Real Experiences from Moms, Best Age to Start Kindergarten?

Updated on August 18, 2014
A.H. asks from Shreveport, LA
36 answers

My son turns 5 August 20th and can legally start kinder. Our cut off is September 1st but we are moving to Shreveport next week where they have a September 30th cutoff. He will be about 5 days late starting if he does which I am worried about. Looking to hear from teachers and moms that have kids on the cutoff. I would love to know your experience bad or good with holding or sending your children. Also love to hear from moms with older kids who made the decision and what the disadvantages/ advantages were in middle and high school. REALLY confused, please help with your personal stories. Everyone says go with your "mommy gut" but I do not have one, probably because I over analyze things and worry too much.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Baton Rouge on

It's kindergarten. It isn't as though missing the first five days of finger-painting is going to ruin his chances of getting into Harvard.
Let the kid start school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think you'll get the same responses you did before. Based on what you told us about him, he is ready!!! I get you not being ready, I get that! I'm not ready to send my 11 year old to middle school (6th grade) next week, but she's going. She has a June birthday and I never would consider holding her back.

All of my kids have spring birthdays, and they all started at 5, I can't imagine having held any of them back. They are all doing SO well in school, both academically and socially.

Let him go. He will do great!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Most children go to kindergarten. All the chidlren in my home are now all grown. Honestly it truly doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. If he doesn't go to kindergarten now then when and how will he spend the next year of his life? These are things you need to consider.

All of my kids went to kindergarten and some of them had to repeat later grades but again it wasn't a big deal and still isn't now that they are grown.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Denver on

Hi A. - I stick with my answer the previous time you asked. If YOU and his teacher thinks he is ready, he probably is. But if you are stressing this much about it, your Mommy gut is actually telling you "NO."

You can't REALLY do the kid any harm by giving him the extra year. It's a controversial subject, but it shouldn't be. We do the best we can for our specific kids with the info and resources we have.

I gave both of my older boys the extra year. One I knew needed it, the other I was on the fence. My youngest is a winter birthday so it's a non-issue with him.

You're moving somewhere new, and you really cannot go wrong with waiting and letting him go through one big change at a time. BUT it's not going to be the end of the world is you need/want to start Kinder either.

You are going to get a lot of heavy answers from both views - some people are angry about "redshirting". I get that some families could use it and cannot afford it, and that stinks, but I don't get any of the other feelings about it. There is no wrong or right universal answer here. It's right for many - but not all - kids. But the decision needs to be about where YOUR specific kid is socially (not academically) and what challenges he has or can handle.

You are STRESSED (=wait) and you are moving, and he won't be starting K with the other kids. I lean towards waiting in your situation, BUT it's OK if you don't!

It's tough with the oldest/only. *hugs* It's gonna be OK NO MATTER WHAT you decide.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

I answered this question the last time you asked, a few days ago and suggested sending him to kindergarten based on my own son's experience as a student enrolled early. I stand by the advice I gave then.

That said, I would add today that you can and should take a deep breath. Relax. This is not a life or death decision. Even though it may feel like everything is riding on this choice, your son is going to be fine either way. Some things just aren't worth this stress, you know?

May I also suggest that more opinions from more people is not going to help you and will only add to your confusion? Sometimes, as parents we just have to accept that we cannot predict the future and that we must do the best we can with the tools we have at the moment. You seem like a good mom based on your concern for your son, you don't have to give yourself an aneurysm over this. It is just kindergarten. Just make a decision and try to focus your attention somewhere else. You mention that you know you over-analyze and worry too much, so why not take this opportunity to try a different course of action?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Both of my boys started kindergarten at 4, our cut off was December 1st. They both did very well academically and socially.

However, since I had to send them both off to college (where they're also doing well) at 17, it made me think, what was the big holy rush.

I would've loved to have them in the house one more year.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

I am so glad we held our summer birthday boy back. That year made all the difference in the world in his ability to handle school. It wasn't about academics, it was about maturity.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

How many times are you going to ask this question?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Did he go to preschool? If so, what did his teachers think? My son has a June birthday, and I was on the fence about sending him this year for Kindergarten, but his preschool teachers assured me that he was ready.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Mom, it really depends on your individual child.

Can he sit and listen to a story without interrupting? At a book store or a library? If you read a new book to him can he go back and tell you what t was about without having to refer to the book?

Can he sit and complete a coloring project? Can he draw a face? What features does it include? (no help from anyone else)

Has he been in any type of day care or preschool? How did he do at drop offs?

How high can he count without mistakes?

Can he tell a made up story with a beginning middle and ending?

Can he write his first name with a crayon or a pencil?

Can he go to the potty unassisted?

These are the types of things that can show Kinder readiness.

Our daughter was always one of the youngest. Her kindergarten had a few boys that also had birthdays around her birth date and they graduated at 17. Turned 18 right before they left for college. (I did too)

By the 3rd grade, most kids even out and you will see where their strengths are and what their interests are geared towards.

If he has never been in a preschool or day care, it could do well for him to be held until next year, so he can experience the social and behavioral expectations of a school setting.

But if he is an early reader, mature and likes to follow rules, could be he will do great in kinder at this young age.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

As a teacher and the mom of a boy with a summer birthday, I believe it really depends on the child. In our area "redshirting" kinder is common and even encouraged by the school. Despite this, we started my son on time and he has done really well. In fact, he is above level, has friends, and receives GT services ( he is going into 3rd grade now). I worried a lot when we made the decision, but went with the recommendation of his preschool teacher that he was ready. I checked in regularly with the kinder teacher to ensure he was doing well.
Now my daughter is another story. If she had a summer birthday, we would have opted to keep in preschool or private kindergarten. She wasn't academically ready and her perfectionism caused meltdowns when she became frustrated. It would not have been the right environment for her.
My advice is to ask people who know the child (preschool teacher, friends, Sunday school teacher, family if they are unbiased), combine this with what you know about your child and make the decision that placed him in the environment you think will best fit his needs.

On a tangent, if your child is academically advanced send him. Nothing causes more behavior problems than boredom. Also many ability tests are age normed which can make it harder for "redshirt" kids to qualify for gifted services. Many times they are not truly gifted but are advanced because of their ages and they end up bored and unchallenged.

Good luck... It can be a tough decision, but it really will be fine either way.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My birthday is in Nov. I started Kindergarten at 4. I am doing fine :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't think anyone is going to come up with an answer that makes you 100% confident in your decision.

Because you are so torn, you could try starting him with a wait-and-see approach, giving him 2 months to see if it's a good fit.

If you decide to do this I would also let the school administration know your concerns and that you may step back mid-year and restart him in 2015. Hopefully after 8 weeks you (along with his teacher's input) can definitively say whether or not he is 'ready' for kinder at this point.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

This seems like the same question you asked before about redshirting, just reworded. The answers will still be the same. Like someone else the last time you posted this question, if he doesn't do well, the teachers will suggest you hold him back again at the end of the year for another round of kindergarten. But, as I said to your last your question, and as most moms said -- SEND HIM TO KINDERGARTEN this year. My son just went this last year and his BFF was your son's age. My daughter's BFF was your son's age (she's going into 3rd this year). They are both among the brightest and most mature kids in the class. From what you described about him, he seems just as ready or MORE than TONS of the kindergartens I saw when I helped out in my kids' classes. He is ready. I do NOT mean this in a sarcastic way, I promise -- but it sounds like you are not ready -- it sounds like maybe you aren't ready to let him go -- you're too afraid he isn't ready.

You really are overanalyzing this. I'm sure the fact that you are moving and that you had not PLANNED on him going to kindergarten this year because of the rules in your old state has thrown you for quite a loop. What a surprise, and it probably has you all off kilter and not at all ready to make such a huge decision. BUT, your son has been to preschool already. You said he is eager for kindergarten. If you hold him back, he'll be a year older than all the other kids in his class, which causes problems.

Take a step back from this from a minute and really ask yourself if you would be agonizing over this so much if you weren't in the middle of a move, if you had lived in this state all along, and you had known for a year that he would be starting kindergarten this fall. Then, would you still be asking if he is old enough?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would wait . We have 2 neighbors that each have a child born in August . The boy is a year ahead of the girl . He has to work extra hard and is shorter than all the other kids . The girl ( whose mom is a teacher ) does well . It's a no brainer . Set him up for success . Also that's what your new school recommends . Good luck 😊

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My son has a late July birthday. He started kindergarten a little over a month after he turned 5.

At the time, I honestly never considered giving him another year of preschool. He was reading fluently (2nd-grade level) as of his first day. And there was no way we could have afforded to keep him in preschool for another year.

But, my son also has some real social delays. In terms of play, in terms of picking up on subtle cues, he just can't keep up. He also has some physical/motor delays. He's made huge, surprising strides in terms of large-motor, gym-type things, but he can't print legibly at all. Would another year of preschool have been the solution? Honestly, no. It might have solved one problem and created a worse one. I have no way of knowing. I don't regret my decision; I don't think I did the wrong thing. But should I have at least considered it? Probably, yeah.

I also know a child who started kinder at 4 1/2 and is doing phenomenally well. I know a child who started kinder at 5 1/2, and it's been pretty much a disaster. This doesn't signify that kids should start kinder early, at ALL; it just signifies that chronological age is but one of many, many factors in terms of school success, and it's often not the deciding one.

For your son, I guess I'll say what I said before. Really, honestly, I'm sure he'll be fine either way. But the safest, most conservative option would probably be to wait a year.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Good question! Here is my best opinion. My oldest who turns 17 on Sept 27th started K when she was going to be 6 years old that year. Back then in 2003, the cut off was October 15th, so she technically made the cut off date, but because her bday was so late in the year, I decided not to start her. I was one of the youngest in my class all through elementary, middle school and high school. I HATED IT! I was the last one to drive, I was the last one to be able to go to the movies w/o a parent. I was the last one to get my learners permit. I promised that I would never put my kids through that. So I waited until the following year to start my daughter. Academically she was ready but the age thing really bothered me. I personally think that was the best decision I could have made for her. She just started her Junior year this year and she has been driving herself to school ever since last September. She isn't the youngest in the class and seems to handle that so much better. But, that is based on me and what I felt was best for my child. No one can tell you one idea is better than the other. You have to decide. My son turned 5 July 11th and they changed the cut off date a few years ago, now you have to be 5 years old before July 15th, so he also made the cut off date, but because his birthday is late in the year too, I am not going to let him start until next year. He is ready academically but could use another year to work on his maturity. I am not expecting great things from him but I just feel emotionally and mentally he is not ready. Good luck! You have a lot of great feedback here!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Send him! He makes the cutoff.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Sept 30 was our cut off - you had to be 5 on or before that date to start kindergarten.
Our son's birthday is end of Oct so he was 5 for only a few months before he turned 6 in kindergarten.
He's usually the oldest/tallest in his class unless there are an earlier Oct birthdays.
It's worked out very well for him!
He's 15 and starting starting 10 grade this Sept and has his learner's permit.
He's popular, and doing well in school (straight A's every year so far).

My sister started kindergarten at 4 and turned 5 in Oct.
She did alright academically but she cried over everything - maturity wise she really wasn't ready.
People will argue one way or the other but you know your child best.
Trust your gut!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Just look at your last post about this exact topic

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son started kinder at 5, and I cannot believe the difference I saw in him that year. 1 year later, he is fully reading, spelling, writing, etc...
And the socialization and "maturity" from him is off the charts.

For us, it was a great decision.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

My kids both turned five in the summer and started kindergarten in September. They were both ready and both have done well socially and academically. Nobody holds kids back here, they start at four or five.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Our daughter has a late July birthday and started Kindergarten at 5. She has done great in school! She is reading above grade level, is a top student in math, and a strong leader in the classroom. Our son turns 5 on August 24th and will be starting Kindergarten less than two weeks after his birthday. I have no hestitations at all about sending him.

That being said, both of my kids attended a great daycare that is now an accredited pre-school. They were there from the time they were infants. Both of them knew all of their letters, could count to 100, knew all their colors and shapes, were able to write their names and a few other words (like mom and dad), were very close to reading, and were pretty self-sufficient. Another year of pre-school would have bored them to death!

But, I'm a reading teacher. Last year I worked with a kindergarten student who had a late August birthday. In March, he was still struggling to learn all of his letters, numbers, shapes, just about everything. He didn't qualify for special ed services. He will be repeating kindergarten this year. He probably should have waited a year to start. But, he gets very little help at home. I wouldn't be surprised if we start out this year with him back where he was last year.

You know your child best. As a teacher, I can say age a lot of times doesn't make a difference. Sometimes, based on behaviors and academics I see, I expect to see an early or late birthday. Most of the time I end up being wrong. Many times the class leaders and academic leaders have later birthdays.

There is so much more involved in kindergarten readiness than just age. Ask the district what their expectations are for entering kindergarten. If your son meets them, start school. If he waits a year and will be bored, there might be more acting out.

Personally, I don't worry about what being the youngest in the class will mean in high school. I have 10 years to figure that out. What was important for me was doing what was best for my kids now. I know my son can already do everything on the first quarter kindergarten report card. I'm not going to hold him back now because he might be too small to be first string on the football team his senior year or because all his friends will be driving/drinking legally a year earlier than he will. Right now this is best for him.

You have to be the one to decide what is best for your son right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I really don't understand the rush to send children to school. If you think he is ready then do so. However, kids that are born, what, four weeks later don't' have a choice and HAVE to wait and they do fine. There is no study on earth that will show that sending your five year old to school will get him ahead and he will master his SAT's and get into college. None. So you are sending him for socialization and because you think it's best for your son. Both of which are fine reasons. Not what the school teacher thinks or the arbitrary school calendar (I say arbitrary because it varies from state to state) or the latest study that will be proven wrong in 5 years when a new great study comes out. You get what I mean. We managed to put a man on the moon and the people who did it never attended Kinder so, yeah, I think it's OK to wait.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

this is unanswerable because there IS no one 'best age' for this or any other childhood milestone. i'm sorry you haven't developed a trust in your instincts, and totally get the tendency to over-analyze, but really do start allowing yourself to both go with your gut AND analyze the outcomes. this will allow you to fine-tune your instincts and feel more comfortable going with them.
and you need this. it doesn't matter how many of us preach the gospel of early starts, or sing the praises of waiting until they're older. our kids are not your kids, and you are the only one who is intimately involved with the particular convolutions that make up your individual child. and no amount of consensus, and often not even expert diagnoses, can take the place of what you know about your kids' personalities and learning styles.
i sent my older at 4. he did great. i sent my younger at nearly 6. he did great too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I don't have a lot of time to write. (edit, i came back to type a lot).

I notice you or someone reference data of kids held back drop out more. Well that is really about older kids (there are 7 year olds in kindergarten). This research is not about the kids who could start at four and turn 5 a month later, yet start at 5 then 6 instead.

Many kids are reading when they start Kindergarten in my area. But that does not mean all walk through the door like that. The parents know just because they can read or tie their shoes does not mean they should skip a grade. There is so much more to kindergarten.

Once you start it is very hard to allow your kids to repeat if they are fine academically, but not socially. Some moms assume they would just let them repeat, but the school will not allow it.

I say keep the control as long as you can. You can put him in private kindergarten then if you think public first grade go for it or if he seems like another year of kinder then go for it.

Also Kindergarten is not what is was 15+ years ago. My mom graduated HS at 16 and I was 16 my senior year (so was 4 in kindergarten). Not a big deal if you are 19 and older, yet I was not the star student. I recall going on the college tour to Harvard and Yale at age 15 and felt so out of the loop from the 17 year olds on the tour. I was not ivy league material. Not sure if that extra year would have helped.

The TK in California is what kinder used to be. If your state has Transitional Kindergarten see if you can enroll him. Often when the cut off age is switch the state adds this for the kids with the b-days that could have been in school.

My experience with now second grade. There are some kids who are on the young side and I can tell by the way they act and a couple who are over a year younger than act equal or more advanced than the older kids. So, I do agree that some kids are ready early and some are not.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

I would NOT worry about the 1st five days WHATSOEVER. So take that off the table. I threw my son into kindergarten for the last six weeks of school last year after homeschooling, and several students (spanish speaking!) entered later than him! It's KINDERGARTEN. He already speaks the native tongue in the school right? Five days is NO CONCERN. They're all about welcoming new little friends in schools.

What you do need to ask yourself is: How ready is he to learn to read and write? How is his socialization and behavior? Could he thrive and benefit from these things in a school structure right now or is he too immature? (very normal for boys to be immature at this age btw).

If he's ready to rock and roll I'd throw him in. He can always repeat next year if he can't swing it. Starting him at six seems a little late to me, but it can be done..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Talk to both the kindergarten and his current preschool. Friend and I have children with August birthdays. I sent DD forward. She red shirted her (slightly younger) son. Not for academics but maturity. Sometimes I wonder if I should have kept DD back for maturity but she's overall done well in school, made friends, etc. We would have had to change preschools as they told us upfront they wouldn't be able to keep up academically. We will never really know if it would have been better. My friend's son was only a few days off the cut off and your son will be several weeks ahead of it.

I think the best thing is to talk to all parties and see where he really falls and what your other options are. I would see no harm in either option, so long as he has the maturity when he actually starts school. If you think he is ready, then give it a go.

My SD is a July baby and my stepson is a December baby. There were pros and cons to both, but I think even something like being 18 all of senior year isn't a con unless said child gets an attitude about it. SS was 18 most of his senior year. We made it clear that being a part of our household and finishing HS was more important than proving he was 18 and we all got through fine.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You asked this question a few days ago, right? I imagine you'll get the same advice.
Send your son. Kindergarten is for 5 year olds, not 6 year olds. This practice of waiting for no reason other than age is ridiculous. Your child is ready and he makes the cutoff. There is no valid reason whatsoever to hold him back.

I hope that schools start placing children directly into first grade if they hold back from kinder so that people stop doing this. While I realize there are a handful of children who truly do need that extra year, almost all of the kids that I've seen held do not. They would have been just fine - if not better off - going to kinder when they were supposed to.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Our daughter is a October baby and the cut off is September 30 here. She is a bit older than some of the kids, but it worked fine for her. I think if she would have started sooner, she would have had issues.

My cousin found a private school who would taker her November baby a whole year early. So my daughter and her daughter are 11 months apart. They both started kindergarten the same year. She was told if she kept her in the private school for 2 years, the public schools would accept her as a second grader. That is not what our law says. When she moved her back to public, the school made her repeat 1st grade.

As well, there were a few times she asked me for materials because her daughter was having some struggles.

The way I see it, there is no reason to rush if you can help it. On the other hand, if they are mature enough and academically ready, then why not start them.



answers from Los Angeles on

I would wait & send him later.
There's a reason why the sch dist have those cut off dates. They have
founded them on experience.
Again, I'd wait. He'll be more mature. This is esp important for boys in
my experience.
Don't stress and in my opinion, wait and let him be a little older.



answers from Detroit on

I sent mine at 5 (a new 5) and I regret it every day. The child never really caught up, even in 4th grade.

I would never start until age 6, now. The child needs to play as a kid, in order to learn. It's super important. And kindergarten as a young 5 is HARD. It's the new first grade.

For people who say, oh, if they are 5 then send them...I don't get that. I sent mine and it's been awful. My other child, though, turned 6 almost right away and has done SUPER well. Another thing, if your child does not come in reading, it's a huge struggle. There are kids in there reading at second grade levels, so I never feel like we've done a good enough job, lol. You cannot be too prepared. I would never send an August kid to kindergarten.

One family member started as a super young 5 or maybe 4? Back in the day...Anyway, was the smartest in the whole high school but dropped out of college first year. Was not ready. No reason to rush!!! Waited a year and then did fine, more than fine!



answers from Muncie on

My daughter was 6, she had JUST turned 6, had been newly 5 the previous year. Her birthday is within the "cut off" window so we had the choice, she could have gone the year she turned 5, but she was really not ready. She'd not gone to pre-school so wasn't "school" wise. The extra year really helped her, I was able to "home-school" her a bit to get her comfortable to the new environment she would face. The extra year also meant she had that time to mature a bit more. She's a loving and very free flowing kind a child, she can be stubborn to do things the way SHE wants to do them. She's also crazy clever and can be a little bit of a brat about it, picking apart what you've told her to do so she can do it her way.

It also turned out well because the year she started her baby brother was born. She was in school two months before he came a long. It allowed me to give "guilt free" attention to the new baby while she was at school.

I kept in close communication with her teacher, everyday asking how my daughter did. It helped a lot.



answers from Harrisburg on

I have two kids with August bdays. My daughter is Aug 2 and my son is Aug 31. Both went because they met the cutoff date (sept 1). They had no issues at all. They did attend daycare so they were more than ready.
My daughter just graduated high school and I would think the only thing she'd say that stinks is that she gets to the milestones last (driving, see an R rated movie, etc)...I told her once she is in her lates 20s, she'll be glad she reaches things last, it will be nice to be the youngest! I can speak from experience, I have a November bday, and the cutoff was January when I grew up, so I was also the youngest and no issues, never went to daycare or prek.



answers from Chicago on

Both my children where the older ones in their class - just missing the cut off by 2 weeks and 6 weeks. I have never thought there was anything negative about this. I enjoyed my extra time with them and they have been better prepared for school, which gave them confidence - important to get a good start. One neighborhood boy is repeating kindergarten because he started young and it was a very hard year for him.

If you are asking our opinion & advise, mine is to wait the year and work with him at home on some of the basics. Imagine how good and smart he will feel if he can read before kinder even starts. A great foot to get started on.



answers from Seattle on

Edit: I just realized your son's birthday is August 20. I'd send him as scheduled unless you have a concern about him academically or socially. He will be fine. If my son's birthday was before the cut off, I would have sent him and he would have been fine. It will all work out.

My son started 3 days before he turned 6. I worried about it too. I thought about petitioning to get him in earlier. It turns out I made the right decision to not push it, even though he is advanced socially and academically. He is thriving. He's in a Spanish immersion program that he started in 1st grade, so he is challenged plenty, since he's learning half the day in spanish. If he didn't have that, I would do some "momma" homework at home to challenge him if he needed it. Our school also places the kids in different groups for reading and math, so that helps make sure that he has the right fit. He's a very confident kid and a leader in class. He is comfortable in his skin and loves school. And I'm happy that he won't be 17 leaving the house for college.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions