouldn't need to wait, but she would let me know if she still though that at the end of his second year. The second year went well, but it often seemed like he was having just a little bit of a harder time, socially, than the other kids. By the end of the year, both his teacher and I were convinced that he would be fine academically, but he could use the extra time to mature and develop socially. The screening at the school only confirmed my suspicion.

He finishes school this week. This is the first year the school has offered this class, and all 11 students will be in Kindergarten in the fall. His teacher told us that there are several students she had last year that would have really benefitted from thsi class and that she is thrilled with the progress the students have made. She anticipates they will all do well in kindergarten.

My gut told me he needed the extra year. I don't know how this will play out long term, but I can tell you that he's doing well now. He has a firm foundation. My hope is that I will instill in him a love of learning and a high placed value on education.

I would see if you can have your daughter evaluated to see what someone in the field recommends, just to have that information. But you have to do what you think is best for your daughter. And don't look back. Once you make your decision, you have to smile and remind yourself that it was the right decisions. If she runs into challenges ahead, look for ways to address them, but don't ever doubt that you did the best you could with what you have and that you did what you thought was right for your daughter!

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answers from Honolulu on

My daughter (late born), entered Kinder at 4 then turned 5.
My son, entered Kinder at 4 and then turned 5.
They both, made the cutoffs for Kindergarten.
Both my kids, were fine, did fine, and loved it. Academically and socially.
They have had no problems, entering school at that age.
Both my kids, had classmates in their class that were the same age, or later born, or some who turned 6, this year.
Both my kids were not the "youngest" in their class.

And, I also went according to my kids' cues and knowing them. They both also attended a Preschool before Kinder.

Before entering Kinder, the kids are given an assessment. And they both did fine.
Their school also has a Pre-K class, for the late born kids... but my kids were placed in the regular Kinder class.

Also, well per our public schools, Kinder is for 5 year olds or those turning 6.
If a child enters school at already 6 years old, the school may put them in 1st grade. So, you must check with your child's school, to see what their routine is.

Your child is late born.
See if the school has a Pre-K class.

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answers from Atlanta on

There's a reason you hear a lot more stories about sending them later.

Do you want to send her for you or her?

Have you heard of the books, The hurried Child or Later is Better?

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answers from Detroit on

My son turned 5 last year on the first day of kindergarten - so off I sent him! He also was ready academically but needed to grow a bit in the emotional/social category. He had gone to a home day care up until he started and did not have the pre-school type atmosphere. He did fine - academically right on or a little ahead. His kindergarten teacher had said the only area for continued growth opportunity was in the emotional/social arena, so we enrolled him in a summer day camp last year that had a LOT more kids of different age categories for the summer and that helped immensely. I honestly think it depends on the child. His cousin was 10 months older with a Nov birthday and she started kindergarten early and then repeated kindergarten based on her progress. He also has a friend that he was in kindergarten with last year who was a bit old than him with a July birthday also repeated kindergarten. They adjusted just fine to repeating kindergarten, but their parents, as well as my husband and I felt that if there ever is a year to repeat, it's kindergarten. My son is finishing up 1st grade this year and is already on accerated reading program and doing great. So, I think you are right looking at your daughter and where her progress is and making a decision from there.

(As a side note, I'm an end of July birthday myself so graduated from high school when I was 17...also graduated second in my class...I also had a number of friends with October and November birthdays that I graduated with, so were even younger than me, and many of those were on the honor roll as well.)

So again, you need to look at your daughter and where she is and decide from there - Good Luck!



answers from Oklahoma City on

I honestly think that kids should be 5 years old before the first day of kindergarten. That way they enter their senior year at age 17 and turn 18 during that year. I have never been in any school system that wasn't this way. My friend that grew up in California was barely 4 when she started kindergarten. She has a September 1st birthday and their school didn't start until the weekend after labor day. She was only days past being 3 years old when she started kindergarten.

She was just days beyond being 16 when she started her senior year. She could not live in the dorms when she started college since she was underage, she had to go to a jr. college so she could live at home. She had a hard time with the whole age issue. It was not anything to do with academics or anything, it was her age when she found herself out of school. College started in August so she cold go to regular college that next January after she turned 18 in September.

One factor that might make a difference is if you plan on relocating at any time in the next couple of years. If she ends up being transferred to a different state's school system they may not let her enroll since she would not be old enough by their standards.

In your situation though, if everyone she is likely to come in contact with outside of school is going to be a grade ahead of her they are going to think she is dumb, that she flunked.

If she plays soccer or softball they group them by their birthdays. She will be on the same teams as kids that have similar birthdays. How will she feel if they are all a year ahead of her in school? How will they treat her once they find out she is in a grade below them. She won't even know the same things they do. Not that she wouldn't be able to do it, kids just don't learn what they are not exposed to.

I think I would do what all the other kids her age are doing. It will not hurt her to go to kindergarten in any way. It isn't much harder than pre-k. My friend that went to kindergarten at age 4 had a child that taught herself to read at age 3 3/4. Starting school early has no detrimental side effects.

I would just do what you want. I would go ahead and put her in with the kids her age.



answers from San Francisco on

I have twin boys that are November birthdays so by the time they are 5, the cut-off will be moved earlier so I won't have a choice. But I can say that if I did have the choice, I would have held them back anyway. I think they will benefit from having the extra year before starting school. They would probably do okay, but I'd rather wait and be more certain.

Some people have pointed out to me other factors that may contribute to holding back being a good decision, but they aren't primary reasons for me. For some, it may just make them feel better about making the decision. One example is that being a year older may help if the child wants to play high school sports. The child will be more mature, possibly more coordinated, and likely bigger so might do better in sports than if she/he had participated at a younger age.

I think it really depends on the kid. I have a brother and a sister that were both born in November. My Mom has said that she had wished she had kept my brother back because he struggled, but that my sister did fine.


answers from Philadelphia on

my daughter started K this year at 4 and I wish I had the money to hold her back. Shes doing fine academically and socially but some kids are almost 2 years older than her because their parents held them back when they were old enough. That's fine for K but in years to come it might not be. My daughter was advanced starting K but was shy so it hurt her a lot. Now shes back to advanced and still I'm unsure of starting her in first. You never hear of people regretting holding their kids back but you hear tons of the opposite.
Also if you're a sahm I'd hold back. Why not give them one more year of having half days of school and letting them play? K is so structured now. Why the rush to make them grow up. I couldnt afford another year of pre-k or I would've waited. My daughter goes from 7:30am - 5pm and its a long day (before and after are included, but shes full day K).
If you ant to look at the good in my story and only want positives thats fine, shes doing great socialyl and academically, and so did I starting K at 4, but why the rush to have them grow up so fast?



answers from New York on

First boys and girls are different. I would send her. If need be you can
hold her back and redo K. The only problem I see these days is that people
hold back their kids just based on birthday. So you can have your daughter
who will be 4 years and 10 months and another kid who might be 6! That
is a big difference. IMO I think something needs to be done to rectify this.
A two year span at this age is big and it really is not fair to the child that is
starting when he should.



answers from Sacramento on

My son is an August baby, so had just turned 5 upon entering kindergarten. I wish I would have put him in a pre-k and kept him out another year. He's smart and can do well academically, but he is immature for his age and has a lot of trouble stopping the play and focussing on work. It doesn't help that kids seem drawn to him and he loves to make people laugh. Teachers that "get" him love him. Teachers that don't, and expect 6 year old boys to sit with their hands folded at full attention in class don't really enjoy him or know what to do with him. It would have helped for him to be a little more mature and able to control his impulses to keep him out and put him in a pre-k program instead. Every year we play catch up and but the end of the year he's doing great. If we don't really stay diligent about maintaining skills during the summer, we start again at a deficit.

Boys and girls are different. It definitely depends on what her "school" experience has been so far. In our case, our son, was too far ahead to repeat kinder, but not quite ready for 1st grade, so there wasn't an option to hold him back in kinder. For what we see now, i wish I would have waited.



answers from Detroit on

Find out if you can do a "junior kindergarten" program in your area - it can help "fill the gap" for those kids who are too old for traditional preschool but just aren't ready for K yet. If she is in preschool now, talk to her teacher and see what he/she thinks. I do know that our public school here offers "junior kindergarten" for those kids whose b-days fall between 9/1 and 12/1 and just are not quite ready for K.

I will say that my brother had a Nov b-day in MI and my parents either started him in K a year late (but he was still doing preschool), or elected to have him repeat K. So he started his senior year of high school already almost 18 years old instead of a year younger. He did really well for himself and my parents absolutely felt they did the right thing.

But keep in mind also, she might act more mature if she is around more mature (as opposed to younger and less mature) classmates.



answers from Detroit on

What Angie said. Please hold your child back. It will only help her later. My twins were born Nov. 6 with a due date of Nov. 19, so not early. Still we're holding them back. Teacher after teacher has said the children born closest to Michigan's 12/1 cutoff date (soon to be moved back to 9/1 - legislation just passed) are the one's who struggle the most.

I do not mean to be unkind, but there's a really good argument to wait. A woman I know with a girl born in October (and started kindergarten at 4) is doing okay academically so far, but she behaves sooo much younger than the other girls in her class. She is struggling socially. This makes sense as the other October birthdays in her class were likely born the year before her.

Remember kindergarten is just an introduction to grade school. The real work and expectations begin in first grade. Also, the curriculum is MUCH harder than when you were a child.

Edited: Clarity


answers from Lakeland on

My daughter started K last August 3 days before her 5th birthday. She was behind academically and I am so glad that she excelled above and beyond what I had even expected. She is at the same level emotionally as the other kids and they are doing first grade level work. There are only 7 kids in her class and most have turned 6 during the school year, but two turned 7 this year. I think having a smaller class has also helped, the teacher can give all the kids the attention they need.

I think it depends on your child. If your daughter is ready for K then send her. You can always pull her out by Christmas time and start her again next year. For us starting when she did worked very well. My daughter loves going to school and learning.

I don't understand holding kids back if they have been going to pre-k as well. That should be getting them ready for regular school. I started school at 5 (August birthday too) and I never had any problems.

ADDED** My daughter adjusted well, she had never been to daycare or Pre-K. The first week was hard because she would cry, but by the second week she loved going and didn't want me walking into the class to drop her off.



answers from Detroit on

michigan is probably going to change from dec 1 to sept 1 very soo
n. they just did a study and i guess they are saying roughly 30% of kids that start early get held back.
I do regret starting my daughter early. her bday is nov 3 so she started as a 4 year old too. struggled and was held back in 1st grade.

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