Q&yourA: Choosing Kindergarten

I've gotten a couple of questions about choosing Kindergarten programs:

The first was on half-day vs. whole-day programs.

The second was on starting a kid who was very much academically ready and seemed emotionally ready but was going to be in the younger half of the class agewise.

My take on the first question is that half-day vs. whole-day is largely a red herring. In my experience, what determines whether K is a good year or not is entirely the teacher. If you have a good teacher, it's a good year. Bad teacher, bad year. (I say this after my older one had a horrible K teacher [which GayNYCDad can confirm] and my younger one now has an amazing teacher for whom I'm thankful every day.)

Kids who nap in the afternoons will switch their sleep schedules to go to bed earlier if they end up in all-day K, and kids who are in half-day will still learn to read even if they're not in school all day.

My take on the second question is that I don't know. I think that if a) the teacher is good, and b) the kid is within reach (not even fully there) socially, it will be good. But both of my kids were in the middle range of the class and pretty average socially, and had been in preschool for two years each before K.

If I were making a decision about timing, and my child had been in preschool or daycare, I'd ask the teachers and put a lot of weight on what the said about how my child was in relation to the other kids, and how well my child adapted to change in an institutional setting. Because they see our kids the way we don't.

I think it's trickier if your child hasn't been in an institutional setting, because you don't have as much indication of how they act in a group.

So. You. How did you/are you making the decision? Is there even a decision to be made where you live? (In NYC public there is not. It's all full-day and it's strictly by age cutoof. Everyone born in calendar year 2006 is starting K this fall.) Are you happy with your decision? Is there anything you'd weigh differently if you could do it again?

 

 

78 thoughts on “Q&yourA: Choosing Kindergarten”

  1. Our town for old daughter was full day; for younger daughter was half day. No choice. I hear ya about the quality of the teacher overwhelming other differences.I’d add, the fit of the teacher. I wouldn’t say Little One’s K teacher was _bad_ just that she and Little One had a different world view and sense of goals for the K year. It was a disaster, even on a half day basis. For a loner with fluent reading skills, a teacher who was heavily invested in pre-reading activities and full participation, well….. But most of the kids in the class thrived there.
    If I could do it all again? I’d have done what I felt in my gut I probably should have done, but didn’t have the fortitude – pull Little One out of public school and send her to a Sudbury Valley type school (which, in our case would have been THE Sudbury Valley School) where kids manage their own education. Which was what she was doing, exceedingly well, and Kindergarten (and school in general) just put up barriers to that.
    Can’t speak to the age thing – both of mine were solidly in the age bracket for K and holding back the one with the fairly limited social skills would only have made the academic disparity worse.

  2. We live in Maryland and the cut off date is September 1st. Both of my children miss this date. There is a six week window for birthdays that fall after that date where your child eligible to be evaluated for admission.With my son, I had him evaluated. However, before the evaluation even started the teacher (who was doing the reading portion) told me how boys really do benefit from an extra year. So much for an unbiased evaluation! Needless to say we were told to wait a year. My son is now in the first grade and doing well. He ended up attending a Pre-K program that is offered at his elementary school the year before Kindergarten. At the time of the evaluation he had been attending a NAEYC accredited preschool 3hrs/5 days a week.
    In retrospect, I am happy with the school’s decision to not admit him in 2008. He’s doing well in first grade this year and I really think he benefited from the extra year.
    As for choosing a Kindergarten teacher, I’m really not sure how much choice parents have. We lucked out and got an outstanding Kindergarten teacher for my son. This year, we haven’t been so lucky. Fortunately, first graders switch for math and reading and I love his math and reading teacher. His homeroom teacher not so much. My husband and I actually went in the beginning of the year to speak to the V. Principal about it. I think as a parent it’s a difficult line between being an advocate for your child and a being perceived as a meddler. It is also hard for a parent with a kindergartner, especially if it’s your first child, to know who the good v. not so hot teachers are.
    Whew. This is long. I just quickly want to add that I’ve decided to take the same path with my daughter for this year. Currently, she is enrolled in a three morning a week preschool. In the fall she will attend the same Pre K program that her brother did and will start K in 2012. One bit of advice a teacher gave me when weighing the options of not opting for early entrance to Kindergarten was a long range view. Once high school rolls around it may be to your child’s advantage to not be one of the younger kids with regards to driving and dating. Good luck to everyone having this dilemma. I was surprised to learn recently that only 14 states even require Kindergarten in the US:
    http://mb2.ecs.org/reports/Report.aspx?id=32
    Some of the info may not be current regarding cut off dates. It says MDs cut off is Dec. 1st this changed years ago to Sept. 1st.

  3. K is 1/2 day in our town, strictly by age. That was great for my son who is an introvert and would have been utterly done-in by a full day at that age. My daughter is in K now. She is very outgoing and could easily manage a full day.Heard about a national study that looked at the difference between full and 1/2 day programs. It found that in general, there is no additional academic content in full day v. 1/2 day. Looking at how the kids fared over several years, in most children, test scores apparently showed that by 3rd grade any academic benefit from full day had evened out, except in the group of children who were performing under average at the start of K. For these kids, there was lasting benefit from full-day.
    I agree completely about the experience having so much to do with a good fit between teacher and child. We’ve had very different K experiences with our kids, for just that reason. In this case remembering that it’s “just kindergarten” helps put it in perspective. Obviously, you have to weigh your own situation carefully and there are those times when you have to be “that parent” and demand a change for your child. But barring that level of seriousness, it really is “only kindergarten” and so much of what they’re learning is coming from home, anyway. I figure if they’re making friends, getting used to the rhythm of a school day, and building some confidence about letters and numbers, they’ve gotten what they need.
    I think if you’re fortunate enough to have a choice between full and 1/2 day, or if there is wiggle room in terms of age of enrollment, the decision is best made based on your child’s temperament. That said, I’ve never heard any parent say they wished they’d sent their child off to school earlier. But I’ve hear many, many parents say they wished they’d waited.

  4. In my town in Connecticut, it’s the second year they’re offering full day kindergarten (basically 8:30-3). All of the “specials” (art, music, gym, etc.) are scheduled after lunch, and I can’t really imagine how they fit any of that into the previous half-day program.Connecticut is one of the last places around with a Dec 31st cut-off date, and there is some anecdotal pressure to hold back kids–especially boys–with birthdays late in the year. My son has a late August birthday and (after much debate) we decided to send him. He’s doing fine–loves going to school, seems about middle of the pack in terms of “academics”–but I do find it troublesome that he has older kids in his class. One student has the same birthday as my son, but a year earlier. I worry down the line that the age difference between these kids will lead to physical disparities and bullying. I think parents are the best people to make decisions about when their kids are ready for kindergarten, but I also think it should there should be guidance given about holding kids back.

  5. I’m an advocate for starting kids when the cut-off date says they should start (small-size, introvert be damned). I really feel like holding a specific chld back in kindergarten for a second year is preferable to having an entire subgroup of kids held back in advance when they could probably do just fine. And this stuff about boys especially gets me because then you have classes where the boys are all a year older than the girls. I just don’t see how that’s going to end well in High School.We talked about this last year when I was starting my first-born in kindergarten, and we realized that it is entirely an upper-middle class choice. Many parents need the child care offered by kindergarten (full or half-day) or can’t afford an extra year of pre-school.
    My data: My suburban well-funded elementary school system offers two classes of half-day AM kindergarten and 6 classes of tuition-based all-day kindergarten ($200/mo, $1800/school year). The number of classes of each is strictly determined by demand.
    My son (May 5th birthday with an August 1st cut-off who attended full-day child care/preschool prior to this year) is in half-day. The half-day has a disproportionate number of May, June, and July birthdays (more than half the class) so perhaps the parents with kids with late birthdays self-select into the shorter day.
    The teacher has 3 sons of her own so I figured she was pretty well-versed in age appropriate boy behavior. Her sons are an April birthday who went on-time, and twins with July birthdays who she did hold back for a year of the gift of time.
    The teacher is differentiating instruction based on academic ability, and the kids are in different leveled reading groups. She actually brought in the education specialists to get a curriculum going for the red robin reading group since that is the fluent readers group and the pre-literacy skills curriculum was not working for those kids. She is also differentiating math for the kids who can/want more. When the rest of the class is learning the names of the coins and how much they are worth, some kids are adding coins and making change. When some of the class is telling time on an analog clock to the hour, some kids are telling time to the 5-minute. She’s really differntiating, but there are only 15 kids in the half-day class.
    I am the only WOHM with a kid in the half-day class, though there are lots of kids with SAHMs in the all-day class (just a curious note).
    I have been told that the curriculum for the whole day and half day program is identical. The half-day gets more homework than the full-day, plus full-day has lunch and recess which eats into their school day.
    I have a lot more thoughts on this topic, so I might chime back in later.

  6. My DS is 5 and enrolled in all-day Kinder. I had the choice to enroll him or keep him out a year, and although I had some misgivings due to social development, I enrolled him. He had not attended pre-school or day care, so this was all new to both of us. He started out in a regular Kinder class, but due to class size the school decided to do a split Kinder/1st grade class and my DS was selected to move to that class (based on personality/class skills). He loves his teacher (I love his teacher!) and I owe her a debt of gratitude for making his first year of school so positive. He has been attending since the beginning of August (year-round school here) and he is still excited to get up and go to school each morning. The weekends literally disappoint him! He has also bowled me over with his reading skills (he is plowing through 2nd grade site words and he reads *everything*). He seems to be doing what I consider average in math, and I can’t help but wonder if that is a mix of two things. One, it took me ‘til I was in college for math to really “click”. I could do it, but it was always struggle and I still don’t find math as enjoyable as I find words. The second thing is that he has a different teacher for math and I don’t think that teacher is as in-tune with Kinders as his main teacher is. Overall it is a good experience and I’m glad I chose to enroll him.So, those are my data points, maybe they will help someone who is in the middle of deciding what to do right now.

  7. A million times Yes to Moxie’s rec to ask your child’s current teachers. Also the principal at your child’s school-to-be and your pediatrician. I have talked to so many people who are making decisions and offering advice based on cliches (all boys are one thing, all girls are opposite thing; kindergarten is the new first grade) that may not apply in your case.My youngest has a September 1 birthday and is the youngest in his class. Cut-off where we live is September 30, but the other kid with a September birthday was held back. When I was scheduling an induction, I picked the 1st partly in case the cut-off got moved because I wanted to have the option of starting at 5. It has been fine. He is still working on remembering to wait his turn and which way an S faces, but his teacher & aide recognize that he is developmentally fine, and the teacher is confident that in a couple of years he will be on the top of heap academically and indistinguishable socially from the other kids in his grade. (Although how can you ever know?)
    I do know someone who held her kid back and is sorry. It happens. I suspect it happens more often on the social side — kid wants to play with agemates; agemates are elsewhere during recess. Bumping up the level of instruction for an academically advanced kid has not been a problem in our experience.
    Someone has to be the youngest, and I don’t think sending most kids into that situation is unfeeling. There are going to be kids close in age and maturity to the youngest, and finding one’s niche is one of the things school teaches.

  8. this is heavy on my mind right now. my son is bright enough, but on the spectrum & way *way* behind socially & developmentally. his school iep coordinator wants him to start the full day pre-k next year. BUT she somehow forgot to mention the aba autistic pre-k class. hmm. $$? that’s my thought, and it really pisses me off to have something that might really benefit him totally withheld.

  9. There will always have to be kids who are at the lower end of the class age-wise; even if everyone held their kids back a year. I think it is silly to base when your child starts Kindergarten on their age placement in the class. If they are ready mentally and emotionally, send them. I completely agree with talking to teachers about it.

  10. @marci – That stinks. Is it too late?My niece did the ABA autistic pre-K/preschool program at her local elementary and then did half-day kindergarten on-time (Sept 1st b-day with Spet 30th cut-off). She did half-day AM kindergarten and then during the afternoon went to the PM autism class and got her OT, ST then so she wasn’t pulled out of her kindergarten class. This year she is in a mainstream 1st grade with 93% inclusion. She’s struggling a little with academics and might have benefitted from an extra year of full-day mainstream kindergarten before 1st grade, but there was no red flag/glaring reason to do so.

  11. California is in the process of swinging from a very late cutoff to a very early one… so by the time my younger daughter, born Oct 2, gets there, she’d need an exception to start in the year in which she turns 5. (My older daughter is an April birthday, so obviously, we wait for her.) I have no idea what we’ll do- obviously, since I still don’t know where we want to send the older daughter and that decision actually needs to be made surprisingly soon- but I am very grateful the situation will occur for my second, not my first. I figure I’ll be more laid back by then.I’m going to come back and read these comments with interest, because maybe someone will say something that will help crystallize my thinking for my older daughter. We’re deciding between trying for the spanish immersion public school down the street (1 in 3 odds we’d get in), just sending her to our local public school (supposedly pretty good, but funding just keeps getting cut), or going against what I’ve always thought I’d do and going out and looking at private schools. Gah. Education decisions feel so huge, and even though I know in my rational brain that it won’t matter that much (parental involvement is the biggest predictor of success no matter the school)… I am freaking out.

  12. My daughter is one of those oh-so-fun August birthdays so I’ve been researching pretty much since her birth on whether to send her on time {aka, very young}. To be honest my gut said no but I couldn’t pinpoint why. Academically and socially she was more than ready and everyone from the K-screener, her pediatrician, her preschool teachers, my husband, all our family members and random strangers at the playground all agreed she should go.Then we spent the year and a half before she started researching the elementary schools in our area. Her “home” school is open format with a combined K and 1st grade which we did not think she would do well in- she needed a structured classroom so the search was on and it was full of tours and principles and teacher discussions and it took forever to pick one let alone get accepted. {And this was just our public school search- the charter and private one is a whole other story}.
    We finally landed on a place where we thought she would thrive. All that to say? My daughter had a miserable year. For one- I found everyone talks about 3 things for entering K: Academics, social skills, and stamina {our district and the the surrounding ones only offer full day K}. That gut feeling that I couldn’t pinpoint? Was maturity- and this is where my daughter had trouble. The second thing I learned is that you can work ridiculously hard to ensure your child is in the best learning environment but in public schools there are circumstances that you can’t predict or control. For us it was that in my daughter’s class of 20 there were 6 kids with IEPs, 4 of whom had severe learning and behavioral problems. Probably not that uncommon of a situation in bigger schools but here the teacher and the administration were NOT equipped to handle these kids. The teacher didn’t change her structured, hard-line even though it was clear the class was deteriorating and my daughter took a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach becuase she couldn’t figure out whose lead to follow- the “mean” teacher or the “mean” kids. It took the teacher 5 months to figure out that positive reinforcement worked better than constantly doling out punishments. To top it off, the teachers was super protective of the classroom so I couldn’t even observe or volunteer and get a good idea of what was going on- was it just my daughter? The other kids? The teacher? It was awful. We worked so hard to ensure our child would have a great start to her education and we failed miserably. In the end we borrowed some priciples of The Tools of The Mind approach to getting our daughter back on track, and she’s doing much better now but it was a ridiculously hard road to get here. I realize that our experience is probably not super common. I don’t think the teacher is “bad” in general. I think she’s probably great if you have typically-developing, compliant kids. Unfortunately that wasn’t the reality this year and EVERYONE suffered for it.

  13. One more thing: Our district {largely white, mid-upper classers} pressures you to send your kids on time, regardless of how ready they are as they’ve found that too many parents are red-shirting. I think this is a big reason my daughters’ class had so much trouble as three of the kids with learning/behavioral problems have August and September {a year behind} birthdays. So not only are those kiddos struggling with those problems, they also are barely 5 years old at the start. I know part of this is that the services to help are right there in the schools but many of the kids would greatly benefit from an extra year to mature.

  14. DS started full day french-immersion (Canada obviously!) preschool Sept 2010 – he was three with an April b’day. He is in the wiggle-room are regarding cut-off dates. Sept this year he’ll be in the four-year programme, and start kindergarten when he’s five. It’s a private not-for-profit school – and the ratio is max 10:1 – I feel that’s important for him, bearing in mind his personality.He is thriving, despite being on the quieter side. In fact, school seems to have really brought him out of his shell – as far as he is concerned all his classmates are his friends – for his dad & I seeing that development in confidence and sociability has been awesome! It also completely cemented the potty-training so within a week of starting school, he was coming home and volunteering to go the bathroom – he no longer waited to be prompted.
    I have to admit the major factor in our decision was the childcare offered – it’s in his classroom, and of a much higher standard than his previous daycare. For the first time since he was six-months old, I’m more than happy with the quality of care that he is getting outside the home. My guilt levels have gone waaaaay down!

  15. An observation from my daughter’s class in AZ…most of this kids are 6 or turn 6 first part of the year. She won’t turn 6 until the end of the school year. She is mature for her age (and tall) so she fits in just fine.My second is born in 2006…and she is no way ready for kindergarten next Fall (kindergarten as we know it anyways!) fortunately, we have the option to wait one more year for her so we will.
    She also goes half day which works for our family. We work with her on reading and math and other fun activities after school. In fact, in her school (has option of half or full day), it seems the half-day kids who have a lot of parental help after school do really well (obviously)
    Another thing i feel makes a difference, regardless of age, is whether the child had been in preschool. Having been in a structured environment helps A LOT.

  16. rkmama–Our stories sound very similar. I definitely felt the message from the school administration was to send age-ready kids, and that was a big factor in my decision to send my August-born son.He, too, has a significant number of high needs students in his class of 24, who matriculated from the early intervention program, which automatically moves kids to kindergarten when they are eligible at age 5 (unless the parents move them to a private pre-k program). To be clear, I don’t begrudge the high needs kids AT ALL, but I do think it makes the age and developmental range in the classroom all the more complex.

  17. Whoa. Big topic here.First, @SarcastiCarrie: Amen, Sister: I just don’t see how that’s going to end well in High School.
    I felt the same way about our oldest nephew, who started K old, and then turned 21 early in his sophomore year in college which brought huge huge pressure to be the alcohol procurement dude. Ugh.
    Second, I’m living this right now. My older son had a.m. half day K and a teacher who was awesome with boys (and squigglers in general) and I was so grateful.
    Son2 has the Sept. 1 cutoff birthday and so could have been the youngest kid in the class. He would have breezed through any of the tests they would have given him. In the end, we didn’t send him for three reasons:
    1) He’s “advanced” now but who knows what happens in puberty. This is the least convincing reason but it did get in my head.
    2) He and his brother have a rocky relationship and I think it will be better for their relationship in general and for the younger one in particular to be further removed from his brother. I hope that changes eventually but for right now–to have little brother right behind him is something big brother finds very threatening and it manifests in unpleasant ways.
    3) Fretting until the last minute, I asked the boy for his birthday party list. He came up with 18 names (including a set of triplets) of kids that he wanted to invite. 14 of those kids did not make the cutoff for K; and interestingly, 10 of the 14 had birthdays between Sept-Nov. That felt like a signal to me that this is where his head was. Not that these 14 will be his friends for life, but if the majority of kids he wanted to be with were going–I would have probably read it the other way and sent him.
    All that said…I’m not totally regretting it but I do sometimes wonder. He is bored beyond belief with his preschool–mixed age classes = 3 kids who can read Magic Tree House books, 6 who don’t know the alphabet (because they just turned 3), and a bunch of kids in the middle, so the readers become low priority. He lost two teeth this year (and his older brother just lost two teeth this year too). He grew 4.5 inches and we can no longer keep their clothes straight. And he’s in a huge 5 and a half moody period where he’s sullen and unhappy and can’t identify or verbalize why.
    I try to console myself that if I’d sent him to K and he was sullen and moody I would be killing myself that I made the wrong call and was setting him on a path of 13 years of frustration. And sullen moods aside–he is a really fun kid and I will never be sorry we had this year to spend this much time together. I’m going back to work when he goes to K and these hanging-out-together days will be much fewer and farther between.
    There’s my data point, fwiw. Thanks for all the good thoughts, all!

  18. My son’s half-day class of 15 has two kids with aides, so 2/15 is 13%. One is socially and academically age-appropriate but has significant physical impairments, so his aide is there to hold his pencil, move him from chair to circle time, etc. In no way does his being in the class negatively affect the other kids or the quality of instruction in the room. The other child has significant behavioral and learning challenges. Even with an aide, the behavior is occasionally disruptive, but with only one, it didn’t seem to dominate the classroom.I’m wondering if our school district is unusual with respect to how much support is given in the classroom with each of these children having a one-on-one aide. I know the other classes which each have 18+ kids get an aide automatically just to help manage the room.

  19. And thanks to the tenure system, the K teacher that we shared 1 year apart, screws up children every year. She leaves back the most kids of any teacher every year because she doesn’t do her job up to any standards. And yet she is protected, why aren’t our kids? The lesson as I understand it form my in-laws with older kids, you are just lucky when you get a great teacher. That makes me sad. Do as much research and networking as you can.www.gaynycdad.com

  20. Here in the province I live in (in Canada) kindergarten (or Primary as they call it is public, full day with age cut off Dec 31 2006.For me it’s about whether to go with the small, neighbourhood school (2 blocks up from my house or one block from dad’s) but which is very homogeneous – English, 99% white, solid middle class, over 50% SAHM (which I’m not) OR bused to the French Immersion school which is big, out of neighbourhood, and culturally and economically diverse.
    Both dad and I are leaning strongly on the French Immersion school (but with some sadness as I always pictured my son walking up the street with his little neighbourhood friends from birth.
    I don’t worry about the day as he has been in full time day care since 18 months. I do worry about whether a highly active little boy will fit in to a school setting (some red flags showing themselves re ADHD).
    Private schools are an option but we’d like to wait until middle school (financially) or unless there are some issues.

  21. Cloud – I think we are in very similiar situations. We applied (out of district) to the neighboring language immersion program but didn’t get in (magnet school so lottery system and since we are out of district low likelihood given how popular the program has become). So we’ve been left with the decision of the good local public school or a pretty-close private school. I would have liked to just gone with the public route but in CA, with all our budget woes, our schools are definitely on the decline. My boys’ public school K class is anticipated to have 31 kids, one teach, no aid. The teacher/student ratio get worse as you go up the grades and my guess is it will only continue to get worse the next 5 – 6 years. So we are now committed to the private option and just hoping and praying we get in (we find out next week). The private anticipates 18-20 kids in a class with 1 teacher and an aid. Big difference and something I can’t not do at this point.As for holding back, we held our boys back. They are twin boys turning 6 this month. They will start K this Fall. Yes, they are going to be on the older side (another reason to go with the private option as it seems most the kids are on the slightly older side at the private school since they have an earlier cut off date than the public system) but we had to do what was right for our boys. We fully anticipated them going to K this last year but when we applied to the private and they went through the full assessment there, the private school suggested they weren’t yet ready. We weren’t sure what to make of that assessment so we went ahead and tested them privately through a child psychologist. He said wait (and he told us before he started the process he didn’t support waiting just for size, small social issues, etc.). Best thing we ever did. I feel that the boys have developed so much these last 6 or so months. They now want to learn and draw and write words, etc. so they will go into school in a much better place. We’ll see how it all plays out over time but for now I’m happy with how it has played out thus far.

  22. “Kids who nap in the afternoons will switch their sleep schedules to go to bed earlier if they end up in all-day K…” WAIT, wha-what?? There are kids out there who take naps?? Could someone please pass that memo to my 3-year-old who dropped his naps at 2? ;)My data points: in WA state, Aug 31st cut off. Waiver application available for Sept birthdays who want to start early. There’s also a Young 5’s class in most of the K’s around here. Redshirting is almost completely unheard of (except amongst higher SES transplants).
    I have 2 October kids, so they’ll start when they’re technically supposed to, and we’re good with that.
    About the boys discussion upthread, my oldest is a boy who is 3 and in preschool, but already we’re seeing some murmurs of teachers having a harder time with boys. There’s a local preschool that has a “special” pre-K class for high-academically-achieving preschoolers – and it is a class full of girls. Needless to say, we didn’t send our kid there!

  23. Both my kids are in what is something between a nursery school and kindergarten. It is a 3 year program, starting at 3 and ending at 5/5.5, usually, with very little focus on academic subjects until the last year and then only for those interested. Classes are mixed ages (3-5.5yo)and have 2 teachers for most of the day. I love that there are mixed ages in one class. The older kids help the younger ones with the practical stuff( put on shoes after theri sleep, hold cutlery) and the more ‘academic’ stuff ( holing pencils). 90% of these kids will see each other at the local primary school when they eventually get there, which will help with settling in.Teachers seem to cope well with the 3 age-groups, but to be honest all kids are rarely together at one time ( only the first and last hour or so). The littlies are pulled out for art workshops, the middle kids for music, the big kids for English.
    Obviously the age factor that many of you are talking about doesn’t apply to us yet ( it will in Primary though seeing my kids were born after the cut off point of Dec 31 and will be the eldest in their classes being January babies.) We had the choice of sending both kids to school earlier but decided the benefits certainly outweight the negatives if they go later.

  24. @ Hush – am almost embarrassed to admit that DS (3.5) still takes a daily 1.5 hour nap that I have to wake him from to preserve his 7 pm bedtime. Lucky, I know. But, I am one of those people worried about an all day program tuckering him out. He can skip a nap once or twice a week, but it always wrecks him for the next few days. Silly to be worried now though – we still have a year to go.

  25. In our district you have a choice of half-day or full-day, but you have to pay for full-day.With our older one, it wasn’t much of a choice for us because I’d been laid off and our daughter was a Champion Clinger (i.e. Separation Anxiety was our constant companion). She has a May birthday, so there wasn’t really any question of timing (the cutoff here in Aug. 31 and there’s a process for getting an exemption if you think your kid needs to start early).
    Our younger starts kindy this fall and we had a harder choice with him. His birthday is December, which means no open question wrt age, but he’s been academically and socially (though maybe not emotionally) ready since last year for sure. He’s going to be waaaay above the average kindergartner when he starts.
    And now I work full-time so all-day kindy would rock, from a child care standpoint.
    BUT. But I happen to know that the half-day teacher is amazing. Not just Amazing amazing (which she is) but Her Special Passion Is Differentiating For High-Performing Kids amazing. I’m absolutely with Moxie here in agreeing that the teacher is the number one factor.
    So … even though it will mean another year of Mommy Is Somewhat Inconvenienced (I telecommute from home; dad works 45 minutes away. I win the take-care-of-transportation-for-school lottery.) we’re enrolling him in half-day and will find some other care for him the other half of the day.
    I will add this perspective from my now-1st grader, who says she wants her brother to do all-day kindergarten because she found the transition to all-day school hard as a first grader and if she’d done it in kindergarten, she would have already been used to it. (No matter how many times I try to explain it, she CANNOT grasp the concept that she would only have been moving that transition to kindergarten, when she was that much less mature and more mommy-clingy.)

  26. @Jac (& hush, sorry) my 4.5 year old still naps from 2-3 in the afternoons, as well. Her 2.5 y/o little bro naps from 1-3. She’s at her best in the morning, so when she starts preschool in the Fall, she’ll be attending a 3 day/week AM program.It’s amazing to me that if we lived in Canada or NYC, she’s be starting Kdg. in the Fall, because her 5th bday is 12/15(06). I don’t think she’s anywhere near ready for kindergarten, but I guess if I lived where that was the norm, I’d have been getting her ready for past few years. As it stands, she’ll be doing 1 year of preschool before starting half day kdg. in Fall, 2012.
    DS’s birthday is 9/25, in a district with a 9/1 cutoff, and skirting the cutoff that way is the only way they manage to be 2 years apart in school (due to our poor planning, conception-wise!). I really want them to stay 2 years apart, partially because I want that extra year at home with just him while she’s in school. It’s likely we’ll move before he enters school, and the area we’ll be moving to has an earlier cutoff … so I’m hoping burying my head in the sand and begging for special consideration if they want him to go a year early will work. It’s possible!

  27. I am strongly in favor of starting the child in K later rather than sooner.Based on my own observation, and conversations with several teachers, if they appear to be ready at a slightly earlier age, they will do fine in K, even 1st & 2nd grades, but as they get older (and their classmates are more mature than they are) the more difficult it is for them both socially and academically.
    As far as all day vs half day; I agree with Moxie; it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Our public schools are half day; because I needed babysitting, I sent my daughter to a private school which offered full day.

  28. I don’t have a lot to relate about our kinder choice – Mouse is an April birthday so there was no question about which year she’d start. And even if SF offered 1/2 day K, she’d been in (and happy and thriving in) full-time care and preschool since 8 months so it wasn’t going to be much of a question. She would have been perfectly fine a year early at 4 1/2, and I’m kind of sad that she couldn’t have that opportunity, but her teachers have surprised us so far by being really committed to challenging all the kids equally.The perspective I do want to offer is that Mouse goes to an urban public school that is extremely mixed in terms of SES, race/ethnicity, family status, etc., and (probably because of the low proportion of upper middle class families) there is virtually no red shirting there. Every year there are 1 or 2 kids who are asked to repeat kindergarten (they switch teachers so it’s still a new class for them) but by and large a class of all 5-year-olds and almost-5-year-olds works just fine.

  29. I started an August boy (he’s a full year younger than some of his peers) and held back an October boy (he’s a full year older than some of his peers). One thing that helped me decide was watching to see what age groups they chose in social situations. My August son always gravitates toward older kids. He is outgoing and confident. Being the youngest (and smallest) in his grade doesn’t faze him at all. He’s now in 4th grade and is doing very well.My October son is quieter and can be anxious in groups. He tends to gravitate toward younger kids. We started him in kindergarten when he was almost 6 and I think it was a good call. He’s in 1st grade now and in a good place, socially. He’s academically ahead, but good teachers (which he has) can accommodate that and the other kids will catch up soon anyway.
    Also, my August son did half-day kindergarten and my October son did full-day. I completely agree with Moxie that it didn’t make a difference– they both had good teachers and made great progress. Do what works for your family, schedule, and sanity!

  30. All three of my kids have late summer/early fall birthdays. Oldest is a boy with an August birthday. Academically, he was ready at 5; socially he was not. He was also a very small five-year-old. So, we waited and have not regretted it for a minute. He is now eight and in 2nd grade Spanish immersion with a teacher who expects multi-page research papers/oral presentations written in Spanish. Can’t imagine him handling that well at barely seven. Middle child is a girl whose birthday is in Sept. Our state (OR) cuts off for kinder at Sept. 1. She started at almost six and I don’t regret that, either. Even though she was technically “ready” at almost five. She has a friend whose parents pushed her ahead. The friend is doing fine, but she is smaller and less mature than others in her class.Kindergarten here is half-day, and that was plenty for my oldest, even at six. He just needs time at home. For my daughter, I signed her up for a three-day-a-week after kinder care and she loved it.
    My youngest is a three-year-old boy with an early October birthday. For him, I can already see that it will be a blessing for him to be one of the oldest in his class. He has had to do some catch-up with speech and he is small and shy. Really, it just depends on the kid. And I don’t care what other people do; I do what’s best for my kids. Period.

  31. My 2 cents: If you are in a grey area regarding when to start your child it’s all consuming situation, which I think it best empathized by those who’ve lived through it b/c it’s yet again another drive-by parenting thing with opinions as strong as bf’ing vs. not, vax vs. not, oh the list goes on.My son’s birthday is a fantastic 2-days before our state’s cut-off. SO does he go as the youngest? He’s super social, doing fine in preschool, the school we want does a screening he gets in, met with Principal for an hour she says he’ll be fine.
    Background: FT daycare since 14 weeks, preschool 2 years. NO ONE says to “hold back” except for people who don’t know my son. I enroll him with my gut still not sure. SO how did he do? Academically, fine. Emotionally? W.O.W. Not fine. Cried at homework every night…was fine at school, not fine at home. The problem is this school has older kids, like there is generally 1 spring birthday otherwise all birthdays are Sept-Feb, literally. 1 May or so. So, the age range in his class (VERY IMPORTANT- see Yard Sticks, good book)– 16 months!!!! SO, come Spring it becomes apparent that my wee one is just too young. Sure fine academically, etc but you could tell he was younger. SO I tell the school I’d like a “redo” and they had to consult w/each other b/c normally they don’t do this for non-academic reasons and VIOLA, they agreed and now he’s in his 2nd year of K (with another teacher, my choice, both are good) and OH the difference in maturity. SO I give in, the whole “summer birthday boy” thing? Really, take a moment to think about it, I tried both and I see an amazing different with my son being older (also he’s the 2nd oldest and this class is “younger” as in the age-range is only 10 months, vast difference vs. last year).
    Now my drama? My 3-year-old has a mid-May birthday. I never questioned whether I’d start him at 5 or not…I know a handful of May boys (all 2nd kids) that went at 5, some ok some not and some who waited. SO that’s my current dilemma. I just wish EVERYONE HAD to start at 5 so there were some perimeters…and seriously? just don’t have a summer baby 😉
    It’s a very hard decision to make and for me, redoing K wasn’t the end of the world, we prepped our son. It went as smooth as it could and I rather do it now than him struggle the rest of school -or- repeat later.

  32. @ HUSH: Interesting. I am also in WA State and red-shirting (around me) is VERY COMMON (I had to live with 2 years of “You’re not sending your son to K at 5 are you?)…Also the publics are both half and full-day (you pay tuition for full-day although “failing” schools have free full-day, and maybe 1-2 other districts who have chosen to fund full-day).
    Similar to RKMAMA, I have pretty much read every academic study about k, “red-shirting”, etc…I do wonder what will happen to all these older boys once they’re in HS? Yikes.
    I know in CA, though they have a super late cut-off (Dec and it’s changing)- the privates have a Sept 1 or June 1 cut-off so you have no young 5’s in the class.
    Given that it’s our child’s education, it’s an excruciating decision to make so I don’t envy anyone in the same shoes. And it’s really hard to relate just how excruicatingly difficult the decision is.
    I wish Magic 8-Balls were more helpful in these situations!

  33. We live in a large city in Oklahoma, with a cut-off date of September 1. Our public elementary schools, on the whole, are not stellar. There are three magnet schools that are highly desirable if you are going to go the public route. Two are immersion schools, which start at kinder and are very competitive to get into (interview with school psychologist, parent inventory, previous teacher survey, etc.). The other is an open-concept/multi-age school that chooses 30 4K students each year by a lottery system. If you don’t get a spot in 4K, there is basically no chance of getting in because there is only an opening if someone moves, etc. So, when DD’s name was drawn, we felt a lot of pressure to take this opening since it is a “sure thing” (no guarantee that DD would get a spot in the immersion school for kinder, and then we’d be forced to go private).DD has been in full-day preschool (9-2:30) for three years–2 days a week from 19 months to 3.5 and 3 days a week this year. When she starts at the public magnet school next year at 4.5, she’ll be going from 8-3:15 five days a week, which will be a big change. I think she’s emotionally and socially ready. Academically, I also think she’s ready, but I wonder if she’ll be challenged enough. She’s starting to read (thank you Le@pFrog videos!) and anxious to learn, but I don’t know where the other 4-year-olds will be. I know she’d be pushed (in a good way) if I left her at her current preschool for another year, as their 4-year-old program is a good blend of academics and play.
    I just don’t want to look back on her 4K year and feel that it was a waste–like I lost the last year I could have had her at home more with me. I’m nervous about our choice, but I keep telling myself that it’s all changeable. We can always pull her out if we don’t feel like it’s a good fit. That keeps me sane.

  34. Also meant to note that the vast majority of the public schools here have full day 4K programs, and as far as I know all kinders are full-day. That does not seem to be the case everywhere, based on the comments.

  35. I should clarify – I live in an area where the cut-off date is December 1. I believe that is really too late a cut-off date. When I lived in an area where the cut-off date was “Must be 6 by the first day of school” I would say to go with the rules as stated. December babies just aren’t ready! (No matter how much we think they are.)

  36. ust thought I would chime in as a kindergarten teacher. My general advice to parents is:1 – Talk to your child’s preschool teacher/childcare provider. Note that this is only helpful if that person is very familiar with the kindergarten program(s) you are considering. Trust their opinions. A child who is ready for kindergarten will not benefit from another year of preschool, and may in fact regress when surrounded by younger peers. A child who is “borderline” will likely make more progress in a kindergarten environment than in another year of preschool.
    2 – If possible, talk to a kindergarten teacher at the program you are considering. Ask them for specific examples of what they are looking for in children who are “ready” for kindergarten (i.e. can identify own name, can listen quietly to story, can change own shoes, whatever.)
    It is my belief that it is not a child’s job to be ready for my classroom; it is MY job to be ready for the children who walk in my door. Some will be younger. Some will be anxious. Some will be shy. Some will have weaker skills in some areas. Some will already be reading novels. It is MY job to accommodate all of those children; to meet them where they are and find the way to reach and teach all of them. Because of this perspective on school readiness, I tend to believe that children should start when they are of the correct age. That said, if your child’s prospective teacher (or school) holds a very strong belief that it is a child’s responsibility to be “ready” for K, it may be in your child’s best interest to wait a year.
    As for the question of full vs half-day… I teach in full day, and I love it because, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, it allows for a more developmentally appropriate program. My students spend a lot of time deeply engaged in play activities, and there would be so much less time for this if they were only with me for half a day. I structure our routines to accommodate waning stamina as the day progresses. We have a quiet rest/reading time after lunch, and our afternoon activities are considerably less taxing than the morning. Having the children all day allows me to get to know them much better, and to tailor my program to their needs and interests.
    On a final note, I just wanted to point out that redshirting has a detrimental effect on an entire classroom community, by nearly doubling the age range contained in a single classroom. SOMEONE has to be the youngest, and a good teacher will take care to meet the needs of that youngest student.
    Ok, enough soapboxing from me. I truly wish that all children could have teachers who are a good fit for them. You are all correct when you point out the critical importance of the student-teacher connection in kindergarten.

  37. Half the class will be in the younger 50% of the kids. This holding kids back is making a problem for other children. If they’re ready academically, send them! They’ll be bored if they wait and often become behavior problems even if they’d always been “good” kids. Being bored leads to disliking school and being a lazy learner, afraid of challenges.Whole day, half day? Up to the parents’ schedule. All they miss is lunch, nap and some outdoor play. The academics are identical.

  38. #Jac, I’m still in awe of your 7 p.m. bedtime. Nap or no, there is NO WAY my almost 4 year old will go to bed that early. Her lights out time is between 8:45 and 9. I’ve always known she needs less sleep than many, but wow… I guess I forgot what that really meant in terms of bedtime!OK, everyone, back to talking about kindergarten….

  39. My daughter was 5 years and 3 months when she started K. She was ready. I stupidly pushed for PM session when her daycare friend’s mom asked if we could try to get them in together; it was easier to push for 2 PMs than 2 AMs.It was hard for DD because she was still taking a nap. She did have to go to sleep earlier, but I didn’t think it was a great solution as she was so tired and stressed by her long day due to wraparound care for our workday, but without a nap (except for times when just passed out at daycare in a beanbag).
    My feeling is that if you have an otherwise ready kid who still naps, try to preserve the nap by getting in AM session.
    I think full-day K is the worst idea ever for this reason (napping)–I think it would have been awful for us.

  40. @Happycampergirl, good for you, your students are lucky! I’ve seen very much the same attitudes in teachers at our school, so I feel we are lucky as well. 🙂

  41. My girl was 5 years, 2 months when she began kindy this year. She is the second youngest kid in her class. The age span among her classmates (there are only 11, which is super) is 21 months, and that blows my mind.

  42. I’m a little late to the conversation, but I really appreciate all of the comments and different experiences you’re all sharing. This topic has been heavy on my mind lately, as my 3 year old with an October birthday will be eligible to start Kindergarten in Fall 2012, when he is still 4. I’m generally a proponent of sending kids when their birthdate allows, but since California has such a late cutoff (for now), I hesitate slightly.On one hand, he’s going to be academically ready. In fact, if it were only academics, I’d say he’s already academically ready. But he’s likely to have a difficult time socially. He hates large groups, plays alone in his room when we have people over, etc. I’d like him to become more comfortable in groups, but I don’t know that throwing him into a large classroom setting at age 4 is the way to do it. The other factor for me is that he’s never been to preschool, and still may not be able to attend next year, though we’d like him to. My husband is a full-time student, and we’ve never been able to afford preschool (which is highly competitive and expensive in Los Angeles) since he’s been old enough.
    My thought at this point (if he’s not able to attend preschool next year) is to “homeschool” preschool, and enroll in some kind of group class that isn’t Mommy and Me to give him some kind of group time that is less expensive than preschool. After that, we’ll probably send him to Kindergarten at age 4…we’ll see. This is the kind of fretting that comes from being a former teacher, as well as having tons of friends and family members who are teachers.

  43. I would like to better understand the reasoning of posters who think it is a wrong decision to allow kids to start later.Someone mentioned that such a child would turn 21 earlier than his/her college classmates, thereby possibly becoming the alcohol provider at an earlier age. Someone mentioned the mix of a year older boy with year younger girls in high school could be bad as a reason not to give the child an extra year in pre-school. Really, I have to say that these two arguments strike me invalid, and the second is particularly offensive to a mother of sons (and daughters) and a sister to three brothers.
    Is it primarily that people find it unfair that some children will have the advantage of advanced age, rather than the disadvantage of being the youngest?

  44. @anon: I thought the same. As a mother of a boy who has a mid-September birthday, we have been seriously considering holding him back and doing another year of preschool before sending him to Kindergarten.I don’t understand the problem with boys being older than girls at high school, or whatever the big issue seems to be (tends to be a worry about boys being older…) what’s the problem with this? What are we afraid of? When your daughter enters high school at age 14 she’s going to be at school with senior boys who are 18 no matter whether I choose to hold my son back or not. I remember having this discussion here before and another issue that came up was keeping boys back so they’ll excel in sports later on. All I can say to that is it never crossed my mind to hold my son back so he’d make varsity, that seems ridiculous and presumptive.
    My husband’s birthday is the day after our son’s, and he still, to this day, is bitter about being sent to kindergarten when he was still 4 years old, just because he made the cut off. Even though he excelled academically he always felt light years behind socially and it was hard on him. We feel the same about our son now. He’s more than likely plenty ready academically but socially? Not so much, and I would worry about him being with 6 year olds at this point.

  45. I’m struggling with this issue recently too. My daughter is 2 1/2 now and attends a wonderful private Montessori preschool for 1/2 days. She’s been learning so much, and this Montessori school offers a kindergarten program as well. Unfortunately in our town in NJ the birthday cutoff is Oct. 1 and my daughter’s birthday is Oct. 13. They do not make any exceptions.The public k program is only 2 1/2 hours per day. Her current private program is 3 hours a day, and by the time she’d be eligible for public kindergarten she’d have been in private preschool for 4 years. So I feel like she’d be way ahead of a lot of the class academically, socially, and in terms of age as well. And then she’d be stepping back to only 2 1/2 hours a day too.
    The drawback of keeping her in the private program through preschool is mostly money (they also require a full day for kindergartners, which I like the idea of for my daughter, but it costs twice as much and we’re having a son in May who will also most likely be in part-time private preschool at the same time).
    And to top it off I’m not even sure if the public school district would let her start 1st grade before she’s turned 6 if she’s gone to private kindergarten. I’ve heard rumors that they’ll test first graders to see if they’re ready even if they don’t meet the Oct. 1 deadline, but I’m not sure if it’s true or not. I can’t believe I’m already worrying about this when she’s only 2 1/2, but I really am!

  46. As an early childhood ed person this is fascinating. I don’t have kids so I’m mostly just reading because it really is interesting stuff. I live in DC and virtually everyone I know (and my parents) sent their kids to full day Pre-K at 4. Full day, meaning 8:45-3:15, with the elementary schoolers (used to be PK-6th, now PK-5). I know a lot of kids who have had a lot of success with this, and it does seem to make K a lot easier: the kids had kind of a transition year to get used to school, being in line, sitting quietly, etc, and they know the layout of the school and have met the principal and all of that. I know quite a few kids with late Aug birthdays who hadn’t even quite turned 4 when school started, including some boys that I suspect in other places would have been told to wait.That said, Moxie is right: it really does depend on the teacher, and on the aides as well. I’ve done a fair amount of early childhood observation and some of the teachers and aides are fantastic. Some are horrid. Which one a child gets has, I think, a lot to do with whether their early education experiences are successful. But we do know that ECE is one of the most important components for successful adolescence, so I think it’s an important thing to do. Also, I’m with the teacher who said full day gives more time for developmentally appropriate practices–there is just more time to play, read, be outside, etc. Yes, these are things your child can do at home, but there are some significant benefits to doing them as part of a larger group.
    And now I’ve written you all a novel!

  47. I’ve just had to think about school decisions in the last couple of weeks, our first choice private school just changed their entry point from 4 year old kindy to 3 year old pre-kindy. It will be a two or three day a week program, with the 4 year old kindy changing from part-time to full time. Apparently it’s all about meeting a new national curriculum blah blah (I’m a little cynical about their cash flow). Anyway, the school is co-Ed to 5th grade and then changes to all boys (and the girls go on to the all girls sister school). The girls school goes from pre-K too, but a) I just can’t get comfortable with the idea of single-sex from 3! And y’never know, maybe our next kid will be a boy so one drop off would be infinitely preferable to 2…Anyway, the point is – I’ll be going in to observe the classes next year once it is set up, just to be sure about sending her there – what do you look for in a kindy anyway?!

  48. HOW WE CHOSE:We live in Charlotte, NC where there are general admission neighborhood schools, and lottery magnet schools. We toured all the magnet schools , and our assigned neighborhood school, (which is also an International Baccalaureate Magnet school) (confused yet????) we thought would be appropriate for our daughter next fall (vis and perf arts, seminar style small group teaching called “Paideia”, which has subsequently been closed for the future due to budget decisions, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and Language Immersion) We chose to put our first choices in the Language Immersion programs, specifically German ONLY ONLY ONLY BECAUSE, the teachers in the German Immersion program seemed the best. As I like to say, “germans invented Kindergarden” ( PS we weren’t interested in Montessori, so didn’t look at the several choices). If the Visual and Performing Arts had what seemed like the most competent teachers, ie; nurturing, organized, creative, we would have gone there, or football academy, or basket weaving,if they proved the most competent teachers. So we are also of the camp that the best kindergarten experience would be with the teacher who we observed/felt/hoped, in all of two minutes, to be the best.
    Unfortunately, it is a LOONG day for every Charlotte Kindergardener, to which the district added an additional 30 minutes, in order to save $$ with bus routes. Our chosen school is out of our neighborhood, so we will have a 30 min. in each direction drive. Plusses and minuses with every program. Endurance is not DD’s strong suit. She wakes quite early and gets very flakey and moody after 1pm, Doesn’t eat her lunch at preschool, now (4 dys, 9 to 1), and often has low blood sugar meltdowns the minute she returns home. We have real concerns, but are so relieved we got our lottery choice. It will be all about managing her rest, nutrients, and maturity. Ha ha ha.

  49. @paola: ECE stands for Early Childhood Education, which usually refers to programs and schools for children from birth to 8 years old. Some 3rd grade teachers might be offended to be called Early Childhood teachers, but most ECE classes/training/certification/special credential programs for teachers and aides cover the needs and development of children up to aged 8.@anon As a teacher (and therefore someone with no iron in the fire in regards to my own child,) I discourage the extra year of preschool (in *most* but definitely not *all* cases) because, in my experience, the perceived advantages of older-ness, and disadvantages of younger-ness, are, truly, imperceptible. Children have areas of strength, and areas of development, regardless of their chronological age. Characteristics such as introversion/shyness; a tendency to follow rather than lead; or impulsiveness; are characteristics of personality, not of age. A child who is shy at 5 will likely still be shy at 7, 8, 13.
    Also, as I mentioned, previously, a child who is “not quite” ready for kindergarten is the child who most needs the increased structure of kindergarten environment, and the role-modelling of same-age peers. Those children will make more progress in a K classroom than in another year of preschool.
    Finally, I have repeatedly found that boys who are held back (either from starting K, or for a second year of K) when they are not clearly behind in EVERY area of development (physical, cognitive, emotional, and social), are are significant risk of becoming bullies themselves, taking advantage of their younger, smaller, peers with their own increased capacity for abstract thought.
    Once again, though, I go back to what I said earlier: if the teachers/school/district/program you are considering takes a strong stance on children needing to be “ready” for kindergarten, your child may be better to wait another year. A teacher or program who strongly believes that children must be 6 before they are truly ready for kindergarten is far less likely to deal appropriately with the needs of 5 (or 4.5) year olds (including rest, nutrition, attention and self-care, in addition to academics). If redshirting is the preferred approach, then the program itself is probably designed with almost-6 year olds in mind. Part of why I discourage redshirting at my own school is that it keeps teachers honest about offering a realistic program that meets the needs of the children we actually GET. In our case, that means an average K entry age of 4.5.

  50. Tate will either be an almost 5 year old or an almost 6 year old when he starts K since he misses the cut off date by 17 days. So he will wither be a 17 year old high school senior or an 18 year old high school senior. I was a 17 year old high school senior/college freshman bc of my December birthday. I don’t remember thinking the guys I went to my public high school with were particularly scary. Even as a 14 year old.Anyway, I’d like to start him as an almost 5 year old but the only way to do that is to find a private school that will waive the age requirement.
    I think the assessing his chosen peer group during the next year is good advice. He’s in all day daycare now and there are new threes and almost fours in the same class. Right now he’s having trouble with one of the almost or just turned fours. Interesting.

  51. Our son started kindergarden on September 1st and turned 5 the next day. The cutoff date here is September 30th. Three kids (out of 14) are born in September in his class, so he is not alone. Its a full day kindergarden (public school) with a wonderful dynamic and caring teacher. We thought a lot about waiting another year because that is what my parents did with me years ago (born Sept 10 with a october 30th cutoff back then in the 70s). I could read in kindergarden and everything went well for me academically. We decided to send him at barely 5 anyway because his daycare teacher said he was ready, we felt he was ready and we factored in the fact that he may loose a year of school when we leave on our first sabbatical in a few years (right before he starts high school). Results: he started reading on his own in January and he couldn’t love school more. Reading is obviously not in the curriculum but the teacher provides him with special tasks so he moves forward while others are learning letters. He is very well adjusted and loves all his friends and his teacher. It turns out that an older boy in his class (December birthday, so almost a year older) is not that more mature anyway and gets in trouble for behaviour while our son doesn’t. So part of it is personality.

  52. Here in England there is no choice really. As in your child starts primary school the September of the year that it turns five. Fine in our case as DD was born in January.It’s not a legal requirement until the fifth birthday and you can legally homeschool here. It’s not common.
    In practice the state( public as in US public), the Montessoris and the private independent schools offer 3-11.
    Pre-school moving onto primary school, the first year of the elementary school being called Reception.
    Our choice here in our part of the East End is between the state school, Montessori and private girls/ boys schools. The latter are not nearby.
    Different mums I know from the baby club all had a baby when I did. so we’re all choosing.
    – One went for the state school just up the road. It has big classes, very transient population, majority not English speaking on intake pupils. Three quarters on free school meals. That said staff are caring but stretched by numbers and demanding curriculum. All day only. Pre-school and primary.
    – Some went for faith/public schools as they are either RC or Church of England( Episcopalian). Those schools still have big classes but tend to have more settled pupils and more funding etc. Many stories of people rediscovering Mass to gain admission. All day only. As above.
    – Most actually went the private option, as in girls/boys school. They wear school uniforms with hats at three and I find them rather frightening. That said a good friend has a really good talker/very bossy/ very intelligent in the verbal learning sense and for such a child the choice is a good one. Small classes, lots of teachers etc. Music, languages, sports offered separately. Half day option in pre-school.Many English parents.
    – Montessori. Our own choice and popular enough. There is actually no Brand Montessori. There are guiding principles but it is interpretation. The school offers music/ languages/ sports as age appropriate in addition like the other private schools. Half day option in pre-school. Small classes.
    DD is more of a visual learner, very good fine motor skills and very self-determined.
    Different drummer and all that.
    Not a great fit for the girls school so we have hopes of the Montessori. 32 nationalities with some English parents.
    If my little girl is unhappy there it’s back to the drawing board. Although I am already dreading the poor sleeper/night-owl conversion to the all day
    My friend living in a village has a really sweet Village school, 3-11 state type and that was an easy and convenient choice. London isn’t all of England of course.

  53. @happycampergirl – thanks for your insight, really helpful and refreshing to me as a parent who is a bit worried about how my son will manage in “big school”.Where I live in Canada, children must be 5 by December 31 of the school year to start Primary (ie kindergarten, full day). My son’s daycare (early childhood centre)has taken the stand that they are not in the business of “school readiness” but “readiness to learn”, and in a recent parents’ night, one of the teachers remarked that they wished schools would ask, “are we ready for your child?” instead of “is your child ready for school?” So your perspective was really helpful to hear, and I can only hope that my son’s perspective teacher will have this warming approach.
    thank you.

  54. Kindergarten is optional here in Texas, but if you enroll them you have to keep them in the whole year. In the school district I’m in it is full day kindergarten, and my 5 year old was ready. It is by age cutoff, and I believe it’s September 1st. My daughter’s birthday was August 9th, so she’s probably the youngest in her class, but she’s been in preschool for 2 years and was so very ready to go. She dropped her naptime at age 3, so we didn’t have that issue to contend with, but she does end up going to sleep earlier than she used to (also wakes up super early for school), so there was that adjustment with wake/sleep times.Ours is a public school ranked quite high, but it’s in Texas, so I’m not sure if that’s good or not, but the teachers are all quite excellent and the principal is wonderful and just has a great rapport with her teachers.
    My daughter is extremely happy in the school, and we see progress and lots of interest in learning. So we’re all happy so far.

  55. I don’t have the energy to go over my feelings about the Great K Debate, but wanted to add my data point: My son is 4, currently attending full-day public school pre-K (7:35-2:35) and after school. He’ll attend K in the same school next fall. He’s on the young end for his class – July birthday with a Sept. 1 cutoff – but he does fine. Academically he’s at the top of his class – starting early readers – and socially he’s a little squiggly but not in any problematic way. He attended full-time daycare from 5 months, including a good Montessori program daycare from 2 on.

  56. Great insights, all. love coming to askmoxie for this sort of thing. Some of you may remember the last time we had a related discussion (on academic redshirting), that i initiated w/ a question to Moxie. (http://www.askmoxie.org/2010/09/qa-redshirting-for-kindergarten.html)We ultimately decided to send my late summer b-day boy to K, which will start on Sept 1. (Wisconsin has a 9/1 cut off date.) He’ll be just 5. It’s full day K, 8:15-2:50. (which is actually a shorter day than the preschool he’s in now).
    How did we choose? Primarily based on our own sense of him, but we did indeed talk to his current preschool teachers (he’s been in FT childcare and now preschool since 6 mos), his pediatrician, and the K principal. His current teachers and his pediatrician strongly felt he was ready. Interestingly enough, when we met with the K principal, his first reaction was “Late summer birthday boy? Hold him back. And the K teachers would agree.” I was surprised, a bit, but we had a longer discussion and clarified some things, etc.
    At any rate, we’ll see how things go this fall but I feel comfortable –based on my particular kid–with the decision we’ve made. I know it’s not the right decision for all kids–in fact, of the 4 boys in his current preschool class with birthdays July or later, 3 are being held back–but seems to be the right call for us. If the wheels really come off, we’ll figure something out.
    I absolutely support holding back as well–totally depends on the kid, I think. I don’t feel any sort of obligation to send a kid to K for some sort of greater community good, or on the off-chance they might be a bad influence in HS b/c they’re older than their peers. And, as my experience showed me, a lot of educators are advocating for this now too. Seems increasingly common–not for sports or those sorts of reasons, but to really give kids the best possible shot at a successful transition to school.

  57. I guess I should clarify why I was worried about all the boys in HS being a year older than the girls. I have sons. I would (if they so choose) like for them to date in HS. If there are fewer same-age girls for them, I think that would make competition a little more intense (for my sons). I don’t see how that’s a good thing for the boys or the girls. It seems like it would upset the balance.I feel like the schools should either set their cut-off dates where they really want them or be ready to take the kids they get based on their self-imposed cut-off dates.
    @happycampergirl articulated how I feel on this point. The school should be ready to take the kids of all ability levels at the age the school requires.

  58. @happycampergirl, Where do you teach and how can my daughter be in your class? Seriously, thanks for the insight!

  59. I am way late to the discussion but I am so happy to see this being discussed here as I have worried and stressed about it.My oldest will be 5 in May and in the end, we have decided to send him to our home elementary school (3 blocks from our house). The program is 1/2 day but there was a full day tuition based option last year; there wasn’t enough interest this year (due in part to the economy I think as tuition was $400/month). I think my son would have been fine in either the full day or 1/2 class. He is very advanced with his speech/language; up to 2 years ahead per his ped and speech assessment. My biggest concern was class size. It has already been an issue in his preschool as the kids that are ahead of grade level are slightly bored because all of the resources are going elsewhere.
    So I was fearful that he would definitely be overlooked and most likely bored in a large class. We even considered the full day class because it was going to likely have a smaller class size. We had already decided on the 1/2 class before the full day option was canceled. This way he can still go to small group Spanish lessons and other extracurriculars (like hardwriting class if necessary) for less cost than full day.
    My first choice was actually an awesome established charter school near us which limits the kindergarten classes to 16. But 3 half day classes of 16 with preference given to younger siblings of current students doesn’t leave many slots and we didn’t get in via the lottery.
    On a whim, I applied to a new charter school that was farther away (not unmanageable but certainly inconvenient) and the calendar did not match up well for our family. All inconveniences but it was still a workable solution. We got in. Yay! Until we toured the school. Ugh! Yeah not for us at all. Plus the class sizes weren’t going to be about the same size as our local public school.
    In the end, we were lucky because my stepson already goes to our home elementary school and it has been wonderful for him (liver transplant, speech and some processing delays so he’s on an IEP). I wrote the principal an e-mail about my concerns and frankly was expecting a genericish e-mail but what I got was a personal phone call within 2 hours of my call discussing with the kindergarten class.
    One great thing that our school is doing is having assessment days for the kindies a week or so before school starts to sort of gauge readiness. That way the classes can be divided into balanced classes and not all of the high/special needs or shy/immature or advanced, etc kids all end up in the same class.

  60. Probably asking the questions is the important thing. At least it shows that you care and take the time to think about what is best for your kids. In reality it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference in your child’s overall life. I would do what is best for you and your husband because your child will be alright either way.

  61. @A – You are so welcome. I think you will find that, in Canada, the “ready for children” mentality is more prevalent than it is in the US (Note that I am not criticising the US by saying that – their teachers are currently facing a litany of challenges and legislation that make it extremely difficult to put children’s developmental needs first, and in spite of that, many do an amazing job!). We are very lucky here that our provincial programs of study are incredibly developmentally appropriate documents, and it is relatively easy for teachers to put children first. I hope your child has a great kindergarten year!@AmeliaV – I teach in a private French Immersion school in Western Canada, but I know i have professional soulmates all over the world! Ask lots of questions, trust your instincts, and you will find a good place for your daughter!
    For everyone, if you encounter a teacher or program who advocates redshirting, it is appropriate to ask: “Is that because the content of your program is better suited to the development of a 6-year-old?” If the answer is yes, then you can make an informed decision about whether to wait a year, or choose a different program.
    I wish this issue were easier for both parents and children… Best wishes to all of your munchkins in the fall!

  62. I’m behind on reading the blogs I follow, but so grateful I caught this not too late, as it’s VERY timely for me. I live in Boston, and we just got school assignment notices (on Saturday).Cutoff for kindergarten (called K2 here) is 5 years old by September 1. To my knowledge, there are absolutely no exceptions. My son will be five in October, so he’ll be attending K1 (pre-K in most places) this fall. I’m fine with that, but I would also probably have been fine with him attending K2 this fall, if that were the norm. My daughter was born in January, so she’ll start K1 four months before she turns 5, and K2 four months before she turns 6.
    For us there was no question that we would enroll him when it’s time, to be honest, because we’re dipping into our savings to pay for preschool so that I can have the privilege to go to work. But that’s a whole separate topic.
    Boston has an extensive lottery/school choice system that involves lots of headaches and undue stress. We were lucky enough to be assigned to our #3 choice for K1 for my son (and there is no guarantee of even getting a K1 spot) and we are high on the waitlists for our top choices (#1 at choice #1 and #3 at choice #2). Our top choice is a bilingual Spanish school, and we are really hoping we’ll get into that, b/c we have the kids in a Spanish-immersion preschool. However, there’s often little to no movement on the waitlist for that school, so who knows what will happen.
    He’s very bright and has been reading since he was 3, and so I’m glad to have read about the teacher who insisted on pre-reading and full participation. That’s definitely something I’m going to call and ask about at the three schools.

  63. I’ve just had to think about school decisions in the last couple of weeks, our first choice private school just changed their entry point from 4 year old kindy to 3 year old pre-kindy. It will be a two or three day a week program, with the 4 year old kindy changing from part-time to full time. Apparently it’s all about meeting a new national curriculum blah blah (I’m a little cynical about their cash flow). Anyway, the school is co-Ed to 5th grade and then changes to all boys (and the girls go on to the all girls sister school). The girls school goes from pre-K too, but a) I just can’t get comfortable with the idea of single-sex from 3! And y’never know, maybe our next kid will be a boy so one drop off would be infinitely preferable to 2…

  64. I think we’ve all got to follow what we think is right, and definitely consult with the pre-K teachers and any professionals that know your particular child. I had my babygirl on my October birthday, and sort of took for granted she’d start, like I did, as an ‘older’ student (pre-October cutoff here). I don’t know if starting late was a part of it, but my close, best friends in the gifted class (from Kindergarten on through graduation) were also the ‘older kids’ with August and October birthdays. It could be chance, but I started school feeling smart and never looked back. I want that for my babygirl.But everyone is different. My August husband started ‘on time’ and young, and was fine going to college at 17. My June brother thrived with starting late, and we never ran into any problems with him being ‘older’ than his classmates (such a strange argument to me, since the older kids get the more they socialize beyond their classmates anyway).
    I think the biggest difference any of these huge decisions makes is to the lower performing children – since the #1 factor on how a child performs is parent involvement. We are the obsessives who weight every decision and agonize over full or half day. We are hopefully also the ones singing, playing and reading with our children. They will thrive because of our attention, and our focus on the importance of education.
    The children who need full day pre-k, k, and extra hours, where it will make a long lasting difference? Statistically, it is the children who aren’t getting the support they need at home or the ones who truly need specialized help and benefit from time with a specialist. There are the ones who go to school to eat, and get away from a living hell, who really really need it. Every minute at school is a good thing for some of these children.
    So, I like to think a lot of these options like full day (and hot lunch) are there because there are so many children, that we forget about sometimes, that need it… and I try to obsess less about what edge my daughter would have starting early or late, and I’m thinking about how important it may be to let her play while she can, and have unstructured, creative time in her day. Because we are obsessive, doting, hands on parents who are going to provide her every opportunity possible, and I want her to also have the opportunity to be a child.

  65. This is one of the best conversation to present here. I read whole article, its really interesting for me as well as every tips are awesome. It is informative post.

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