What Do You Think of Junior Kindergarten?

Updated on June 12, 2012
L.D. asks from Santa Fe, NM
18 answers

In Michigan, there's a junior kindergarten beginning this year in some school districts for young 5's or children who have birthdays later in the year, but who turn 5 by December 1. It is also full-time. The following year, the children will be in full-time traditional kindergarten. Have you heard of this or are participating, either in Michigan or elsewhere? What are your thoughts/experiences?

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So What Happened?

Yes, it is free and open to anyone. My question was simply what people thought of junior kindergarten in and of itself as a FT program. We thought of this versus a third year of preschool, which is NOT full days, five days a week. I didn't mention that as to get an unbiased response. We're very knowledgeable about why it's good to wait on starting kids with late birthdays in a traditional kindergarten program. It was never our intention to do that. Actually, you can see this in my responses to other posters on wanting to send their kids at 4 years, lol. Most of these responses have been great. Thanks!

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answers from Boston on

I think It is a great idea. My kids have summer b-days and I delyed starting them in kindergarten until they were 6. We did an extra year of preschool. I would have loved to have a Junior Kindergarten.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Here in VA some of the public daycares offer private K for kids that miss the public school cut off, or whose parents use the daycare and just want their kids to stay at the center all day instead of being transported. There is a weekly tuition. At the beginning of the next year if the parents wish, their child can take a test and test in to 1st grade.

Isn't this just like pre-K5? I think part of it is an attempt to get kids socialized and into a non-parent group earlier. There are some kids in K that sit there and bawl all day because they've never really been seperated from their parent.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Charlotte on

This sounds like "transitional" kindergarten. Maybe it's the same thing with a different name.

What I know about it is that it's great for kids who aren't mature enough for kindergarten, or kids with some special needs who could use a little more time. (And like you said, are younger 5's.)

It's not like preschool because there is teaching going on. I think it's a great idea and can really make a difference to kids who are more ready academically to learn, yet may have difficulty acclimating to full-blown kinder.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

I think its a good idea.

My son just turned 5 last week and he has a speech delay and worked with a speech therapist 2x a week while at 1/2 day preschool last year. Plus he is a 5 year old boy who is more about playing than sitting at a table. But while doing his work he is good at it once he gets going.

I think it would be a good thing to have. I'm sure its a little more structured than preschool but not as "advanced" as kindergarten would be.. kinda the middle ground. I think it would be a perfect alternative to making him go to preschool again next year ( like we are doing) and only learning the same thing over again because of his speech and maturity level.

I wish we had it around here!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

pre-K. junior kindergarten. all day kindergarten. structured classes in preschools for 2 year olds.
i'm a fuddy-duddy, but i don't like it, i've never liked it, and i'm beyond pleased that the research is finally moving past the insanity of baby einstein et al. they're figuring out that kids are brilliantly constructed to learn organically at their own pace, and that means a lot of unstructured free play time during these precious years.
the massive failure of the public school system in this country won't be reversed by putting our kids into it sooner.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I like the idea, personally. I know one child who will go into a preK program after two years of preschool. This is allowing the child to move up with their peers (not being held back, which can be noticeable to youngsters) and get another year of learning how to be in the group, follow directions, and negotiate the social skills and self-regulation required for a more successful kindergarten experience. For kids who have more profound challenges socially or developmentally, a program like this is great for their self-esteem and will help the child with the continuity of being at the same school site, so that when they are truly in K, it is a familiar setting.( While I wouldn't be thrilled with the full-day, I also understand why it's done. I wish schools kept them just five and a half hours or so through grade 1, and then bumped them up to full day.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Champaign on

Our son was in that class this year. At our school it was called "Transitional Kindergarten." I'll know better in a few years, but for us it was like a dream come true.

Our son had 2 years a preschool. He started out just fine. The teacher said he was very bright. But part way through his second year we noticed he was just not as mature as his peers. As the year continued, his teacher mentioned it as well. Socially, he just needed to be with a younger group of kids. It was pretty clear to both of us that he would probably be ok in Kindergarten (academically), but that he might struggle socially with kids that were just older and more mature.

So now I was calling private schools and trying to find something for him to do for one year. If I didn't want to send him to kindergarten, I had to find something engaging. Otherwise he might grow socially, but he might also slip a big academically.

Our school screens all incoming kindergarteners. When he was screened, the teacher who worked with him asked me if we were open to the Transitional Kindergarten class. I said absolutely. She said after screening him, she thought it would be a good match for him.

He has had a great year!!! He will begin kindergarten in the fall, and we are very happy with how much he's grown this year. This is the first year our school has offered this class, and his teacher mentioned that in the back of her mind this year, she often thought about all the kids from the past couple of years who struggled and would have really benefited from this class.

Some people will comment about 19 year olds graduating from high school or freshmen driving. Personally I was more concerned with my son being the youngest and not ready for some of the things his peers might be ready for - ie, not ready to start thinking about girls and being surrounded by other guys talking about them or not ready to handle the responsibility and freedom of a car but friends with drivers licenses.

I honestly believe that this new trend to begin kindergarten at 6 or almost 6 years old has so much to do with standards and "No Child Left Behind." As the standards for high school have become more strict, junior high schools have had to increase their standards, meaning grade schools have to increase their standards, meaning kindergarteners are expected to do what we had to do in first grade. Since they are expected to learn more, they don't have as much play time as we did. Teachers need to get down to business, kids have to sit still and that's hard for a young 5 year old boy.

You have to do what makes sense for your child. This made sense for our son. He's doing great!

ETA - In the state of Illinois, the child has to qualify for PreK (there must be a reason that they would have a disadvantage over their peers), and they cannot be old enough for kindergarten. Our son could not be in PreK because he was 5 before the Sept 1st cutoff. Transitional Kindergarten is for kids that do make the cutoff but are still not quite ready, and the school has to recommend it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

my daughter just finished the young 5's program here in Mi at a charter school. I was hestitant at first-I had her tested and they said that she would be fine in Kindergarten or the young 5's program. They do feel that a child really should be 6 when starting kindergarten because of their maturity. I decided to put her in the young 5's and it is amazing how much she has learn. They learn 1/2 of what they would in Kindergarten in a much smaller group-only 14 kids in her class and at a slower pace. My daughter will not struggle in school because she will be more advanced then the other kindergarteners next year. She is already reading and doing 2 digit math. Also she even has 6 year olds in her class who may have not been ready to start kindergarten who are now doing great. I would definately put my other child in the program when she turns of age. I asked the teacher if she will be bored in kindergarten and she said definately "no" they will just give more advanced stuff to do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If they miss the cut off for kindergarten and will still do k the next year, it is just pre-k with a different name.
Here you either pay for a private pre-k, don't do pre-k or have to qualify for public pre-k based on your income, etc.
If it is open for anyone, I'd jump on it. sounds like a good experience for your child and you to get school ready:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My oldest will be 29, and he went through young 5s here in South Lyon schools. Didn't seem to have anything to do with when his birthday was (in August) but that we had moved back to the US from overseas half a year earlier or more and they thought because of a language difference he'd be better off in young 5s. Also because during an aptitude test they thought he went too slow (he's nervous? or shy? never mind those possibilities!) He didn't seem to have any 'side effects' from young 5s. He enjoyed it and regular kindergarten the following year. But I will never know if he would've been just fine w/out young 5s and just going mainstream.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My opinion is, if your child makes the cutoff date, send them to kinder. I don't know when your cutoff is.
CA is also offering something similar in the fall, called Transitional Kindergarten. It is for kids born in the fall, who previously made our state cutoff of 12/2 but don't anymore b/c the cutoff is changing to 9/1 over the course of the next few years. I think for those children, it will be a good program. they will be older and need to start having something more than just standard preschool, but they can't go to regular K.
For anyone who can go to K, I say just send them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Why can't kids just be kids for a couple of years? What is the rush to put them in all-day programs starting so young?

We have to go to school and then on to work - why can't we just have a couple of years at home to learn how to be people before we're thrown out into the world.

It's all very sad. And I must say if all kids start going to school or all-day programs starting at age 2, what is the role of the sahm?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

I have a set of twins that will turn 6 in early November. They did one year of preschool but many people including the Early On person who came to our home, a sister-in-law who is a kindergarten teacher, and the young 5 teacher who knows my children felt that they should attend young 5's. I was very hesitant for many reasons. I didn't want them to not like going full days, dislike school, make them grow up too fast. The solution we came up with was that we would try it out and if it became too much because of the full day, 5 days, then I would keep them home occasionally on Wednesday.....well the entire school year went by with perfect attendance for one and the other missed one day due to being sick. They LOVED school and at the end of the year did not want school to end. They have a great foundation for next year and I am so happy that we chose to do young 5's. Good luck with your decision.
Oh, forgot to mention....they scored wonderfully on the testing for 1st grade. They know all the letters, sounds, can spell some words and read many. They both can count to 100 and beyond, do simple addition and subtraction, etc. The HUGE thing they developed this year was maturity. They have grown leaps and bounds. They will do great next year when the harder concepts come around.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

It sounds great for parents who want their children driving in 9th grade

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We have it available through our school district, and it is free, as part of the public school system. They even have bus service available and it's 5 half-days a week. I know a few people who will be taking advantage of it, primarily because their kids are younger 5s (b-days in Sept and Oct) and they can tell that they just don't have the maturity yet to handle kindergarten (which is a full 5 days a week) but still would be bored with (or just wouldn't qualify for) another year of preschool (they also happen to all be boys). Besides a late birthday, there are usually other qualifying factors, like needing more social skills, speech therapy, etc. My daughter turns 5 in August so I don't think she would qualify for the junior K (they have to be born between Sept 1 and Dec 1) plus her preschool teacher feels she will do just fine in K wherever she goes, but if she had a late birthday, I would definitely sign her up. It's a whole year that they can be gaining some more academic skills and readiness for kindergarten. If we were in that situation and I kept my daughter home instead of having her enrolled in something somewhere, she would be completely bored out of her mind.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

It is what other places call Pre-K. It is for 4 years old in my state. In lots of stated kids must be 5 by the first day of school or they cannot start Kindergarten for any reason.

I think that is good. Kids need to be 5 when they start kindergarten so they will be 17 as a senior in high school. They are supposed to turn 18 during that year so when they graduate they go off into the big bad world all adult and grown up...lol.

If they 4 they get to enroll in Pre-K.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Clarksville on

We don't have it here. It sounds like an all day preschool and a way for Michigan to deal with the parents that try to get their child into kindergarten early. I just don't see the reason for it. Those children will be so much farther along in their education then the younger kids in their class. Because they get all day schooling and it will be a higher level of learning. Because not all the younger kids in their class would be able to use the program. The children born after Dec. 1st would not be able to use it because they would either be too young or to old.



answers from Detroit on

My son, whose birthday is late July, went through the Junior 1st program. This was 11 years ago. It was THE BEST DECISION we've ever made for him.

There are so many kids that start school "late" and the benefits are many.

A wise man said, "would you like your young 17 year old to go off to college or a more mature 18 year old?".

The thing is my son has not struggled in school and I know if I hadn't given him the gift of an extra year in school, he would have struggled.

So I am all for the extra year.

Also, it was recently passed in the State House to up the cut off date for kids to start school. Now it is in the Senate to vote on. I sure hope they vote for it. MIchigan is one of the few states that have December 1st as the cutoff date.

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