School Starting Age?

Updated on January 12, 2014
M.A. asks from Tempe, AZ
30 answers

So My oldest was born in January so she started once she turned 5. She is one year older then everyone. This is for my 4 yr old. Her birthday is in November. My husband wants her to start school this year, but i don't want her to start to soon.
I know this is a stupid question but do you think she should start school at the age of 4 and wait till she turns 5 or wait one more year?

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answers from Chicago on

I couldn't imagine wanting to send my child to school a year earlier. My younger daughter has a Nov. birthday. She went to Kindergarten when she was 5. She is one of the oldest kids in her class and now that she is 16 it makes a difference. It's always good to be the oldest. Not usually beneficial to be the youngest kid in class. That being said, I wasn't ready as a M. to give up my kid to school at age 4. I had a year more of things to do with her before we started the daily grind of school. I'm kinda selfish that way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Depends on districts cut off date. If it is December and she is ready, let her start. Why wouldn't you?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I am really confused because a child born in January is almost never one of the older kids. Did you hold them back and are talking about preschool?

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answers from Seattle on

If I were you, I'd check with your local school district and see what the cut off date is for starting kindergarten. Most school districts, including mine, says that a child must turn 5 on or before August 31 of that year in order to start school. However, some districts have a cut off date of Dec. 31.

Personally, I think a child should start kindergarten at age 5. That's how it was when I was growing up, none of this redshirting stuff. I've worked in early education for many years, and it's a lot easier to track developmental issues when a child starts school on time.

Also, it's much harder for a 4 year old to keep up with a class of 5 and 6 year olds. She doesn't need the pressure of starting school so early. There are benefits to being the oldest.

Good luck in what you decide.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Here's my experience as a teacher: The kids who are older when school starts often have academic and social advantages from those few extra months. The kids I see who had disadvantages were the girls who hit puberty far ahead of their peers --though this has a lot more to do with body fat, exposure to hormones, and plain genetics than being a half year older.
I should also add that where I live, redshirting is often a sign of affluence since the family has to be able to afford the extra year of preschool or a parent staying home. I almost never see older kids from poor families, unless they are fairly recent immigrants.

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answers from Columbus on

I just went though this. My youngest son turned 5 in November and we had him start Kindergarten as a 4yo. Although the cutoff for our school district is Sept. 30th we enrolled him in a private school and they tested him to see if he was academically ready to start early. (I think the public schools would have done this as well but the public schools only have half-day kindergarten and that wasn't an option for us).

As people have already stated a lot of things factor into whether or not a younger child will be successful in kindergarten and I think one of them is if they have been in preschool. My son was in all-day preschool so the transition to kindergarten was not difficult for him.

For us, another reason is that he was academically ready and it didn't make sense to hold him back. He ended up being the most advanced reader in his class and was actually moved to the first grade class for reading. Of course we didn't know this would happen, but we did know he was ready for the kindergarten curriculum so we couldn't justify keeping him in preschool another year when it would have been extremely difficult for the teacher to meet his academic needs.

Another reason for us is that we only wanted him to be two grades behind his older brother. His older brother, now in 2nd grade, made the kindergarten cutoff by two days and he too is one of the younger ones in his class and has done well. We thought that when they got older it would be better if they could be at the same schools together for more time.

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answers from Phoenix on

Scottsdale Unified has an August 31 cut-off, so I'm assuming Tempe is similar. She wouldn't be able to start kindergarten this year anyway, since she won't turn 5 before the cut-off. Send her to pre-k this year and kindergarten next year.

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answers from San Francisco on

You don't really have a choice. It depends on the cut off date in your district. In our district a child must turn 5 by December first to start K but in most parts of the country they must be 5 by September first. If she's 5 by the cut off date you can still opt to hold her back (though I wouldn't recommend that unless she is really immature or delayed.) So check with the district and go from there.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Great responses so far. The only thing I will add: I recommend waiting as she will be the youngest for so many things. Sports, if it goes by age and not grade (meaning she may not play with her classmates for a while), graduating at 17 and heading to college as a minor, students in the grade below could be older than her by a couple of months, waiting for her drivers license..... I know two families that regret not waiting for their child as both did fantastic academically but showed evident immaturity nearing graduating from high school. Look into young 5's or extended preschool. Good luck deciding.

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answers from Honolulu on

Both my kids are late born.
At my kids public school, Kindergarten is for 5 year olds. Per the cut-off dates, per my district for public school, both my kids started Kindergarten at 4 then turned 5. They made the cut-off dates. I have a son and daughter. Both genders. They both entered into Kindergarten at those ages, and they were FINE.
Both also had preschool. And they did fine.

It is not just about age.
But also about the child, themselves.

I know many kids, that were held back. And entered Kinder at 5 then turned 6. They were fine. But most of the kids that entered Kinder when my kids did, were also late born. And they did fine. Many of the students in my kids' classes, are their same age. And it was the minority, that was older.

For those that entered at a later age, sure, they are older. Some of them also re-did Kinder, their parents held them back, and so they repeated Kindergarten. But those kids (I work at the school), are physically more "mature", they are taller/bigger, and look, older, than their classmates.
But, it does not necessarily, make a kid better than the others (both academically nor emotionally), than the kids that started Kinder earlier.
I see it, myself. Many of the kids that did start at an older age and/or was retained in Kindergarten, are not that much improved, emotionally or per their maturity. I work at the school, and I see it myself. And quite frankly, those kids that are "older" and/or held back and repeated Kindergarten for whatever reason, their is no "improvement" in them, nor in maturity or emotionally or in behavior or academics. They just look and are, older. And some even will, regress and/or still act like they are younger than they are, even if they are the oldest in the class. So they look a bit out of place. Because, physically, they are more mature.

You go according to your individual child.
And per the cut-off dates, of the school.

Keep in mind, that at the school my kids are at, IF a parent, entered their child into "school" at 6 years old, they are put into, 1st grade. UNLESS the parent, specifies, that they want their child in Kindergarten.
So, you NEED to, find out from your kids' school, what their rules are.
It is not the same in each State or in each school.

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answers from Phoenix on

It will be to your daughter's advantage in the long run to wait until she turns 5.

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answers from Detroit on

every state has rule about the correct age to start kindergarten.

I did a quick check and it looks like Arizona says 5 by sept 1.. so if you child is 5 on sept 1 she can go to school.. if not .. she has to wait a year.

most states are sept 1 cutoff now..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My youngest was born in November as well, and I've already decided I'll be holding her back. In our school, the child enters Kindergarten in the year they turn 5. So, a child could turn 5 on January 1st and be in the same class as one who turns 5 on December 31st. Of course, parents have the choice to hold their children back if they want to.

What made my decision easy for me is the thought of my daughter being 13 with boys that are 15. No thank you! So my youngest will be entering Kindergarten at age 5, and then turn 6 that November. And I feel content with that choice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think Megan answered this really well. Sometimes, a child who turns 5 later than the rest of the class has really ends up seeming more socially immature than their peers. I'd wait until they were 5 according to your school district's cut-off date. So, if it's Sept. 1, then just wait a year. Sometimes the year's gain in socialization can be very helpful before kindergarten, so she'll be an 'older' five going in, but she'll have more development behind her. With all of the stuff kids are being presented in kindergarten, I wouldn't be in a rush to enroll her when she's starting at age four. It's a whole new ball game socially as well as academically.

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answers from San Francisco on

The age to start K is determined by your local school district, not by when you or your husband or anyone else thinks. Call the district and ask. You can always hold her back, though when she gets older she has to deal with growing and developing (getting breasts) sooner than everyone else and that isn't good either, is it?

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't believe in holding kids back if there isn't a true developmental reason to. Holding simply because they are young or small isn't a good reason in my opinion (though they are very common reasons these days). If you think that your child is socially able to keep up, can sit still and focus on her work, and knows the basics (recognizes letters, can write her name), she is ready for school.

If she meets the cutoff date for your school, she should go.

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answers from Cleveland on

wait, because it becomes an issue when you look further down the line at all the kids getting their liscence before her, or buying beer before she is able etc etc. she might be smart but one year will make a lot of other things WAy less dramatic.


answers from Grand Forks on

Kids start school the year in which they turn five here, so kids born in September, October, November and December start school when they are four. I've never known anyone to hold a child back an extra year.


answers from Seattle on

In my state, a child MUST be 5 on or before August 31st to attend Kindergarten. My son has an October birthday. He has one of the first birthday's in his class, every year. We waited with him, and have never regretted it.

Academically, he should have started kindergarten at 4, and turned 5 a month later. Socially, he was nowhere close to being ready at 4.

I was asking this same question several years ago. I got responses from here, when it was still Mamasource. I got over 100 responses and 98-100 of them were to wait. I'm glad we did. He's been doing wonderfully in school, and has been in our gifted program since 2nd grade. He's now in 4th grade.



answers from Kansas City on

I would just follow your school kindergarten cut-off. I just 'googled' the AZ cut-off and it said Sept. 1 (not sure if that info is accurate). If it is accurate, your daughter would start at 5 years 10 months old. She would be one of the oldest. Sounds perfect.



answers from Pittsburgh on

You really need to ask your school district. I am sure they have a pretty strict cutoff date. In my district, my understanding is that the child's birthday must be 5 before Aug 1 to start school at the end of August. If the birthday is within a few weeks after Aug 1, your child has to pass a series of readiness tests offered by the school to prove the child is ready. If the birthday is later than Sept 1, they pretty much won't even consider it.

Just as importantly - is your child actually ready? Does she know numbers and letters? Can she sit still and pay attention? If your district has full-day kindergarten, then she has to have a really good attention span to make it through the day, otherwise she is going to struggle simply because she doesn't have the maturity for school yet. Some kids are ready at age 4, but most are not. Some aren't really ready until age 6.

ETA: According to this website for the Arizone Dept of Ed, the cutoff date in Arizona is Sept 1. So unless you are SURE your child is incredibly advanced for her age and you can convince your school board of this, she should wait.


answers from Austin on

I think it depends on the child. Some children would do just fine, others would really need that extra year.

Consider the class sizes at the school. In the public school kinder here they average about 17 students, maybe a few more or a few less, but in some of the private kindergartens it is more like 12 per classroom. Again a few more or less.

Maybe allow your child a year in a small private kindergarten if she meets the criteria. Then decide at the end of that school year if she needs to repeat Kinder at the neighborhood school or to move onto 1 st grade at the neighborhood school.

Here are some suggested Readiness signs.
Can go to the potty with no assistance.

Can get dressed unassisted.. (May need a bit of help, but can pretty much do this on their own) Buttons, zippers, snaps.

Can sit through a full picture book without interrupting.

Can follow 3 and complete instructions without prompts or reminders.
"Honey, please put your toys way, wash your hands and then go and put on your jacket, we are getting ready to leave. "

If this is too much, start with smaller tasks. "Honey please put on your jacket and make sure mommy's keys are in her purse."

Can draw a face without prompting.
2 eyes, a nose a mouth.. (in the correct spots) more advanced kinders can do even more. Does not have to look perfect.

Can say the alphabet

Can count up to at least 20

Can spell her name, can write some letters and tell you what they are.

Can open a zip lock bag without assistance, can put a straw into a juice box.

Can pour a bit of liquid into a bowl or cup.

Can tie her own shoes. (Not perfectly)

Here is a list I just found.

The ones I posted on top are the ones that were used to test our daughter. I cannot remember all of them.


answers from Reading on

Kindergarten preparedness has little to do with age. It has to do with maturity. You also don't say what the school rules are. Our school cut off is 5 by 9/30, so in our district she would be ineligible.



answers from Oklahoma City on

They cannot start kindergarten until they are 5 years old. Your child should not be older than everyone in her class unless they all have late spring and summer birthdays because they can't go into 1st grade until they are 6.

A child should be

4 turns 5 in pre-K
5 turns 6 in Kindergarten
6 turns 7 in 1st grade
7 turns 8 in 2nd grade
8 turns 9 in 3rd grade
9 turns 10 in 4th grade
10 turns 11 in 5th grade
11 turns 12 in 6th grade
12 turns 13 in 7th grade
13 turns 14 in 8th grade
14 turns 15 in 9th grade
15 turns 16 in 10th grade and take drivers ed as a sophomore
16 turning 17 in 11th grade, able to date and go to the junior prom
17 turning 18 in 12th grade as a senior who will move out and go to college

Some kiddos will turn 5 in August and be the youngest in their class and other will turn 6 in September and be the oldest in their class. It just happens that way.



answers from Kansas City on

My district won't consider taking you unless you've turned 5 by a certain date. My daughter would have been ready when she was 4, unfortunately they wouldn't let her test in or anything and now she's in first grade and above grade level in reading and math.

Check your district before you make a decision and make sure you could even enroll her at 4. Without knowing your daughter, I couldn't say if she's ready or not. My daughter loves school and loves learning to read and loves math (Seriously, to punish her I take away her math workbooks that we buy as a treat so she has extra math to do) so she would have been ready. And she's always been pretty mature for her age. I don't know if your daughter would be emotionally ready or not.



answers from Austin on

Are you meaning starting Kindergarten, or starting pre-school?

I'm just not really sure about what you are asking.....



answers from Washington DC on

My DD is an August baby and the cut off was September 1. In our area, your DD would not be allowed to go. If he wants her in school and she is not old enough, find a good preschool/preK program for her. I would not push a 4 yr old into K unless she's really ready, and few are. Most districts have rules about early enrollment and that involves testing for the child so he or she isn't enrolled to fail.



answers from Seattle on

Completely depends on your school district. In our district children have to be 5 years old on September 1st. If they are not, they are not accepted into Kinder.
Most school districts allow younger children to "test in" (ours does). This is a comprehensive psychological and academic evaluation in our district and is NOT performed by the district but her parents get a list of developmental psychologists where they can get it done. It costs several thousand $$$ where I live (some districts do this testing in house for free).
So... what I am trying to say is that it really depends on what the policy is on your school district and whether you think putting your kid through this evaluation is worth it.

My child has an October birthday, so she started K at almost 6. She is not the oldest, nor the biggest kid in her class. IMO school is not a race and the is no reward for starting or finishing early whatsoever. We thought about having her test in for a short while (would have saved a chunk of money on daycare) - but I am happy we waited it out.

Good luck.


answers from Dallas on

Are you taking about pre-school or kinder?

There are cut off dates here which is early September and a child has to be 5 by that date to enter K. If your daughter is still 4 by the cut off date, our system would not allow her to start K. You must be 5 to enter K.

Preschools are more lenient and children start preschool and then preK by 3 or 4 yrs old.



answers from New London on

I agree it's about the child themselves. My youngest could handle it. My oldest..meh..kinda regret putting him in so young

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