To Kindergarten or Not to Kindergarten...

My first child has a birthday in November. The cut off date for school here is December 1st. So my son could start preschool this fall or I could hold him back and wait a year. I put him in a formal preschool this year with every intention of sending him to Kindergarten this fall. However, now that he is in preschool (and loving it) my husband and I are seriously considering waiting another year before sending him to Kindergarten. He's a great kid, smart, tall, athletics are in his blood. He's confident, well adjusted, yada yada yada. So him being the youngest in his class wouldn't be a problem. I've got a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old at home as well, who also keep me busy. Would it be better to have my son home another year to help strengthen his character and possibly make school a bit easier for him as he will be older? Or would we be doing him a disservice by holding him back thus making him bored in school? We are soooo on the fence on this issue and would love any insight you can provide.

Hard Question (and of course, I remember you!) - I was on that boy-born-in-December fence. And because it is so personal I don't think I can give you a do or don't...but I can share the thoughts I've had and information I collected in the process:

Sign-Up - It doesn't hurt to sign up now. It almost helped taking my son to the school he might attend. It made it real for him and I was able to really listen to those instincts. It helped make my decision when I knew more and was in waist deep. You can always change your mind and start later.

The Shifting Deadline - So, the deadline for Kindergarten is different everywhere. In Manhattan it is the end of the year. In California it is December 2nd-ish. In many midwest states it is September. So, if you are planning on moving or changing - you may want to look into where you will go, because those will be his peers.

The Current Trend - In general, more and more children (especially the boys) are being held back. At one point we were looking into private schools in NY and even the parents with children who had summer birthdays were holding them back. It was just nice to know.

Social Aspect - So, in general, boys seem to blossom a bit slower than girls...especially socially. So, I would really ask myself about how he interacts with other children. Is he ready to voice his opinion and start conversations (aka Please don't take my puzzle piece or I was watching Bionicles...)?

Physical Aspect - Most Kindergartners are skipping and running and running and running. They are starting all of those American sports - basketball, soccer...and did I mention running?! So, if he is ready to just join in then that is a really good sign.

Bored in School? - I feel like this is a common concern. But, I have to say, that Kindergarten is such a new change - new rules, new friends, new schedule - that this isn't really a major problem. And not surprisingly, the kids are bright and the level of learning is quite high. I've heard it said that Kindergarten is the new first grade...

More Time at Home - Although it wasn't the case, I felt like I was saying good-bye forever at the door of the Kindergarten Room. I was no longer his only influence. He was going out into the world and had I taught him enough kindness or helped fill him with self-esteem? But, your influence isn't lost when he leaves. In fact, it is expanded as you get to talk through new situations. We talk about situations - What would you do if this boy says this or does this? It is nice to know that it isn't the end.

Think Down the Road - Do you remember being the first friend with a Driver's License - or were you the last? And does that matter to you at all as a parent?

Just so that you know, either way will be ok, he'll be ok. I worried that I would significantly be shifting my child's life...but as long as your instinct isn't a loud, "No!" it is going to work out with all of the bumps that any road has. In the end, school will happen now or in a year. And it will all work out...just make sure you open all the doors you can!


hannah m said...

Excellent ideas + thoughts, Ang.

Audra said...

Thought I would add my two cents, hope you don't mind.

I was on the fence about this with my oldest son, who is now a 4th grader. The deadline out here is Sept 1st and my son's birthday is in June. Anyway, what helped my decision was a friend who asked me, "Have you ever talked to anyone who regretted waiting a year?"

She had a point. I was so up in the air, that I started to poll my friends and ask them what they would do. I even asked my in-laws (hee hee). Everyone told me different advice, different reasons, and different experiences. Because every kid is different, their advice didn't help me, but their stories did let me hear about their experiences. I heard about 1/2 of the people that put their kids in the "correct" year in school (there is no correct year) - REGRETTED IT! Hmm. It made me think. No one every told me they regretted waiting a year.

Just a thought.

BTW - I waited a year for my oldest, but I have another son who's birthday is August and I am putting him in kindergarten. Call me a flip flopper. Every kid is different. Like Angie said, there is no right no wrong answer. GOOD LUCK!

Allison said...

wonderful insights. thank you.

emily said...

just a thought--my husband started kindergarten in canada, so he was four. he moved back to the states halfway through the year and continued in kindergarten...that meant in high school he was 13!! he played football but in california they had a rule that you had to be a certain age to play varsity, so even though he was big and good enough, he couldn't play on the varsity football team until he was a junior. he feels like he missed out a bit because he was younger. just at thought!