Youngest in Class - Experience

Updated on February 01, 2012
K.R. asks from Fort Collins, CO
22 answers

Hi all. I have a little boy who will be 5 in August, and barely makes our state cutoff for kindergarten. He's extremely bright (can spell and write his name, recognize every letter, count into the hundreds, beginning to spell and sound out words, very curious and excited about learning), and is fairly emotionally mature and independent. He is focused and will sit still for quite awhile if he's engaged. He's also tall for his age, although quite thin! He does really well in sports and athletics. I feel like in many important ways, he is ready for kindergarten.

My concerns are more down the road, with him being a boy, and being the youngest in his class. What kind of drawbacks are there? Is his young age going to be a problem? Is he going to struggle with kindergarten, being perhaps less mature than his classmates.

I am looking to hear from moms who SENT their young boys to kindergarten, and how you feel about the decision? Did they thrive? Do you regret it? While it's interesting to hear about people who chose to hold their kids back, I'd rather hear experiences from moms who sent them at this point.


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So What Happened?

Wow, there are many passionate views about this subject, just as I've encountered in "real" life. I am so conflicted! Most of you all have had really valid reasons for being pro or against. But I guess it really is a very personal choice.

I hate the "red-shirting" term. I don't feel like my reasons for potentially holding my son back are at all selfish, or to make him "the best" in the class. It's to make him his personal best, and give him the best opportunity to enjoy school and excel at it. He is only 2 weeks shy of the cut-off, so really he will be with his peers regardless of when I place him in school. He'll either be one of the youngest, or one of the oldest.

Thanks everyone for the opinions!

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answers from Kansas City on

My son's birthday is the end of August. So really he was 4 years old for 2 weeks when he started kindergarten.

The ONLY time it prompted a discussion is when all his buddies started driving, sometimes an entire year before he could.

Being the youngest was NOT an issue in school or in athletics. He's 21 now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would never hold a child back for this reason. I just wouldn't. I would want him to be with kids his own age. So that he could make life long friends that he would be playing sports with and spending time outside of school.

When they go to play sports like soccer or football they group them by birthdays not grades in school. He won't be able to be on the same teams as his younger friends. He will be thought to be dumb, or held back, by his teammates since they all go to school together and he isn't in their classes. It is really sad.

My grandson missed a lot of days before the state took custody of him. He was held back due to abscesses. He still to this day has one wish and it is that he was in his normal classes with kids his own age. He is taller than me and in classes with kids barely up to his chest now. It is awkward and he hates it.

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answers from Washington DC on

I sent my son to kindergarten this year. He is a late July birthday and is the youngest in his class. Your son is far ahead of where he was when he started. In the beginning it was a little rough, not because he didn't like it (he LOVES school) but because he was immature and a little behind some of the kids that were red shirted (he could only write his first name, knew very few letters). Now, middle of the year, he has tested as one of the highest in his class. He is still immature, but honestly, even if I had held him back, he would have been immature next year, it is him. A friend of mine has a son with a late birthday like yours, I think he made the cutoff by 2 days. That boy is probably where your son is. She thought of holding him back just because of his birthday. he is also very very tall. She decided not to and is so happy with her decision. He would have been so bored in Pre K. I get really tired of people saying that because you have a boy they should be held back. Someone has to be the youngest. When I was in school the cutoff was 12/31. No one would have even thought of holding a July or August birthday back back then. I was the youngest in my class. I went to college when I was 17. I never had a problem with my classmates being older than me. If anything, it was a boost to my self esteem, look how great I can do and I am the oldest. I think your son will do wonderful in kindergarten. And all of the boys, even the oldest, are slightly immature.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Both my brother and I have summer birthdays so we were towards the younger side of our classes. We each then skipped a grade as we were academically ahead and bored and did just fine socially.

My son has a late December birthday and because we have an early cutoff, he is the oldest kid in his class - he is 6 in kindergarten. He is aware of it now and I see absolutely no way that it is a good thing. If we could have sent him earlier I absolutely would have.

There is beginning to be some actual research on the red shirting topic and what it is showing is
1. there is NO academic ADVANTAGE to holding kids back.
2. There is NO social detriment to sending them at their correct age (that is you start kindergarten the year you turn 5).
3. The younger kids may benefit from having an older kid in the classroom - but the older kid does not. (so I should be all for you keeping your kid back if he will be in my kid's classroom).

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answers from Dallas on

My oldest boy turned 5 at the end of June and he was one of youngest in his class. He is a sophomore in high school now and is doing great.
I started him in Kindergarten and he never had any issues. I have never regreted it at all. If your little boy knows all the stuff you wrote he his ready for school. I would start him he sounds very intelligent. If he gets along with other kids on the playground and in play groups he is ready socially also.You as his mother know if he is ready.

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter is in 5th grade right now. She also has a summer bday with a September 1 cutoff date, and we chose not to wait.

Unfortunately, because there are SO many parents in Texas that hold their children back, she's not only one of the youngest in her class, but there are kids who are 14-15 months older than her.

She works hard to maintain a B average, and she does OK, but she often struggles with new concepts.

When parents ask me this question, I always have the same response...
I've never met a parent who waited a year and regretted their decision.
I've met many parents like myself, who from year to year always second guess whether they did the right thing for their child. Unfortunately, once they begin school, it's too late to hold them back without a stigma being attached to them.

If I had to do it over again, I would have waited another year with my daughter.

Good luck with your decision. I know it's a tough one.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter turned 5 on July 29th and we started her in K that Sept, no probs at all. There is actually a couple of kids in her class that were 4.5 that started as well. All are doing great. It sounds to me from what you have said, that he is ready! I also wanted to note that there is a wide variety of ages in her class, some started K at the age of 6. It seems like it all depends on the child and the parents personal preferences. But from you write he does seem very mature and ready accademically. I live in Cali and we attend a public charter school.

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answers from Dallas on

I was a September baby... I started school at 4 and turned 5 that year. I was the valedictorian of my class... Yeah academics, right?! NO. I did not develop when the other girls did. I was still playing with dolls when they were talking boys. I drove a year younger. I started college very young. It affected me throughout my life and didn't help when I was making life decisions and having to deal with social situations.

I was highly successful in corporate America. I did achieve but I feel I would have gained a great deal of confidence if I had been held back just one year. One year can make a huge difference for such a small amount of time.

My daughter is a June 12th baby. I have sat in her preK class and observed. She loves school, but I see how the older kids have developed strategies that my daughter hasn't. For example, my daughter hates musical chairs... this requires listening and strategy she hasn't formed yet. They played pin the star on the tree at Christmas. The older kids looked where to place and thought it through so they were more prepared when blindfolded. My daughter went straight ahead instead of lifting to place her piece. These may sound like weird instances, but they are strategic and it shows she still has some development to do before having to compete with these other children later in life.

I completely agree with the poster who said they have never heard anyone who has regretted holding them back but has heard of several who have regretted sending them on. I will be holding back my June baby this next school year to give her the opportunity to develop further and to be a leader instead of a follower.

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answers from Seattle on

We had a miserable experience... but for a reason I hadn't considered. I'd been a little worried about him being younger, and perhaps behind some of the other kids (2 6yo kids from his preschool were also in the same K class, and they were quite a bit more advanced than my son... but his preschool teacher thought he was more than ready. The two 6yos had been more shy/introverted so their parents kept them back a year.)

My son was 5. I had no idea he'd be the youngest (cutoff was oct, he's a july baby). The ENTIRE rest of the class was 6. Whoa. Okay.... But he's an extrovert, everyone loved him / became "Mr. Popular". His age was in no way a handicap socially... but he'd also been part of a montessori school where the kids are grouped in 3 year ranges. 3/4/5, 6/7/8, 9/10/11.

He was bored out of his mind.

His preschool had the kids doing "3rd & 4th grade" work so said the district we were attending. <rolls eyes> (Anyone who moves a lot knows districts really vary. My son was advanced in math, and is technically gifted/adhd, but the standards in the district we were in were reeeeeeally low. 1 letter a week for K. No actual reading or writing. Basic shape recognition. 7 color recognition. No math at ALL until 3rd grade. Seriously. Number recognition and 1+1=2 no sooner than 3rd. Our K teacher was ticked about it. Ours was the 1st or 2nd year they'd switched to "qualitative" math, and she had over 30 years in so was more than a bit vexed. She wasn't even allowed to teach the kids to tell TIME (because time uses real numbers, instead of ducks). Ummmm... by definition math is QUANTATIVE. But I digress.).

They wanted to move my 5yo and the other two 6yos, and another boy in the class into a 3rd grade class.

A year younger than the rest in his class in K (everyone else was 6 turning 7, while he wouldn't turn 6 until summer) was no problem for him socially. But to be put in a class where everyone was 9 turning 10 would have been social suicide. My son is 9 NOW. The cognitive and emotional difference between 5 & 9 is astronomical. Even assuming all of us were willing (none of us were), they would have split the kids into different classrooms.

So for my son, neither the social nor the academics were a problem (at least, not in being behind).

Knowing what I know now... I would have insisted on a full Scope & Sequence before sending him to K. Schools vary soooooo wildly in the K curriculum (some doing 1 letter a week, others requiring 100 sight words to enter) that I wish I'd done a LOT more research before sending him.

If I HAD...I'd still have sent him to K... but in a different district.

((That district, btw, is 'top rated' as far as great schools goes... because of test results. Schools with FAR better curriculum/ activities scored lower, because they weren't testing for "how amazing is your science/ art/ history/ etc." program... but basic reading and writing and arithmetic. REALLY wish I'd done better research before sending him!))

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answers from Denver on

Having been the youngest in my class, and more than academically and socially ready for school, I still would hold him back. I was always the last picked for any game, was bullied (before ther was "0" tollerance), and never really learned leadership skills. I was 17 1/2 when I graduated HS and left for college. Definately too young to be exposed to the influences of college. Boys are generally later in development and the extra year really makes a huge difference with them. My youngest daughter has a summer birthday and I started her off when she was supposed to start school. (When she was evaluated for Kindergarten readiness, she passed with flying colors) By 2nd grade, I started seeing signs of a learning difference and FINALLY got it confirmed in 4th Grade. We ended up changing schools and repeating 5th Grade, and that is the best thing we could have done for her. She is a Freshman in HS now, and is right in the middle of the pack with age. She will be almost 19 when she graduates, but then, I get to keep her home for another year. I have 2 nephews and the oldest repeated Kindergarten not because he couldn't do the work, but because he was immature (late July birthday). He ended up doing really well in school and because it helped him in the long run, his parents automatically waited a year to send his younger brother (April birthday). They were glad because he had some learning differences that were discovered down the road and that extra year made all the difference in the world for him.

My oldest daughter has had several classmates that have skipped grades so are very young for their class. Yes, they can do the work, but one, who is a Senior in High School (just turned 16 in August) still can't eat without wearing her food! Very smart, but social skills and maturity are lacking. She will still be 16 when she starts college, which in my book is way too young. Another friends son was labeled as GT, skipped 3rd grade, graduated at 17 1/2 and is now a freshman in college. He was discussing ACT scores with my daughter and said that his best score was a 27 and he had to take it 3 times to get that score. My daughter scored a 31 the first try! So the GT theory to skip a grade was really shot out of the water for me. This young mans mom told me that if she had it to do over again, she would never have allowed the school to move him up a grade. She would much rather have had him home for another year. He is having the time of his life in college, but is also very young. So look at it WAY down the road. Do you want your child to graduate at 17 and leave for college before they turn 18, or graduate at 18 and leave for college before they turn 19? (It also gives you an additional year to save for that ever increasing tuition by holding them back) A year of maturity never hurt anyone, but being the youngest and being even a little on the immature side can really set a child back. (Speaking from first hand experience) It is also easier on everyone involved to hold them back initially than to repeat a grade later. They are really singled out by the other students when they repeat a grade, hence one of the reasons why we changed schools/districts when we had our daughter repeat 5th Grade.

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answers from Dover on

When I was in school and up until my son was born, the age cut off was Dec 31st so it was standard for kids w/ Sept-Dec birthdays to start when they were 4 going on 5. Here in DE the law changed to Aug 30 the year my son was born but we moved to MD and their law had not changed so he started when he was 4 and turned 5 in Oct. He was one of the younger ones but not THE youngest as it was the norm. His problem was he was too ready/too bright and they didn't keep him in engaged. In 1st grade his teacher sent him out twice a week to work with 4th graders because he was bored. When he got older, he would fall asleep in his math class and still get As on the tests. We did move back to DE so he ended up being the youngest because other kids his age were a grade behind him. His age wasn't much of an issue.

In your case, although he will be one of the youngest the other kids his age will also be in the same grade so it's not like he will be the exception. I realize you aren't concerned with the other kids but I just wanted to point that out.

I personally would sign him up as scheduled, let them evaluate him and at that time express your concerns. Then you can make an informed decision.

**just wanted to add, that there was a boy in school with my son that was 13 months older than my son. Because his birthday was Nov (and the cutoff was Dec 31) he should have started a year earlier. His mom held him back from starting "because he was close to the cutoff". There was a world of difference from him vs the younger kids. He was arrogant and thought he knew better because he was older. He was in our Boy Scout group and always thought the rules didn't apply to him and was quietly defiant/disruptive. Not all of the was necessarily due to his being holder but that is how it came off.

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answers from Dallas on

My son also barely made the cutoff. He will be 17 when he graduates High School. When he started kindgergarten he was totally ready for it.

The problem is that there are a lot of kids he is in school with now that have been held back so he is two years younger than a lot of kids in his class. Obviously, he is not as mature as some of these kids. When he was in elementary school it wasn't that big of a deal but now that he is in middle school I'm starting to see the issue.

Another thing to think about is sports. Since my son is younger he is not as physically mature as the other kids. Of course, it makes him that much better because he has to keep up with stronger kids.

It's a tough choice. Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

my nephew was one of the youngest in the class. He was a hyper man, & quite adept academically & socially.

He also became quite bored during the day....& was fortunate to have a special, special teacher who allowed him the freedom to be a wild man. He loved going into the corner & standing on his head....& she let him!

In my lifetime, I've never known a teacher to be sooo in-tune with kids' needs! I am still applauding her.....& that very same nephew is the one I call my Navy Nephew!

But I will admit, he did do well with school until about 5th grade. Then he became disinterested & disengaged. He was bored & wanted to play. My Sis battled him for the next couple of years.....until he made his choice for the military during his sophomore year. This helped refocus him, & he buckled down....

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answers from Dallas on

Dear K R

I have 8 kids, 3 boys have summer birthdays. The first one was really smart, sweet, ready to go to school, so we put him in right at 5. I went to KG when I was 4 and never had any issues, so I didn't think much about him being kind of young. He did well enough in school, and luckily he didn't seem to care much about being smaller than everyone else, developing later, driving later... but it did affect him in sports and maturity wise. It also affected his self confidence a little, just because he didn't voice the concerns above, it doesn't mean he didn't have to endure them. The next one, we kept and he started KG at 6. He was also very bright, but we decided he needed the extra time. Turns out, he was the smallest even though he was the oldest... imagine if we had put him in KG at 5!? He has caught up now growth wise but has done much better than his older brother maturity wise and sports. The older boys are now 20 and 17. We can tell the difference it made keeping the 17 y/o from starting KG until 6. My last baby is now 5 and he will be going to KG in August right after turning 6. Boys do need the extra time... Best wishes and God Bless!



answers from Honolulu on

You can never predict, how they will be, years down the road in high school at that age of being the "youngest." Also because, there will ALSO be many other kids, that are his same age. Late born.

I am late born. I went to Kinder at 5.
I graduated high school at 17.
I was fine. No problems.

My son, turned 5 in August. And made the cut off for entering Kindergarten. And we enrolled him into Kindergarten. Why? He was ready.
He is doing fine.
All around, academically and emotionally.

In my son's class, MOST of the other classmates, are my son's age. Only a few, are older.

Now just a tip: Kindergarten is not mandatory in many States. 5 is the entry age for Kindergarten. Typically. IF entering your child into Kindergarten when the child is 6 already, the school might enter your child into 1st grade. That is how it is at my son's school. I asked them ahead of time, about this.

Or, see if the school your son will attend, has a "Jr.K" type class/program. This is generally for late born kids. Or those who are not ready for Kindergarten.

Also, yes, if your child is TALL for his age, then, he will also be TALL in Kindergarten if starting him in school, later. And he will be the tallest perhaps. Is this a concern? Or not? You need to decide on that.

My son is also TALL for his age. But.... so are many of his other classmates. So my son does not stand out in terms of height, compared to his classmates. But again, my son is 5. And he turned 5 last August, a little after school/Kindergarten had started.

My son, is fine.
My daughter, also is later born, and she started Kindergarten at 4 and turned 5 after Kindergarten had started. AND so did a lot of her classmates.
Only a few of her classmates, were older and already 5, turning 6 while in Kindergarten.

The majority of my son's and daughter's classmates, are their same age. Not older.



answers from Houston on

Well, I don't have a "young" son, but my own experience. My birthday is Aug 21, I was always the youngest. Honestly? it never even phased me, I never even thought about it, I left school with good grades, and have a medical degree.



answers from Des Moines on

I have a June birthday. I HATED being one of the youngest in the class. And I was a gifted girl......



answers from Dallas on

Your son sounds very similar to my own. His birthday is Aug 25 and school started this year on Aug 23. So he was 4 for the first 2 days of school. He is being tested for gifted and talented now. His teacher says that he doesn't notice that he is the youngest most of the time. He was ready and we are glad that we sent him.


answers from Dayton on

I was the youngest of my class.
Oh how I struggled all through elementary school.
I have 2 brothers.
One repeated K, one stayed right where he was supposed to be.
Why? Because one was ready and one wasn't.
And they both did fine in elementary.
I held my DD back (she would have missed your cutoff-but here she could have gone).
Because she was not ready (pretty much the opposite of everything you listed). :)
Honestly, from what you've described...he sounds like he will be fine if you send him.
And if you decide he should repeat K there is no shame in that.



answers from Washington DC on

I skipped my daughter. She was fine being the smallest and youngest. It is only now that I see the ramifications.
This year she will graduate at barely 17, she turns 17, Apr 29th then graduates June 1st. She is not ready for college. We have thought about an exchange year in a foreign country but she is just not ready to leave. So she will stay with us for a year and go to the community college. She has the scores, grades and volunteer hours to get into some really good colleges. She doesn't want to go.
I would not change what we did in first grade for anything. She was too far advanced for the 2nd grade class. What I probably should have done was taken her out to homeschool her at that time.
Her friends are 18, but that hasn't been a problem.

An article a friend of mine told me about said if you have any doubts then to let them be the oldest in the class. Let them be the top child in kindergarten. A study following classes of kindergarten students revealed that the top 10% of the kinder class will be the top 10% of the graduating class. And they have been able to pick out the HS valedictorian out of the kindergarten 10%.

I also have 2 boys, both are winter babies, both wicked smart like their sister, but I would not advance them for anything. People ask me all the time if my 11 yo will go into 7th next year. We have finished much of a 6th grade curriculum, I homeschool him. I will not advance him. He is 110% an11 yo boy and needs to be with his peers. I would rather he be older and more mature and in that top 10%.

I do not regret advancing my daughter. She was taking AP Stats as a Freshman and finished AP Calculus as a Sophomore. So what? She is still only 16 and is not ready for the real world. She is happy where she is now and is content with the community college.

Think about licenses, prom, sports (his growth spurt will be later), health in high school, gym class thoughout elementary school. It's a hard decision and ultimately yours.


answers from Dallas on

hi, I haven't read all the responses yet but here is my opinion... I was an october baby myself and where I went to school the bday cutoff was december, so I wasn't the youngest, but my start date didn't matter, I'd have had the same pros and cons either way, I'd have been the smallest the slowest to develop (I was very late compared to my peers and one year wouldn't have made the difference) and academically I'd have had the same challenges, I'm dyslexic at any age. but overall it was a normal experience and I nor my parents regret the decision. That being said my Premie (5-6 weeks premie) was born on August 1, so he made the cut off, he is small for any age but that's genetics not any other factor, he is not athletic (genetics so one year wouldn't make a difference) he is a bit immature but so are my other two BOYS! most BOYS are! but he is smart, he was reading at a 1st grade level when he started kinder and although he does not excel at academics (yet but has the potential to do so) he is doing just fine where he is at, I would say above class average, he is not a behavior issue and except for the occasional childish fit that he throws at home (never at school, what does that tell you, he's a little stinker) he is a good student and in the right place for him, he was soooooo ready for school, he is the youngest of three boys and was very familiar with the classroom setting, and has done well. it is an individual decision based on your child, for us it was better to move forward than to wait a year. best of luck!

FYI - more Texans hold back students than any other state according to an article that I read when we made our decision,



answers from Dallas on

My son turned 5 last August (21st), and he started school 1 day after his 5th birthday. He to is bright and advanced for his age. He has done very well in Kindergarten, he is currently reading on his own and a few levels about average for this time in the school year.

If you think he is ready then send him, he will do great I promise.

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