Deciding when to send your LO to kindergarten — The Bump
Pre-School

Deciding when to send your LO to kindergarten

Our DS1 is about to turn 4 on Sunday which puts him in the zone of kids whose birthdays are in late summer. I know many parents (of boys in particular) who have similar late-summer birthdays who either didn't start their kids in kindergarten until they turned 6 or who wish they had not sent them at 5. I have yet to meet someone who wish they'd sent their kids earlier and I've met a number of people who wish they've held them. DS1 is in full-time preschool since my H and I both work full time, so he is in "school" in any case.
I'm interested to hear from anyone who is considering this issue or who has considered it - what kinds of input did you get, were there articles or books you read, what decision did you ultimately make and are you happy with it? I'm posting this on the preschool board because the school-aged kids board seems to have very little participation and I'm hoping some moms here have older kids. Thanks for any thoughts.
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Re: Deciding when to send your LO to kindergarten

  • I'm a former teacher, but my DS is a March kid, so take my opinion for what it's worth...

    Someone is always going to be the youngest and someone is always going to be the oldest. Unless you have serious concerns that your child is not on par emotionally or intellectually, I'd send him to school on schedule.
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  • stgn01stgn01 member
    I can't speak to this personally b/c my kids aren't old enough yet.  But my cousin just "red-shirted" her little boy.  C just turned 5 last week and they are waiting one more year.  My cousin is a teacher and I've seen a lot of teachers who are parents do this.  I, like you, haven't seen many parents wishing they would have started earlier and have seen more parents happy about waiting the extra year.

    They are doing this because while they feel C is very bright and could probably do well in school, they feel he's not emotionally ready yet.  I have a late summer bday (mid August) and I never remember having that option.  My how times have changed.  GL!


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  • My DS is a February kid so it won't matter. He's be 5 1/2 for Kindergarten. I was a June kid and my parents kept me out an extra year.  I was 6+a few months when I started.  I was definitely academically ready.  Probably too ready. I ended up getting advanced class treatment for the lower grades since I was able to read, etc from the beginning.  Emotionally I was a thumb sucker till I was 5 and fairly shy. I was in a part time preschool for 3 years but still not socialized much.  I hated that I was 19 when I graduated high school but my parents loved it.  They saw it as an extra year with me.  I was ready to flee the nest.  If it was my kid, though, I would do the same thing my parents did.
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  • In our state, the cutoff date is September 1. So, anyone who turns 5 before then goes in that year. My DD turns 4 on August 26 and she will start Kindergarten next year on schedule. 

    I agree with PP. Unless you have serious concerns about your LO's learning, I see no reason not to send him on schedule. 


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  • Lurker
    I have been thinking about this a lot.  Both of mine are summer babies.  DS will turn 5 right after kindergarten starts next year; his birthday is a week shy of the cut-off.  He is used to school and very bright.  I worry about him being emotionally ready, but I plan to discuss this issue with his preschool teachers over the next 6 months.  They have much more experience than I do.
    DS born 8/8/09 and DD born 6/12/12.
  • hmmshmms member
    I am a kindergarten teacher w/ a son that recently turned 5 (July 3), I'm holding him another year. Our district offers a 4K program that you can do once, he didn't attend this last year, he's enrolled as a 5 year old. Do I think DS could survive? Probably. But knowing the demands of Kindergarten today, I think another year will be HUGE for him. I'd rather have him start w/ a leg up than trying to desperately keep up - once they're in, they're in for 13 years. I do feel he's a little immature from the social/emotional perspective. He's also been in a speech preschool program for articulation, he's being phased out and I'm hopeful he'll be completely dismissed by next fall. Kindergarten in WI really has turned into what 1st grade used to be. We no longer teach letters, sounds and counting, we almost expect kids to come in w/ the basic skills because we're focused on reading and writing stories...that being said, I think the expectations are getting too hard, my students struggle w/ sharing and learning to be citizens in a classroom, the social/emotional stuff we used to teach and no longer have time for. It makes me sad.

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  • hmmshmms member
    I am a kindergarten teacher w/ a newly 5 year old son (July 3), I'm holding him another year. Our district offers 4K that students can attend once. He did not go this past year and is enrolled for fall as a 5 year old. Do I think he could survive kindergarten? Probably. But I think he'll benefit from one more year to further develop the social/emotional piece. He's also been in a speech preschool program (through our district) and is beginning to phase out, I'm hopeful he can be completely dismissed by kindergarten. Kindergarten has changed so much over the past 10 years, we really are what 1st grade used to be. We no longer teach letters, sounds, shapes, counting, but rather full on reading and writing stories. I don't necessarily think this is great, many of my students struggle w/ getting along and being productive citizens in the classroom, I miss that we no longer have time to teach kids to share, cooperative working, etc.

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    I am a kindergarten teacher w/ a newly 5 year old DS (July 3), I'm holding him another year.  Our district offers 4K that students can attend once.  He did not attend last year and is enrolled as a 5 year old this fall.

    Do I think he could survive?  Probably.  But I'd rather give him a leg-up than have him always trying to keep up, once they are in, they're in for 13 years.  I think another year to develop the social/emotional piece will be beneficial.  He's also been in a speech preschool (through our district) and is beginning to phase out.  I'm hopeful he'll be completely dismissed when he starts kindergarten.

    Kindergarten has changed so much the past 10 years, we really are what 1st grade used to be.  We no longer teach letters, sounds, counting, shapes, etc - we expect kids to come in w/ these skills.  We are pushing them to independently read and write stories.  I don't necessarily agree, as many students struggle w/ getting along and being productive citizens in the classroom, I miss that we no longer have time to teach kids to share, work cooperatively, etc.

     

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  • We will 99% be holding our early August kids back mostly b/c of DS but even DD. My husband is a late summer baby & my brother is an October baby (back when the cutoff was even later) and my husband said even at puberty he felt like he didn't really understand some of the other kids and my mom wishes she had held my brother back related to social things that came up later. Our decision is not really based on being ready academically b/c I'm sure they'd be fine, as my H & bro were, but about social issues down the road.  Yes, someone will always be oldest & youngest but we are making the decision for our kids not to be youngest.  I know that while I could regret sending them too early & fixing it would be very difficult in a lot of ways, I am much less likely to regret holding back.  Where we live a lot of ppl do it so they will definitely not be alone.
  • I posted and I thought it went through & now it disappeared. Yay, new format!
    So in a nutshell 99% sure we'll hold back our early August kids. The potential for regret sending them if you're unsure far outweighs regret holding back. My H was a late summer baby & says he wishes he had been held back for social reasons that cropped up later near puberty...my bro was even later and my mom wishes she had held him back b/c of social stuff in the early & late teens that may have been related to being less mature, trying to keep up, etc.
    Someone will always be older & younger but we're making hte choice for our kids to not be the youngest. Academically I am sure they'd be fine, as my H & brother were, but socially now & even into the teen & early college years, I think it is a benefit.
    GL!
  • I have been reading up on this extensively and worrying endlessly about this for the past few years.  My daughter is a July birthday and our cut off is October.   It is a HUGE trend here to "wait" a year to send summer birthday kids to Kindergarten (boys and girls).  If I send her this September, she will be one of the very youngest with kids in her class that are up to 16 months older than her.   That is a HUGE gap, developmentally, at this particular age.   If I "wait" a year, she will be 6 in the summer and then starting on Oct 1, all the other kids start turning six anyway (not to mention the other kids that waited and are already 6).

    If K was like it was when I was a kid, I'd send her.  It's not.  It's very rigorous and demanding academically.    If parents stuck to the cut-offs, I'd send her.   Because yes, someone is always going to be the youngest and someone will always be the oldest.  If parents stuck to the 12 month rules, I would start her without thought.   But they don't.  

    So I'm faced with her being the very youngest in a class with kids that are up to 17 months older than her.....so as a freshly five year old, she is being compared academically, developmentally and emotionally to kids that are a year and a half older......or, I can start her a year later and she will be 2.5 months older than the oldest "true" Kindergartener.   When I looked at it that way, it was almost a no-brainer.  I'm going to wait to send her.

    She is academically ready.  However, emotionally she can get very insecure and she can get very frustrated when she doesn't pick something up quickly.  If she is trying to always "keep up", I can see her disliking school and feeling "less than" for years to come.   If I wait, she may be a bit bored, but she will gain a year of self confidence and self-assurance that will be invaluable to how she views herself as a learner for the rest of her life.

    I find that as Sept grows closer (and she's set to go to her "fives" pre-kindergarten class, I feel awkward explaining that she is not going to K.   I sometimes debate if I'm doing the right thing.  But my gut is telling me that in a few years, I'm going to to happy that I waited and I have a feeling it's going to benefit her in the long run.  So, as a Mommy, I have to trust my instinct and do what I think is best for her.

    Good luck in your decision.  I know ours has been a long road, but I hope we're the "glad we waited" ones that don't regret waiting.  We'll see!
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  • Only you know your child best, you have to find out if he is emotionally as ready as he could be school?

    Some questions to ask yourself?

    Is your child fairly independent?
    Has he/she spent time away from you?
    Can he work on projects on his own?
    Is he ready to participate in group activities?
    Is he used to keeping a regular schedule?

    Now, they aren't perfect little kids at this age, there is still some kids who may/may baulk at certain times, but is your child like this 80% of the time?
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  • LoCarbLoCarb member
    I would ask the PS if they think he is ready.
    Mommy of two girls: DD1 4/14/9 DD2 4/15/11
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  • hmmshmms member
    I am a kindergarten teacher w/ a newly 5 year old son (July 3), I'm holding him another year. Our district offers 4K that students can attend once. He did not go this past year and is enrolled for fall as a 5 year old. Do I think he could survive kindergarten? Probably. But I think he'll benefit from one more year to further develop the social/emotional piece. He's also been in a speech preschool program (through our district) and is beginning to phase out, I'm hopeful he can be completely dismissed by kindergarten. Kindergarten has changed so much over the past 10 years, we really are what 1st grade used to be. We no longer teach letters, sounds, shapes, counting, but rather full on reading and writing stories. I don't necessarily think this is great, many of my students struggle w/ getting along and being productive citizens in the classroom, I miss that we no longer have time to teach kids to share, cooperative working, etc. (We sneak it in when possible, but are schedule doesn't allow the time we used to dedicate to these lifelong skills).

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  • hmmshmms member
    I am a kindergarten teacher w/ a newly 5 year old son (July 3), I'm holding him another year. Our district offers 4K that students can attend once. He did not go this past year and is enrolled for fall as a 5 year old. Do I think he could survive kindergarten? Probably. But I think he'll benefit from one more year to further develop the social/emotional piece. He's also been in a speech preschool program (through our district) and is beginning to phase out, I'm hopeful he can be completely dismissed by kindergarten. Kindergarten has changed so much over the past 10 years, we really are what 1st grade used to be. We no longer teach letters, sounds, shapes, counting, but rather full on reading and writing stories. I don't necessarily think this is great, many of my students struggle w/ getting along and being productive citizens in the classroom, I miss that we no longer have time to teach kids to share, cooperative working, etc. (We sneak this in, but our schedule no longer allows us to dedicate much time for teaching these lifelong skills.)

    Lilypie - (vulX)

     

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  • hmms, I totally agree with you!

    Its sad because while the school system has changed their educational needs, children still are at the same developmental level that they were 10 years ago.

    There seems to be a higher expectation for children in the classroom.  However, if a parent isn't informed about what is developmentally appropritate for their childs age group, many schools will make the parents feel insecure, when in reality their child is perfectly normal - its just the school system pushing too hard educationally.


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  • DS is a December baby, so I won't worry about it with him. However, I agree with most - it really depends on each child. Both of my cousins (male) were August babies and their mom held them back. Academically, they would have been ok. However, she was concerned with their maturity level. She doesn't regret it a bit.

    If you have hesitations about your kids maturity level, I would consider it. Also, talk to his current teachers. DH has a brother with a May b-day. He started on time, but ended up repeating a year in Elementary school because he couldn't keep up. To me, that would be more difficult for the kid (and he says is was) than holding them back a year before they even start.
  • rsd12rsd12 member
    My oldest is a February boy so he started on time. Before we moved we were planning to hold out our younger boys. Middle son has a late December birthday and youngest has a late September birthday and the state was a Dec 31st cutoff.

    My middle son was/is in
    a speech therapy program. Which was a huge concern for us.

    We moved a year ago with a Sep 1 cutoff, perfect for our family now. They will be starting on time and my middle son is ready for kindergarten this fall. So happy with our decision for our family. I personally do not care what other people think about our situation... We know our kids best and we have to advocate for our kids!

    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
  • hmmshmms member

    First - sorry for the MULTIPLE nearly identical replies from me - I was obviously struggling w/ the new format!

    Agree w/ everything quoted.  My own district gave me a bit of a run-around about red-shirting - and I teach K for them, I know what DS's teachers will expect, I know the assessments he'll take, etc.  Our district does allow red-shirting, but they don't want it - well, administration doesn't want it.  If you ask a Kindergarten teacher, they'd offer questions to consider when making your decision (similar to what Princess Lily wrote above).

    In 10 years I've had one 6 year old girl start that should've gone the year before - we moved her to 1st grade in January.  I've had many 'young 5's' start that do just fine.  I've also had many young 5's start that struggled all year.  It really comes down to knowing your child, strongly encourage you to ask preschool what they think and you could certainly call your elementary school and ask to talk w/ a K teacher, I've had many parents call w/ this same question.

     

    hmms, I totally agree with you!

    Its sad because while the school system has changed their educational needs, children still are at the same developmental level that they were 10 years ago.

    There seems to be a higher expectation for children in the classroom.  However, if a parent isn't informed about what is developmentally appropritate for their childs age group, many schools will make the parents feel insecure, when in reality their child is perfectly normal - its just the school system pushing too hard educationally.



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  • I do not have the dilemma but it seems to me that if a kid is young and has any issue they want to automatically blame and and are quick to suggest holding them back especially for boys. So if you send them make sure they are ready socially but also to do the work and listen when 20 other kids are talking etc. I am glad I never had to decide and that my 5y9m DS was reading when he started Kindergarten.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • LO's birthday is June 7th, we are considering holding him back if he needs it, but will send him forward if he is ready.  This is where conversations with his teachers will be essential. 

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  • I will add, that  LO just finished soccer camp with 3 and 4 year olds.  The cutoff for playing was June 1st and his birthday is June 7th.  And oh my gosh, you could totally tell the difference between the kids that were 3 and the kids that were 4.  There was also quite a difference between young 3's like LO and middle to older 3's.   It really opened my eyes to what life could be like when he enters school

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  • I will say that it is way too early to make that decision. Kids change so much in a year's time and even over the summer.

    My DS turned 5 on June 4 and is most definitely going to Kindergarten this year. In April, our preschool did assessments and his head teacher did encourage us to consider looking at the 5 yr old Readiness program due to some ' maturity' issues.

    Since preschool finished at the end of May, he has really matured a lot in my eyes. He has been reading for awhile now, but now he is trying to write little stories and draw the pictures and make books. So sweet. And he will stay with a project for quite some time where a few months ago, it might have only been for a few minutes.

    Our pedi does not recommend holding kids with summer birthdays unless there is a major developmental delay. Younger kids often learn more quickly and they thrive learning from the older kids in the class. He gave me this article to read and consider. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html

    Honestly, you know your own child best. We decided to register our son for K and then hold him out a year if he wasn't ready by August. He is ready and going and we are all so excited for him! 

     

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  • I will say that it is way too early to make that decision. Kids change so much in a year's time and even over the summer.

    My DS turned 5 on June 4 and is most definitely going to Kindergarten this year. In April, our preschool did assessments and his head teacher did encourage us to consider looking at the 5 yr old Readiness program due to some ' maturity' issues.

    Since preschool finished at the end of May, he has really matured a lot in my eyes. He has been reading for awhile now, but now he is trying to write little stories and draw the pictures and make books. So sweet. And he will stay with a project for quite some time where a few months ago, it might have only been for a few minutes.

    Our pedi does not recommend holding kids with summer birthdays unless there is a major developmental delay. Younger kids often learn more quickly and they thrive learning from the older kids in the class. He gave me this article to read and consider. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html

    Honestly, you know your own child best. We decided to register our son for K and then hold him out a year if he wasn't ready by August. He is ready and going and we are all so excited for him! 

     


    That is a great article, thanks for sharing.
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  • groovygrlgroovygrl member
    edited July 2013
    My issue with that article was that it focused almost entirely on academics and all the social related issues were at the end in the hypothetical, it could do this and may do that...it is by neuroscientists and they even refer to kids who skip grades, I mean, that is a very small minority of kids to bring into the picture, I can't imagine making generalizations based on that group Esp when there is no reflection on other aspects of those kids lives .I plan to send my kids to private kindergarten and repeat kindergarten in the public school so academics are not my issue, it is social and not just in the elementary years but at puberty too...those I know personally who have struggled from going at a young age have struggled in social related ways, not academics, and usually in later years, not elementary school. I will say that I do think it is quite odd to hold a child back for athletic reasons solely tough, that is a tough one for me to swallow, but their choice I guess.
  • fredalina said:
    My issue with that article was that it focused almost entirely on academics and all the social related issues were at the end in the hypothetical, it could do this and may do that....I plan to send my kids to private kindergarten and repeat kindergarten in the public school so academics are not my issue, it is social and not just in the elementary years but at puberty too...those I know personally who have struggled from going at a young age have struggled in social related ways, not academics, and usually in later years, not elementary school. I will say that I do think it is quite odd to hold a child back for athletic reasons solely tough, that is a tough one for me to swallow, but their choice I guess.
    IDK as someone who developed early and got her period at the end of fourth grade, there's also something to be said against being older in your grade (I was actually youngish but a good 2-3 years younger to develop than most of my peers; I would have gotten my period in 3rd grade if I'd been held back for a late spring birthday. Maybe not as much an issue for boys but definitely for girls.

    True and the research shows that girls who are early developers struggle more and boys who are late developers also...but, that is more genetics than whether a late summer kid is sent early. I guess if someone knew this were genetically likely for their own female child then they should take that into consideration. Gets back to all being based on your own kid, I just think that article focused too much on academic performance and put the other things to the side.
  • These are terrific, thoughtful replies - thank you everyone for one of the best discussions I've seen on the bump! For me, the concern is definitely social. DS can't read yet but who knows what he'll be able to do by next June. I was salutatorian of my high school class but I started life at a Catholic school with a Dec. 31 cutoff, so I was 17 when I went to college. Socially I really struggled throughout high school and even at the beginning of college (and I got my period at 11 in the 5th grade, regarding puberty). I still remember what it was like being with a bunch of kids who were really into the boyfriend/girlfriend thing and not understanding it myself. And DS seems kind of passive - I'm afraid he could be at risk for being bullied, which obviously he could be regardless of when he goes to school, but I feel like if he's with a bunch of bigger, stronger, older boys (and he's only in like the 30th percentile) he'll be at greater risk. I think what's hardest about this decision is that he could seem socially and academically ready now and fall behind socially later, as well (again, I'm not obsessed with the academics).

    I had also read that NYT article and I agree that the authors made some good points but they also ignored a lot of aspects of the decision.

    And yes, we are lucky that financially we even have a choice.
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  • We have a September cutoff and DS's turns 5 in October, so we have to wait an extra year.  I actually wish we could send him this Fall.  He is academically ready and although he is still shy outside of the house, I don't think an extra year is going to suddenly make him an extrovert.  DH and I were both shy as kids and are still shy as adults.  The only think that I would consider is what the class demographics will look like.  A lot of parents in my area red-shirt, even as far back as Spring birthdays, so some of the kids would be more than a year older if DS were to start this Fall (if that were an option).
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  • My oldest has a late August birthday and was the youngest in her K class by a few months. I have no regrets at sending a newly 5 year old. She was absolutely ready, without question. Her preK teacher's response when I asked the question was that I would be doing her a disservice if I held her back.

    My mom ended up regretting not holding my brother back. His b-day is Oct 29 and at the time the cut off in our district was Oct 31, so he squeaked in. They have since moved the cut off to Oct 1. In general I think it's best to follow the district cut off and enter the year you're "supposed" to unless it's a fairly extreme case.
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  • Jury is still out. Dd will be 4 on August 28 (our cutoff is September 1). Academically she is advanced. Emotionally she is just not there yet. I think she thrives being one of the Oder ones rather than younger. We see this at preschool and dance class. My only hesitation is that her and dd2 will only be a year apart in school (April 28 bday). Luckily we have one more year to decide. Good luck! I should also mention I was a September 4 bday and the young one. This actually hurt me academically and emotionally. I did not listen as well when I was young and was more of a follower than leader in grade school. I think that extra year woul have been good.
  • My son's b-day is June 29.  He started private school K-3 program today.  I plan send him to K-3 and K-4 there and then make the decision.  Today at drop-off I really could not see much difference in him and the others as they played and interacted.  He is as socail as he wants to be - not a shyness program just a "I don't want to".  He also can speak and communicate very well.  So unless alot changes then I plan to send him to K ontime. 

    I also have a June b-day and other than some reading issues never felt young or behind the other kids.   


  • DS is 4,(will turn5 in early October).  We put him in a small pre-k this past February and he attended for 6 months.  He will start attending transitional kindergarten in a week becasue of his late fall birthday.  In our state (California) they have to be 5 on or before September 1 in order to go to kinder.  Due to this, they have instituted the t-kinder, which is what my DS will be attendign this year.

    I think that even if this was not the case in my state, I would have waited to put DS in kindergarten 'til he was close to 6 years old.  Even though he is bright and outgoing, I was one of the older kids in my class because of my late year birthday (birthday December 3) and I was always felt more comfortable and felt ahead of the other younger kids in my class.  I never really struggled, and I would hate to have my DS struggle with school work because I decided to put him in earlier.

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  • I just found out that our state requires kids to be 5 by August 1 but our school district will give a waiver for kids who are 5 by September 1 so I guess I'm not really redshirting my August bday kids based on the state rule. Interesting.
  • My son is a Late June baby who just turned 4. He will be going to preschool 4x a week this year and we will likely send him to kindergarten the next year depending on how this year goes. 

    He is in our school districts special needs program, which makes our case slightly different, and we will likely do what his therapist recommends and if she suggests holding off another year I am fine with that too. 

    I don't think going next year will be a problem for him academically, but it would be the social side I'd be more concerned with.  
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  • My brother was a fall baby and was very intelligent and ready to start school so they started him when he was four and he did fine in school. The one thing that my mom said that she wished she had considered was that during high school he played football and because he was younger than everybody, it put him at a disadvantage. He eventually grew, but was a year behind where he would have been otherwise so may not have reached his full "potential" sports wise. This probably shouldn't be a huge factor but I remember my mom thinking that she wished she'd considered it so I thought I'd throw it out there. 
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  • meg1974 said:
    In our state, the cutoff date is September 1. So, anyone who turns 5 before then goes in that year. My DD turns 4 on August 26 and she will start Kindergarten next year on schedule. 

    I agree with PP. Unless you have serious concerns about your LO's learning, I see no reason not to send him on schedule. 
    I agree with this. DS has autism so we might be sending him a year late, but other than that I see no reason for your LO not to go on time.
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    m/c 2013
  • I am a former kindergarten teacher, and most every teacher I know agrees that it a good idea to wait a year if you have any doubts.  My DD has a late July birthday, and is only 2, but I already plan to wait an extra year to send her to school.  Several of my friends are middle school teachers, and they say that even if a really young child does well academically, middle school becomes a challenge because they are not emotionally ready.  In my opinion, it is impossible to tell if your child is "ready" at age four.

     

    In my area, red shirting is becoming the norm, and I would be hurting my child by sending her early.

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