A gentleman and a scholar. Or maybe next year.

David started preschool over two years ago, just a few weeks after his second birthday (Mary Virginia was barely three months old). Back then he wasn’t potty trained, had no hair, and was barely speaking in sentences. And, he didn’t have an opinion about what he wore so I was able to coordinate his clothes with the color of the month.

DSC_5898

He was barely two, but some of his classmates were months away from turning three.

Now he’s in the four-year old class and is cutting and writing and learning letters along side kids who are already five. He’s one of the youngest in his class, but he’s doing great. In fact, he seems to be thriving in every way except that one of his friends routinely gets apple juice as part of his snack, so why can’t he also have apple juice, huh, Mom?

Should we wait for kindergarten

Should we wait for kindergarten

The next step is kindergarten. David will turn five in August, well before the cut-off date, but these days lots of parents “redshirt” their kids — they wait to start kindergarten if their child’s birthday is close to the cut-off. (This WSJ article says some parents even hold kids with April or May birthdays, and now schools are accepting children who have turned 5 as early as the previous February and March.)

And so now Tom and I are trying to decide. What to do, what to do?

Tom and I both had different experiences and — not surprisingly — we have different opinions. We graduated the same year, but Tom is almost a full year older than me; I have an August birthday and he was born 10 months earlier in November. If we were the case study, Tom definitely out-performed me in school. However, whenever I come across a word I don’t know, I don’t have to expend my energy Googling it because I can just ask Tom. And a few times a week Tom has to leave important client meetings because I’m calling again to ask if 1/3 is bigger than 1/4. So, I ask you, who’s the smart one?

September will be here soon, and so we’re talking about it more and more. Should we send him, or wait? In addition to considering David’s personality and individual needs, we’ve read lots of articles and research. We also very much value the opinions of his pediatrician and his teachers, who see him developing socially and intellectually alongside his peers. But even though we’ve had four and a half years to think about this, we’re still in the deciding phase.

Parents who’ve gone before me (and parents who will make the same decision in the coming years), how did you decide?

I’m not necessarily asking what you decided, mostly because everyone I’ve talked to has said the same thing, “We waited, and we’re so glad we did.” Or, “We went ahead with kindergarten, and we’re so glad we did.”

What I want to know is: What are the things you considered? What are the things about school or your child that helped you make that decision?

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26 Comments

  1. Lynsie February 18, 2016

    I have to say the decision is a little easier homeschooling because if we start something too easy, I can bump it to something harder and if we start something hard I can adjust it. BUT, I will say one of our reasons to start homeschooling was because of where Peyt was at 4 1/2. Emotionally she was on track for kindergarten, she needed help learning how to adjust emotions to match situations (which I am learning is her personal struggle in life! even now at almost 8). But she could read almost anything, it was just so easy for her. I knew here in kindergarten they would be spending the whole year learning to read and not learning phonetically. She already knew how to read and was taught a different way than they were going to be learning, which looked like a rough situation for her to try to reconcile these things because she wants all authority to match as she wants things to be “right”. But I think Will (who turned 5 last month) could do well in kindergarten next year if we weren’t already homeschooling as he is now ready to learn what they teach in K. I would say look at what he is ready to learn, academically and socially. If he is ready to learn what they are teaching he will probably do great, if he isn’t quite ready to learn those things, even in just one category look and see if maybe another year in pre-K might get him ready to learn across the board with the next years peers. Feel free throw this perspective out from a homeschooling mama if you want, but that was how we looked at things 😉

    Reply
  2. Carley February 18, 2016

    I have never had to make that decision myself (and thank goodness my girls’ birthdays will make it a non-issue). However, I used to teach first and second grade. So I’ve got opinions! Ha. But I would say one of the most important things to consider is whether or not your son is ready for the school-y parts of school (sitting still, listening to teacher, completing tasks independently, completing non-preferred tasks, etc). If he’s not quite ready to do those things (or if it’d be a battle), then I’d say consider waiting.

    But based on what I know of your son (from what you’ve shared here), he will probably do well in school. And I kind of wonder, so you think your younger age was the reason you didn’t love school? Or do you think you just didn’t really love school?

    Reply
    • amandakrieger February 18, 2016

      That’s interesting! I’m going to specifically ask his teacher how he does in those situation (esp as compared to his older classmates)
      And I might have misrepresented myself — I really enjoyed school, Tom just did much better than I did (and I did well! graduated with a 4.5 GPA!). But it’s PROBABLY not bc he was older, Tom just did really well in school in general 😉 he’s a smarty pants.

      Reply
  3. Erin D February 18, 2016

    We have had the same struggle. Caleb’s birthday is right at the end of September. If he had been born 3 days later we wouldn’t even have the choice. We are currently leaning towards doing 1 more year of pre-school. He would be fine in kindergarten next year but he’s a little shy and hesitant in certain situations still. He is so smart and honestly might have to sometimes move up a class for certain subjects if we hold him back (Hunter had to do this for math up until college and Caleb seems to be just like him in that way). If Hunter was able to be accommodated for how advanced he was in the 80’s how much easier should it be now? I don’t know if that makes any sense but that’s where we’re leaning. We’ve been told by his teachers that he’s ready but we still think holding back is probably best. It’s a tough call so I totally empathize with you!!

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  4. Elizabeth February 18, 2016

    Oh how I can relate. Our situation is almost EXACTLY the same. Sam will be five in July, he’s been in preschool since he was two, he’s doing great and “keeping up” with his classmates just fine. BUT, I think we’ve finally decided that we are going to WAIT to send him to K.

    Here are the things that finally convinced me:
    1. My teenage students were particularly passionate in their opinion that “older is better.” Their reasons weren’t particularly “important” to me (things like getting their license first, being older on sports teams, etc.), but the fact that they STRONGLY felt like I should wait mattered.

    2. Sam’s teacher said that academically he would do fine, but that socially she thought he would be a follower if he went now, a leader if we waited.

    And the big thing for me…

    3. An extra year of play. I’m a big advocate for education, obviously, but they get THIRTEEN years of it – at a minimum. In the end, one extra year to play more, be home more, not stress about school/schedules/etc. is worth any negatives to me.

    SO. There you go. 🙂 I’d love to hear what you decide!

    Reply
  5. Becky Mauck February 18, 2016

    As a former preschool teacher and now preschool director and mother of 3, I am in favor of holding a child back with summer birthdays–not with early spring and winter birthdays. Two of my children fell into the summer category. My daughter was never excited about preschool but we held her back anyway. She went on to love school. My son hated school period. We still held him back knowing that he would be in school and competing athletically with children who could be over a year older. Playing sports ended up being what got him to school each day. I tell parents to not only consider your child now or 6 months from now but 7 or 8 years from now when they reach puberty. Children and parents struggle no matter their age at this time. That extra time makes it a little easier to feel confident among your peers at a time when confidence can really be lacking. They may be more successful in all aspects of their life then.

    Reply
  6. Sarah O February 18, 2016

    Ok, well if you’re ASKING for opinions…as a former kindergarten teacher, I have a lot of them! The first thing I always say is that you can’t use your experiences (or any other adult’s) to make this decision because, unfortunately, kindergarten is a completely different thing now than it was then. It’s much more like 1st grade (at least) We had different cut off dates, too, so when my husband says “Well, I had a September birthday so I started at 4”, I roll my eyes and remind him that the cutoff then was Dec. 31 and lots of kids started at 4.

    The other thing – and this applies much more to boys than it does to girls – is that being ready for kindergarten is not about being smart or knowing your letters or anything like that. (I promise, if you send a kid to kindergarten who already knows how to read, the teacher will know what to do with them. I’ve done it many times). It’s about being developmentally ready, which is not something that you have any control over – you can’t teach it or rush it. And boys at this age are slower to mature than girls. I think someone else already said this, but think about the things he will be asked to do in kindergarten – sit in a reading group, pay attention for extended periods of time while in a large group setting, independently get himself ready and complete assignments – and also the things he won’t get to do – lots of recess, free play, and the opportunity to be messy and explore. Now, I think it is TRAGICALLY SAD that kindergarten is this way in an ideal world, it would be much more developmentally appropriate for kids who are about to turn 5. Because that’s way better for kindergarteners anyway.

    So anyway, as a general rule I usually say hold them back. But now that I’m a mom, I realize this decisions aren’t always so cut and dry. A couple more thoughts -I’ve never had someone say they were sorry they waited, but I have had kids who would have been much better off waiting. (I also had kids that came young and did just fine). Also, if you sent him and he wasn’t ready, would you be willing to either pull him out and try again or let him do 2 years? Or would you just power through?

    Now I don’t know David at all – his teachers obviously would have a much better sense of how ready he was. But as a general rule, I support holding them back and that’s why.

    In the end, David has parents who love Jesus and love him and take care of him so he will be fine. I know it seems like an all-consuming decision, but I think you will find that whatever decision you make will be the right one. You won’t scar him for life, I promise, because Jesus will be there with him too 🙂

    P. S. How grateful am I that I don’t have to make this decision??? Because none of these things are easy when you’re on the Mama end

    Reply
  7. Amanda February 18, 2016

    We just made that decision this past September (being from Canada, the cut off for Kindergarten is December 31, and our eldest son was born December 14). Academically, we knew he would do just fine. Socially, we knew he would struggle. We sent him to school because we knew he would need a challenge. We also went in knowing that we could pull him out and try again a year later if it wasn’t working. Many teachers that we knew mentioned that they recommend holding kids back, but knowing our son personally they recommended putting him in (and subsequently pulling him out if it wasn’t working).

    Our son has LOVED school. He has surprised all of us by doing so well. Yes, he has his challenges, especially with class participation. But he has to work really hard to push through things.

    You know your son the best and you will make the best decision for him. The thing that gave us the most Peace was knowing that if we put him in, we could always pull him out and try again a year later. I’m not sure if that is an option for you, but its something to think about.

    Reply
  8. Karen February 18, 2016

    When little boys perceive school as being hard the nice ones shut down or act bored and the not-so-nice ones throw fits. When little girls perceive school as being hard they become indispensable teachers’ helpers or go quiet. Sorry to be so blunt.
    Little boys who start school when they’re almost six often have a neurological edge than their younger classmates. They’re not smarter than the little boys who start when they’re a young five, but they often have a little more attention span and social skills than when they had just turned five. These more developed skills help them with all the listening, waiting, rule understanding and myriad of activities that happen in Kindergarten. Kindergarten is a hopping place, with two separate blocks of language arts a day, math, resource class, lunch, recess and…..
    The main purpose of Kindergarten is 1) to civilize children who have been the center of their own world and 2) to lay down foundations for further learning. Academic demands are huge as the year progresses. I put both of my kids into Kindergarten when they were very young five-year-olds. I’m not sure I would do that now because I work in Kindergarten classes all the time and see how busy and demanding it can be. Teachers have their hands full of children who do not learn independently or who need lots of extra help and that takes time away from the kids who are ready to learn. Having a child who is ready to learn and has good self control when others sometimes don’t is critical. Sorry to be so bleak.

    Reply
  9. Katherine A. February 18, 2016

    I was July birthday and was sent young. It was fine, so it scared me that a little when we decided to wait with Julia (July 31).

    Our reasons for waiting:

    1. We moved the year she would have started if we sent her young. New house, neighborhood, church, and baby. We were able to continue taking her to her preschool for a 2nd year, we love that school, and we decided to keep one thing constant in her life b/c we could.

    2. All the kids we met at church that “matched” with her age, were going into kindergarten. At our old church, the obvious answer would have been to send her “early” but at our new church, the obvious answer was to “wait’ as far as matching her up with a sweet peer group.

    3. One more year for college savings. Score.

    Advice:

    Go into your school and chat with the kindergarten teachers and see what kind of curriculum they are doing. Our kindergarten teachers were very clear that our kindergarten curriculum is much faster paced than when we were kids b/c of the new requirements and that really it functions a lot more like 1st grade. With that in mind, it was clear to me that I wanted her to develop another year before heading into that. I think it depends on what is expected of them.

    Socially she would have killed it going early, and to be honest, she just told me today that she’s “the tallest girl in the class” :), but I think it was a good choice. And welp, it’s too late if it wasn’t. 🙂

    Reply
  10. alisa February 19, 2016

    influence…I consider the influence of others, especially other children as a factor. Influence goes both ways…and David will be a kind of influence too. You have the opportunity for one more year to “influence” your child with quantity as well as quality time. It is a step of faith…and either way, the prayer is David will love the Lord with all of his heart, mind, and soul.

    Reply
  11. Amanda, I have to say I SO remember the angst of making this decision…and the then-kindergartner in question is now a high-school junior! Actually, making this decision taught me one of the top five life lessons I’ve learned from motherhood. I’m not trying to self-promote at all here, but the most complete way I can answer your question about HOW we decided to to point you to #1 on this list: https://powerofmoms.com/my-top-five-life-lessons-from-motherhood-what-i-probably-wouldnt-have-learned-any-other-way/

    Truly, it is a lesson I’ve come back to time and time again as a mom. Blessing and wisdom to you…stopping by from Mommy Moments!

    Reply
    • amandakrieger February 21, 2016

      Thank you for this! I agree, when you’re IN the decision it does seem to hold so much weight. I remember feeling that way when I was starting solids with my first son. I felt like if I did it wrong I would ruin him. And then a friend (whose son was only a few months older than David) said, “this stage is really hard but then it passes and the next thing you know you’re just putting pizza on their plate and you barely even remember this stage.” it helped me loosen up 😉
      (for THAT decision anyway!!)

      Reply
  12. We’re not quite there yet- my son isn’t even 2 yet – but it’s somehitngsomething we’ve talked about a good bit. In an ideal world, I would homeschool our kids, but we live in a really good school district and pay high taxes for it, so it seems silly not to at least try it first. My son is born very late May, and we’ve talked about red shirting him – to be honest a small part of it is because I don’t want to him to be the ;last of his friends to get his license. (I know it’s a silly reason, but his dad is a mechanic so licenses are going to be a big deal!) I’ve also heard that Kindergarten has progressed so much that it’s no longer the kindergarten most kids need – it’s a lot of sitting and learning which for that age range, is too much. I think it’s best to just play it by ear – if your son seems like he’s going to be bored or needs more stimulation come kindergarten time, he’s ready. If he seems like he needs to move move move 24/7 and needs some time to get to that kindergarten point, another year of play and fun in prek won’t hurt!(sorry for any typos – my computer is going at turtle speed for whatever reason and fixing every typo will take a million years ahhah)

    Reply
  13. DazzleWhileFrazzled February 25, 2016

    I don’t have an opinion to offer to this thread as we are in the same position currently. In Arizona, our cutoff for kinder is Sept. 1st and my son will turn five on Sept. 12th. We’ve debated having him test in as he’s bright, super social and a big kid for his age. But I agree on what a previous commenter said about having one extra year home to play and just be a kid. We do do little workbooks at home with him and his attention span isn’t always there to sit and do work so I could imagine it may be a struggle to do kinder homework and I don’t feel like having that fight! Good luck. My only advice is that you trust your gut. Visiting from Create It Thursday party.

    Reply
  14. Pamela Smith February 26, 2016

    I’m so glad you are giving this thought. I am a preschool teacher and most parents don’t even give it a second thought. I think the most important things is how mature they are emotionally and socially. Many kids are okay academically, but not so much emotionally. Another thing, you have a boy. They do mature later than a girl. 🙂 If a parent asks me about their summer birthday boy, I usually suggest they wait a year. It is definitely not going to hurt him to wait, but it will give him many more advantages along the way. I agree with the comment above too. Kindergarten is a lot of sitting and structure, so you have to decide what your child is ready for. Another year of play and socializing may be just what her needs! I know you will decide the best thing for your son!

    Reply
  15. Kelli A. March 14, 2016

    I feel so anxious talking about this and nervous that it’s so close but Peyton is going in Sept. His teachers say he’s ready and I believe he is too. He just needs to work out some maturity things but I’m sure that will come. I’m an Aug bday too and so is my husband so that helps our decision.

    Reply
    • Lindsay Clark Ruiz March 14, 2016

      Lucas is going too…..he’s a month after Peyton and well I was a September baby but my mom kept me back the year. Lucas is going……his teachers say he’s ready too. Can’t believe our babies are heading to kindergarten…..wahhh

      Reply
  16. Anne K. March 14, 2016

    We considered Logan’s abilities based on him vs what would be expected of him in Kindergarten. He just would not have been ready socially had we sent him at 5 (August bday). We also considered the fact that my husband has a July bday, wasn’t redshirted and was eventually held back in 7th grade. He remembers it and how it made him feel so we figured if there was a change he would get held back, we may as well been the ones to do it. Logan started at 6 and he is THRIVING! I’m so glad we did it.
    Also, our ped was 100% supportive of it. He thinks it’s a good idea for boys if the parents can afford it.

    Reply
  17. Sarah B. March 14, 2016

    Amanda, even though Edmund is only 2.5, I have already set in my mind that he will start K a year later. He has a July 8th birthday and I think boys tend to be immature (though David sounds like he isn’t) and active. Kindergarten is very academic these days- much more like first grade when we were growing up! I had a September 26th birthday and I went to K on time (I was normal socially and academically though a bit weaker on fine motor skills). My mom was a teacher and she thought I just needed an extra year to mature (this was after I started K on time). She sent me to T-1 which was a optional grade in between K and first. For me, this made a huge difference. I ended up thriving academically and I am really 99.9% sure I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t had that year. That being said, there is no option like that in public school these days and retention is a very big no-no even if you really feel like he would benefit from an extra year in a grade. That philosophy/trend in education of very hard to retain kids & everything being so academic (and my history) is really what drove me for making the decision already for Edmund. I don’t think it could ever hurt David to give him an extra year, but you are Mama and I say go with your gut!

    PS> I thought this was good: http://www.scarymommy.com/if-kindergarten-wasnt-so-much-like-first-grade-we-wouldnt-need-to-delay-it/

    Reply
  18. Jocelyn P. March 14, 2016

    What I’ve read makes me lean towards holding back instead of pushing forward. Playtime is so important for kids, and they don’t get enough in school. I’m homeschooling, and having to hold myself back a bit from pushing Abby academically. At this point, I want her to learn to love learning – the actual facts and skills don’t matter as much.

    Another thing – what does kindergarten actually look like at his school? It might have plenty of playtime and be perfectly appropriate for him, or it might be too structure/academic. What they are doing would be an important factor for me.

    Reply
  19. Anna Jane B. March 14, 2016

    I’m thinking about this, too, for Hope (August bday). I’m thinking a lot about her social maturity (figuring academic skills will likely be ok) and wanting her to be mature and ready when she’s in junior high and high school. Also, I want an extra year with her before she goes to college because she’s super fun 🙂

    Reply
  20. Michelle M. March 14, 2016

    We have also considered the other end of the journey. Would we rather send our newly turned 18 yr old off to college, or have another year with them under our roof? I’m not in a hurry to end their time living at home with us (for lots of reasons). And while we don’t want to make our decision because of what other parents are doing, it does influence us that the median age in a class is going up because so many parents are deferring for a year, bc that makes our child “doubly” young in comparison. Good luck with your decision!

    Reply
  21. Becky F. March 14, 2016

    We have a September baby and have spent a lot of time thinking and talking about this, too. One of our biggest considerations has been thinking about the much later years (like high school and college). Do we want him graduating and going to college at 17 or 18? Should he drive as a sophomore or a junior? It is a hard decision because it really involves a lot more than kindergarten!

    Reply
  22. Elizabeth M. March 14, 2016

    Both my kiddos have last-week-of-Sept bdays, and I really waffled about this for Maren. I considered things like her constant need to move her body, and her desire to spend a couple hours by herself in the afternoons alone playing, and just her general fatigue (physical and/or emotional) when she came home from preschool at noon each day (even though she hadn’t napped since age 2).

    I also thought about middle and high school, and how I think it’s fine but not ideal to always be in the midst of older peers when things like puberty and quasi–adult decision making days come along. Maren was always the youngest in each class at WEPC and especially in her three-year-old and four-year-old years, began to get a bit frustrated at her inability to perform as well in some of the fine motor/penmanship/reading skills that her peers were able to.

    We ended up doing the 4-day JK at Welborne and could not be more thrilled with that choice. So many people in Richmond red shirt their kids that I don’t even feel like she will be way older than a lot of her kindergarten class. I think it really depends on each child and how they feel about their own skills and how you think they’ll fare spending a whole day 5 days a week in school. I know M would have been fine if we sent her, but I’d rather it not just be “fine” if we can afford to wait (for both kids); I’d rather it be a fully positive/exciting experience. I pray discernment and wisdom for you!

    Reply
    • Katie S. March 14, 2016

      I’m being lazy and will just echo what Elizabeth Minor said. I was caught of guard by my change of heart – I was fully prepared to send her until March timeframe… And I will say 6 months does wonders for maturity growth and readiness. The change between what she could do in June versus November confirmed I made a good choice (for her).

      Ok so how I ended up thinking it thru was that it couldn’t hurt to hold her back (August bday). It’s not gonna hurt her if she’s one of the older kids or had another year at home with me and gets to play more and work less. Say she learns to read in the next few mos, and many of her school mates aren’t… There’s so much more to learn in kindergarten (socially) that I’m not worried about her being bored. It may not hurt her if she goes early, either, but there were more risks… Peers who are growing up faster (i.e. Girls who care about makeup or boys or other perfectly normally tween teen things that I’d rather er have extra time to grow into)… That kind of thing.

      Reply

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