What Age to Start Kindergarten
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What Age to Start Kindergarten
Editor Note: in California, the age cut-off is changing for public
school over the next few years.
To start kindergarten, children must be
5 years old on or before ...
Details and more info: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/em/kinderinfo.asp
- December 2 for the 2011-12 school year
- November 1 for the 2012-13 school year
- October 1 for the 2013-14 school year
- September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter.
Pull our son back a year for kindergarten or not?
Our son turns 5 on September 25th so he qualifies for kindergarten (cut off date is October
1st this year). The kindergarten teachers who observed him for 15 minutes think he should
be held back a year so he would not be the youngest kid in the class. His pre-school
teacher thinks he is ready for kidergarten. We do not have the money to afford his
pre-school but my husband thinks we should hold him back anyway because that's what the
kindergarten teachers think. I- the mom- think he is ready for kindergarten but I don't
want him to suffer or feel bad because he is the youngest. what should I do?
I would recommend holding your son back. I did that with mine, and he had a great year!
Kindergarten's curriculum is like first grade. You should check in with the Kindergarten
teacher and have them show you what is expected at the beginning, middle, and end of
Kindergarten. I have also found that most pre-schools have not realized that the
expectations for Kindergarten are quite different now!
There is no right answer to this question. I have many friends who are teachers and have
personally worked with children for 25 years. When it came time for my boys to start -
both of them were close to the cut off - I listened to advice and started them on time.
In both cases I wish I'd held back for very different reasons. One was academically very
excelled and was very bored in school. That would have been more obvious if he had been
older and I would have moved him to private school. But he was socially behind. The
other one was great socially but academically behind and struggled so much in elementary
school that it is still a challenge. Even in HS we are holding back things like starting
a language, etc. You are welcome to contact me if you want more on this.
As a teacher I work with a lot of mothers who have been in this position. Moms are
usually right. I'd seek another Kindergarden teacher pronto. The teacher will likely not
change their mind and will likely look down on you for not taking their advice and then
they'll look to prove this to you and your child for the remainder of the year.
Our son's birthday is September 30th. We were in a similar situation. The preschool
teachers told us he was ready, our instinct was that he wasn't ready. It pained us to
pay an extra year for preschool, but we bit the bullet and did it. I couldn't be happier
with our decision to give him an extra year. I have a friend who is a counselor at a
middle school and says the majority of the kids she sees who are struggling are late fall
birthday boys. I think the issues might not happen in elementary school -- but later on.
The other thing to factor is that nationally the majority of school systems now have a
September 1 cut off date, and most schools around here are transitioning to this (at
least BUSD is). So this decision impacts how your child will be grouped when he goes to
college. In the end the way I look at is he is now in a position of things maybe always
being a little easier -- vs in a position where things are a struggle. I figured best to
set him up to have school be a successful experience -- and so far it is. My friend who
was making the same decision chose to send their son to kindergarten. He ultimately
redid first grade and things are better.
Argh, this drives me crazy. Let me just say that kindy teachers (and administrators)
have a vested interest in how old their students are. Older kids will bring test scores
up. Plus, teachers want mature kids who are more likely to sit still through circle
time. My girl has a 9/24 birthday and she will be starting kindy this fall, right before
she turns 5. And guess what, the teachers at the elementary school (who I know quite
well, having two older kids there as well) are advising that she stay in preschool for
another year, despite the fact that she is reading, and is emotionally mature. That's
just their bias and it won't change. Her preschool teachers say she is more than ready
for kindy. I know that the elementary school is advising all kids with late summer/early
fall bdays to stay in preschool, but I also know that many parents are ignoring them and
enrolling their children anyway (because the kids are ready for kindy!!!). So my advice
to you is, if your preschool teachers say he's ready, then he's ready. Enroll him in
3x kindy mom who's been around the block
My birthday is also 9-25 and I started 1st grade at age five, turning six shortly after
the school year started. I didn't go to kindergarten because I was in a Montessori
program, but I could read and was ready for 1st grade 3 weeks before turning six. I never
noticed a difference between myself and other ''older'' kids - we're talking about being
older by months. I understand that they have to have a cut-off, but it seems pretty
arbitrary to me. My question would be whether the teachers observed any specific behavior
that indicated a lack of readiness. Being younger than other kids by one month, two
months, three months...does not seem like any kind of big deal. That being said, if I had
started at age 6 just before turning 7, I don't think it would have mattered much, but I
would have been older than everyone. Does that matter? I think it depends on the child.
another sept 25th birthday
We faced a similar quandary to yours with our daughter, who is about to graduate from
high school: she was born in December on what was then the cut-off day for kindergarten.
We went ahead with starting her, and she has always been the youngest in her class, often
encountering kids in the grade below her who are older than she is. As with your son, her
pre-school teachers thought she was ready to go. But we also got the go-ahead from one
private school that was willing to consider her. She did their standard classroom visit
for kindergarten applicants and was accepted. We chose the public school instead, but
switched to a private school in fourth grade, which made her three months younger than
the youngest of her classmates, and a year younger than many. Because she is socially
poised, her teachers throughout her school years have been surprised to learn that she is
young for her grade. However we wondered at several points whether she'd have been
better off if we'd delayed starting kindergarten.
Here are some comments I'd make:
I've never heard regrets from a parent who delayed kindergarten. I was aware of this
when we made our decision, but chose to disregard it. I've spoken to fewer parents
who made the same decision that we did, but I'd say the reactions are more mixed.
A pediatrician friend remarked that age difference is a much bigger factor and being
young is likely to be a much bigger issue in middle school or when kids enter puberty.
So it's important to project ahead, not just think about the primary grades. Boys
tend to mature later than girls, and a boy who is both young and matures more slowly may
face significant social and other challenges if he is chronologically younger than his
Consider whether it would be difficult to move your son back a year if you feel that you
made a mistake and if he is not thriving. You might discuss this with the public school
and also consider looking into pre-kindergarten programs.
The upshot for us is that our daughter is planning to do a gap year between high school
and college, a decision which we arrived at mutually and about which we are all
enthusiastic. Knowing that she is younger than her classmates may have made it easier for
her to do this. Would it have seemed important to do a gap year if we'd delayed
starting kindergarten - who knows? What's important is to be flexible enough to
re-evaluate whatever decision you make and adjust course as seems appropriate.
Our daughter has a September birthday and after consultation with her preschool, which
offered a transitional K program, they advised that she was ready to go to K at age four.
Kindergarten was fine, but now that she's in second grade (and to a certain extent in first)
I'm noticing that there's a very real difference in terms of ability to sit still and in
terms of social maturity. In our district it's very common to redshirt kids, and there's very
few kids her age in her class, and lots who are a year or 18 months older. Academically she's
fine, and even ahead in several areas, but I kind of wish we'd waited. We may end up doing a
sabbatical at some point, and if we do that I may just use that as a time to repeat a year
after we come back.
On the other hand my older daughter was a June birthday, and she was fine starting as a young
five year old, so it really does depend on the kid. Kids who have excellent self regulation
and social skills may do fine, but more impulsive kids may well benefit from an extra year.
Wish we'd waited
Sorry I didn't see this first time but have to respond. You always hear that you will never
regret holding them back. But I am a parent who really does. My son has a Sept birthday and
we waited the year due to some behavioral / social skills issues. Kindergarten this year has
been awful. All of the behavioral issues are still there but now he's the oldest kid. He's
really bright and is completely unstimulated academically and its just made his behavioral
I don't know what the right decision for you is but just chiming in as an example where
holding back was probably not the right decision.
I would trust your own gut about your child (who you have known all of his life better than
anyone else), rather than giving over your decision-making to teachers who have only observed
him for 15 minutes. I know that holding kids back is hip and trendy lately, but it is not the
right decision for every kid. There will always be a youngest and an oldest - big whoop. If
he is ready, I say honor that and don't hold him back.
Trust mama's instinct!
Kindergarten for a 4 1/2 girl I am adopting
My husband and I are adopting a sibling set through social services in Alameda
County. We do not yet have custody of the children since they are out of county
(5 hours away) and we are working with a secondary agency..in any case, we should
have the girls by June at the latest and the older child will be five years old
in September-kindergarten ready (she is currently in pre school).
I am asking for recommendations for possible schools-I am open to catholic,
private, pretty much anything besides public. I know that the enrollment period
for many of the schools has passed, but wondering if anyone else has been in the
situation and can offer advice or a recommendation. Thanks so much.
You might try Walden Center & School, http://www.walden-school.net/ . Fun, arts-based
education that encourages children's love of learning. The school is so small and
friendly that all the children get to know each other.
Call Lisa Piccione, Admissions Director at Aurora School. Aurora is a sweet, nurturing,
inclusive community in which your daughter would thrive. It is located between Hillcrest
School and Holy Names High School off Broadway Terrace in Oakland. I do not know if the
Kindergarten class is full and if your daughter would meet a September birthday cut-off
but call Lisa and ask. 428-2606.
This might not be what you want to hear, but she will be BARELY old enough to start kindy
this fall (and next fall the public school cutoff is Sept 1), so even though I usually am
of the opinion that kids should start school when the calendar says, I think in this case,
I might put her in another year of preschool. I have a daughter the exact same age and
she will be starting kindy in the fall with a great deal of trepidation on the part of her
parents. And my daughter has had a stable, supportive, nurturing environment from
conception. I think, being the very youngest in her class will be stressful, but she
isn't having to overcome five years of trauma, neglect, abuse, whatever your adoptive
daughter will be coming from. I'm not sure how old the younger sibling is, but I would
think that a preschool/daycare placement where they could be together for a year as they
get accustomed to their new family would be really, really beneficial for both of them.
Kindergarten has high expectations these days (my older two have already been through it)
and my heart goes out to your daughter who will have a whole lot of adjustment to do. She
will have enough stress in her young life, by getting new parents, a new home, etc. She
really doesn't need the stress of kindergarten at the same time. And, by waiting a year,
you could navigate the kindergarten process as everyone else does, choosing the best
school for your child (might be public!) and not just getting stuck with the one that has
Just one other thought ...many
districts offer ''transitional kindergarten'' for kids born in the fall. It's free and
kind of a cross between preschool and kindy. In Berkeley, I believed it's called High
Fives. Oakland offers it too, but does not have a cute name for it. In fact, we would
have put our daughter in TK had it been offered at our local elementary. Just another
option to consider...
Best of luck to you in this exciting time. Thank you for opening your home
to these kids!
Momx3 (who has lots of advice)
We are moving to Lamorinda this summer. Where we are moving from, the cutoff for
Kindergarten is September 1st, so I've always planned on having my daughter, whose
birthday is September 29, in preschool for another year. However, I just learned that
the cutoff in CA for this fall with be October 1st; and the following year will be
September 1st. I know that there is a trend to hold kids back (even if the child makes
the cutoff by several months); I am wondering if I should keep my daughter back since
she barely will make the cutoff this year, and next year the cutoff will be Sept 1. If
this were a year later, she would miss the cutoff. So in theory, if she did go to K
this fall, she would be the youngest in the class instead of the oldest in the class.
That is, unless there are so many kids being held back by parents that she would
actually end up being in the middle of the class if I held her back as well. If that is
the case, I would prefer to hold her back.
She is academically and socially ready, but she is small compared to others her age,
and I wonder if it would be hard to be the youngest and much smaller than others.
I welcome any insight, especially about why CA is moving the cutoff date, and
especially from anyone in the Lamorinda area that has an idea of what the entering
Kindergarten classes have tended to look like over the past few years.
We live in Moraga and are the parents of a 5 year old who is entering Kindergarten in the
fall. This is a huge conversation right now among my friends with kids my son's age. I can
only speak about Moraga (but it's probably the case with Lafayette and Orinda), but the
trend here is definitely to hold kids back a year. It's actually gone a little far, in my
opinion, where people are now holding their (turning 5) summer birthday kids back.
In this year's kindergarten classes there were many kids that turned 6 the summer before K
started or turned 6 right after school began - and this is when the cut off was November 1.
I've already met one parent of my son's incoming class whose son will be 6 in June and I
have a friend whose son will be 5 this April and she is considering holding him. Now, kids
with April/May/June birthdays are among the youngest in the class and my son, who is
November, will be somewhere in the middle. The whole thing is crazy, IMHO. The districts
should have cut off dates on both ends - the kids must be 5 by September 1, but can't be
older than X when they enter unless there is a a good reason.
What you might be able to do is get your child into TK through the school district. This
year those in TK are turning 5 in October and November, but if there is room, they have the
choice to open it up to children who turn 5 in September as well. Moraga did that this past
year; the district was only required to have TK for November birthdays but opened it up to
October birthdays because there weren't enough kids to fill a class. I have two friends in
Moraga whose kids will be 5 in September who are hoping to get into TK. Moraga has a
dedicated TK class and Lafayette is supposedly having a dedicated TK class this year as well
(they integrated the TK with K last year).
Hope this helps!!!
When you describe your late September birthday daughter, you describe my late September
birthday daughter! Smart, social, and small for her age. But we are sending her to kindy in
the fall. If anyone can handle being the youngest, she can. And, if for whatever reason,
she doesn't thrive, she can repeat kindy, which in our school, seems to carry very little
stigma. But I don't expect this to happen. I believe California is changing its age
requirements to be more in line with the rest of the nation, but it annoys me. Kids have
been starting kindy at age 4 for generations (including me).
I will be moving to the Bay area, with my two children in October and I'm very
confused about what age children there actually start school. My son is 4 and was
born in March 2008, here (in the UK) he has already started school (just), and as I
understand it he will go back to some kind of Pre K programme over there and then
begin Kindergarten in the August of 2013 at age five. My daughter has an August
birthday (August 23rd), will she start kindergarten in August 2015, just as she
turns 5, or in August 2016, just as she turns 6? What is the cut off date?
Sorry for the rather confused question, but I'm just trying to get things straight
in my mind.
Your daughter must be 5 years old by September 1, 2015 to enroll in
kindergarten in the 2015-2016 school year. Please see the California
Department of Education website for more information.
Both your kids would start school when they are 5. Your son will be 5 1/2,and
your daughter will be exactly 5. That is the perfect age to start K! I think
if you wait til your daughter is 6, she'll be way ahead of the other kids
academically, physically, and socially, and she'll be bored. The current
cutoff is that they have to turn 5 by December 1st to attend Kindergarten.
mom of 3 in Berkeley
California is in the process of changing the age cut-off for kindergarten. It
used to be you had to turn 5 by December 2, but they are gradually rolling it
back to Sept 1. So, your daughter, turning 5 in August, barring any
developmental delays, should start kindergarten right after she turns 5.
Having just moved to the Bay Area with children in elementary school, I'm a
bit perplexed by this ''redshirting'' that seems quite popular in our local
public school. In our old district, the max age span between children in
the same grade was 12 months, but some of the students in my children's
current grades are 18 months older than my kids! That's actually the age
gap between my 2nd and 3rd children who are two years apart in school. My
daughter came home upset because some of her classmates see a separate math
teacher who gives them more challenging work...obviously-they are much older
than she is. I think what upset her was a comment from the children who said
''the math teacher is for smart kids, and you aren't''. Although our
daughter receives the highest grades, I told her that was the work her older
brother was doing in his 5th grade class because he is the same age (or a
few months apart) from her classmates. I've tried to find some information
about the pros/cons of redshirting, but there is a lot of information from
both sides of the spectrum. As someone with children who are in the above
average category, it's frustrating to have such older children in the class,
not only for the teachers having to teach with such a wide gap, but for the
other students as well. Anyone have any input or similar experiences in
Blame it on the book Outliers. I never thought about it until I read the book and
I've been freaking out about it as my daughter makes the K cutoff by only three days
so would be the youngest. In the end, we decided to send her to K but it was a tough
decision. It was made tougher by the fact that so many people are redshirting so
there will be age spans such as you note. It is definitely more prevalent in the
affluent schools where people can afford to pay for private preschool another year.
And I understand more prevalent for boys.
-wishing less people would redshirt
I feel your pain. The redshirting is out of control in the Bay Area, where everyone
wants to give their kid an ''advantage'' -- over your kid. I had two young boys
(August and October birthdays), and I wished so often that the older kids were in
their proper grade. They often were bullies, lorded their greater skills over the
younger kids, and got all the goodies (attention, leads in the plays, whatever).
There are lots of comments on this in the Advice archive. My only input, now that
my kids are through it (one in college and one a high school junior), is that it
gets better. As your child gets older, the differences are less pronounced. And
the recent studies show that the kids who benefit from redshirting are not the older
kids, but the younger ones.
So hold on, tell your kid that she is awesome and just where she belongs, and she
will be fine.
Mom of Big Guys
I agree, redshirting is annoying. I look around at my friends, and guess what, the
ones who are PhDs and MDs--they have November birthdays, meaning they were the
youngest in their classes. I think achievers will achieve no matter what. My
late-September baby will start kindy right before she turns 5. Sure, she'll be the
youngest, but she's already indicated that she's smart, sociable, and capable. I
think an extra year of preschool would hold her back.
Mom of the oldest, the middling, and the youngest
Why?...you can call it what you want..for me it,s about being able to give my
child another year of
Childhood. I come from a country in Europe where children start school at age
six ,no earlier.There is no way I send my 4 yr old to kindergarten even though
he,d be 5 a month after start.Having one kidin school already made me realise
that once they are there that,s it.There is no way back,there is learning and
homework and printing your letters.Have I ever had a thought that my child
would have an advantage over yours by being one of the oldest? Nope and I
frankly don,t care.I am happy he spend another year digging in the
dirt,learning about worms and getting all excited about getting notes from the
fairies.Trust me I could have used that tuition money better but looking back
on the last year it was worth every penny.If you and others want to send your 4
yr olds to school that,s fine but don,t tell me how annoying it is to you that
I decide to give my child another year of childhood and just fun.My child is
smart,sociable and has started to read and people told me he would be so bored
another year in preschool..boy were they wrong and I have a happy kid.
Happy kid on the block
Hi. I just read the replies that you have received so far, and it looks like
the question has not been answered yet by someone who actually held back their
kids. We made the very difficult decision to wait to enroll our sons in K. We
did not do this to give them a competitive advantage over any other children.
What we did want for them (different circumstances for each child) was to be
able to sit in a circle, listen to directions, know how to communicate with
their words (not get physical when upset), and make friends. We wanted their
behavior to make their teachers' lives easier, not more difficult (I am a
teacher). We didn't want their behavior to stifle learning of their
classmates. We were thinking of your kids when we made this decision, in what
was best for the class, not just our kids. For the poster who said that the
older ones are bullies, well, maybe you know a few who are, but ours are not.
The investment in a strong bridge-k was not easy for us financially, but worth
every penny for the maturity they gained that year. We would not push this
decision on other parents whose children have late birthdays... there is a huge
gray area depending on the child. Please, do not be offended by our decision.
My son has a September bithday so given that I didn't send him to kindergarten
last year I guess that is considered red-shirting. Here's why I did it
1) I recognized that being either the oldest or youngest is not ideal - there
are pros and cons for both -so I was trying to figure which was best for my son
2) we were fortunate to live in Berkeley which offers a Pre-K as part of the
school system and it is a wonderful program
3) he loved to play and showed absolutely no interest in learning. This was my
main reason. Now at the end of the bridge year he has learned a lot but still
shows very little interest in learning to read or in academics in general so I
do not regret my decision.
I'm not actually thrilled about him potentially being one of the oldest in his
class this year, (we all learn and are inspired to do what kids older than us
can - ask anyone with two kids -the younger one does a lot of stuff a lot
younger) so don't kid yourselves that its all upside.
I hate all the assumptions and judment about it being about giving your child
an edge. I was not trying to give him and edge I was trying to do what was best
for him. Why is that so looked down on? Are the rest of you out there doing
what's not good for your kids? I don't think so. So I suggest you people do
what's best for their kids and try not to worry about what everyone else is
proud that I did what was best for MY kid
My little girl will be 5 in July. Should she start KG or wait until next
year when she is 6? She will be the youngest in her class if 5 and
oldest if 6. Her school recommends holding kids back if they have summer
or fall birthdays.
I saw your question on the BPN and felt compelled to reply - I'm sure you'll get a bunch
of input. Our son also has a July 2006 birthday and we decided to wait until he is 6 to
start K. I think it really depends on the child. In our case I think he'd do fine now
but I'm more concerned for when he gets older. I would really like him to be the oldest
vs the youngest hoping that he'll be at the top of his game.
As many teachers told me ''I don't know any parents who regretted holding their child
back, but I have meet many who regret NOT holding them back''.
Good luck with your decision.
Pre-K for a year
Oh, she won't be the youngest - my boy will be there, and he was born September 2006 so
not 5 until after the 1st day of school.
I'm sure you will receive many responses telling you to give your daughter ''the gift of
another year,'' but I think you should allow her to enter Kindegarten at 5. A July
birthday is NOT a late birthday. The ages of kids in any grade would naturally fall on
a continuum if parents did not artificially skew the balance. If no one is willing to
have their child be among the younger ones in a class, where will this end? Will
parents start redshirting March and April birthdays next?
Montessori Family School as a Kindergarten Transition Program that is specifically for
children in this situation. There is a description of the program online
Our son is currently in the preschool and we have had a very good experience there so
far. We have also heard good things about the transition room.
I have a daughter who turned 5 last July and I decided to put her into the Bridge
program at Step One Preschool, rather than put her in a traditional Kindergarten. I am
so happy with my decision. I can see her skills developing in a natural way for her
that feels supported and comfortable. I know now that she will be ready for
Kindergarten this fall, and that has everything to do with the support and love she's
been getting this year at Step One!
Hi, I can't tell you what the right choice is for your family, but I can tell you what
we did. Our son could have gone to K this year but instead we chose to send him to a
bridge-K program this year instead. There was no real reason to do it (he's competent at
all the things that Kindergartners are ''supposed to be'' doing, etc.) but we just
wanted him to feel really confident when he entered public school Kindergarten and not
to have to worry that we rushed him. He has spent the year at the Bridge-K at Step One,
which is a really wonderful program. They are very focused on preparedness, social
skills, and learning to treat others with kindness and respect. At least half of the
kids in the class come from other schools. They also have a great financial aid program
there if you are interested in the program but the potential cost is a factor. We've
really enjoyed this year!
My son was born in July, and we went back and forth about sending him
to K, too. He seemed ready in terms of being able to focus, but
socially pretty young. We went ahead and sent him, and we're very
happy we did. He has blossomed, but also, in his K class alone,
there are 8 kids who turned 5 the summer before K, and 2 who turned 5
in the fall after school had begun. He is younger than some
classmates, but is very confident and comfortable, and with a July
birthday doesn't stand out. People do talk about things changing as
kids get older. Both his dad and I were young for our grades, and
very happy in school all the way through high school, so hopefully
that will be true for my son, too.
I have a girl who is a July birthday. Her fine motor skills are not
the best and she is not the most emotionally mature. But I am so glad
that I sent her to Kindergarten when she was 5. She is not the
youngest but it does not help that there were 6 year olds in her
class. The 6 year old boys are bored sometimes and are not doing
better than my girl. She is excelling in some areas and not in
others, like them. But she is doing great over all. She has lots of
friends. I would totally send her. If it does not work out
repeating Kindergarten is not so bad. It happens 1 out of 60 in my
public school and the kids who is do it is not so bad.
Don't be scared of Kindergaten
Let me offer the perspective of a 6th grade English teacher (as well
as the parent of a successful 6 y/o in Kindergarten. Please
consider the longer term impacts of your decision. Your child might
plug on through K, 1st, 2nd, etc, but when he/she is one of the
younger kids going into middle school, in my experience it is much
more likely that he/she will struggle both socially and
academically. Based on the grades in my class, I see a direct
connection between academic success in middle school and a child's
age when starting Kindergarten. You can repeat a year in the early
grades, but often the damage to a child's self-image is already
done. Repeating a grade later on is usually so emotionally and
socially devastating that the moderate academic gains aren't worth
the costs to self-image.
Parents of kids on the verge of Kindergarten, I implore you to
consider the long-term impacts of your decision. State standards
and excessive testing have turned Kindergarten curriculum into 1st
grade. Any elementary school teacher will tell you that. Ask
yourself if your child is ready for 1st grade at 4 (or even a young
5). Also ask yourself if you want him/her to start junior high at
Every child is different. Most are ready at 5 and some may not be. My
son has a mid-August birthday and when we were looking at kindergarten,
we were surprised that some people we met suggested we might consider
waiting until he turned 6 so that he would not be ''behind'' --
socially, academically, or in size. He was enjoying pre-school, but
seemed ready to move on -- to us and to his teachers, so we decided to
go ahead, figuring that he could always repeat kindergarten if it turned
out that he was a bit too young when he started.
At our first parent-teacher conference in kindergarten, we grilled the
kindergarten teacher on how he was doing -- socially and academically,
and whether we should have waited a year or should consider having our
son repeat kindergarten. His teacher, who had over two decades of
kindergarten teaching experience, assured us that our son was right on
target and that there was no question he was kindergarten ready and in
the correct grade.
In first grade, we noticed that our son was right in the middle of the
pack in terms of reading, but that there were many girls who were quite
advanced, and we worried again. Other than the reading, he seemed to be
doing fine, but we wondered if we should have waited to give him that
''jump start'' that others talked about.
At the beginning of second grade, the reading clicked and he became a
voracious reader. He's now in seventh grade and still one of the
smallest kids in his class. It doesn't bother him a bit because he
focuses on academics and not sports. He's doing exceptionally well in
7th grade -- including in an advanced algebra class. Many of his close
friends who are also doing extremely well in middle school also have
August, or even fall, birthdays.
This is not to say that there is not some correlation between a late
birthday and struggles in school; it is to point out that the
correlation does not apply across the board and it depends on each
child. Some kids with late birthdays are very strong all through
school, and some kids with late birthdays are not. The same can be said
of kids with early birthdays, or kids who are ''held back'' a year. It
all depends on your child and if you think that your child is ready to
start kindergarten, your child probably is. And if it turns out that
you made a mistake and your child needs to repeat kindergarten again,
it's not the end of the world.
Having watched my son go from kindergarten to 7th grade with many of the
same students, and having volunteered in his classroom over the years, I
have observed some correlation between the kids who were unable to focus
or to do the classwork in kindergarten and first grade and those who
struggle in middle school. This correlation seems to be more direct
than any correlation between age and middle school academics.
Unfortunately, many parents fight recommendations to hold back students
in the early years because of a ''stigma'' that they think is associated
with it. (My mother taught first grade and ran into this issue every
year, and a child canot be retained without parental agreement.) I
admire those parents who opt to have their students repeat kindergarten
or first grade because they are putting the interests of their child
first -- and not worrying that other parents are judging them or their
child by how they did in kindergarten or first grade. (At my children's
elementary school, the kids on the playground really don't care and
quickly forget who repeated kindergarten or first grade, even though
there are a couple of such students each year.)
-Good luck with your decision
I have to respond to the 6th grade English teacher who wrote that if a
child with a summer or fall birthday enters kindergarten at the
appropriate time it is ''much more likely that he/she will struggle both
socially and academically.'' I'm very troubled when people present
their personal observations as if they are scientific conclusions,
particularly when stated in ways that strike fear in the hearts of those
who may have had to make this difficult decision.
There are other factors at play in this correlation, not the least of
which is that households who are economically challenged are not as
likely to pay for that pricey Bridge-K program or an extra year of
Unfortunately, there is no optimal time for a child born between May and
November to enter Kindergarten in our community. Parents who simply
seek academic advantage for their children by holding a child with a
June birthday back create issues for the rest of our kids. The parents
of a child born in July should not have to fear that their child will be
the youngest in the class! And a 5 year old entering kindergarten
should not have to face a room filled with tall, bored 6.5 year old
Based on the responding teacher's comments, I conclude that any kids who
are the youngest in their class will trail the others academically and
socially. So what is the solution? Is it really possible to have
everyone's child be among the oldest, or even near the average, in a
fed up with redshirting
My son will turn 5 in August, and I hear that things have changed since I was in
school. I'm wondering if any current BUSD parents could tell me what the typical
age range is for kids starting kindergarten now. A friend who lives elsewhere
told me that in her district most boys with summer birthdays are held until the
next year, so if we lived where she was, he'd be an outlier. Is this true in
There is a wide range of ages of boys entering Berkeley
kindergartens. I think kids are not held back as they are
in other districts, or even in private schools. Our son,
whose birthday is in late October, started kindergarten in
September at age 5, then turned 6, and is one of the oldest
in his class. He was prevented from moving on to
kindergarten the year before in his private school in San
Francisco, where he was before we moved to Berkeley. That
said, I don't regret that he's older. For reasons of
emotional maturity (not to get a let up academically) it is
to some kids' advantage to be older. But not all kids. I
would say enroll your son in kindergarten if he seems ready.
He'll have plenty of company his own age, older, and younger.
I have a boy in a BUSD kindergarten who was 5 when he started kindergarten
but turned 6 in November. There are boys (and girls) in his class who are 11
months younger than him. Some seem (anecdotally) to struggle with the
expectations of sitting on the rug, focusing, etc,; some don't. California
Kindergarten of 2010 is not kindergarten of 1972 (when I was in
kindergarten). The academic standards are real and the teachers have to live
up to that teaching expectation.
For what it is worth, I am really grateful that my son got to have a terrific last
year at preschool where things gelled for him socially. My particular child
would have had a really hard kindergarten year had he gone in almost-5. I
just couldn't find any reason to risk his first year of ''education'' with those
Now, to the other side! My 5 year old nephew in Portland (who turned 5 in
August) started kindergarten a month after his birthday and is having a
terrific time. He's also a really social, gregarious, only child and he was really
It can feel like a really daunting decision and I wish you the best.
I was surprised to find this past fall that about a third of
my son's kindergarten class at Rosa Parks in Berkeley had
late summer or fall birthdays. There were many young 5
year-olds there, and a few who were not yet 5, including my
son who has an October birthday. It has worked out fine.
When you make a decision about when to start your child in kindergarten it is
helpful to look down the road. Your child will be a year younger all the way
through middle school and high school - physically, socially and emotionally.
Even when kids are fine during kindergarten the age gap can show up at 6th
grade. My son is in middle school and when I look back over who struggled
socially and academically it was often the younger kids. Now that isn't always
the case and it depends on your child. However I think boys in particular really
benefit from beginning kindergarten a year older. What used to be the first
grade curriculum is now what is taught in kindergarten and that kind of
academic focus is challenging for many children (appropriately so but that's
another topic!). I think it is easier to adjust to the demands of school, learn to
read and sit still when you have an extra year of maturity.
Good luck in your decision
Every day I go back and forth about deciding to send my October
birthday 4 year old to Kindergarten or go to a Pre-K program and
send her next year.
Looking ahead, I would like her to learn to drive as a junior in
high school, and graduated when she is 17 almost 18 rather than
18 almost 19
Any words of wisdom out there?
I had the same dilemma with my daughter late last year. She has
a late November birthday and we were on the fence about her
starting kinergarten at 4. I knew academically it wouldn't be a
problem but socially I wasn't quite sure. We felt she had out
grown her preschool (she had been there since 2 1/2) and was
ready to move on but we also felt maturity wise, another year
would do her good before kindergarten. So it just so happens
that the elementary school I wanted her to attend for
kindergarten had a Junior Kindergarten program. We enrolled her
in the JK class and its been a win win siuation for us all. I
felt like we made a great decision. She loves it and she's at
the head of the class! She got to move on to a new environment
with different stimulation and that class will roll right over
to kindergarten next school year with most of the same peers
and the foundation of the school is already in place.
If you feel your daugher is ready socially and academically
then enroll her now, but if not then another year may give her
an advantage over her class when she starts K. And remember she
can always be skipped up a grade but no one wants to be held
back. Talk it over with her preschool teacher but ultimately
you call the shot. Hope this helps.
My daughter is also an October birthday and physically small. She's now
five-year-old, so we went through the same thing. We got into a
via an impossible lottery, so that informed our decision greatly. Our
now thriving socially and hitting all the academic milestones she's
What do your daughter's preschool teachers think? Are you satisfied
options for kindergarten and see your daughter doing well there?
I also think you're wise to consider what her teenage years will entail;
it could be
difficult for a girl to hit puberty or reach a level of social maturity
before her friends.
Good luck to you and your daughter
I taught kindergarten for 15 years and have found this to be a
very individual question. I have a slight preference for
allowing children to be older rather than younger in their
class (waiting a year) especially in the current era of more
high stakes testing and less developmentally appropriate
activities. But gender, temperment and birth order are
important considerations. Is there a preschool and/or
kindergarten teacher that knows your child and might be able to
give you some advice?
There is no ''one size fits all'' answer for this question. I
have heard so many perspectives on this topic (including a
recent response which tried to evoke guilt on behalf of parents
who wait...) but I will share my perspective as we have an Oct
We are finishing our ''extra'' year in a preschool, and are very
glad we did. Our son ''could have'' gone, but we, and his
teachers, sincerely believe that he benefitted from this extra
year. His confidence has blossomed, and he's developed more
refined social skills as a result. Academically, he's right on
track, if not ahead; that was never a concern for us, and
between his school and what we do at home we've kept him
engaged and challenged.
From what I've seen, girls are *generally* more socially-
developed at this age, and can focus for longer periods of
time, but I don't know of any girls from our preschool entering
kindergarten in the fall who will be under 4 1/2 as of Sept.
I have to add that I do believe in giving kids as much time to
be kids as possible; it's a bit trite, but every kindergarten
teacher I've spoken with has reiterated the same thing. They
have seen how much kindergarten has changed over the last 10
years and as most of them are parents too, understand that
extra pressures brought to bear on children and families as a
Yes, our son will be among the older kids, but it is common
enough (esp. among boys) that he is not going to be an odd man
out because of his age. I personally don't have a preference as
to when my child learns to drive or graduates as long as he's
thriving. . You don't mention if you've spoken with your
daughter's current teacher; that obviously is a good place to
start. Our school does assessments (administered in a very low-
key manner) and follow-up meetings with parents to discuss.
Teachers have a context for your child's readiness that parents
don't, so if your school doesn't offer this, ask for it. Visit
the kindergarten she would go to, and consider her friends: are
they going now or are they going next year? Finally, trust your
instinct and your child.
Worth the wait
If you believe ''40 is the new 30,'' then maybe you should also
know: ''6 is the new 5.'' I also grappled with this issue, and
decided to take the advice of our pre-school and pre-K teachers
and staff, when they said our (Nov. birthday) daughter was
ready to start kindergarten, and that she would be bored if
held back a year. (She has always been considered very bright,
and very social.) What I didn't realize is how many people are
holding their kids back a year just ''because...'' My daughter
is in 1st grade now, is the youngest in her class (and almost
always will be.) Some of the kids are a head taller, are
clearly further ahead socially, and to some degree,
academically. Only in the past month or so have we seen her
start to catch up a little bit, and we did get help from the
school with an extra reading class every day and a session of
special ''social interaction'' classes. (Nice that our school
offers these services, gratis.) Our daughter did express some
frustration at her difficulties, without understanding where
(in part)they stemmed from.
I hate to sound cynical, or like I'm making excuses, but I
suspect (some parents have stated it straight out) that some
people put their kids through an extra year of pre-k so their
child will have the ''advantage'' of being ''on top'' come grade
school and beyond. But honestly, I do believe that the playing
field does even out after the first couple years or so. My
mother graduated from highschool at 15, and she said she had no
problems, socially or otherwise, except that she had no boobs
and could not drive. (Selective memory? Who knows. ;-) I would
really try not to worry about it. With your encouragement and
involvement, your child will be fine whether they start K at 5
Oh dang -
I have a son (Oct b-day) and I struggled for months with the
pre-K /Kindergarten decision. I made myself miserable! I spoke
w/TONS of people, looked at approx 8 preschools, read books on
raising healthy boys, talked w/parents of other Oct babies.
Yes, I made myself crazy. In the end, we have decided on
another year of Pre-K based mostly on his personality.(super
smart/introvert) It's not the most convenient option for us,
but it is best for him. I want him to enjoy school and people.
Another year of play will help him with this.
This is one of those situations where there is no clear right
answer. And you will need to make a choice for your own child
based on her personality and the school you are planning to send
her to. But here's a little perspective from a few years down
the line. It's a decision for kindergarten, but also for middle
school, high school, and college, so you do have to think ahead.
California is one of only 4 states in the nation with a 5-by
date later than October 15, so factor that in when you think
about college--most of the other kids will be 18 when they enter
college and have that extra year of maturity. I know about 7 or
8 middle and high school students with fall birthdays (after
August 1), both boys and girls. Of that group, only one is
thriving. The rest are really struggling, and in large part the
struggle is because of their relative immaturity. It's kind of
shocking, but there you go. We waited, and when I think back on
it now, I am appalled that I actually considered sending a 4-y-o
to kindergarten. A lot is asked of kids these days, even in
kindergarten. They must be very mature, and they have a learning
schedule that is a year or two ahead of where we were in our
generation. Kindergarten now is roughly equivalent to 1st or 2nd
grade 30 years ago. That's one of the main reasons most states
have moved their 5-by dates to late summer/early fall.
glad we waited
our daughter with an October birthday turned 5 after the start of K and
it has not been
a problem, she is doing great. I think that if she were stillin
preschool she would be
really bored, as other children I know who opted to stay in preschool
the extra year.
My advice is to go for it. There are plenty of children her age in her K
class as well as
some older kids. I have the older kids to be more distracted socially.
I am in the same position, my son is october also. I am planning on
having him start
Kindergarten Fall 2009. He started Preschool fall 2007 and I think
preschool & pre-k
is enough to get him ready for a school environment. Also his teachers
that he will be ready. Talk to your child's teacher and get some
feedback if they think
he/she will be ready by than. There are also good books to buy to get
your child ready
for kindergarten. hope that helps.
Children have their entire lives to grow up. I gave my daughter
an extra year in preschool (she was on the cusp), and I've
never regretted it. Even though she was reading and was far
more socially advanced then her preschool peers, I wanted to
give her the extra time to develop her sense of self a bit
more. I'm glad I did.
Girls especially are under a lot of social pressure these days,
and it only gets worse as they go through each grade. I am
stunned at times by the things kids talk about now, not to
mention the demands of the curriculum.
My daughter is one of the older kids in her class. She is by
far one of the more mature leaders and has not fallen prey to
some of the incredible social pressures that kids have today.
Even in younger grades, girls can be mean and manipulative and
run in like packs. Giving my daughter a bit more time to
develop her leadership and coping skills has really been
helpful to her and I'm sure it will even become more apparent
as she goes through each grade. She is very self-assured, self-
aware and compassionate at the same time, and I honestly don't
think she would be the same girl had I sent her to school at an
earlier age than most of her peers. She's also one of the more
popular kids and many teachers (not just hers) have high praise
for her social and leadership skills. She just doesn't feel
pressured to simply fall in with the crowd and instead is a fun
and confident example. This is really something that I know
will grow even more important each year.
This is a personal decision, of course, and I only speak from
my perspective. If your daughter is happy in preschool and the
teachers there can keep her engaged, then the extra year will
allow her to enter kindergarten as more of a leader than she
may otherwise be. And as she goes through the rest of the
grades, she may likely be more prepared to make thoughtful
decisions and be less likely to fall prey to peer pressure.
Good luck in making a thoughtful decision.
Mom of the Class Leader
1. Ask the preschool teachers' opinions
2. Register for school anyway this year.
3. Check around for preschool or pre-K options.
4. Go with whatever seems to work considering the above, then
don't stress about it. Seriously. There are people who are sure
they made the right decision holding their kid back, and people
who are sure they made the right decision sending their kid to
school. My fall baby is doing just fine, and we would have had a
hard time finding someplace for her to go (i.e there weren't any
real pre-K options that were open anyway), and the preschool
teachers said absolutely not for another year. We made the right
decision, but it's not perfect: she's just now the same age I was
when I started, and she's not quite as mature as some of the
older kids in her class, but she's doing fine and loving school.
Her friends at preschool with January birthdays (who couldn't go
to kindergarten are having a rough time in preschool-bored, miss
their friends, etc. There are one or two fall babies in our K
class who may want to have another year of K. And if you have a
tendency to compare your kid w/ others and stress that they
aren't doing as well (by whatever standards), you have a choice
of either waiting another year or learning that each kid
progresses on their own. For example, the winter/spring kids, who
are older, make the most beautiful, detailed drawings, with very
tidy writing. The fall kids, often, aren't quite there yet. But
there's nothing wrong with them, and they're all fine. For better
or worse, your public school will have the full range of ages,
from 4 yrs 9 months to 6 when they start.
My sister-in-law had the same question and spoke to the
superintendent of the school district at the time. His advice
was this: ''Your child will only be this age once; enjoy it
while it lasts and don't rush it.'' I've also heard from a few
teachers that children who have waited that extra year tend to
be more confident, mature, and ready to learn. Good luck with
My experience is that children who have been in preschool before
socially at an advantage which makes them able to adapt to the socially
behavior at school. If your child has been at a school that works on
interactions and conflict your child will emotionally be better equiped
to handle the
interactions of children that can cause stress, worry and frustration.
If you wait your child may be better prepared and if you don't your
child might be
just fine. Certainly this can not be an easy decision. You know your
child and you
will have to go with what you feel is right.
Teacher/Nanny in the know
My daughter started school when she was 4 because her birthday
was at the end of October. It was the best decision. She was the
most mature in her class and graduated college at age 17. I would
advise you not to hold her back if she seems as mature as kids a
few months older.
I would suggest you visit the kindergartern class at the school
you are planning to send your child to (pardon my grammar). I
have an October birthday child who is starting k this fall.
However, i have the benefit of having an older child who is
currently at the same school. I've worked in the k class and
had a lot of opportunity to observe the range of children in
terms of maturity and academics. My younger child attended
montessori which i think was a great preparation and can sit in
circle, how to deal with different age classmates, etc. But
i'm not going in blindly. first hand observations will help you
understand if your child will fit in, be able to adjust etc.
Also, talk to the K teacher/prinicipal and find out if there
are many other 'young' kindergartners in your child's class.
that will also help you know if your child is in the norm or
not. Finally, observe how your child interacts with older
birthday children at his/her preschool. Mine for example,
gravitates towards the bigger kids. For the record, most of my
school/college friends were late summer/fall birthdays and
didn't seem to suffer from it, but that was many years ago now.
There is one other consideration that I haven't seen anyone
else mention, and that has to do not when the child STARTS
school but when she ends it.
What will the impact be-- socially, or on her self esteem--
when your child goes through puberty, perhaps earlier than
others? Or do you want your freshman in high school driving? Do
you want your 18 year old to be able to sign himself out of
school when he's a junior or early in his senior year? Will
being a bit older be an issue in the kinds of relationships she
chooses in high school? I am a high school teacher and yes--
there is an enormous difference between the bodies and even the
developmental abilities of 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 , 18 and even 19
year olds. I've seen kids all these ages experience high
school, and I sometimes wonder if parents think about the
consequences of this choice on their children as teens. They
may want their child to be bigger or ''smarter'' when they are 5,
but school goes on for a lot of years after that.
Having said all that, I do think that others are certainly
correct in saying that the answer differs based on the
individual child, and that you should probably listen to the
advice of your child's preschool teacher... but I do think
these choices should be made based on true ( and realistic)
emotional and academic needs... not based on the desire to
somehow get an advantage, because that is such a short term
choice, and it may not play itself out the way you think it
might in years to come.
- Just my two cents
My daughter will turn 18 in June and will be graduating from high
school. Kids she has known who turn 18 and still have many more
months of high school often find that difficult.You have to look
at how it will be for them then.I think many of them catch up and
I would not have my child wait in most circumstances because of
the issues they will face later.
I have a boy who has a summer birthday. A third of the boys in
his kindergarten class were red-shirted and a whole year
older. They were not more social adept, but were, and still
are, totally obnoxious. They seemed to have spent the extra
year in preschool picking on younger kids and doing weird
sneaky things in the bushes. All the late birthday kids that I
know that started on time do fine academically (our a.m. k
program was only 3 hours), are sweeter, and aren't as prone to
bullying. I don't see that as socially backward. It seems to
me that when children are not fully engaged, they can turn to
mischeif to assuage the boredom. One person's ''gift of time''
can mean a pain-in-the-butt to classmates, later on. Also, I
think that you have to keep in mind that teachers have an
incentive to advise you to keep the kids back: public school
teachers are quite pressured to have the kids score well; and
preschools have a finacial incentive to encourage families to
stay on. Also, with the NCLB laws, skipping a grade is
basically impossible. If your kid is bright, he will be stuck
with the younger kids his entire academic life, and he will
probably resent them and you.
I want to speak up as a late summer birthday kid who graduated
as a 17 year old. It would have been a much better situation
for me to have had another year of K or D-K. I felt younger
and less self confident than others all through school. I was
shy in 1st grade and had a hard time paying attention and
pleasing teachers. Now, when elementary school is such high
pressure; I can't imagine myself handling it. I was advanced
academically, but my shyness forced me out of advanced academic
groups and back in with the other kids because I didn't want to
stand out. Many have spoken about problems w/ being 18 when
graduating from high school, but this is the norm! Being 17 is
a little odd. I felt young all along, and would have done
better socially and academically with another year of
maturity. I don't think late fall birthday kids who are 4-6
month older will feel so out of place. Puberty hits in
middle school, so developing physically earlier I don't feel is
an issue. My husband is a late September BD who is now tall &
broad shouldered, but still sees himself as the skinny 110 lb.
kid he was throughout most of High School. He would probably
have a better self image had he waited.
I have two kids with late summer birthdays. One I can tell
will go straight into Kindergarten with the other kids his
age. The other one did a year of DK and it was the best
decision ever. Her social skills skyrocketed with the extra
year and now I feel great about her starting Kindergarten. If
you put your kid in with fingers crossed, and a problem
develops in 2nd or 3rd grade that would have been solved by
entering kindergarten late, you're SOL. It's devastating to
repeat those grades. I also want to address the assumption that
this is happening because the parents want bigger, smarter
kids. In our case, that's ridiculous. We know she is smart
already and she is a tall girl. She just would have totally
There was a NY Times article on this subject in the last year
that was excellent. There were many statistics cited and the
kids who started later did better in almost all respects:
grades, acceptance to college, etc. I know three other kids
repeating kindergarten now because they should have waited and
In short - do the research, talk to others and then follow your
instincts and ignore what others say. Either way you go is OK.
happy with our decision
After reading all the replies to this posting, I wanted to add
another perspective: my daughter has a fall birthday and we
chose to have her start kindergarten instead of holding her
back. I thought she was ready, and her pre-school teacher
agreed, but my husband felt we should hold her back another
year. Fast-forward to the present: although she did have to
work harder in kindergarten and 1st/2nd grade and she initially
struggled a bit, she did okay. There were clearly lots of kids
in her class that were much more advanced - she was probably in
the lower third of the class during that period. But we had
always heard that by 3rd grade, the advantage the older kids had
disappear, and that has turned out to be our experience. She
has been doing great this year in 3rd grade! But I think part
of the reason is that she had to work harder in K-2 to keep up
and as a result, had to develop good study habits and work
ethics. Some of the older kids in her class, for whom
everything came easily in the beginning, are now struggling.
They really didn't have to work as hard initially in K/1/2, and
now that the rest of the kids in the class have 'caught up',
they are having difficulty because they never had to develop
good study habits. So just another perspective that I wanted to
share. Holding your child back so that they will have
an 'advantage' could end up short-changing them if they are
ready to go.
Glad We Didn't Hold Her Back
My son's birthday is December 14th. He is academically advanced
(can spell, do basic math, and read some easy books) pretty
social with other kids, and can sit still for long periods of
time concentrating on whatever he is doing (drawing, playing
games, reading books). He's not big or small, just average.
I'm thinking he will be ready for Kindergarten when he is still
4. Granted, I need to check in with preschool teacher when the
decision time has come, but everything I've read about parents
who send their kids early and regret it, do so for reasons I
don't think apply to him. Has anyone sent their child to to an
Oakland public school with an after Dec 1 birthday before they
were 5? If so, how did you do it (ie get approval) and how did
it go? Thanks.
your child sounds like mine - birthday december 12, ready to
start school at age 4. i did a district transfer through OUSD
and he got accepted into joaquin miller elementary school, but
when it came time to enroll, he got booted because he wasn't 5.
we waited a year and did another transfer, but didn't get joaquin
miller. i'm actually really pleased with how things turned out -
he got a year of gaining more confidence and social skills and
now is a born leader at school and extremely happy academically
and socially. good luck, but don't expect to get your child in
until s/he is 5 years old.
The OUSD is very strict about the cutoff date. Your kid could be
reading and fluent in 6 languages, and they wouldn't care. They
simply will not let you enroll your son.
Now, next year, when you enroll your kid in K, you can get
letters, examples of his work, etc. and try to have him put
directly into 1st grade. At this point, the OUSD has to take
him, so they may listen to you about advancing a grade.
I did this but it was a huge struggle; everyone at the OUSD and
the principal of the school fought it. I had an outstanding case
for why my kid should go directly into 1st and it was still close
to impossible to make it happen.
Now my kid is thriving, socially, emotionally, and academically
(best reader in the class by a wide margin), so I am glad I went
for it. But make sure it's not just your opinion of your kid -
preschool teachers, other people who know him should also be on
your side (100%!).
Also, just fyi, I keep hearing that OUSD is considering moving
the cutoff date back to September 1, so that may influence your
When I had to make the decision about sending my son or waiting I consulted with
someone who had started her son early. When I consulted her, her son was
currently in middle school. When she started her son he was reading and quite
academically proficient. She told me she deeply regretted sending him and middle
school is where it really shows up. He is over a year younger than all the other kids
and he has been physically and emotionally more immature than his peers. Your
child will be well over a year younger than most other kids. School is only partly
about academic achievement. It is also about socialization; making friends, coping
with bullies, dealing with frustration, how a child copes with challenges, etc. It is in
this area that a younger child can be really harmed by being too young and this is
especially true for boys. I look at my son's class and there is one kid very very
bright but much younger and his peers reject him because he is so immature
compared to them. Look at 12 year old boys and see how your child will feel being
so far behind all the other kids. That is the age the girls are way taller anyway. As
kids go through puberty and get taller, lower voices, physically change, the less
physically mature kids feel self-conscious. The same will be true in high school.
Physical and social maturity is a very big deal to kids. I would urge you to wait.
Glad Everyday I Waited
Please do not make this decision based on people's anecdotal
stories of the friend whose son went early. Please look at the
research: http://www.geniusdenied.com/ please download the copy
of genius denied. The majority of actual research shows that
acceleration works for most gifted children.
Most schools strictly enforce the cut off. If you can swing it,
you can find a private school that will admit him early and have
him attend K at the private school. Then for first grade, even
if he is young, the public school must admit him if he has
Good luck! We are hoping to homeschool our 4 year-old through K,
and then either continue homeschooling or have him enter with
kids who are more nearly his intellectual peers rather then
Can you homeschool? This is a great option for gifted children,
especially if they have asynchronous development.
Don't buy the delay line!
We have a friend who actually modified his son's birth
certificate to sneak him into school early - I've always felt it
was a big mistake, because the kid really was behind the other
kids socially and maturationally (is that a word?).
Our own son was always one of the oldest kids in class, and
that's helped him through some rough spots over the years. He
was very much on-time or ahead-of-time through third grade, as
far as his learning, socialization and physical development went.
He was very confident, helpful to the other kids, which we
simply loved. When attempts were made to bully him, they only
happened once per bully, because he was able to verbally and
physically stick up for himself.
When his ADD became very obvious in the 4th grade, we knew that
something was wrong almost immediately. I wonder if we would
have attributed his learning problems to being behind in age if
we had pushed him into school too early.
Now he's graduating from Berkeley High, and he's been able to do
pretty well there. The cigarette and weed thing didn't pull on
him as hard as it did on me, when I was trying to show how grown
up I was. He's experimented a little, but decided it's not for
him. If he felt as young as I always did, he might have tried
more to 'up' his maturity quotient artificially.
When a guy's voice changes before the other guys, and his face
starts looking manly, if not bearded, earlier too, it puts them
ahead of the game. He's always been proud of his body, even when
he was a skinny little wretch, probably because it was a more
grown-up body than a lot of his buddies.
Even if your child's a genius, and you think he'll be bored in
school, I'd recommend keeping him in class with other kids his
same social and physical age. You'll be surprised at how a
classful of kids will keep him interested, and how he'll find one
or two things a challenge anyway. If he truly is bored, a good
teacher will find extra material for his advanced level.
We're a little sorry our son's already heading off to college,
and he started school 11 months behind most of his peers. If you
can hang on to him for another year, try to! What's the rush?
Is there anybody else out there who will be starting their son
in kindergarten in the fall, despite a ''late'' birthday? My boy
will not turn 5 until October, but my gut is that he is ready
for kindergarten, although he is physically small (among the
reasons often cited by acquaintances for delaying entry to
At any rate, my big concern now is that given the fact that so
many children are being held back a year, he will
probably be a full year younger than some kids. Anybody else out
there in my boat?
anxious about bucking the trend
Honestly if he can sit still and follow lessons, he will be fine.
I think the hardest things for young 5 year old BOYS is they are
so ACTIVE (typically) and they not accustomed to being attentive
and quiet in class room!! That seems to be the biggest challenge
for all the boys in my son's K class....So I think it depends
solely on his energy level and temperament....
mom of squirmy boy
We sent our son to kindergarten this year (just turned 5 in
Sept), and we have now had to make the very difficult decision to
do kindergarten again and change schools. Listen very carefully
to what his preschool teachers have to say about him. Ask them
directly what they think and why. If you want to contact me, I'd
be happy to share more about our situation.
Send him to kindergarten! When we moved here from the east coast
we were appalled at how many parents here consider holding back
their children, on terrible advice from, frankly, inexperienced
educators. We were told to think about holding our Sept.
birthday son back. Couldn't imagine having done it, he would
have been so incredibly bored. Children that are cognitively
ready for kindergarten should be sent, period. Ignore what
people around you are doing.
If you feel he is ready, and he falls within the school's age
requirement, I would say
there is no harm in trying kindergarten and no reason to expect it to be
other than great. My son has a September birthday and has been the
in his class for the past 3 years (he is now in 3rd grade). He, too, is
small. But he is
big on personality and smart as a whip. Yes, he has some ''issues'' at
quite frankly, most kids do at some point in time for some reason. He
has a ton of friends and is thriving in all areas. If, for some reason,
you try K and
things don't work out, the past stigma of repeating is gone.... it
regularity nowadays (anyway, it seems like that to me) and I have yet to
see or hear
of teasing for that reason. Good luck to you.
My daughter (now in 3rd grade) has a November birthday. For
her, she's absolutely in the right grade, despite being one of
the youngest. That's true for most of the young kids in her
grade, too - and there are a lot of them. Her (Berkeley public)
K had 8 kids who turned 6 that fall, and 8 kids who turned 5
that fall, with only 4 kids with more middle-of-the-year
birthdays. One of those 8 kids repeated K; the rest are still
at grade level and seem to be doing fine. Go with your gut, I
say, and if need be you can adjust after K with little to no
social stigma that I can see.
This is a hot-button issue, so be aware of that, but there's my
2 cents and my daughter's experience. There's no single right
answer, and don't let anyone bully you into thinking there is.
You are in the best position to judge this, and it's easier
to ''do over'' than to challenge a kid who ends up in the grade
below his ability level.
Another fall birthday mom
In my experience as an elementary school teacher, I have found
the degree of ''readiness'' for children with fall birthdays varies
greatly. Some are absolutely ready to start kindergarten at age 4
or as a young 5. Others really aren't; and still others are ''on
the edge.'' So, I'm a firm believer at looking at your individual
That being said, I know many, many people who have regretted
starting their children too early (for several of them, those
regrets did not come until their child was in middle school and
their social development was out of step with their classmates').
I know none who have that same kind of regret for having waited a
year to start their child in school. The primary concern, from my
point of view is the child's social development. The reality is
that in any given class, there will always be a wide range of
academic skills and that even an academically advanced child who
waits until they are six to start kindergarten is likely to have
academic peers in their class. Also, if the school is doing it's
job well (and I believe many in this area are), the students will
be taught in a way where they can access the curriculum at a
variety of levels. If you steer clear of classrooms where all
children are expected to be on the same page at the same time,
read at the same level, and solve math problems using the same 3
steps, then the notion of your child being ''bored'' should not be
In addition to talking to your child's preschool teachers,I would
also look carefully at your child's social interactions and
friendships to see which cohort of students it makes most sense
to start kindergarten with. While it is true that a second year
of kindergarten by no means carries the stigma it once did, and
that kids at that age do have the ability to adjust well if the
situation is presented to them well, not starting kindergarten is
ALWAYS smoother and easier on all concerned than repeating it.
So, if you have any serious concerns about your child's
readiness, my advice is to wait a year. If, on the other hand,
you feel confident that your son is ready for kindergarten
socially and emotionally as well as academically, go for it.
Currently A Kindergarten Teacher
Hi, I just read your post and we are exactly in the same boat
as you. Our son has a late fall birthday and academically, he's
completely ready for Kindergarten. I question a little bit more
on the emotional side. He's a big guy and hangs out mostly with
kids who are his age or a year older. I think you have to trust
your gut instinct. It's not always clear, but you also have to
remember that kids mature a lot in six months. We're going
ahead and sending him to K, at the recommendation of our
preschool teachers. And if he has to repeat Kindergarten, it's
really not a big deal. I've heard from other parents who faced
this same issue and tell me that it's easier to hold your child
back than to try and have them skip ahead to the next grade if
they are bored/not challenged. Good luck!
I think I'm confused about how old a child needs to be to enter
kindergarten in Oakland. I always though the cut off was Dec 1,
meaning that a child has to turn 5 on or before Dec 1 in the year
that enters kindergarten. A friend recently told me that she was
told by an Oakland school that a child need only turn 5 by March
meaning a child with a mid December birthday can enter when they
are 4. I've checked the Oakland Unified website, but couldn't
find it there. I've emailed/called without response. What's
correct and where can I see it in writing?
Your friend is not correct. I believe the cut off is December 2
or 3. I know this because I have a Christmas daughter and she
did not make the cut off.
I believe, because of Open Court, all day kindergarten and a
host of other issues the date is being changed to September 1.
I don't know if it is for the 2008-2009 year or the following
year. Look on the OUSD website - it should say.
Joaquin Miller Elementary Mom
A child must be 5 years old by December 1 in order to enter
kindergarten at an OUSD public school. I think there's a
movement in the state of California to push that deadline to
September 1, but I'm not sure when that will be enforced. There
are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that most
children aren't yet ready to sit and focus for a full day at
age 4 (and it's tough on the ''older'' kindergartners who lose
out on their learning when a few kids can't sit still for a
lesson). With all the pressures there are for our children to
grow up, it is nice to see that our schools are keeping sane
about the age that children are ready to learn most
Don't know about the actual requirements, but I think they have
to be 5 before school starts in late August/September.
However, I would highly recommend waiting until they are well
gone 5 as the last five years have seen the teaching of reading
pushed back into kindergarten. I don't know about you, but I
didn't learn til I was in 1st grade, and it didn't keep me out of
grad school. As a parent of a current kindergartener, I would
counsel ''wait, wait, wait'' especially for a boy.
Hi. Alameda school district has a cut off date of 12/5 for public schools.
child who wants to attend kindergarten in fall of 2008, for example, must
turn 5 by
12/5 of 2007. Unfortunately, my daughter's birthday is in Jan. She's only
3 now but
I'm looking ahead and thinking by the time she can attend a public
she'll be 5 year & 8 months old, almost 6 ! I would really love for her
to attend in
fall 2009 when she'll be 4 yr. & 8 months old, if her pre-school teacher
she'll be ready then. Is there any good private kindergarten in Alameda
somewhere close, say in part of Oakland that's close to Alameda area)
cases like hers - kids who is just a few days shy of making the cut-off
a worried mother
Relax. You asked if you could find a kindergarten that your
January birthday daughter could attend when she is 4 years old.
Be advised that almost all private schools have an even earlier
cutoff birthday than the public schools -- most require that you
turn 5 no later than September of your kindergarten year. The
public schools have later, December cutoffs. So whether you go
public or private, your daughter will be 5 when she starts
kindergarten. And that's just fine.
I'm looking for feedback on families with kids who started
kindergarten (at a BUSD school, esp) at 4 yrs old (that is, with
a fall bday who turned 5 before Dec. bday cutoff).
I'm not looking for general pros and cons or why we should hold
back, but rather real-life experiences from those whose children
have *actually* started at that age or who intend to start this
fall at that age. We're on the fence about whether or not to
send our child and would love to hear more from others--the good
and the bad--in the same boat.
My daughter has a November birthday, went to K at 4, and she's
doing fine socially and academically at her Berkeley public
school. In her Kindergarten class, by happenstance, there were
8 kids with Fall birthdays. I know other kids who are doing
fine, a couple who might do it differently if they had it to do
over, and one who repeated first grade. (I also know older kids
who have repeated, and from what I see, in the early years, it
seems to be pretty workable for them socially.) My daughter and
her friends are in second grade now, so we haven't faced puberty
or other points where people say there may be issues with the
I also know kids who waited, and so far that's working for most
of them, too - although one has clearly been in the wrong grade,
and is skipping a grade this year.
I was a December kid, the oldest, and I can tell you that my
experience was negative with that - I wasn't as challenged as I
wish I had been academically, and by high school I was itching
to get out in the world earlier than my friends were, and
getting in trouble as a result. I also have friends who were a
year younger than me in my grade growing up, and they had their
own struggles and issues - we all did fine in the end, all went
to good colleges and have made good lives for ourselves.
I don't think there's a 'right' answer, although there are
certainly plenty of people who will act as if there is. When
your child is on the cusp, you will have pluses and minuses to
either choice. FWIW, the National Association for the Education
of Young Children has studies that have led them to say: send
your turning-5-kid to K. You can google for their site and see
what they have to say.
Follow your gut, talk to your son's preschool, and check out the
culture of the school he'd be attending. And then make your
decision and relax!
Thriving November girl's mom
Our son has a mid-fall birthday, and he started Kindergarten
this year at age 4. We regret the decision to start
Kindergarten, and we are now planning on repeating it next year
(if the district lets us). Academically, our son is doing fine
and his teacher thinks he can move on to first grade. The
issue for him is really social maturity. He's more than a year
younger than some of the kids in the class, and he's at least
six months younger than most of them. He mostly says he likes
Kindergarten, and he behaves well in class (maybe because he's
intimidated?), but he has started wetting the bed, acts out at
home more than he used to, and complains of stomach pains a
lot -- all possibly symptoms of anxiety. The kids in school
understand concepts that are too mature for him, and they are
much more physically coordinated. Our son comes home stressed
out about things the kids have told him (about star wars
villians, people being shot, etc) and feeling inferior because
he can't climb as high on the monkey bars. I do think that it
is possible for kids with fall birthdays to do well in
Kindergarten at age 4-5, but it has not been a good situation
for our little guy. I wish we had known this information a
year ago -- we definitely would have waited.
Both of our children have fall birthdays. Our girl, now seven,
has a birthday in November, and our boy, five, was born in
December. They both entered on the early side (our boy had to
apply specially) and we agonized about it greatly, even went to
see Meg Zweiback to consult about it.
The short answer is that they are both doing great. They have
always been advanced academically and are social and outgoing.
What we discovered is that many people, especially professionals
(k-teacher, pediatrician) will tell you to put your girl forward,
keep your boy back. I can't speak for their middle school years,
obviously, but right now with our girl there is no difference
between her and her peers. With the boy, he occasionally wets his
pants but I have seen this in kids of all ages in kindergarten,
so I believe that this is normal. Otherwise, he is reading
already, can add and subtract, and has lots of friends. Even
plays soccer with the older boys at recess.
Bottom line is, follow your own instincts and know your child.
We're considering a move to Albany in time for my son to start
kindergarten. He will turn 5 in mid-September 2008. For parents
with current kindergarteners, what has been your experience
with boys with Fall birthdays? If he starts in 2008, will he
definitely be one of the youngest? If we wait a year, will he
be way older than all his classmates? In general, when people
are considering waiting a year for kindergarten, are they
thinking about birthdays that fall later in the year than
September? Any feedback would be most welcome.
We moved to Albany mid-school year and waited to start our
mid-Sept. daughter in Kindergarten, she turned 6 within a few
weeks of beginning school. Back in the city, nearly all our
friends with fall kids held them back, and her preschool advised
it (she's whip-smart but shy and socially awkward). I think it's
less common out here though, she's definitely one of the older
children in her class (if not the oldest), and there are kids in
1st grade who are younger than her! I can't tell if it's my
imagination, but I sense that other parents (especially of the
very young) dissaprove, but we still feel like we're doing what's
best for our daughter -- she just wasn't ready before now. She's
having a wonderful kindergarten year now (not bored, etc.).
Held Back and Happy
I have been going through the EXACT same thing this year. My
son's birthday is Aug 31. Technically, the public school
deadline is 5 years old by sometime in December. Every private
school I have gone to has a 5 years old by Sept. 1 deadline. I
have been told that, even though he's technically old enough,
it is just too early. Most of the children in private schools
are 6 or more than half way to 6. EVERYONE I have spoken to
said that it is easier on the children (especially boys) to
start at 5 1/2 or 6. I have asked his preschool teachers, my
brother who's a teacher, the professors at the teaching
credential program at St. Mary's college (where he's
attending), my friend the child development specialist, etc.
My 4 year old has a better attention span than most 10 year
olds and can write and almost read and knows his numbers up to
50, but I am still going to wait until next year. Many studies
have shown that trying to teach a child certain things before
their brain is emotionally and developmentally ready gives them
no advantage at all, just stress and social problems.
One more piece of advice - if you are considering private
school, I had NO IDEA they begin interviews and applications as
early as 10 months before the school year begins! I was
shocked. Especially since public schools don't start anything
until May. I started visiting schools in mid January and I had
already missed a couple application deadlines! I guess there's
no easy way for a first-time-parent to learn these things...
wishing it were easier
Decide, as best you can, on your son's readiness. Not his age.
My son is in kindergarten this year in Albany. In the fall, he
told me that everyone in his class was 5 -- but he has one
friend in the other PM-K class who was still 4, and another who
was already 6. Both have done just fine as far as I know. Your
son is unlikely to feel out of place either way just because of
age, if he is developmentally in the right place to start
It's popular to hold fall-birthday kids back, but the Albany
program -- which is only half day -- does not seem to me to be
overly academic or unrealistic for the younger kids. Go to the
Kindergarten Info Night (February 15th at the
Cornell School Multipurpose Room, 7-8pm) for a better idea of
what the ''readiness'' criteria are and a chance to talk to some
of the teachers, if you like.
I have a Kindergarten boy in Albany this year whose birthday is
late September. He is doing well academically and socially and
I feel good about our decision to start him this year. I think
its a decision you have to make for your family based on your
son's readiness. Good luck.
I have two boys, one in 3rd grade and one in kindergarten. The
kids in their classes have varied. There are boys who waited
(who have birthdays as early as May), and those who have begun
with late birthdays (October). It really depends on the child.
I notice that oldest or only children tend to wait and younger
kids go in early. The true test is really your kid. Has he had
nursery school? Is he verbal and fairly calm? Kids who are
really active seem to have a harder time in school - so age might
help. I would talk with parents/teachers who know him to get
better opinions. In my son's classes some of the oldest are the
most immature and younger boys do great.
It all works out
Our verbal, gregarious, active son has an early October
birthday. We were concerned that putting him in kindergarten
before he turned 5 would be too demanding for him, especially
if he were the youngest and smallest. On the other hand, would
holding him back a year leave him the smartest, bossiest kid in
his class, with no challenges? We consulted his preschool
director, who basically said that holding boys back is usually
good for the boy but bad for the class (because held-back
students make it harder for the next year's youngest students--
however, I hear that curriculum is much more advanced now at K
and elementary school levels than it used to be). Finally, my
brother who was teaching K-5 classes said, ''He doesn't need
another year in the sandbox. The things you're worried about
are part of his personality, not things that will change with
development.'' So he turned 5 in kindergarten. Our son is now in
11th grade, and it was clearly the right decision for him. He's
always done well in school, had friends, been active. One of
his high-achieving, ''cool'' male peers is actually younger, with
a mid-November birthday. The main drawback our son found to his
late birthday was that he felt self-conscious in middle school
when he grew later than his friends, and again as a sophomore
when his friends got to drive earlier.
my two cents
In my experience, children with fall birthdays (September, October,
sometimes wait a year, and sometimes don't. Thus, whichever your child
are likely to be others who are about the same age. More important than
chronological age is your particular child's readiness. Do you think
he's ready? What
do his preschool teachers say? The Scholastic website (Scholastic.com)
has a little
questionaire for parents to take to help them decide if they feel their
child is ready
to start kindergarten. It might be worth taking a look at (though of
anything, take it with a grain of salt). The most important aspects of
to be the social-emotional ones.
My advice is, if you have doubts about whether or not he is ready, then
and wait a year. In talking with parents, there are far, far more who
decision to start than to wait.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
An Albany Teacher
My daughter (4 y. 2mo.) seems to be ''ready'' for Kindergarten,
excellent attention span, obedient to teachers...etc... (note:
she is quite small and shy (mude)with ''new'' people (both
adults & kids) until she ''warms up'', she also gets tired
(=tantrums) after ''long days''. I would prefer that she does not
start Kindergarten this year for several reasons, some greatly
discussed, and other more personal like the fact that she would
be ''closer'' in school years to her almost 2 y.o. brother and
also -hopefully- closer in their relationship as siblings by
staying longer at home since she now goes to a 3-hour preschool
program). I will be staying at home anyway and think will enjoy
her a bit more before we ''all'' start the ''school years'' (with
its pros and its stresses). But of course I want what it is best
for her and we are not sure what to decide! She likes playing
with older children (girls) but most preschoolers say so,
right?. Some people say she will be bored with younger/more
immature children if she waits. Will it be too easy/boring?? We
will try the Spanish immersion program at Cragmon (with good
chances they say, since she speaks Spanish, very little
English). Any advice from families/educators with similar
Most private kindergartens in the area would not accept your daughter unless
she was 5 years old by September. Public schools have thought about
changing this too, but most still use December 1. Your daughter is so
close to a Dec 1 birthday that if you are on the fence, and you can wait,
I'd say wait the extra year.
Give her the extra year. I speak from two perspectives, one as
the Aunt of a November girl who was bright, loved preschool,
played well, and so my sister entered her in kindergarten when
she was still four. She ended up needing to do first grade twice
-- because she wasn't ready developmentally to read. Now, as a
7th grader, and one of the older kids in the class, she's doing
well academically. My other perspective is as a high school
teacher. What I have noticed is that many 9th graders with fall
birthdays have more difficulties than the ones with spring
birthdays. My guess is that it is because they missed out on
basics and developing good study habits in elementary school
because they weren't ready when their classmates were ready.
mother of a spring baby
We had the same decision to make 2 years ago with our daughter
with an 11-24 birthday (now 6 and in kindergarten). There is
no doubt that she was academically ready for kindergarten when
she was 4 (turning 5), but we decided to hold her back and put
her in a prekindergarten program. We still think that was the
right choice for her. She needed some more maturity (we still
have problems with bursting into tears when things don't go her
way, and that would have been worse last year). and rather
than being bored (she does already know a lot of the work that
is being taught in kindergarten), we have found the extra prep
has given her the chance to be very successful and excel at
school, which seems to increase her desire to learn. One
factor in our decision was that we knew she was a
perfectionist, and we thought having her doing work that was
too easy was better than doing work that was too hard.
Overall, she is happy; we are happy; and I think it was the
right decision for her.
In talking to others when we made the choice, the sentiment
seemed to be unanimous that it was better to hold back than
push forward. The only negative I have heard is that when
these children reach middle school/high school, they can be
self-conscious about maturing physically ahead of other kids.
and there can be a down side to your child turning 18 before
they graduate high school (if they decide to quit or do
anything else you don't approve of, you have lost your legal
parental rights to control what they do).
Hope this helps.
Hold her back. She will be the youngest child, perhaps by as
much as 18 months. My son has an 11/30 birthday and we held him
back, even waiting a year he is by no means the oldest in his
class. There were at least 4 children in his kindergarten class
with birthdays between July and November. If you send your
daughter to kindergarten when she is 4 years 8 mos she will be in
the same class with children that are already 6. Kindergarten
readiness is about physical and emotional readiness as much if
not more than academic readiness. The things you have described,
shy, tired, tantrums all indicate that she would be better served
by waiting a year.
Even if she makes it through kindergarten, problems often emerge
in first and second grade when the emotional maturity levels will
be more pronounced and the academic challenges are greater. My
son is now in second grade and in first grade and again this year
in second grade children had to repeat - it is far more tramatic
for the child when they have to go back and repeat first grade
after already moving on to second. If it were me I would not
give this a second thought -keep her at home for another year
never looked back
You will have plenty of company if you don't send her to kindergarten
year. She might be bored if she is in a preschool that is really a
day-care or where
all the kids are younger than her. But there are plenty of preschools
with 5 year olds
in the oldest group.
We have a boy with a December birthday. It is the fashion
nowadays to ''red-shirt'' your children by holding them back, so
we were pressured into waiting before starting kindergarten,
even though our son was smart, had a long attention span, and
appeared ready for K.
Well, the problem is that now he is horribly bored in school.
As a result, he is acting out and getting into trouble, and
refusing to do his homework, claiming it's too easy. But when
we asked his school to put him up a grade, they refused. (This
is a private school, by the way, where I know of two cases
where they allowed parents to hold their child back a year,
once in 2nd grade and once in 4th.) I'm concerned he's getting
completely turned off from academics.
I'd recommend starting your daughter in K next year if you can.
She sounds ready. K is usually only half-day or is shorter than
the full school day. If she has problems, it's very easy to
hold her back a year, but really hard to move ahead a grade.
Wish we hadn't taken this one-way trip
I would strongly recommend waiting another year to put your daughter in
kindergarten. I, my first grader, my 5 year old, and my 2 year old are
or January birthdays, and all started (or will start) kindergarten at
age 5 1/2.
Even though your daughter is bright, obedient and has a good attention
mention several factors that tell me she should wait--her shyness,
fact that she mostly speaks Spanish, and the fact that she gets tired
days''. Those things will affect her ANYWAY when she starts
kindergarten, but will
affect her MORE if she's only 4 3/4 years old. The maturity just isn't
Just last week I attended a kindergarten open house at a public
and the two teachers stressed how important it is to allow kids the
time to mature in
preschool or at home, and how hard it is for the youngest kids in the
compared to the 5+ kids. The older ones tend to cope much better.
A lot of pressure is put on kindergartners these days, and the older
the kid is, the
better they cope. Please keep her home an extra year!
A Berkeley mom of 3
Our daughter's birthday is late December. She could easily
have tested into 1st grade (the school made that an option
after she started school.) She had no social issues, in fact
was quite mature socially. Still we kept her in K. Her
preschool teacher said, don't think about the girl now, think
about the pre-teen or the girl going off to college; do you
want her to have an 'extra' year of maturity under her belt?
So we did and I'm glad. BTW in her first grade class at least
1/3 of the kids are plus or minus one month of her age. So she
isn't the oldest at all. Keep in mind in any independent
schools the cutoff is Sept. 1 anyway. My last thought is it
would be very wise to give heavy weight to her social comfort,
so my vote would be to delay K. for a year.
Hi Everyone -
My big six year old boy just started kindergarten in the BUSD and
I'm wondering if anyone has any advice about moving him up to
first grade? He can write his name, knows how to add, subtract,
understands fractions, is starting to sound out words, can focus
and follow directions.
Last year he seemed too young and tender for kindergarten, but
now he seems a little out of place. All constructive advice is
We also considered skipping my son to 1st grade when he entered
school. He was way ahead of most kids his age in writing, reading,
math, ability to sit still, etc. I am SO glad we did not skip him. The
kindergarten year is so very important to getting acclimated to the
elementary school environment. And I find that kids develop their
concept of boredom based on their parents. If parents are worried that
their kid is too far above all the kids, then the kids start modeling that
behavior. My son had a blast in kindergarten. He went from being very
shy to being much more outgoing. His teacher didn't believe me when I
told her he was shy! I think his confidence in his abilities really helped
him come out of his shell. Also, what are you really pushing him toward?
What is the real difference going to be in the long run? Not much, really.
It is better to continue to encourage his abilities and teach him that there
is always something to be learned at school: making friends, fun
projects, new books, and so on. As a teacher once told me in high
school: only boring people get bored.
Your son can skip kindergarten because kindergarten is not
mandatory. But he can not enter the first grade at 5, he has to
be 6 by December 1 or 5th, something like that. So just keep
him there for the socialization and after first grade, because
of age - they will decide if he should skip grades but he can't
until he's 7.
ex-private school administrator
Please be warned about skipping: your child will always be the
youngest. Our son went to kindergarten too soon (his b-day falls
in November) and we've regretted it since he's always been the
youngest in class. This may present problems because of too much
pressure put on the kids (especially these days..). My son is
very bright but could not handle it emotionally. There might
also be a social problem, depending on the kid, of course.
I think the most important thing to consider is not your boy's skill level--
writiing, adding, etc.--but his degree of socialization. Kindergarten is
about 20% learniing and 80% developing social skills. There are all
kind of kids in kindergarten: dreamy, shy, bright, gregarious and
inteligent, too. They are all there to learn how to work with each other
and together, to learn limits, respect, and even a little discipline, and--
most importantly--from an authority figure who is not a parent.
If your son is already developed in these areas then, of course, send
him past K. But I doubt he is (really, none of them are) and anyway I
think K is too valuable and beautiful a grade for anyone to skip.
It doesn't sound like your son would really be "skipping" kindergarten
the way most people mean it, where he is younger than every other kid in the class.
This is a case where you decided to wait
an extra year for him to start kindergarten, and
now, a year later, it seems like maybe you shouldn't have waited.
At 6 years old, your son is the same age that most kids start
the first grade, so he's right on track. If it were me, I would
start him in first grade. Sounds like he's ready.
Mom of 3 boys
Our son will be 5 next October and we are trying to decide when
to start him in kindergarden. He is average in size (and we
expect he'll be on the short side), does well socially, is able
to sit still, follow directions, etc. He has a great
vocabulary, but isn't necessarily advanced in terms of learning
letters or showing an interest in reading
It seems like everyone I talk to who has a strong opinion thinks
we should wait to start him, making him one of the oldest in his
class. Does anyone have experiences to share about starting
kids (boys, especially) before their 5th birthdays? I was the
youngest in my class as a kid and that always made me feel
smart. I would hate for him to get the opposite message if we
held him back. Thanks!
Actually, a child turning six in October would not necessarily be
the oldest child in his kindergarten class. My son turned six in
September after starting kindergarten and there were tons of
birthdays shortly after his and several before. The movement
these days is to wait as kindergarten curriculum has become much
more academic. What used to be taught in first grade is now
taught in kindergarten. There are lots of things to take into
account in deciding these things; preschool teacher
recommendations, your child's maturity, whether his peers will be
in preschool next year or moving on to kindergarten, etc. I am
really happy we waited and my son is thriving in kindergarten.
Don't let your son's age be the deciding factor, the other things
I just listed are also really important.
My son sounds a lot like yours and is also born in October. After many
discussions with his pre-school teachers, other parents dealing with
the same situation, and feedback from a private school evaluation, we sent him
to kindergarten the year he turned 5 in October.
He is now in second grade and doing great in school. He has many
friends, and he seems happy and in the place he should be. He is one of the
younger kids though I'm not sure you could walk into his class and have any one
of the younger kids stand out as not being ready to be there. We've never
made a big deal about him being younger so he thinks nothing of it. In fact, the
handful of children that are on the older side, look much older than the others
and seem to have more challenges with the work.
I know this is a highly personal issue and I'm sure you'll get many
responses in favor of waiting a year but we have felt very good about our decision
for our son and don't have any regrets.
One thing that definitely tipped our decision towards sending him
without waiting was by looking at the kids in his preschool that were staying
another year and the kids that were off to kindergarten. He seemed to us to be
much more like the kids moving up (in social skills, maturity, interests,
etc.) than the kids that were staying another year. I should also note that my son,
like yours, was not an early reader or much interested in writing before
Here are some data from my son's school. I'll stick to boys, but
the data on girls at the school is not very different.
Three out of the eight boys in my son's first grade class have
September birthdays so they turned 5 shortly after starting K
last year. One of the three is my son. There are also a few
Sept-Nov birthday boys in the current kindergarten and second
grade classes. All are doing fine. That doesn't mean that they're
perfectly well-behaved, disciplined little angels. They can focus
on their tasks and follow directions much of the time, but like
all kids they have academic and social ups and downs. The
teachers expect this and know how to work with them. Teachers at
any decent school will surely do the same.
None of these boys is very big. Small to average, I'd say. None
of them has needed any protection, because teasing and bullying
are not part of the school's culture. That too should be the
same at any decent school.
My son's class also has a couple of boys who were 6, or almost 6,
when they started K. They're doing fine as well. All the kids
in the class play well together despite a one-year age gap
between some of them.
All the boys are bright and active but none of them is noticeably
''advanced.'' By the way, I don't think kids make connections like
''I'm younger so I'm smarter,'' unless they hear such things from
others. A sensible school will make sure that kids realize that
people develop in different ways and that a few months difference
in age is no indicator of a difference in intelligence.
If possible, take your son to a few schools and talk to the
teachers there. That will help you decide what's right for him,
not just what's right for a ''Generic Fall Birthday Boy.''
mother of boy with Sept b'day
We have 2 fall birthdays (boys), and we started the first
early, and held the second one back. The first was very
mature, smart, long attention span, curious, etc and it seemed
like it would be a waste to keep him in preschool another year
or to dotwo years of kindergarden and that he would be bored.
Now he's in 4th grade and looking at middle school, I am
wishing we held him, and searching for a way to maybe do that
now. Middle school kids just seem huge and the whole place so
intimidating that it seems he could really benefit from another
year in his cozy elementary school evironment. We heard from
everyone we asked that no one who holds their kid back regrets
it (and I think you can see this on the archives as a fairly
consistent trend), but some those that pushed ahead do regret
it, sooner or later. People told us that another year could
never hurt, and that's why we ended up giving our younger son
an extra year (he'll start K next year, when he's almost 6).
By the way, most private schools dont even accept kids unless
they turn 5 by July or August. Good luck with whatever
decision you make.
Put him in early. Everyone says it can be so tramic to be the
youngest but the oldest can be hard too. Some kids might
think your ''dumb'' and if you're really smart that you should
be in the next grade. You son sounds like a great child, and
very smart and capable for his age. And if it really doesn't
work, you could take him and put him back in preschool until
he's five and ready but really, just try! Children deserve the
Our son began kindergarten at the end of August and turned 5 in
early October. Though all his preschool teachers and parents of
his classmates told us how ready they thought he was, I panicked
slightly just before he was to begin, having heard a lot of buzz
about holding back boys (especially those not 5 before the start
of kindergarten). Frankly, it seems rather trendy these days to
do just that, but you really must decide for yourself - you know
your child best. Speak to his preschool teachers, and see if his
prospective kindergarten does any sort of ''readiness'' evaluation
in the spring (ours did). You can actually find some K
readiness ''tests'' online, but it's really better to speak to the
teacher's he's with now and those he might have in kindergarten.
I think you would know if he weren't ready! By how you describe
him (social, verbal, able to listen and sit still...) he sounds
ready to me.
I have two boys, born in October and August. We sent both on
rather than hold them, and have regretted the decision in both
cases. The problem is not the academics. Rather, both are
unusual gifted kids, with all the quirks that go with that
decidedly mixed blessing, and have found the going tough
socially. They are as much as 18 months younger than some kids,
which means the other kids are bigger, better athletes, and
often expert teasers. My young boys do not have the social
deftness to deal with the teasing, physical inferiority, and
other stuff that goes along with the rough-and-tumble boy
world. The first year of middle school was a nightmare for the
older one, who has difficulty with organization and suffered
painfully with expectations normed to older kids (a! nd girls).
In retrospect, I happily would trade some academic boredom
(which my kids have even now) for being more socially right-
sized. So trust your gut on this one. If your child is very
socially secure and advanced, go ahead and start him. If not,
think about holding him back.
Note: you know your child best, so salt my ramblings with your
own common sense. As a middle school teacher, I often see that
the ''younger'' kids are struggling with organizational issues,
as well as abstract thought, even though they are very smart
and able to do the concrete stuff better than the others. This
lack of organization KILLS the parents and the teachers, but
the kids seem fine. And they eventually get it. This applies
both to the question of fall birthdays, but even more so to the
kids who are deemed smart enough to skip a grade. Those are the
ones that I am really seeing suffer.
So I guess my point is that they are young in K, but they are
also young for the rest of their schooling, and it would be
interesting to hear if others have found that it was a burden
later, though it may have been a boon when they were 5.
Everything you described about your son sound like the checklist
for kindergarten readiness. I don't think they HAVE to know all
their letters, be interested in reading words on own, etc.
before kindergarden; just know if you're doing a public school
they will be expected to read by the end of kindergarten.
Probably there will be children a full year older as well as
some younger, up to the cut-off dates. I'd give it a try, even
though the trend is to wait it should be based on the child.
I was so glad to see responses to your post encouraging you to send your fall
birthday boy to kindergarten. I have a boy born in October who will be going
to high school next fall. He was ready to leave preschool and turned 5 in
kindergarten. He's been fine socially and academically ever since. My
experience has been that some issues that came up as my son (and other kids
his age) got older were based on personality and temperment as much as birth
date, meaning that these issues would probably come up even if the child had
been held back. You often hear that it's ok in elementary school but in middle
and high school, when they start physically maturing, that your child may feel
left out. We haven't found this to be the case. For each child, puberty
starts on its own schedule, not the calendar, i.e.! not everyone is at the
same point even if they are the same age. Some of the kids in my son's class
are into ''dating'' and some aren't, and believe me there are ''younger'' and
''older'' kids in both groups. What's important is that your son be able to
find a group of kids going his speed, and I'm sure he will. It's always a
little scary to look ahead. When my son was in K, the 5th graders looked huge
and when we visited middle schools the 8th graders looked like grown men and
women, and now that he's in 8th grade...well, you get the point. I encourage
you to make the decision based on your child and the demands of school you
want to send him to and not on trends. In the end you may decide holding him
back is the right thing, but I believe a child who's really ready will be
fine. Been There
We started my son before 5 (September baby) and we have no
regrets. He has been able to shine academically and he has many
friends from his class that are the same age or even younger. In
our (public) school, there are so many variances among the
children that age was never a detriment. Many of our friends did
hold their children back and if they are any indication, I
couldn't be happier with the results. They are not challenged by
their work, and have experienced many more trips to the
teacher/principal than I have. I can rack some of it up to
tempermant, but some of it involves boredom. I am one parent who
is happy with her fall baby starting before 5.
At the risk of bringing this up yet again, my little girl will be
turning 4 at the end of November and we are wondering if we
should send her to kindergarten next year (we live in Berkeley).
She is tall, verbal, and quite socialized, and people always
think she is older than she is. Her preschool teacher believes
she will be ready.
However, we have a son who has a December birthday and will not
make the cutoff, and we wonder if there will be a potential
problem having them 3 years apart rather than 2 (besides the fact
that we will probably get less financial aid when they go to
college - but that's still a long way off). Also, lately she has
started saying ''I don't want to go to kindergarten'' for no
apparent reason except that she hears us talking about it. She
has said she's afraid it will be ''too hard'' and she has already
shown perfectionist-first child tendencies.
I checked the website and there is a long discussion about boys,
but not girls. Any new stories/experiences would be appreciated.
I have a precocious, tall, socially adept 10 year old who is now
a middle-schooler. Yes, she is younger than everyone in her
class, and you would never know it. Her teachers say a) they
were shocked to find out how much younger she is, and b) they
never remember that she is a December baby. Truth to be told,
some of the kids who are 8-12 mos older than she act more
immature than she does (at school, that is).
We deferred to my daughter's pre-school teachers who felt,
strongly, that it was wrong for my daughter to ''stay back.'' Time
has proven that they were right. And, if I plumb the deep
recesses of my brain, I can remember a few moments around 3rd,
4th grade were my daughter stubbornly (immaturely?) insisted on
parity and justice in every thing that was metted out. She is
sort of the parity and even justice queen, so that might have
been a function of her budding Supreme Court Justice personality
not a function of her age.
Good luck to you
Age not a problem in my doll
I, too, have a daughter with a late birthday. (Oct 31)
Regardless of her readiness, we will be sending her to
kindergarten when she is 5 going on 6 rather than 4 going
on 5. First of all, I am a teacher and I've seen first hand how
the older children benefit, especially in kindergarten where
the developmental gap can be so large. Secondly, we feel
that there is no reason to rush her into school. The
pressures of schools have changed so much.
Kindergarten used to be play based and now they're doing
what first grades used to do. (generally speaking) Looking
down the line, I don't want her leaving the nest a year early.
In your case, you're considering your daughter's size, which
is certainly a factor, as is her readiness. Those are valid
points to consider. BUT, in determining her true readiness,
listen to her. Children know much more about themselves
than we often give them credit. If the thought of going to
kindergarten is scary, there's a good chance that she's not
ready. This is what I communicated to parents when I
taught kindergarten and I was asked about readiness.
Maybe you want to visit a few kindergarten classrooms, get
to know the expectations and then decide if your daughter is
Good luck with your decision.
The National Association on the Education of Young Children
article on delaying school entry is now available online at
My son has a 8/31 birthdate. Right now he is the youngest member
in his preschool class, which he is doing fairly well in.
Developmentally, he plays/interacts/works well with the older 4-
5 yr olds in his class. But kindergarten could be a whole
different thing. What is the best age to start a boy in
kindergarten? Should I start him at the Sept just after he turns
5 yrs old or wait a year? I would love to here people's
thoughts/experiences on this.
First of all, I'd like to note that as the demands of
kindergarten get more and more ''academic'' with the rigorous
state standards, I think they should just go ahead and change
the cut-off for starting so kids start older. However, they
haven't, so I took the attitude that if the state lets them
start school, school should be suitable for their age! My son
has a mid-October birthday and started kindergarten at 4. He
has been the youngest or almost-youngest in every grade so
far. So far (entering 5th grade this fall), it's been fine,
both academically and socially, but I worry a little about
middle school. Like many other parents, I think it has more to
do with the particular child than the age, (some ''immature''
kids may still be relatively ''immature''- just bigger!), but
since so many parents hold their children back now (especially
boys), whatever you decide you won't be alone.
My daughter is also born in October, and was always the
youngest AND tallest in her class through elementary school.
If we had waited with her, she would have been WAY taller than
her classmates. She excelled in school (still does), though
socially the first few years were not so smooth (she was fine
with friends, and had lots of them, but teachers found her a
mom of two October babies
You really need to assess where your child is maturity wise
before making a decision. Your preschool can probably give you
some in advice in assessing that. That said, I have never met a
parent who regretted waiting another year but I have met a fair
number of parents who wished they had. My son is a September
birthday and we waited a year. Best thing we ever did. As it
happens none of his friends went on and I really watched them all
blossom that last year of preschool. Lots of parents worry their
child will be bored with 3 years of preschool but actually I
thought all the kids seemed to really enjoy it. They get the
chance to be leaders, to really self-direct their activities and
to develop their social relationships. I expect that it would
make a difference what your preschool is like and if any other
children of the same age would be there that year. One important
thing to know is that the trend these days is to start kids a
little older and if you didn't, your child could be quite a bit
younger than his classmates. Kindergarten has gotten more
academic in the public schools so more parents are waiting.
Second children tend to be ready younger than firsts I notice. My
cousin started her Sept. born son early and regrets it now as he
enters 7th grade and is more immature than his friends -
physically and emotionally. I hadn't thought beyond kindergarten.
It really does come down to you looking at your own situation -
the school, his friends and most importantly his readiness. Some
kids really are ready younger and ultimately you're the best
expert. Meg Zweibeck does a evening lecture usually once or twice
a year on ''Kindergarten Readiness'' look for the notice in
Parent's Press. She gives specifics on what to look for to
determine if your child is ready. I think that would really help
you. Good luck!
My son has an 8/21 birthday. He will be five this August and we
were faced with this dilemma recently. He will be old enough for
Kindergarten for Fall 2003 but we decided to keep him in
preschool another year.
We asked for input from his teachers at his school, grandparents,
other parents of boys... and the consensus we got for our kid was
''hold him back.'' Every child is unique so you need to really
consider what is best for him.
The things that really influenced us to delay K another year:
1) his activity level and interests. He loves to play running
games, be very active, and just wants to PLAY. He is only now
starting to get into rule-based games and only now has the
patience to sit/pay attention for 20 minutes or more at a time.
2) he has very poor motor skills. He has only just learned how to
write his name but it is not legible (I only know what it is
because I see him writing it). He can read very well, but he just
does not have the fine motor skills to write or do small tasks.
3) he has poor impulse control. He still lashes out when he gets
mad, instead of using vocabulary.
There is more, but these are the three things that influenced us
to keep him in preschool another year.
Hope this helps!
I have a boy who just finished kindergarten, and he is fairly
mature for his age. After reading the advice on the website I
entered him later rather than earlier, so he was the fourth
oldest in his class. It was definitely the right move, and
that was reinforced by the younger boys in the class, who were
just not ready to be out of pre-school emotionally. I would
wait again given the same choice.
My son's birthday is 8/29, he is now 16 and if I had it to do
over again, I would have waited to have him start Kindergarten
until he was turning 6. At the time everyone felt he was more
than ready, he was also in a small preschool and all but one
child went into the same school for kindergarten and we felt it
important that he start with all his buddies and not be the only
one held back. What we didn't realize is that there would be
many more repercussions than we had imagined, that even now
occur. One example - When he began organized sports,it turns out
all the age cut offs are July so every other year his friends
moved up into the new age groups and he had to stay behind, so
every other year he could not play soccer/little league with his
friends. Last year this was critical and he refused to play fall
soccer since he couldn't play with the players of his high
school team who were all moving up to the next age group. Last
year he couldn't get a job because most of the places would only
take you if you were 16, he turned 16 the week he went back to
school. All of his friends did work last summer. This year,
there are so few jobs and no one will hire him because he has no
experience,or they aren't hiring under 18, kind of a catch 22.
And this of couse will be a problem again next summer as he
again will still not be 18 but going away to school. And in
general, he is generally less mature than some of his friends,
and the maturity, dedication to school and organization we are
now finally seeing would have served him much better when he was
a sophmore rather than as a junior. So I would carefully
consider your decision. Educationally and socially my son would
have been better off as an older child, rather than the
youngest. My son has wonderful supportive friends, but I really
think school would have been less of a struggle for both him and
us if he had been older.
i recommend reading Raising Cain. the title threw me off ( i
though it was just about really bad boys or boys who had extreme
problems), but it is one of the best books i have read on boy
development, especially on the emotional side (i have a twelve
year old son).
the authors have worked with boys for over 25 years and talk
about some of the things they have learned in working with
them. but i recommend the book for helping you decide when to
put your boy in school because it talks about how boys develop
differently than girls.
of course you are their parent and will be the best judge but
you may find this will ease your decision if you decide he can
I have two late boys -- one October, one August. Both are
gifted kids, way ahead academically. In both cases, I sent them
on to kindergarten rather than hold them back. In both cases, I
have come to regret that decision. Many boys have been held a
year, so there are kids 18 months (or more) older than my boys.
They are much bigger, much better at sports, threatened by young
boys who can compete academically, and terrific at bullying the
young/vulnerable boys. Middle school has been a nightmare for
the older one; he is immature as well as young and is not near
ready for the organization or social accuity required to
survive. We are considering changing schools and have him
repeat 6th grade to belatedly right-size him. Given the chance
again, I would gladly trade the risk of academic boredom (they
are bored anyway) for the social benefits of not being the
youngest boy. An added plus: you have them another year before
they go on to their adult lives.
My 19 year old son was born on 9/14 so we faced the same
question. We chose to send him ahead to public school (he also
was doing fine in nursery school and his teachers thought he
should go to kindergarten). Private schools that have older age
requirements for starting school are a very different situation.
I think there are pros and cons to both keeping them back and
sending them on and that the best thing you can do is make your
decision and then leave any possible regrets behind--knowing that
whatever decision you make won't be perfect.
Here's what my son has to offer: ''the only time I wished I was a
year older instead of younger was for sports. I got bigger
slower than most other kids so I would have been better at water
polo had I been older. Otherwise I did just fine. It would have
been nice to be 18 in my senior year in high school and be a bit
bigger for sports but thats it.''
I know what a tough decision it is! I was very grateful that my
second child, a girl, was born in February.
Our son will have the same situation (oct baby) ... and we are
going to wait. every child is different. perhaps you can get
some advice from his preschool teachers, and see how he is
My vote (thanks for asking) is to allow your 5 y.o. boy more time
to explore his creativity and self as a young child before he
starts school. Whether he can handle kindergarten isn't the
issue. Children do what they must, and this isn't a decision for
a child to make either.
Hi. I am a Kindergarten teacher in a public school, Title I, low-
income neighborhood, 100% free lunch. I just finished teaching
my fifth year of K. I understand your ambivalence regarding
when to enroll your son. My son's birthday is early September
and I enrolled him (not in my class) in K when he was just
turning 5 because he already knew all of the alphabet and
numbers to 10 and could write his name pretty well. He is
turning 9 now and is the top reader in his class in an upper-
middle class environment. He also scores above 95th percentile
on the STAR tests even with a birthday that some would consider
In my own classroom I have seen 4-yr-olds, born in November, do
exceptionally well, bettering many other children 6 months older
than they. A lot of these children have very little, if any,
parental support. I think that sometimes you just have to put
the child in the environment and see how he/she does. I would
be interested to discuss this with you at length if you would
like to talk more about it. Good luck with whatever you decide.
The issue of when to enter your child into kindergarten is a
recurrent one …. In this regard, an informative article which
reviews the research literature and provides advice for teachers
in helping parents make this decision will be published in the
September issue of Young Children, the journal of the National
Association for the Education of Young Children. The complete
article, “Opportunity Deferred or Opportunity Taken An Updated
Look at Delaying Kindergarten Entry” by Hermine H. Marshall, will
also appear online in September at
www.naeyc.org/resources/journal/ and then click on Beyond the
The article differentiates between an outdated view of child
development where children are viewed as maturing according to
their own time line and a more current view where stimulation,
guidance, and instruction are believed to be required for
development and learning. Advocates of delaying kindergarten
entry generally hold the former view, whereas those who see the
benefits of appropriate kindergarten instruction and intervention
encourage children to enter kindergarten when they are eligible.
After reviewing the best research available, the article
concludes that in general, there are no academic or social
advantages to delaying kindergarten entry. Any early differences
found generally disappear by Grade 3, and most of the differences
found are usually attributable to young age plus low ability or
bias in ratings. In fact, there may be disadvantages to delaying
kindergarten entry, such as lower self-concept and, by high
school, increased drop-outs and behavior problems.
Among the factors to consider in making a decision are the nature
of the kindergarten program and intervention services available
for children who may need special help as well as what you would
like your child to be like in 10-15 years.
I'm another mom who given another chance would have started her
late October son a year later. He was and is academically strong
and so we based our decision on the ''boredom'' factor, rather
ignoring his relative immaturity. Well, he is oftentimes bored
ANYWAY in school and his behavior was a serious problem until
rather recently (he's now an 8th grader). Impulse control, being
class clown to gain attention, etc, in other words immature
behavior. He's now matured quite a bit in terms of his behavior
(no more phone calls home!!) but he still is definitely younger
than his classmates (some of whom are more than a year older than
him). He's just starting puberty while others are well into their
physical change and is still definitely a ''boy'', still liking
even to play knights, etc. with his little brother. In some ways,
I'm glad cause so many kids these days are growing up TOO fast,
but its clear to me that he would be socially more comfortable if
he was a year behind himself (he tends to gravitate toward
younger kids). I agree with the other responder who said that
she's never heard anyone say they wished they HADN'T waited a
year, just those parents that say they wished they HAD. Our other
child is an early Spring baby and WHAT A DIFFERENCE (of course
being the second kid makes a big difference too).
We have two (very tall) sons born in Oct. and Nov., now 21
and 17. We did not hold them back, and it was a mistake for
them both that I regret almost daily. Our older son is
extremely bright but had difficulty learning to read, and he
developed tremendous insecurity around school
performance that still plagues him today. Our younger son
is simply immature in many ways, and he is also not a
conceptual thinker. Although he learned to read early, the
challenge of academics in upper grades was too great, and
he just gave up. Despite their height, both would have been
far better off waiting a year.
You probably don't need a shred more input on this topic, but
since we've just been through the process of making a similar
decision I thought I'd pipe in anyhow! From reading all the
posts on this topic, old and new, it seems the decicion must be
made based on your child. And it will be interesting to read the
report the NAEYC puts out in September. But from conversations
with several early childhood/elementary school teachers in our
extended family, and lots of other reading on the subject, it
seems to me there is lots of information in support of boys
being at least 5 1/2 for kindergarten. I think the current
official age for public school kindergarten in California,
particularly because of what kindergarten is in most schools
these days, is a bit too young. We have relatives in other
places in the U.S. where the public school age cut off is to be
5 before June 1, which seems about right. As much as our family
wants to participate in public school education, we will
probably go to private school simply because the curriculums and
teaching approaches at the progressive private schools I've seen
seem more appropriate for our kid's learning style, though we've
got some time to wait and see. With the private school age cut-
off our son would be the youngest if he went this year or the
oldest next year. Though academically our son would probably be
fine in kindergarten this fall, given that he is small, shy and
still working on impulse control another year to play and
develop social competence feels like the right decision. And
with his make-up, in the long run, being the oldest will
probably be better for him than being the youngest. By the way,
it seems that a school with mixed ages may be a good solution
for some kids, so they have a wide range of opportunity to meet
their needs socially and academically. Good luck with your
-another parent of a late summer boy
When this topic comes up, I always wonder why no one mentions
that when many children are held back from kindergarten for a
year, it de facto shifts the age cut off. If parents of
Novermber boys, and then October boys and maybe November girls,
and then September boys ... hold their children back, we are
simply moving the cut off. Is this what we as a community want?
Should boys simply start at first grade, if academics aren't the
issue (which most posters say)? I am interested in the entire
picture, rather than one particular child.
After reading the mostly positive responses for later enrollment
of boys in kindergarten, what does this do to the age and
physical balance in the classroom they enter, especially for the
girls. My ''Orwellian'' fear is that we have 5-year-old girls,
smaller 5-year-old boys and larger 6 year-old boys. What does
this do to the command of the classroom? I would love to hear
from mothers of girls in these classrooms to hopefully asuage my
possibly unwarranted fears.
In response to the question about the effect of holding so many
younger boys back on the age distribution in kindergarten a
friend of mine looking into her neighborhood school in Lafayette
was told that the youngest boy in their kindergarten class had an
April birthday. Sounds like it's a de facto policy out here to
start the younger boys later.
To the parent who asked what holding boys back does to the other
kindergardeners in the classroom. I would like to share my
disasterous experience with you. I started my delightful,
normal, wonderful son at the appropriate time. He was the same
age and size as the girls, but 40% of the boys were 12-18 months
older than him. Other than one boy his size, the next smallest
boy was a good foot taller than him. The interactions with
these boys were often negative, as older kids take great pride
in their ability to outperform the younger ones. He was even
physically scrunched out of his space at the table. I could
tell the teacher's expectations were affected by the presence of
older, more mature children in her classroom. My son, who is
giftedly perceptive, began having panic attacks,
hyperventilating, and calling himself a bad boy. After over a
month of intense negotiating, I got the school to allow him into
a different kindergardener class that had age appropriate
children. He had a great second half of the year. My older son
has had the same experience. 40% of the boys in his second grade
class were also much older. You know who they are in an
instant, because there is no comparison size, maturity wise, or
performance wise. I believe it unfairly skews classroom
expectations and experience. My experience with both of my sons
has let me see that this imbalance is a serious problem, and I
have decided to devote time and energy attempting to get my
school district to limit parent choice to circumstances where it
can be shown that starting a child would lead to serious
emotional distress or the like. I have also seen that being so
much older leads to real disadvantages for these boys on the
back end. Alot of my work involves representing delinquent
children, and I have found that the older boys often become
bored with school, which leads to acting out behaviors. Also,
they are much harder to get to complete school as they generally
don't want to be in high school at eighteen and beyond.
To Parents of Teens newsletter:
I'm hoping some parents of teens will share their perspective on a
decision made a number of years ago: If you have a child with a fall
birthday -- October, November, even December -- in retrospect, how did
your decision on when to begin school work out for your child --
whether it was to start your child in kindergarten before s/he turned
five or to wait a year or even to repeat Kindergarten? My daughter,
who turned five in late November, has been in a private kindergarten
in a class of eight kids since September and is doing very well. Her
teacher says she's ready to transfer to first grade (which will be in
a public school) next fall. My concern focuses not on the next year
or two but rather the middle and high school years, when peer pressure
is strong, hormones are raging, and having as much maturity as
possible to make good choices is so important. Obviously, every child
is different, but in general, how do you (and your child) feel about
the choice you made? And if you did choose to have your child repeat
Kindergarten, how did you frame the decision in a positive way for
My daughter's birthday is Nov 3. She was a bright, socially adept 4
yr old and could have easily gone to kindergarten that year. I chose
not to send her to until the next year when she was 5 - almost six. I
did this hoping that in the middle and high school years I would have
a more self-confident, responsible teenager making slightly more
mature social decisions during this tough age then she would if she
was a full year younger when faced with these issues. She is now in
9th grade and I am very happy with my decision. Every kid is
different, but with our school system sending kids to middle school
in sixth grade (as opposed to Jr. High in 7th) they are pushed very
early into the teenage scene with its social pressures. The more
maturity they have the better. Same goes for starting College, a
child who starts kindergarten before their 5th birthday, will start
college at 17. Is this an advantage? I think it is more of an
advantage to participate in more dramatic play etc as a 5 yr old.
Learning reading and math one year earlier will not determine whether
you get into Harvard or not. I have talked to other parents and have
never met anyone who regretted having their child wait to start
kindergarten, only ones who regretted sending them earlier.
California's Dec 1st cut-off is very late. My daughter wouldn't even
have been eligible to go in most other states. Good luck with your
I have a 16-year-old with a November birthday who is a sophomore. He
did one year of a small private kindergarten, one year of public school
kindergarten, and then started first grade when he was almost seven. I
have a 13-year-old with an August birthday who started public school
kindergarten when she was just five, after a year in a cooperative
preschool where she did an afternoon pre-K program.
I'm not sure it was the right choice for either one, but if I had to pick
the possibly bigger mistake, it was starting the 13-year-old "early." AT
16, my son looks like a grown man, and he feels ready to run his own life.
On the other hand, we held him back because of social issues, and he
continues to be pretty immature in how he handles responsibilities--
although he is getting better. We would have blamed all his elementary
school problems on starting him early had we done so, but he still had
social issues when he started a year later. As he has gotten older, his
size has actually helped him resist social pressure. No one messes with
him, and he seems comfortable in setting his own goals, not following
anyone elses (including ours, of course).
My daughter has never fit in socially. Would it have been better if she
had started a year later? I don't know--she's just a very private person
who doesn't like to share herself with very many people. Academically, in
the early years of elementary school, it was clear that she felt she was
being pushed too fast. She actually did very well in kindergarten, and
seemed well prepared for first grade, but she fell apart when she got
there. Everything from "Wednesday folders" to "milk tickets" was a
tremendous challenge. We finally took her out of the public school for 2
years and put her in Mills primary school, where the 2/3/4 classroom was
set up like a kindergarten, and she felt able to move at her own pace.
She returned to public school in 5th grade and has been strugling ever
since. On the other hand, she also seems completely able to resist social
pressures. There were girls in 5th grade at her school who were "dating"
and calling boys on the phone, but my daughter (in 8th grade) still has no
interest in these things, and avoids school dances as boring although
she's happy to take social dance classes. I think this is a very
individual thing, and depends very much on the child's personality.
I don't know if this helps. My one suggestion is to think about your
daughter's attitude towards school. You might also check the tendency of
the public school. In my youngest child's year (he's a May birthday, what
a relief), there are a lot of fall birthday girls. Some of them are
strugling a bit with the demands of the school (not so much what they
have to learn, but homework and classroom demands for seat work), but
socially they seem to do fine, because there are several of them.
In reply to the mother with the November child. I have a girl, senior now,
whose birthday falls in late August. We put her in school at her "normal"
grade level, that is she was turning 6 at the very beginning of the September
term. She has always been a very socially savvy kid-still is. And that is
really her strong point. Who can tell about academics at that age. But now
when all is said and done, I think academically, school would have been a
whole lot easier for her if we had "repeated" kindergarten (although for us
we were transitioning out of a Montessori school and it would have been less
tricky for us to have done so). I've seen it over and over, my daughter is
just getting a handle on concepts and they are moving to the next one.
Particularly in math, a great deal of this is developmental, mental maturity
in the hard wiring of the brain. Plus, there she was, trying to compete with
other kids, particularly boys who are a full year ahead of her in this
developmental stuff. Funny, the boys get held until they are older because
they are not so socially developed, and the girls get pushed ahead because
that is their strong suit. In high school, the difference became even more
apparent not only in the math, but in my child's ability to really buckle
down and do prolonged periods of serious work. The way she charged into her
senior year made me wish once again that she had been this way entering her
all -important and all-challenging junior year. I think it is a gift we can
give these fall babies to keep them out and allow an extra year of
development. I can't help you with how to do this well, but I don't think
anyone who has done it has any regrets later.
A decade ago we faced the same issue with my daughter who has a
mid-November birthday. She is now a freshman a BHS and from to
tidbits that she shares with me about her social life - all is going
well. Academically, all is going well too. Her peer group includes
girls as much as 2 years older than her (it also includes girls a year
younger and a grade lower). One of her middle school teachers
characterized my daughters "click" as the "nice smart" girls. This
group is very busy with a good focus on school and very engaged in one
or more after school activities. They are not in the "popular click"
(per my daughter's assessment) and do not seem to have taken off on
the hormonal boy crazy circuit. Because my daughter gravitated toward
a peer group that was a good fit for her personality, I just don't
think her age mattered. Academically, my daughter has done well but
has had to work hard. We did see some problems when she struggled
with algebra in middle school. Even with hard work and all kinds of
support, her ability to grasp it was uneven and I think
developmentally she hit it about a year too soon.
I would also advise you to keep your options open every year. I know
of several parents of late birthday children whose children did well
in the early grades but benefited from repeating 3rd, 4th or 5th
grade. The driver in these decisions was social fit not academic
My fall baby began kindergarten as a four year old. Academically and
socially, it worked out fine, all the way through high school. I also had a
baby born right after the cutoff date in early December, who started school
as a five year old. That worked out fine too. Now that I have a little
perspective, I would say start school at the regular time, unless there are
unusual circumstances. The teachers have enough to deal with. They don't
need a two spread of ages in the classroom.
My son had his 18th birthday on Nov 3. He's a HS senior. After an
unbelievable amount of agonizing and discussion when he was 4, we
decided to have him attend kindergarten at the private nursery school
he was in then, and then repeat kindergarten at public school the
following year. He was bright and sociable, but had poor motor
skills. His NS teacher highly recommended letting boys wait a year,
and we were very anxious to not make some grave unrepairable mistake,
so we tilted in favor of the extra year. I feel kind of sorry for
myself now, worrying so much about it back then, because it now seems
like such an insignificant thing. In retrospect, I cannot honestly say
there was any advantage in waiting. If anything, there was a slight
disadvantage - he has always been very sensitive and introspective,
and though he has never said so, I think he feels he is somehow
inferior to the other kids who started kindergarten at the "correct"
time. But if I were to ask him, I doubt he'd think it a big deal. In
terms of hormones and so on, there is quite an amazing variation among
kids, nothing to do with their precise age or grade as far as I can
tell. The kids who were sensible in kindergarten are still sensible
in high school, and the reckless ones pretty much continue with their
recklessness. So I don't think waiting an extra year would give a kid
any kind of boost in that area. Academically, I am not sure it makes
any difference either. Since middle school my son has been a very
mediocre student, though happy and sociable. Would he have been a
better student if he'd started school at 4? More challenged perhaps,
less bored? Who can say? Maybe he would have been exactly the same
no matter what.
In your case, your daughter is doing well in kindergarten, and so I
think there is no reason to have her repeat kindergarten. She will be
well within the range of the other kids, age-wise and otherwise. I say
go for first grade next year.
My daughter was born Oct. 31. She began Kindergarten at Cragmont School
when she was still four. I thought she always held her own though sometimes
(in K-3) she would learn things half a beat behind some of her friends. Even
that though might have been who she was and not her age--all my children
were slow to read. She graduated with her class and went on to Dartmouth
College so she did all right in the long run. When she was at King and in
high school I was really happy we had not held her back--socially she was
right on target. I saw other girls who had been held back and they
seemed --especially in eighth grade--out of place in middle school. I
wouldn't recommend holding your child back at all--go for it! Janet
My daughter's birthday is Nov. 3, and she is now in 8th grade. There was no
question that she was ready in every way to enter K when she did. She was one
of the most mature in the class. I, too, was concerned that being the
youngest in many of her activities would be a problem of some kind. It has
turned out to be of no consequence at all socially, with one minor exception.
Sports programs form age groupings by birthday, not by grade level, and the
birthday cutoffs do not correspond to grade level cutoffs. The rub comes when
most of her classmates, born, say, before Sept. 1, are in the classification
above the one she is in. So she is not with her classmates in rec. sports.
This has happened in both soccer and softball. There is no getting around it.
Obviously, there is a slight advantage to being one of the bigger players in
your group, but kids don't really see it that way if it interferes with their
I think these kinds of issues may crop up again, i.e., when driver's licenses
are being obtained by "everyone but me". But basically, because she has
friends in grade levels above and below hers, and because she does well
academically and socially, Nov. 3 is still a lucky birthday for us.
You're asking the right people at the right time. Twelve years ago I made
the decision to keep my son with an August birthday in preK an extra year.
I always worried that grade school was too easy for him academically, but I
tried to supplement school with outside activities. (I've written here
before that this might have been a mistake since he still had to spend 7
hours/day not being challenged and was able to slide
through.) Maturity-wise, it worked out well.
During middle school I felt that it was a distinct advantage--his friends
were younger and therefore he was not being pushed to grow up. He could
keep up with the girls who were maturing faster. He was happy with his
age/grade at this point and looking forward to driving before his friends.
However, now he's a 17- year-old junior in high school with
"senioritis". He's ready to move on with his life in a major way and
resents "wasting" his time sitting in class. He never got used to working
hard, but now sliding brings B's & C's instead of A's.
I don't know how much of his situation is related to his age/grade. . . .
good luck with your decision.
My son was born in late October. During his early years he was very active
and curious, to the point of being restless and demanding. But whenever he
had a project or a complicated game to focus on, he calmed down and was
very happy. We decided to enroll him in kindergarten before his 5th
birthday, because we felt that he needed the structure and focus of school
learning. His preschool teachers said that he was definitely ready. I
think that if we had waited a year, he would have gotten more bored,
restless, and ornery, and would have developed behavioral problems. Now
he's in 11th grade at Berkeley High, and I've never regretted our decision.
He selects the most rigorous, challenging courses every year, and has
enrolled in Berkeley High and UCB summer classes for the past 3 summers.
Socially, he seems content. I think that when making this decision for
your 4-year-old, you should put greatest weight on what would be best for
your child now, because her happiness now affects happiness later. What
pressures your child might experience in middle and high school years is
speculative. Kids in that age range vary so much, and so do the cultures
of their different peer groups.
I've been part of this discussion for years from1983 when my first child
was born (no problem because she's a girl born in February and always
mature for her age), to 1991, when my second and last child was born (a boy
in November, socially adept and quick to learn, but hardly mature--yet).
I've gotten a perspective from two families who may have regrets about
holding their children back (both boys, one born in September and one in
November). My son goes to school and plays soccer with a good friend who
is the right age for soccer but is in 3rd grade (he's born in September),
while my son is in 4th grade. The parents of the 3rd grader have told me
that their son bitterly complains about being in 3rd grade while his "real"
friends and his soccer teammates are in 4th grade. A woman, whose son
(born in November) was in high school a year older than most of his
classmates, told me that she regretted holding him back because he was
always bored, failed high school, and dropped out his senior year. She was
told over and over again by teachers that her son was very smart, but chose
not to work hard, and that he was a troublemaker. He took the GED and
became an auto mechanic. She placed this blame all the way back to her
decision to hold him back in kindergarten. He may well have ended up an
auto mechanic in any event. Anyway, whatever choice you make, and if you
can't undo it, years later you shouldn't beat yourself up for it. To me,
parenthood has been an on-the-job experience from the very start, at the
birth of my first child, and was I totally unprepared and inexperienced.
If it had been a real job, I probably would've been fired after the first
six months, and the first six months are the easiest part of raising a
child, but those next 17 years . . . .
Sone with November birthday
My son's birthday is at the very end of November and I understand that
because of that he must wait to enter public school kindergarten until he is
nearly 6 years old. Here is my question: If he were to attend a private
school kindergarten the prior year; that is from nearly 5 until nearly 6
would he enter public school as a first grader or repeat kindergarten? Are
there subjective or objective criteria? We live in Albany. Thanks.
On the issue of holding back a young boy from starting kindergarten:
I was agonizing myself over this question a few years ago and was
helped out by a long article on this very subject in "Parents Press."
This would have been a spring (April?) issue, 1994. In the article
not only were several parents interviewed, but also several adults
who as children had been kept back due to "emotional immaturity."
All but one of the latter regretted having been held back for
In my own case my son's birthday is late October, and I opted to
let him start kindergarten at the tender age of 4. My reasons were
1) he would have had to move from his preschool anyway as they couldn't
take a child who was legally of age to be in kindergarten.
2) he seemed about average size for boys born his year, though he was
born towards the end of the year. He is also quite a strong child.
I felt this was important especially for boys given the way they
mix it up on the playground, try to top each other on the climbing
structures and so forth.
3) he was "academically" ready; a very smart kid who has never had any
problem with learning to read, do math, etc.
In general I am happy with my decision, although I can see that he is
not quite as far along as many of the other kids in his class in terms
of controlling his temper, acting in a composed and reasonable manner,
etc. I'm beginning to think that this is just his personality.
It's a tough call and you just have to judge your own kid and how
ready you think he is.
As for private vs. public, I am strongly in favor of public schools;
the ones in Berkeley range from good to excellent . Sure
there are a few not-so-good teachers, but I feel life is full of
not-so-good co-workers and bosses, who we all have to deal with
occasionally, so best to learn to cope when one is young.
From: anonymous mom
Re: holding him back
I don't think it makes a great deal of difference either way - your
child will either be one of the oldest in the class or one of the
youngest. My son, now a teen, had a November birthday and we decided
to wait the extra year. If I had it to do over, I would probably not
do this now, especially since he has always attended public school.
I would definitely do Berkeley public schools again, and have been
very happy with them. But probably not the holding back part unless
I thought my child was way below the level of other kids his age.
There is such a range of skills in public school that the slight
disadvantage in age & maturity, relative to other skills, is not
that big a deal. And you may find that a child who is older
than his classmates is understimulated academically.
On the other hand, a lot of parents, especially fathers, have told me
that physical size is an issue for boys as they get older. So maybe
if you have a kid who is on the small size already, this would be a
reason for waiting the extra year.
I think your decision should be based on the child. My birthday is late
in August, and my parents chose to allow me to wait until I was 6 to start
kindergarten. Apparently, this was at least partially due to the fact
that I was afraid of the road I needed to walk down (about a quarter mile
dirt road) to get to the school bus when I was 5. As far as growing up on
the older edge of the class, I appreciated it until I was in high school,
at which point I would have preferred to be done a year early! Being
older (and hence more mature) gives you an advantage over the other kids,
although this is probably most relevant in the early years. As far as
being challenged by school work, starting your child a year earlier won't
solve that- if s/he's smart, the next grade up won't be sufficient to keep
busy- I think you need to supplement with other activities, whether at
home or during school hours. One program I came across that was very
useful was a tutoring program where I (as a 5th grader) was allowed to go
help struggling 3rd graders in English and Math after my own work was
done. Don't know if anything like that exists here.
When to start school--
I held my son back in the first grade because he was not able to read
even simple words like "the" and "and". In retrospect I wished that I
would have kept him in Montessori pre-school one year longer and thus
delayed kindergarten. He had a huge catch up time somewhere along the
way, junior high, I think, graduated with a 4.0 and is now attending
If he can read, send him on. There are lots of immature kids in even
Re: starting kindergarten. My information is that the cut-off date
in California is Dec. 1. So if your son's birthday is late November,
he should be able to start K while still four years old. I have also
been told that if a child attends a private K, they can then go on
to 1st grade in public schools even if their birthday is after the cut off.
Regarding putting your son in a private school in order to get around the
age requirements in the public schools. I strongly suggest that you wait.
Even a very mature child would benefit from starting school later rather
My daughter's birthday is in early January so she went into kindergarten at
about age 5 1/2. My son's birthday is at the end of October so he started
school at about age 4 1/2. Although my children are nearly 2 years apart
chronologically, they are only one year apart in school. My daughter is
now a Sophomore in high school, my son is a Freshman.
I really regret letting my son start school young. It has been so
difficult for him academically and he is still smaller than most of his
classmates. If I had the decision to make all over again, I would wait
until he was nearly 6 to let him start kindergarten.
My daughter however is a little older than many of her friends who are in
the same grade. She is so thrilled that she'll be able to get her driver's
license sooner than many of her friends so, clearly, being older does not
bother her at all. Her academic performance is much better than her
brother's making his difficulties that much more salient.
You might want to talk to your pediatrician about this idea. Mine told me
(after my son had already started school and was struggling), that he
thought all boys should wait until they are 6 years of age and more mature
before they begin school. He informed me that boys frequently develop more
slowly than girls during the early stages, (both physically and
emotionally). He also said that it isn't a good thing to try to teach kids
to read when their visual abilities aren't developed enough to facilitate
I'm sorry if I sound too insistent about this but I hate the idea of any
child having to go through the difficulties that my son has experienced if
it can be prevented. Once you've put a child in school, retaining them can
be equally traumatic (something we've been struggling with for 10 years
now). I'll say it again, make this decision carefully.
Our daughter's birthday is also at the end of November (she just turned 5),
and is now attending kindergarten in Albany. The cutoff date is December 2 in
California; so your son could start kindergarten before he turns 5 if you
want him to. And if you sent him to private school for kindergarten, he would
be able to enter 1st grade at 5 3/4.
I believe it has been discussed here whether kids with October or November
birthdays should be held back (and in fact one of Alia's classmates turned
6 before she turned 5), but we are very happy with our decision to start her
in kindergarten this year.
My son, born 10-26-91, is in Kindergarten now. We waited a year,
until he was almost 6, and are so glad we did. He was definately more
ready in every way this year. Our daughter, born 9-4-93, will be
almost 5 at the start of next school year. We are torn - should we
wait a year with her too? Even though she is, by virtue of having an
older brother, so much more interested than he was at this age? Any
related experiences would be appreciated.
I agree whole heartedly with Susan. I put my son into school early
because the preschool teachers said he was well-adjusted and smart. He
continues to be well-adjusted and smart, but the one year of maturity that
he lacks has kept him from attaining his full potential. Being able to
sit, concentrate, and focus all comes with maturity. Boys tend to mature
slower than girls anyway. It does make a difference and over the years I
have regretted our choice.
I've been seeing a lot of people suggesting a younger child be held back
from kindergarten; I was planning to send my son when he was four, almost
five (he has a Nov. birthday) but now I'm wondering if that's a good idea.
My son has been going to a Montessori preschool since age 2 1/2, and has
done well there. His verbal skills are good, he is social and cooperative,
and he pays attention to the activities at hand. He is a little on the
small side, but well-proportioned and good-looking (not at all scrawny,
just a bit small).
Has anyone had a good experience with enrolling a younger child,
especially a boy? I don't want him to be ahead of all his classmates and
bored, nor do I want to rush him if waiting would be better.
Please help! This is my oldest child, I've never done this before.
We did it both ways: our daughter went to kindergarten when she was 4
years 11 months old (her birthday is September 27), but our son had to
wait until he was 6. I think we made the right decision both times. Our
girl at almost 5 was plainly ready in terms of emotional maturity,
attention span, interest, etc. Our boy at 5 was plainly not ready; even
at 6 he had plenty of challenges--it was a successful year for him, but
he had to work for it--which I guess is what you aim for.
I would definitely base my decision on the child herself, not her date
of birth. The differences between children continue to surprise me; it's
amazing how little you can predict from chronological age.
It sounds like our situations our similar. Our daughter also has a
November birthday, and she attended a Montessori preschool for 2
years, starting at 2 1/2. She is also quite verbal, has a long
attention span and is generally eager to learn. Alia is now in
kindergarten, and has just turned 5. So far we're very happy with our
decision to start her at this age. Despite her age, she is still more
than holding her own academically. I would expect this to be true for
your son as well, given his Montessori background. I think the concern
expressed about starting kindergarten before the age of 5, especially
for boys, relate to inability of some to sit still and focus on the
task at hand. From your description of your son, this doesn't seem to
be a problem, and it sounds as if he would do fine starting
kindergarten when he's 4.
The only concern we had going in was whether Alia mature enough
socially. We have been pleasantly suprised in that regard; she seems
reasonably popular, and has developed a nice little circle of
friends. But she is intensely aware that she is the youngest in her
class (one boy turned 6 before she turned 5), and she was thrilled
when she finally turned 5 and could say she was the same age as the
other kids. Now she gets to watch the others turn 6, one by one--I
don't know how she'll react to that!
Having said all this, I would have to agree with an earlier poster
that the decision on when to start kindergarten should be based on the
individual child. As I said, we feel good about our choice. Although
I expect Alia's immaturity will occasionally cause problems for her,
these problems would be outweighed by the likelihood that she would
have been bored if we had held her back a year.
Both our daughters either turned or will turn 6 in kindergarten (one has
a November and one a February birthday), and for both of them I think it
was the right decision. Both are pretty smart (I'm their mother, but I
think that's true) and were capable of sitting still and paying attention
at age 4, but I was worried about the social stresses of elementary
school more than the academic. In both their cases, I think we made the
right decision. They are both very confident and self-assured. They don't
have to struggle to keep up, either socially or academically. They pretty
much take school on their own terms.
In our case, both my daughters attended a Montessori pre-school, so there
was academically enough available to them that I knew they wouldn't be
bored. Especially our November daughter watched a lot of her friends go
off to kindergarten while she stayed behind, but she did have other
friends, and make other friends, and she definitely enjoyed a year as one
of the oldest kids there.
Also, they went on to a Montessori elementary school where again, I knew
they wouldn't be bored in years to come.
I'm quite sure we made the right decision, and I know of other kids who
went a year early who I think would be a lot more comfortable if they had
waited a year, but to be fair I know other kids who went a year early who
seem perfectly fine.
September seems a particularly difficult decision, because they
really are very close to being the "right" age.
I would like to make a comment regarding when to start boys in
kindergarten. I am a mother of three boys, the last one is in 1st
grade now, and feel my experience mirrored everyone else's out there
who had boys and responded. I agreed with what they had to say
because they spoke from experience. I can say unequivocally, that
boys should not start kindergarten as early as 4 years old, or
sometimes even 5 years old. Depending on the child's nature, some
boys need more time to develop their own sense of themselves and how
to deal with others. Being verbal and having a long attention span is
a small part of it. I believe you have to deal with the ramifications
to the child when he gets to those most emotionally unstable
years...the teen years. My oldest son started kindergarten at the
'right' age of 5, but due to my own ignorance about how to deal with
teachers and such I agreed to let him skip a grade. He went straight
to third grade from first grade. The rest of his school career he was
always the youngest in the class. Academically he did excellently,
but always felt 'out of it' because all the other boys started getting
interested in girls before he did, started driving before he could,
and basically felt a bit insecure about all of his abilities. If I
had to do it over again, I wouldn't have skipped that grade. Boys need
an added chance to feel good about themselves. Needless to say, I've
made sure my other two boys are emotionally secure and able to handle
dealing with life situations first before I worry about them
academically (Luckily, they've been good students too). Just my two
My daughter was born in October. It became apparent to us
over the first three years of her life that she has all of the
wonderful traits of the classic "spirited child," in spades.
Coincidentally, she was named for my mother, twenty years deceased,
who taught third grade all her life and let me know often throughout
childhood/young adulthood that childhood was to be cherished, and that
she didn't feel children should start school at the earliest possible
moment. In fact, we all knew that she was sorry that she put my
brother in school (a preemie, born in late Aug) when she did.
The long and short of it is that we placed our daughter in
Step One's (terrific) bridge kindergarten program after her two years
at parent coop nursery school, then she started kindergarten at
Jefferson when she was turning six. I made this decision largely
because I knew she would benefit from not being the youngest (she is
the youngest at home, and doesn't like it much) and because she's so
sensitive, stubborn, resistant to change, etc. She's also
intellectually very bright, but this I think is so much less important
in school starting age than social maturity, adaptability, etc. For
us, waiting the extra year seems like the best decision we've ever
made for her.
I talked to a lot of people about this, and while lots of my
teacher friends said "why wait?" (knowing her brother, and us, and
looking forward to her entrance into school), but a highly respected
retiring principal friend and another retiring colleague both said
they'd never met a child who waited who was sorry in the end.
I asked my 14-year-old (who had just turned 6 when he started Kindergarten)
if he thought it had been a good idea to have him wait. His response:
1. Look how skinny I am--could you imagine me in 9th grade now?
2. Other kids look up to me because I'll be able to drive before they do.
[We'll see about that--Mom]
He's certainly able to handle the 13-year-old girls better than his
13-yr-old boy friends can!
I also think that he'll have another year to develop judgement before facing
issues as they come up for his grade.
He was asked by his teacher when he was in a 2-3 combination years ago if he
wanted to start the year in 2nd grade and go with the 3rd graders for the
second semester and he declined then.
I figured that if he was smart when he was 5, he'd still be smart at 6. He
has always needed to find academic challenges, but that's certainly easier
than struggling to keep up.
My son's birthday is September 27th. He attended the three and the four
year old programs at the UC Child Study Center and went into the Oakland
public schools for kindergarten just before his fifth birthday. It worked
well for him; he hasn't had any problems socially or academically that
appear to be age/maturity related. His best friend is a week younger (and
physically smaller) and started kindergarten at the same time at a private
school in Oakland; his parents opted to hold him back for a second year of
kindergarten which seems to be working best for him...
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