Start My Child in Kindergarten as a Young 5 Year Old or a 6 Year Old?

Updated on February 28, 2010
K.B. asks from Mesquite, TX
12 answers

My daughter is in her first year of preschool. She will be turning 5 at the very end of August. With that in mind we have the option of letting her do another year or putting her right into kindergarten when she is barely 5. I want to get advice from any of you that have experience with this, what your experience was, and how it affected you or you child. It is a question with much weight. Thank you for your help!

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answers from Philadelphia on

It depends entirely on your daughter. You are really the BEST person to make that decision, since you know her best. Things to think about, though, are can she...
- Listen to a whole story without getting distracted
- Cooperate with other children
- Rhyme
- Recognize that letters represent sounds
- Speak so everyone can understand what she's saying
- Follow basic instructions and rules
- Use the bathroom
- Handle the social situation of a classroom (probably if she's in preschool)
- Count to 10
- Knows her colors/shapes
- Sort objects into categories

And most of all... does she WANT to go, yet? At barely 5, she should be old enough to have some sort of idea if she wants to keep doing what she's doing, or start on the next adventure in life! Talk to her about it!

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answers from Hartford on

You know your child better than anyone. How is she doing in pre-K? How are her socialization skills? What does the teacher say?

My personal experience (My son is a September birthday, and my daughter is a July birthday) is that there would have been nothing to gain by having them go to pre-school again. Different districts have a different cutoff also.

By the end of their pre-school year they already had several good friends, and I didn't want to have them start over with a new group. They are now 11 and 14 and are both excellent students, so they did not suffer academically.

I also know several people who did hold their child back because their children (interestingly enough all boys) were too immature to handle the structure of Kindergarten, and so that was the right decision for them.

My own personal experience growing up was that I was the oldest in my class as a January birthday and hated every minute of it. I finally graduated high school a year early just to catch up!

So it's it's a little more complicated than where your daughter's birthday falls on the calendar. Just keep your daughter's needs in mind and you're sure to make the right decision for her.

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answers from Wichita on

I went through the same issue, I went for kdg. I had no regrets about that just be sure you pay very close attention to the school and the teachers that are around your child and make darn sure when a problem shows up it is dealt with immediately and to your satisfaction. I pulled my daughter out and started homeschooling and very happy that I did.



answers from Boise on

It's going to depend on your daughter, really! I only have one child in school. He started kindergarten this year. His birthday is one month too late, or I think I would have had him tested for early entrance into kindergarten. He would have done so great last year! But as it is, he started at 5 1/2.

But he's not a typical kid. He's always been an "old soul," always seeming older and wiser than his age. He's also gifted, so now he's light years ahead of his kindergarten class (he's reading 5th grade books).

My second son loves being a baby. He is not an old soul in any way. He would not do well starting kindergarten early, even though he's probably gifted, too.

I'm so tired of getting answers that "it depends on your child," but that's just how it is. I wish there were clear-cut answers!

BTW, I just realized I was very young when I started school. My birthday is at the end of July. I graduated from high school when I was 17. But that was the first time I realized that other kids were older than me---at high school graduation! So while your decision will affect YOUR life dramatically (by having a kindergartner in 6 months or in 18) she probably won't notice.



answers from Dallas on

Hi, as stated previously every child is different. I can give you my personal experience. I am a Sept.6 baby so was almost 6 when I started kindergarten. I breezed my way through school. Obviously, I will never know if it would have been the same had I been able to start a year earlier. On the other hand, I had very good friends in my grade who were born in Aug and were almost a year younger than myself and they did just as well in school.



answers from Dallas on

I sent one child at 5, and the other at 6. The 6 year-old had a much easier time! She was more ready socially and emotionally. If I had it to do all over again I would have waited to send the 5 year-old.

I had even had the 5 year-old tested at preschool to see if he was ready. Academically, he was way ahead of the game and remained that way. The expert said he was ready to go, so we sent him, but come about 2nd grade the immaturity showed itself.



answers from Des Moines on

my niece went at 5. she had an august birthday too. turned 5 and started school 3 days later :) she is the youngest in her class and has the best grades she is even in advanced classes and now in the 4th grade. if you think and the school thinks your child is ready then you should let them go. I think people get so worried about a age difference in kids but to kids they are just another kid. If you little one seems to be emotionally ready i dont see a problem. my other niece was 6 when she entered and she isnty doing any better the the other niece did.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is a July birthday and I decided to wait until she was six for Kindergarten. She is very bright and mature and could have easily gone into first grade at six. However, I am so happy with my decision to keep her on the older side for Kindergarten. She is so confident and academics are a breeze. She LOVES being the oldest. I feel that it just gives her a more positive experience in school, and long term, the positives outweigh the negatives. I would rather try and give her this advantage especially with the workload and more challenging work in school today at a much earlier age. Most importantly, I want my child to gain confidence and have the opportunity to be successful. I know being older can only help, and not harm. Thanks!



answers from Jacksonville on

I wont' say it. :o)
I have one who started on time as a 5.5 year old. We have since skipped her and she should have skipped another grade. She was more than ready.
THen there is my now 12 year old. She was to start Kinder at 4.5, the cutoff in Ca was Dec at the time. She was not ready at all. So I put her in aother year of pre-K and she did very well, for her we did the right thing holdig her back.
Is your daughter mature for her age?
Does she read already?
Can she count to 100, skip count by 2's, 5's, and 10's?
Does she tell time?
THese are some of the things we didn't pay attention to when my older daughter went into Kinder and she was bored to tears.
My neighbor has a Sept 1 baby and put him into kinder only to hold him back in first grade.


answers from Knoxville on

It sure is easier when they miss the cut off and you don’t have to agonize about this. I rode this rollercoaster one year ago.

I currently have a kindergartener that is the youngest in her class.

It’s hard because a lot of parents hold their kids back for various reasons. It should be about maturity and academic readiness. I am sorry to tell you what I learned from talking to other parents is that sometimes they do this so they will have an edge in academics or sports. Sports! Really, sports?!?

I would never make a decision to follow a crowd, but I did have to acknowledge how their decisions would affect my child’s environment.

In the end, I removed all the external influences and thought about my daughter. I asked myself if I honestly had a real reason to hold her back. The answer was no.

Last night, she read two books to me. I am floored that in just a few short months, my daughter has learned to read. When she started she couldn’t count by 2s 5s or 10s or tell time, but she has learned all that in school. She’s having a great experience, so I feel good about my decision.

The one lingering thing in the back of my mind is how she will be in the years to come when she is the youngest and her slightly older counterparts present mature situations. Time will tell, but I don’t intend to be one of those parents who is checked out when it comes to their kids. I’ll be there to guide her.

Good luck to you (and trust your gut).


answers from Austin on

Anna, said it perfect. Her list covers it.

Our daughter had just turned 6 when she entered Kinder, she was sooo ready.. She had also been in daycare since she was an infant. She walked right into the classroom and never looked back.



answers from Seattle on

Hi K.,

Every child is different - you'll hear that a ton... :) It's true, but our experience is that our son turned 5 in June (22) and started Kindergarten that Fall. He was not ready for it, even with preschool. He moved into first grade and we've already made the tough decision to hold him back in first grade. Boys are different from girls but with two other kids at home, we have learned a lesson not to start them too early. My son is the youngest in his class, in fact, most kids are already turning 7 (first grade) while he won't be until June. That's hard for him too.
I'm a believer now not to start kids until their 6, but that's just from our experience.

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