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nesskari
nesskari asks:
Q:

Sending Young 5s to Kindergarten?

Our son's birthday is in November which means he could start Kindergarten in the Fall, but he would be one of the youngest members in the class.  We think (of course) that he's very bright and mature, but we don't want to force him into a situation where he won't thrive.  Has anyone experienced this choice?  What qualities made your child successful (or unsuccessful) in Kindergarten?  What should we look for in the school/teachers to help us make this choice?   Thanks for your insights!
In Topics: Kindergarten readiness
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Aug 8, 2007
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What the Expert Says:

Kari,

It sounds like you are still trying to determine whether to send your son to kindergarten this fall. Is that right? If so, there are a couple of things to consider when trying to decide whether to send him off or "redshirt" him for a year.  Some studies have shown that children born in the summer who were redshirted for a year seem to do slightly better academically than their same-age peers who went off to school the year prior. However, how well a child does depends on other important indicators of a child's well-being, such as their physical, social, and emotional development. You mention that your son is very bright and mature. He might just have what it takes to make the transition.

Also, you had some questions regarding what to look for in a kindergarten classroom.  Read on for a great article describing the top 10 things to look for in a kindergarten classroom:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Top_10_Signs_Good/

Good luck!

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Additional Answers (36)

vdancer
vdancer writes:
Dear Kari,<br />
<br />
My experience is that boys do much better in school when they are a bit older. &nbsp;Confidence and self-esteem build through successfully meeting the challenges of the school day rather than struggling. &nbsp;My son turned 7 in first grade, which turned out to be great for his development all the way through his education. &nbsp;(He attended a two-year Kindergarden program, which was just perfect.) &nbsp;Good luck!<br />
> 60 days ago

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riccosugartree
riccosugart... writes:
My daughter repeated kindergarten, which turned out to be advantageous for her. &nbsp;We didn't realize that she was such a &quot;young five&quot; until 2/3 of the way through the school year and decided then to err on the side of caution.<br />
> 60 days ago

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dherman
dherman writes:
Hello Kari:<br />
<br />
When to start kindergarten can become a huge issue. As his parent, you are the expert. What type of feedback did you receive from his preschool teacher? Is he prepared socially/emotionally to participate in a group setting? You describe him as very bright and mature, so it sounds like he could handle it. My own son missed the age cut off by a few weeks, as he has a Dec. birthday and we really felt he was ready for kindergarten. It is a harder decision for you, as you do have the ability to place him in kindergarten based on his birth date. My son is now in 10th grade and when I tell him how I felt way back when about his having to wait another year for kindergarten, he tells me he is glad that he started when he did. He is now one of the older kids at school and loves it. It didn't harm him academically as he has been in the gifted program since second grade when the public schools test for that program.<br />
<br />
As far as the qualities that have made him successful besides his intelligence, he is social, loves to learn, and is open to new ideas and experiences. Those qualities were the same no matter what age he started kindergarten.<br />
<br />
You will make the best decision for your son. There is always an oldest and youngest in every classroom.<br />
> 60 days ago

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dherman
dherman writes:
Hello Kari:<br />
<br />
When to start kindergarten can become a huge issue. As his parent, you are the expert. What type of feedback did you receive from his preschool teacher? Is he prepared socially/emotionally to participate in a group setting? You describe him as very bright and mature, so it sounds like he could handle it. My own son missed the age cut off by a few weeks, as he has a Dec. birthday and we really felt he was ready for kindergarten. It is a harder decision for you, as you do have the ability to place him in kindergarten based on his birth date. My son is now in 10th grade and when I tell him how I felt way back when about his having to wait another year for kindergarten, he tells me he is glad that he started when he did. He is now one of the older kids at school and loves it. It didn't harm him academically as he has been in the gifted program since second grade when the public schools test for that program.<br />
<br />
As far as the qualities that have made him successful besides his intelligence, he is social, loves to learn, and is open to new ideas and experiences. Those qualities were the same no matter what age he started kindergarten.<br />
<br />
You will make the best decision for your son. There is always an oldest and youngest in every classroom.<br />
> 60 days ago

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lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Jamie,<br />
<br />
Sounds like yesterday was pretty difficult. You mention that you have some &quot;ideas&quot; about what may be going on. What are your thoughts? What did his teacher suggest? My guess is that your son may require some additional observation and evaluation. Depending upon how concerned you are and how serious his issues are, you can afford to wait, observe, check in with his teacher on a regular basis to see how he is progressing. If it appears that he cannot tolerate the Kindergarten classroom, then you might want to consider requesting an evaluation - http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_ABCs_Advocacy/.<br />
<br />
At the minimum, he will probably require some additional support and modifications in the classroom to help ease some of the tension for him. For instance, he might do better with adequate warning and reminders when he is expected to show what he knows in front of the class. Perhaps a schedule can be made for your son that is taped to his desk. Given that his fine motor skills are weak, it is understandable that he would be hesitant to demonstrate his ability in front of others. Perhaps, he might benefit from some exercises for boosting fine motor skills -<br />
http://www.shrewsbury-ma.gov/schools/beal/readiness/finemotoractivities.html<br />
<br />
Good luck!<br />
> 60 days ago

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sweets61
sweets61 writes:
Hi,  My daughter turned 5 on the day school started. She is an intelligent child as we work with her at home. She is doing absolutely fabulous,now. We got off to a shaky start with the emotional aspect of starting so early. At first she had a little issue with behavior(I thought I was doing her a favor by staying away so she would adapt~I was wrong!)  Also I'm the one that has the discussoin on No child left behind, What a joke You can scan that to see the other problems my daughter survived.  Anyway, I started going to school a couple of days a week and helping the teacher(and keeping an eye on my daughter). It was amazing how much my presence those couple of days meant to my child. She has done excellent since. I guess she just needed reassurance . I am working now so I don't get to go that much anymore and she is still doing well and is very independant. The best advice I can give: If you work with your child at home ,pay attention,instill in your child that you think school is important,even if they resist at first-give him achance to settle in. My daughter also went to pre-k 3 and 4. She is already reading library books. It is amazing! Good Luck with you decision. You know your child better than anyone. Whatever your decision he will be fine. Don't stress to much and have fun learning with your child!
> 60 days ago

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lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Hi Kari,

I'm curious to know some of your thoughts as to what else may be going on for you son. I've found over the years that parents intuition is often very accurate.

That said, it is not unusual for many children to struggle with the transition to kindergarten. As you may have noted from the above discussion, many boys have trouble with the transition, particularly when they are so-called "young fives." That is, research shows that boys' brains develop at a slower rate than girls during the early years and, therefore, many boys are not as prepared for the rigorous academic environment as girls. Of course, they catch up later and can be just as successful.

But, how to help your son? I think that you should make opportunities to talk with him about classroom expectations, but do not pressure him. You can say, "In big kid school, boys and girls are often asked to tell the teacher and class what they know about a particular subject. It isn't important whether you know the exact answer or not. Your teacher wants to know if she is doing a good job explaining the material. It is her job to make sure that everyone in the class understands the topic. If some students are having trouble understanding, she wants to know, so she can change her teaching." In addition, you can let him know that sharing what he knows is practice for when he gets older. Most adults have jobs that involve public speaking.

Finally, you can help your son practice and further develop his fine motor skills by creating opportunities at home. For instance, many boys and girls enjoy working with Perler beads to make designs. This is a fun and effective way to build fine motor skills. The following website has many suggestions for other activities at home.

http://www.shrewsbury-ma.gov/schools/Beal/readiness/finemotoractivities.html

Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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blusage
blusage writes:
You don't say if a half day kindergarten is offered.  I think if it is you should send your daughter what a wonderful compromise that would be.  She sounds ready on every level.    
I was a shy backwards child with a late summer birthday and was sent to kindergarten at 5, first grade at 6.  I think it would have undermined my confidence to be held back.  My  son was in a kindergarten class of 16.  Of all those children 5 were May babies, also a bit late in the year, they were all ok, my son was one of them which is why I remember.  At that time, 1986 there was a big movement to give your child an advantage holding them back.  If you don't want to separate so soon and don't have to work outside the home you could homeschool and do other activities with other children, swimming, soccer etc.
> 60 days ago

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Redwood_City_Mom
Redwood_Cit... writes:
Hello!  I have a "young five" (July birthday) who is just entering the home stretch of a really fun, happy, and successful kindergarten year.  We struggled with the decision of whether to enroll him or not just like you are.  In the end, we listened to advice from his preschool teacher (who strongly recommended that we send him) and our hearts.  As others here have said, you know your child best and will make the best decision.  There are pros and cons either way so you don't have to worry about making the "right" decision, just the "best" one!

I did hear one helpful thing when we were deciding that I didn't see represented here that I'll share with you...if your son is truly ready for kindergarten, it can be disadvantageous to him to hold him back for another year.  It won't be evident in elementary school but you might see problems in junior high.  If you hold a kid back for a year, kindergarten (and the following elementary grades) end up not being very challenging academically.  It's great that they're not struggling, but that also means they're not developing good study habits, time management skills, the ability to work through academic challenges, etc.  When they hit the higher grades, where the work gets a lot tougher, they're not ready to face those challenges and it can really put them into a tail spin.  They have to work hard for the first time in school and they don't know how!  Boys especially have a hard time expressing their feelings about this (embarassment, frustration, etc) so they develop behavior problems and act like they just "don't care" about school anymore.  I'm concerned that we'll see lots of this as the current generation of "red shirted" elementary school kids get into junior high and highschool.

Just one more thing to think about!
> 60 days ago

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zilenacha
zilenacha writes:
We are in a similar situation.  We enrolled our 5 in Nov. son in a private kindergarten, and while he is meeting basic academic standards he wasn't thriving.  He started having behavior problems, plus honestly his teacher runs the class in a very academic way, expecting long stretches of sitting still and stuff-and she sends kids to the office on the third warning.  ANYWAYS, my husband and I started sitting with him a few afternoons a week and also took him out for a week for time at home, and now he is doing better. BUT, we have decided to have him repeat kindergarten so he can mature.  I also learned that I don't really like the way his class is-boring, uncreative, stressful in its pace, and not taught well.  we may be changing schools.  He needs story time on a carpet, more use of manipulatives, systematic handwriting instruction, and fewer worksheets!

I would encourage anyone considering whether or not to send their young 5 to go observe the actual classroom with the actual teacher they would be working with.  According to this website and others, my son was 300% ready for kindergarten-but in reality he was expected to know so much more on day one than I was lead to believe!
> 60 days ago

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JC1207
JC1207 writes:
If you are sending your child to public school, the birthday cutoff is actually August 30. The child must be five before then, otherwise you will have to petetion to get your child early enrolled.  My son was barely five, Aug 20th, when he went to K. He was able to keep up with the other kids just fine with the intellectual areas, but he did lack in the maturity department...  looking back I think we should have held him back for another year.
> 60 days ago

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shawnas
shawnas writes:
 I have a son that turned five last June 24 and went over and over the decision on whether or not to send him to kindergarten. He has went to a great preschool for two years and it could have went both ways. I think it would have taken him longer to adjust last year than now. Waiting was the right thing for us to do he is definately ready now and I look forward to seeing him succeed this next year. Like the others have said the parents know best and they do, there were lots of people telling me what they thought I should do and I just listened to myself and my husband. I really think we made the right decision and so do his preschool teachers, they see how much he has matured this year. He's also really excited about going and talks about it all the time. :) Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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Aloha.XOXO
Aloha.XOXO writes:
Hi!  I have my 2 cents to add on this discussion as I am all for holding them back one year if it seems to be appropriate for your child.  I have a gifted child (IQ tested by a Dr. and accepted into an academy for the gifted a couple months ago for Kindergarten) that misses the public school cut off date by 9 days.  Do I push to get her in early or do I wait one more year?  Do we put her in the academy or do we go public school? My daughter is also very social and very active....sports, cheerleading, ballet, etc.  We too had an extremely difficult time deciding what would be in her best interest. She would have no problem jumping into K early; learning wise or socially.
*  Here are some points of advice that were given when I was seeking.  1) This advice is from a preschool teacher: "Older children tend to be the leaders of the class. 2) Many Mom's that I've met at the park, or at preschool with older siblings wished they had held their son back....not necessarily their daughters. 3) My husband is a September baby and he wished he was held back not for the academics, but for sports.  Consider if your child is athletic - One year of physical growth when you play varsity football makes a huge difference. My husband was always the smallest but grew to 6'3". I too am a November baby and HATED always being the youngest, truly I did!  4) If you hold your child back for more time to mature and he is not challenged academically, be involved in his learning.  Make sure he is assessed in his classes accordingly because he can always take "honor" classes.  In our public school system, we have 'Honors' classes starting in the first grade in Washington which means they are tested in Kindergarten.  We decided it would be best for my daughter to go to full day PUBLIC Kinder and have her tested into the Honors Prism/Merlin program when she's in Kinder this fall.  In the meantime I've supplemented her learning by enrolling her in the enrichment program Kumon which is a nationwide learning organization.  We all want whats best for our little ones and I have no problem holding my April boy back a year if he does not seem 'ready' even though he would make the cut off date.  But he's 2 and we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.  If you are an involved parent and remain to be involved during their school years you will notice if their is a deficit that is not being fulfilled and you will naturally seek the programs, classes, etc. for your child.  :)   Hope this helps! Aloha!
> 60 days ago

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Johnnysmom
Johnnysmom writes:
My twin brother and I (October birthdays) were both started at age 4 in school.  I was ready and he was not.  Many people think of the academic aspects of starting a child early but think of the social aspects as well, many of which won't become apparent until puberty or junior high. This is even more important in our current culture.  I have decided for my two children that I wanted them to be the older children in their grades and not the youngest. I moved from Michigan to Florida and from a public system to private and there are vast differences.  In Michigan Kindergarten is a half-day with learning numbers and letters the primary focus.  In Florida my son has a spelling test his second week and was expected to be reading.  It was also a full day with only one 15 minute recess and required more desk time. I would say that you need to look at your specific school and what they require academically. Children will tend to be older in these environments.  Most importantly at this age your child should feel confident and capable at school.  
> 60 days ago

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busymomof3
busymomof3 writes:
I faced this decision with my daughter.  She is a late Sept. birthday.  We were told she would do "o.k." is kindergarten, but we wanted her to have better.  We put her in young 5's and it was the best decision ever.  It came down to this.  We thought it would be better for her to take an extra year now, and do really well, than struggle through the next 12 years.  I am also a soon to be teacher, and I can tell you from that stand point the young 5's program is excellant.  If you have any doubts, lean toward the cautionary side on this one.  It will definatly not hurt your child, it can only help.
> 60 days ago

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Mom27
Mom27 writes:
My daughter entered kindergarden at the age of 4 in the 07-08 school year, she didn't turn five until Oct.  Were we live the school year starts in Aug.  She was doing pretty good in school, however the teacher would say she wasn't as mature as the others that entered at 5 and maybe going to turn 6 soon.  My daughter also fail behind in her phonics and sight words in a 31-student class with only 1 teacher.  But anyway they recomended that she repeat kindergarden.  I really don't want to hold her back, but I don't want to push her onto first grade and she falls more behind.  Plus she's only 5.
> 60 days ago

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Linda717
Linda717 writes:
As a teacher with 15 years of experience and 16 years as a tutor, if your son is in preschool, I would certainly underscore that teacher's evaluation. However, I would err on the side of caution. I have tutored a number of boys whose mothers really regretted letting their son start
as early as possible.

I wouldn't worry nearly as much about problems in middle school or high school now. He needs to be successful and ready. Are there any mothers in your community who have made the decision one way or another?  Perhaps, the principal can guide you in finding them.

Again, use the people closest to your son, but also be cautious. There are marvelous opportunites for learning yet in another year of pre-school.

Just one teacher's opinion. Best Wishes. A consistent loving mother
is one of the very best resources your son has.
> 60 days ago

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tinker_moon
tinker_moon writes:
Hello, My children are not ol denough for school yet, but I myself started kindergarden at the age of 4. I had always been the youngest in my class, but I liked it. I was ready for school at four, and I should have skipped to first grade due to what I was capable of doing at four, but it was hard enough for my mom to let me in kindergarden.
My daughter is two and knows more than most 4 year old we know, and if she is ready for kindergarden at four, I will fight to put he rin as well.
With all of that said, I belive that as long as you feel your son is ready for school, don't let age hold him back. Put him in as soon as you can. Do not let the shcool or teachers tell you any different.
> 60 days ago

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MississippiMom
Mississippi... writes:
My son is turning 5 next week and after much agonizing over the decision, we are going ahead and sending him to kindergarten.  We received lots of advice on both sides of this argument.  I heard from several mothers who "wished they had held their sons back" for immaturity reasons.  Including my mother-in-law, who is a life-long teacher of 5th grade.  

I decided that we would go on and send him to kindergarten and be open-minded that he may need to repeat it, if it appeared there would be a problem with his maturity level.  This decision was affirmed for me when his preschool teacher said he was beyond ready and that we shouldn't even worry about him having to repeat.  It's obviously still going to be an option when the time comes.

It's definitely an individual decision, depending on the child.  I know that my son is already almost 4' tall and towers over kids that are quite a bit older than him.  That had a lot to do with my decision, honestly.  I think the parents' influence matters, I think birth order matters, there is just much variation between kids to make a sweeping generalization to send or not to send.
> 60 days ago

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LAM712
LAM712 writes:
My advise is that you know your child best. Please do listen carefully to your child's pre-school teacher(s) but realize that you have a more holistic understanding of his abilities. Also, make sure you know what the make-up of his future Kindergarten classroom will be like. It would be best if the class size is less than 15, is the Kindergarten teacher "on board" with having your son in the class or is he/she against it? The teacher's attitude may determine whether or not your child is successful.

I had to petition my daughter's school years ago for what was then known as "early admission", her birthday is in December so she was only 4 1/2 when classes began in late August. I had been working with her at home and she was already reading at a 2nd grade level, and doing 1st-2nd grade math. She was also mature for her age.

I spoke with her pre-school teacher who said she was quite capable but felt that regardless she should be held back "because" that was the thing to do. I had to have her tested by a school psychologist for early entry and she had to have an IQ of more than 130, which she did.

My daughter did very well academically speaking when I did enroll her for Kindergarten at age 4 1/2. However, I had repeated run-ins with her teacher who did not want her in the class because she was "too quiet" and therefore felt she wasn't ready. The class also had 25 students in it and was a pilot study of all-day kindergarten. Needless to say while my daughter was academically ready she encountered many problems in dealing with the teacher and an all-day format. We had similar problems once she hit 1st grade, she had straight A's in Kindergarten and 1st grade but both teachers said she should be held back.

Again, I went on gut instinct and let her continue on to 2nd grade. She had a truly wonderful teacher who brought her out of her "shell" so to speak. Her 2nd grade teacher said the problem had probably not been with my daughter but the fact that she was more mature and not as prone to fantasy play/ role play and preferred the "real" stuff. Once all the other kids caught up to her level it was easier for her to interact with them.

Problems I had as she grew up: well... middle school was rough but that was academic for her not social, she was much too social by this point ; ) Our problem? Well, my daughter had never had to work at anything because it had all come too easily for her. Once she hit middle-school she had to learn how to learn as she was placed in more and more advanced classes with students sometimes 3 yrs older than she!

At any rate, she is now 22 yrs old and a successful young woman who married her high school sweetheart and is now dealing with a child of her own, who is an August baby! She will have to consider the same problems as she herself faced when her own daughter is old enough to enter school.

On another note. My second child is a March baby and began school on time for her. She did however end up skipping 5th grade. I have seen no harm and had no problems from her having done so.
> 60 days ago

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