Kindergarten ... to Send or Not to Send?

Updated on September 09, 2011
K.C. asks from South San Francisco, CA
29 answers

Hi veteran moms!
My son's b'day is 9/3 and apparently the 'soft' cutoff for kindergarten next year- is to be 5 yrs by 9/1. I've read a few articles that kids (especially boys) do much better in school, sports and life in general if they are older in their class. Should I wait out an additional year to send my son to kinder (and have him be on the older side)? Or send him next year and have him be one of the younger kids? I still have a year to decide what to do... What are your thoughts? Experiences with your own kids/sons?
Thank you in advance moms!!!

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answers from Eugene on

I placed my daughter in the year ahead as the school recommended her for it. She graduated from HS at age 16 and went to Jr. College. I thought she was too young for a regular dorm at a university.
Scholastically and socially she did very well. I also was a year ahead and always the youngest in my classes. For me it was tough socially.
I would not have allowed my youngest daughter to be a year ahead. Developmentally she was about three years behind herself and only caught up the last year of HS.

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answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you won't have a choice if his birthday is after the cut-off. Being on the older end does have its advantages. But, if you can send him next year and he seems ready, then go for it. My oldest son's birthday is right before the cut-off, so he's one of the youngest (and smallest, which wouldn't change by waiting a year anyway!) in his grade. He was academically and socially ready though, and he's now in 2nd grade and doing great. If you're unable to send him next year because of the cut-off date, look into testing out of kindergarten the following year (so he'd skip kinder and go straight to 1st grade at 6 yrs).

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answers from San Francisco on

As a previous pre-k teacher, I can tell you that I NEVER saw a little boy DISADVANTAGED in any way by waiting that extra year. Hope this is helpful =)

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answers from Chicago on

If he is academically and emotionally ready to go then you should let him go. If he is in a preschool program you should be able to have a conversation with the teacher or director for assesment. We held our son back due to some borderline academics ie. small motor skills, letter recognition and a summer birthday. It was very beneficial for us as he is in 1st grade now. He went into Kindergarten confident and it was an easy transition as well as his academics being inline or excelled with his peers. I felt that if he needed to move ahead, then he could do so. But I didn't want to hold him back later.

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answers from Sacramento on

I struggled with this also. My son's birthday is August 31 and we have a lot of friends that have fall babies. It seemed like the trend was to wait and send them a year later, instead of at four even though he would be that for a only a couple weeks. Art the time I could not see any down side to waiting, especially for a boy. So I signed him up for a third year of preschool. When we got there the first day it was so clear to me that these kids that would be his peers were not his equals, which I never took into consideration. He is a tall boy, that was socially beyond his years and had the basics of curriculum down. I left with a knot in my stomach knowing that this was not the right decision for him and contacted the Charter school that we had planned on sending him and had him enrolled in Kindergarten that afternoon. It was definitely the right choice for him, even though he is the youngest in his class and has been challenged with reading fluency compared to kids that are almost a year older, On the other side, I have several friends that waited the extra year and that was right for them. I think it depends on your child and what is right for him, I think that size and maturity are good indicators. We all try to make the best decisions we can for our kids and hope that it is the right choice. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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answers from Norfolk on

My son's birthday is end of Oct and the school cut off to begin kindergarten where we are is - must be 5 on or before 9/30.
We could not start him any earlier, so he was 5 for only 2 months in kindergarten before he turned 6.
Only a very few earlier Oct birthdays are older than him.
It's really worked out well for him.
He's always the tallest in his class, and he gets along great with everyone.
I think the extra year of maturity has been a benefit to his school work, he's always got straight A's.

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answers from Boca Raton on

My son is one of the oldest in the class and I'm happy about that.. I have a few friends that are teachers, and they ALL say it's better if the boys are the oldest one's... They tend to be the more immature ones.. :0)

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answers from San Francisco on

I have girls, but they both started on the early side (my oldest has a 9/13 birthday, and my youngest has a 6/14 birthday and started Kinder when she was 4 years, 3 months - long story). They have both done really well academically and socially. If I had felt at the end of Kindergarten like they could have gotten more from the experience, then I'd have had them repeat Kinder. No big deal.

My husband and I both have mid-October birthdays, and we both began Kindergarten at 4, turning 5 in the second month of school. I received a scholarship to an Ivy League university, graduated in 3 years, and make a good salary now, and my husband is a business owner and is successful. My husband was always tall for his age, and did well in sports through school (as did I, actually). I don't think starting "early" did either of us any harm!

I would say that unless your son has issues (learning disabilities or social delays), why not start him in Kindergarten and see how he does? He can repeat the year if you feel it's necessary. I bet he will be fine.

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answers from Detroit on

I guess it would depend on your son and how you think he would do...some kids, if they are more mature, more sociable, and used to the routines usually found in school (such as in preschool) could probably do fine. If you still think he has some growing up to do and would benefit from waiting a year, then have him in a preschool or pre-kindergarten program instead to better prepare him. Some places offer a pre-kindergarten or "kindergarten readiness" program that helps fill that gap between preschool as a 4 year old (which they may be bored by) and kindergarten, if they aren't quite ready for full-fledge kindergarten yet.

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answers from Boston on

It really depends on your son. If he is academically ready and also on the mature side he's probably ready to go if not another year at home is fine. Known of us can tell you because we don't know your son.
Has been in any type of school/daycare? If yes, I'd ask them what they think.

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answers from Las Vegas on

My daughter is an October baby and I wished she could start school with all her friends who left preschool before her. We had to wait and now I am glad. I notice a big difference in her maturity level.

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answers from New York on

My daughter and my husband's nephew were born 10 days apart. Both kids could have started kindergarten just a week or so before they turned 5. My daughter had already had 2 years of preschool (2 mornings a week when she was three years old and 3 mornings a week when she was four). My daughter was ready for kindergarten and I sent her just before she turned 5. I have never regretted my decision. Her cousin's mother (my SIL) kept her son home the additional year. She said he wasn't very verbal at the time and she didn't think he was ready. She sited the same reasons you have about boys doing better when they are older (I don't know if this is true, but I have heard it a lot). Her son also didn't have great social skills at the time so having him start a year later was the right decision. My daughter is fully one year younger than a lot of her classmates but she is mature and this has never been a problem. You know your son best. I, personally, think that if there's any doubt, hold him that extra year. Nothing worse than seeing a child struggle because they were rushed into school when they weren't ready. Best of luck.


answers from Los Angeles on

I think it all depends on who he is as a person. My son (born in July) tested at second to fifth grade level while in Pre-K and there was no way my ego was going to let him start late. HUGE mistake. What's your son like? How well does he get on with others? Follow directions? Those are much more important than age.


answers from San Francisco on

My son's birthday is Oct. 30, and I agonized over this for over a month because the current cut-off date in California is Dec. 1. Several things finally made me realize he's not ready:
1. He's always been on the small side.
2. He's very high-energy.
3. When I asked him, he said he wanted to go back to "his" school (he went to his first year of preschool last year).
4. He's a boy, and research shows that most boys do better by waiting.

If my son's birthday was Sept. 3, I wouldn't have hesitated to put him in school; keeping him out wouldn't even have crossed my mind. However, kindergarten here is still half-day. If it were full-day, I wouldn't even have considered sending him (I do NOT agree with full-day, every day kindergarten!!!!!!).

So far, it's been a great decision. He's back for his last year of preschool with his 3 "best friends," he's able to have one more year with me at home with unstructured play and chances to learn by doing things like shopping, playing, and his Tots in Motion class at our gym. I'm hoping this year will help dramatically his ability to sit and focus, and I'm excited to see how much he'll learn in this year before he starts school and the whole routine and basic inactivity that comes with it.


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi K... My daughter started kindergarten this Aug. She is 4 and her birthday is Sept 24 she will be 5 then. She has been in a private preschool 4 days a week 9 to 12 and she was very ready and prepared to enter kindergarten. I would have loved to keep her home with me one more year..She is my only child.
In her classroom the teacher has her and the rest of the kids writing sentences for example: I like to.. or I can.. They also need to no how to write there name count to 20 etc..I help out in her classroom and there are three kids 2 boys and one little girl that are having a hard time because they can't stay still and they can't seem to follow directions and keep up with the rest of the class. There are 21 kids in her class. So I think it all depends on if you feel your son is ready. It wouldn't hurt to send him next year and if he isn't doing good for what ever reason you can try again next year.



answers from San Francisco on

I think it really depends on your son. Do you think he's ready (or will be ready) by next year? Is he comfortable when you're gone? Is he able to sit still and listen to a story? If yes to both, then you might want to consider sending him next year. If not, wait the year out.



answers from San Francisco on

This depends on your son. You will know when he is ready to make this big change. My middle son's brithday is in October, and he was more than ready to start Kindergarten before his 5th birthday. He is always one of the youngest in the class, but he excels accademically, and at sports. I knew before the end of Pre-K that he was ready for the change. The biggest change in Kindergarten for him was there was not a nap time (like Pre-K), so he was tired every night, but adjusted quickly.



answers from San Francisco on

We have 2 boys. Our oldest's bday is 11/22 so I knew he'd be going at allmost 6. We didn't want him to be THE youngest in the class. He is in 5th grade now & also not the oldest as there are a handful of other kids (boys & girl alike) who are his same age. It absolutely worked in his favor. Our younger son is a June baby so I thought sending him to K at 5 1/4 would be fine. Nope, not the case. Pulled him outa K by November of last year & went back for anothor year of preschool. This is absolutely what he needed. He is now in his 3rd week of K & it's already going much better than the first time around. I worked in an elementary school for years in the lower grades & found that kids who were odler (boys or girls) generally faired better. We also have several family members who are teachers of lower grades who feel the same way. But that does not mean your son wont' be ready. Really listen to your son's preschool teachers. If you really feel you want him to go next year, then you should be sure your son is in a pre-k class that will really prepare him & is more academic than play-based. It may be you start him in K& then by January, teachers may start talking about retaining him which you will have to be open & objective about. Look up your district's K guidelines of readiness & keep those in mind over this next year of school. Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

If you can, wait. He will be at an advantage rather than constantly trying to play catch up especially with girls who develop faster. That's my opinion (I'm a teacher and have taught k-5, currently teaching a 1-3 combo class).



answers from San Francisco on

I have two kids that are the oldest in their classes because we chose to wait. I've never regretted it for a moment. Scholastically, it was the right choice for both of them.

I think the real deciding point, especially for boys (assuming you think your son will be okay academically) is whether or not he's socially mature enough. That extra year can do a lot in terms of having a more relaxed, more attentive student.

Good luck with your decision!



answers from San Francisco on

My two grown sons were both born in the spring, so I didn't have to make a choice about school entry dates. But if you have the ability to give him an enriched preschool environment for an extra year, I'd wait. Kindergarten has become much more academic than it used to be and older kids get a big developmental advantage. Also, your son will possibly have a physical advantage all the way through school if he plays sports. If you read the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, there's a whole discussion about what an advantage kids have if their birthdates allow them to be the oldest amongst their peers.



answers from St. Louis on

99% of the time, I recommend waiting on late birthdays. I would always prefer my child to be the oldest in the class opposed to the baby. Both of my sons went to KG at age 6 or almost 6.

A very wise teacher told me that "she's never known waiting not to work to the advantage of the child". Based on my own sons & 25 years of working with kids...I believe this to be true.

So many parents make this decision based on their own childhoods. The issue is: today's KG is not the parents''s a whole different world.

With our school district, the cut-off is written in STONE! There are no early admissions for children. The rule for our district is: age 5 by 8/1. No matter how smart, advanced the child early admissions.

With our older son, his BD is 9/7.....we had NO choice - we had to wait. With our younger son, his BD is 7/27...just 4 days before the cut-off. We actively chose to place him in the Bridges PreKG program thru our school district. He was socially & academically ready for KG, but had issues staying on task. The extra year of preKG worked wonders for him! & he loves the fact that he's one of the older kids in his class....& will be driving independently before most of his friends. Our older son liked that, too!



answers from Salt Lake City on

My daughter has a September b-day and she is one of the older kids in her class. It has been such a positive thing for her. She is a little ahead of some of the kids in her class and it has made it possible for her to excel even more. I felt she was completely ready to start school, especially maturity wise. I can see how this would be beneficial for a boy since they typically mature a little slower. Waiting a year has been great for us!



answers from San Francisco on

The answer so depends on the child. Some kids are ready and some are not. My younger son, with a late November birthday, barely made the Dec. 1 cutoff in our district. We sent him to school at age 4 yrs. 10 mo. and he did fine, but it was because he was totally ready to go to kindergarten. He was super bored at preschool and his teachers there agreed that it was time for him to move up a level.

Your child is so close to the cutoff that if you were evaluating this question strictly on the basis of age, it's kind of a toss up. Do you really think a few days in age will make a difference in his ability to perform well in kindergarten? And as for being one of the "younger" kids, he may only be one of the younger kids by a few days or a couple of weeks.

So here's what I would do. If your child goes to preschool or day care, I would ask your provider: do you think he's ready? If he has not had the experience of a structured program like day care or preschool, you might opt to delay him starting kindergarten a year, but use that year to send him to a program so that he can get used to the structure and rhythm of school. (That's something a lot of kids have difficulty with, whether they're on the cusp of the age cut off or not.)

Good luck!



answers from Anchorage on

Only you can judge the maturity level of your son. wait until the time is closer, and than talk to his pre-school teacher or day care provider about how he interacts with other kids. How are his conflict resolution skills? His ability to share, take turns, and play nice? These are the types of maturity issues that will dictate how he will do in Kinder.


answers from Austin on

It totally depends on your son. It may take till next summer to decide if he is ready. In our daughters Kinder, I was amazed at how many "young" 5 year old boys were in the class, but they seemed to do well. They all graduated and most went on to college too.

Here are some tools to make sure he can do on his own.

He will need to be able to go to the potty with no assistance.

Be able to sit and listen, keeping his hands to himself, for an entire story.

Be able to follow 3 to 5 directions without reminders.
Ex. "Please go to moms purse and find her car keys, then go to your room and get one of your red cars, and then in the fridge bring me a bottle of water and a cup. Thanks.. (you can make this make more sense, but it gives you an idea.. )

He needs to be able to express himself so that people outside of your family can understand him.

It helps if he can at least write his first name.

If he can count to 30.

If he can recognize some letters.


answers from San Francisco on

A year ago I was in the same spot you are. Mine has a July birthday but tends to be on the immature side. He made some giant leaps in maturity during the late spring and summer. My advice is wait and see. Go ahead and get him signed up when enrollment time comes, you can always change your mind later.


answers from Dallas on

My son's bd is at the end of June. The main reason I sent him was so that there wouldn't be a bigger gap between him and his older brother. Otherwise, I would have waited a year. I didn't think about the fact he would be leaving home sooner!



answers from San Francisco on

This is always a great debate for Moms across the country!

Let me tell you my thoughts as my little darling is starting his senior year!
Born on Sept 29, 1993 we too went back and fourth on whether or not he was "ready". When it came down to it we decided WE were not ready. Yes our child was smart, social and ready to go, however we had the foresight to look to the future and what it meant to go to high school at a younger age. High school life today is much different , many peer pressures to overcome. He has done very well in school and has the maturity to make his own choices, in our minds we have him home one more year before he is off to college!
Hope this helps

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