"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Kindergarten Age Cut Off

uMamas, We've received another question from an Arizona mama hoping to move to Portland soon.  Beyond our previous 'planning for kindergarten' discussion, can you share more of your experiences and insight about the September 1 cut-off and experiences with having a child tested for early entry into kindergarten?  Any experiences moving to Portland mid-year and finding a spot at a school?

We are considering a move to Portland.  My daughter is already in Kindergarten here in AZ and thriving at it.  The problem is that her birthday is October 3rd, so she is a month and 2 days shy of the Oregon birthday cutoff for Kindergarteners.  She's a young K-G'ner here as well, and goes to a charter with a looser admission rule than our local elementary district. She has been in school for 3 years and I like where she is at, academically and socially.  What I would like to know is whether any of your readers have been in a similar situation.  Will  many schools let her test in to Kindergarten mid-year?  Are they likely to have the space for her?  Thanks for your help and I look forward to being one of your future readers!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

We moved to Portland in April of last year. My daughter had started Kindergarten in San Francisco, where the cutoff date is later - she's an early September. Funny thing, I didn't even think about her age when we transferred her, and actually, no one asked! I finally realized that she was the youngest in her class and then learned why. If I had had to hold her back a few months, then have her start Kindergarten all over again, well, I just probably would not have!
Just my experience, not much in the way of advice, but perhaps a midyear transfer would make it easier. I did have to petition to get her into her school, a magnet and not our neighborhood school - and the petition process was so very smooth.
Lots of luck to you!

I don't have any insight into the Portland system to share, just my own experience: my mom sent me out of state to start 1st grade because of the cutoff (I have a Sept birthday) and then, after 2 weeks, I came back to my neighborhood elementary school as a transfer student. She felt that I was ready (I'd gone to private pre-k and kindergarten), and I don't think that either of us ever doubted that it was the right decision. I hope your daughter's transition here goes just as smoothly!

As a fifth grade teacher, I have had many families grow to regret their decision of early enrollment by the time pre-teen years roll around. My theory is why not give them another year to mature, grow, exceed, etc. It is the teacher's duty (preschool, kindergarten and beyond) to always challenge your child-- no matter if they are the oldest or the youngest. So as a parent it would be your responsibilty to make sure that is happening. My sister is also a product of being the youngest (Oct 2) and she had a hard time in the middle/high school years.

This is something that is coming up soon for us, too. My 3 yr old was born Sept 30th, and being from NY where the cut-off is December, I really thought he'd only be two years behind his 5 yr old brother. So he's 3, in nursery school, 4 he'll be in nursery school and he won't start public school pre-K until he's 5! His brother turned 5 in August and got to start kindergarten as a 5 yr old, but really, not by much. His best buddy is already 6. They're a year apart...that's odd to me. So it seems my little guy gets an extra year of school (which I'm sure he'll really thank me for when he gets old enough to do the math). I'm on the fence about starting him early...I've done some reading about boys who are older than their classmates, and it seems in a lot of cases, they develop a better sense of self-esteem in they younger grades, simply because they are a little more competent than the younger boys. The whole cut-off date seems so arbitrary, though.

Interestingly, my bro and sis are twins born in late Oct. At the time, Nov. was the cut off in NY, and my mom was asked if she wanted to start them as the youngest kids, or wait until the following year. She started them as the youngest, although in 1st grade my sis ended up getting left back (apparently she was "immature for her age"). So she ended up going through school as one of the oldest in her class, while her twin went through as one of the youngest in his class. They're both grown-up with jobs and friends, and don't seem to harbor any resentment about their places in school. :)

I can't answer your questions directly, but we're carefully looking at early entry for our oldest daughter. I have reservations in that I don't think she's that far advanced compared to her preschool friends, it's just that she misses the cut off by only a few weeks so she's not behind, either. I would love to allow her to have another year to mature because that certainly can't hurt. But now there is discussion that she may be bored with a third year of preschool so I feel kind of stuck. There isn't a good intermediate option that we've come up with yet (I'm open to suggestions!).

I've also heard that it's difficult to get approval to start early, though I don't know if that also applies to transfer students. According to the TAG office there is an evaluation that costs between $300 and $400, unless your income is such that you would qualify for school lunch then you can get that waived. There is more information about it here:


My stepdaughter missed the cutoff by 2 weeks, so she always ended up being the oldest and biggest (by a long shot) kid in her class. I don't think that helped her any socially or academically.

My daughter (b-day September 7) went to private school in Portland for K and 1st grade; she started K a few days shy of her 5th birthday (just missed the public school 5 years old/September 1 cut-off). Had she started K with Portland Public Schools, I would've had to wait a year or petition for early admittance (not an easy process, I understand).

Entry into Portland Public Schools at 2nd grade, they didn't blink at her early birthday. Other friends with early birthday kids who were transferring from an accredited school into PPS didn't have a problem either. I wouldn't worry about it, based on my experience.

Also, regardless of when you come in during the school year, your child HAS a spot within your neighborhood school. It may be more difficult to negotiate a transfer into a focus option or out-of-neighborhood school. The PPS Enrollment and Transfer Office (School Choice) can be reached at 503-916-3205; they could give you a better idea of your chances/options if a school other than your neighborhood school is your preference.

I'm also going to echo Lori's comment: my daughter was very ready for Kindergarten when she entered, and at the time I had no reservations about starting her a bit early. Now that she is in 5th grade, if I had to do it over, I would have waited another year, and opted for her to spend the year she was 5 in challenging PreK program or been more aggresive with supplementing at home, or something. She is now the youngest 5th grader in her school. I think that extra year, developmentally, would have served her well academically, now that she's older. Further, she is certainly not an emotionally immature 10 year old, but she is physically small and the other girls in 5th grade are so....big...and physically mature....and percocious.

I hail from NYC and when I entered Kindergarden, the cut-off there was Decmeber 31st. With a November b-day, I was not the youngest, but close, and by far the smallest. The stigma of being the tiniest girl may not quite compare to being the shortest boy, but years of shrimp and smurf jokes and starting puberty a year and some after my peers was no cake-walk either. On the other hand, I was advanced in academics and tested at the top of my class year after year, despite being one of the youngest in the grade. Had I been held back a year, I would likely have been bored to tears. All in all, it was a Catch-22 and looking back, I think the only thing that might have helped me would have been age-blended classrooms (something that did not exist in New York public schools in the 80's). There are a couple of charter schools in PPS that have blended classes, including the Opal School which has a private pre-K program that accepts 3 year-olds, and Trillium, which I think also has a private pre-K program as well.

Also, TAG info is very quick to point out that early-entrance applications are not the same as being accepted into the talented and gifted program and that an alternative to starting a child early is to apply for TAG once already in school, allowing the child to have the advantage of the extra year of maturity along with the advanced academics.

We just went through going back and forth on this issue. Do we push for early admission or do we wait a year for our daughter who turned 5 at the end of September to start Kindergarten. We decided to just wait a year. She is now in a great Pre-K program at Alameda Elementary (not her neighborhood school, this Pre-K is a private organization that uses a space at the school). She goes everyday for three hours. She is one of the oldest kids in the class, but for her it works because she loves to help the younger kids. She would have been fine in Kindergarten if we would have pushed for early admission but I heard more people say they wished they would have waited versus glad that their kid started early.

interesting conversation here. i'm just curious what other mamas think about the new trend of starting kids later in school (especially boys it seems) to give them a better shot at succeeding athletically (although it seems that people also justify it by saying it's hard for a boy to be so young and drive later than all the other boys or be physically smaller.) i know several people who have boys with summer birthdays and they plan on delaying kindergarten. it's not a matter of being a week or two past the cutoff, these people have kids born in june or july.

i don't have this issue (i mean, my daughter was born at the end of july but we're going to start her in school when she's suppose to start) but i've been hearing a lot of people talk about it lately and was curious what others thought of this trend.

Both of my boys have birthdays in the winter/spring, so we won't have to face this issue personally, but I do have some thoughts on it. Everything I've read about development of boys indicates they take longer to mature than girls. I think if I were having to make this decision, I might consider holding a boy back to start later and consider sending a girl sooner, although I probably would only consider it if the girl's b-day were in sept/oct and she had a lot of group experience already. My sister was a December baby who started early, and she just was never as mature as her classmates.

Regarding holding boys back due to athletics? I'm probably better off holding my tongue on that one.

I would like to know of any private schools that have a more flexible or earlier age cut-off.

I personally have an October bday and went to private K then transferred into public as a first-grader. (For the record, I wouldn't change a thing).

I am interested in the same for my child with a September bday. Are there schools that will accept my child into kindergarten in September as a 4 year, 11 month old? Sounds better to me than trying to explain to my child about the testing. Trying to gamble that she'll get the early acceptance AND a transfer sounds risky. We are not interested in our neighborhood school and I'd rather secure a spot in a private school.

Parents that have done the testing: what have you told your child about it? My child will definitely question it and I'm not interested in bending the truth nor setting her up for "failure."

Thanks for all the insight - I've been meaning to bring this up for a long time.

Our daughter is in her second year of public school - last year half day pre-k and this year full day kinder in a Spanish immersion program. Her birthday is at the end of October. When she was tested before school she came close to getting a score that would be expected at the end of the year. We have been told that we could try to move her up a grade but we are waiting at this point for several reasons.

The first is the social aspect - she has friends in her current grade and loves the social time. She does play very well with older kids (she has friends from 12 on down) so she could form new friendships. We do think about the future and her being 14 months younger than a classmate in high school. She would also be starting college a lot earlier.

Another reason for not moving her is that at this time she is not complaining. With the full day plus the Spanish she is getting a lot of stimulation. She is completely bilingual which helps. The teacher only speaks Spanish in school and she is engaged all day since she understands. I think the right program can make up for the being older and in her case being very smart.

With that said we are taking a wait and see approach. One thing is that she might start doing literacy with the next grade up. We will be looking for ways to keep her engaged and happy.

Insofar as the testing - we did not tell her or try to prep her for the test beforehand. Some parents did not realize there would be testing and they wish they could have prepared their child. I think this might have caused undo stress and/or a false result. The testing was her identifying letters, reading to the teacher and writing some things. She did not realize that she was being graded and in her mind it was a chance to really show off.

In Montessori education, there is definitely flexibility in terms of birth date and grade level. Children start between 2 1/2-3 years old and stay through Kindergarten in the Children's House program. Children as young as 4 are commonly included in the "kindergarten" group. They also have the ability to start 1st grade early if they are developmentally ready and continuing to a Montessori elementary program. On the flip side, some children will stay in Children's House an extra year and do very well. Ideally, all educational institutions would be able to take each child as an individual and determine placement.

I agree completely. There needs to be more flexibility. In many forms of education such as Waldorf, children are often some sort of early childhood setting (mixed-age kindergarten, kindermorning, nursery,) for three or more years before beginning formal academic studies. Children do not begin first grade until developmentally ready. A typical guideline for 1st grade readiness in Waldorf is June 1st, (but again, it depends on the child.)
I am concerned with our fixed cutoff date in the public school system, and the fact that academic studies beginning in the kindergarten year. Kindergarten is becoming increasingly academic in the U.S., which is an important consideration when you are assessing your child's readiness.

I so appreciate this conversation! I have been considering early K-enrollment for my daughter, but she's already a very petite little girl, I don't want her to be a mouse among giants when puberty hits! She's very smart and adaptable so I think she'll adjust to anything, and being in the PPS I have experience supplementing my other children's educations, so I think I'll enjoy her at home for one more year! :o)

We went through the early acceptance process with our daughter. The IQ testing is expensive, and they need to score in the 97th percentile or above, whether the birthday is days or months past the deadline. After that, the school principal can still refuse entrance if they don't think the child will be a good fit, or if the school is crowded. We were told that we could fill out a "hardship transfer" application to another school if our neighborhood school didn't have space, but luckily they let her in. We didn't realize until too late that we also could have entered the charter/magnet school lotteries even before the testing process, with enrollment conditional on passing the early admission tests.

Through the whole process, we led our daughter to believe that everything depended on whether the school had space, not on anything about her performance or abilities. The IQ testing was "playing games to practice for kindergarten," and she enjoyed it.

Our 30 pound daughter has already learned to tell her friends "older doesn't mean better" and to let them know she doesn't like to be picked up, but she has happily befriended some of her oldest classmates and we have no regrets at this point.

This is a terrific topic.

It's something that I've been thinking about a lot lately even though I'm just thinking about pre-schools.

My daughter has a September birthday and I want her to start kindergarten at 4.

I started school at 4 (November birthday) and while the younger years were a bit difficult socially, academically, it was the best thing. Even starting early, school was easy enough that I slid by with A & B grades with very little effort, continuing through college.

Socially, I think I would have been better prepared had I attended ANY form of preschool, dayschool or daycare prior to kindergarten. Kindergarten was my first experience in any sort of school-like atmosphere. Eventually, even that worked out well and I was & am no worse for the wear socially either.

We can afford the test at the price stated above but I don't care for the idea of testing a child that young.

I read your post with empathy and thought I would share some things we have learned as we are contemplating a move as well with a fall birthday child.

Most states agree to accept children into kindergarten, and generally first grade, if they have been in a public kinder or first-grade and met the age requirement in their home state. Here is a websight with a summary of all the states regarding kinder age cut-off: http://mb2.ecs.org/reports/Report.aspx?id=32

An aside, I am an October baby and entered school at 4 1/2. I did just fine. There is little evidence that waiting a year helps in the middle school and high school years. These years are hard for everyone - independent of age. I work with kids and I am frequently reminded that chronological age is not a predictor of social maturity.

You can chat with a Pediatric Adolescent specialist and they will certainly share the evidence that it is tough for everyone and strategic, age-appropriate support is more important than chronological age.

The Harvard School of Education has done a lot of reseach and publishing on the issue on age of entry and who pays the price.

I hope this helps. And remember, if you find it is not working, you can always look for a hybrid year, like at OES. It is sort of 1/2 way between kindergarten and first grade.

Good Luck!

A small counter to the "give the boys the time to mature" point of view: If you have a very bright child (say, a 5 year old who is reading Beverly Cleary) they will be so put off by most neighborhood school public classrooms and will be at risk to disengage. Kids who test highly gifted will do better with their academically matched peers, if given the change and a positive environment for all. Sending my 6 year old off to 2nd grade (at a top notch private school, now) tugs at my heart a bit, there will always be places where he is behind some of the 8 year olds there, but he has now made better and deeper relationships based on interests.

My other advice is that if you think you want to go the route of a school like Caitlin or OES, apply for Kindergarten (apps due in late January) as there are very few openings later.

My child is going to early childhood at the public school she will attend my husband and I were told she is ready to start kindergarden in the fall of 2008 Then whrn I took her to get her sighend up for kindergarden i was told she does not make the cut off she wont be 5 till sept 18 and the kids have to be 5 by sept 1st she misses it by 17 days as we were walking out of the school she says mommy am I to dumb to go to kindergarden next year How crapy do you think I felt Her early childhood teacher has been telling her since Jan 08 that shae was going to kindergarden this fall I feel the the cut off for Wisconsin should be later and that my child should be allowed to go any one have any suggestions thanks

So glad to see other parents who understand that kids are individuals, and that the Sept. 1 cutoff doesn't work for everyone. I have a Sept. birthday, started kindergarten as a young five, and did great in school. My daughter has an Aug. birthday and has always been one of the most advanced students, even though she's one of the youngest. We plan to test our son for early entry this spring. We know it will be an uphill battled, but the kid is smart and has an amazing attention span, so we can already tell he'd get bored being held back. The popular notion that "it's best for boys to start later" drives me crazy. I'm on the lookout for articles that show there's no scientific evidence that holding kids back is beneficial. I've heard they're out there.

can anyone tell me which private schhol in san antonio texas will allow 27th octeber dirthday to attend kindergarden in the year of 2009 to 2010.

For anyone struggling with whether to start their child in kindergarten this fall (2010) or next and would like to explore another option, we are starting a class of up to 7 students on the kindergarten "cusp" at Open Minds Preschool for the 2010-11 school year. We will follow a kindergarten curriculum in a developmentally appropriate environment (outdoor play, snack time, etc.) at a pace and depth that is customized to each child. This will allow your child one more year of growth and experience before you need to determine which grade level will be the best fit the following year (kindergarten or first grade). Please explore at http://www.openmindspreschool.com

Is the Open Minds Kindergarten going to have gender quotas just like the other classes the school offers? I toured the school in spring 2008, and was told that the waiting list for boys was apparently much longer than that for girls. I ended up never hearing back anyway.

We are going through the process of early enrollment into kindergarten with our daughter. We are in the Beaverton School District and so far we have been very disappointed. They will only look at the test scores, even though the district sponsered psychologist told us that our daughter is ready without a doubt to start kindergarten this year. Her birthday is September 3rd, so she only misses the cutoff by 2 days. Both our pediatrician and the director of the private preschool/kindergarten she has been attending the last two years tell us that she is ready to start kindergarten. However, the district is only interested in the test scores which she missed by 2% points on some of the tests. I don't believe in testing children this young, but that was the only way the district would even consider her. They are even unwilling to take the recommendations of the specialist that the district sent her to be evaluated by. That specialist says she is ready but, they ONLY will look at test scores, instead of the whole child. I am really disappointed, because all the research tells me that to hold back a child who is ready and eager to learn is very detrimental to them. They lose interest in learning because they are bored and not challenged. Both of her older brothers are in TAG programs and are two years ahead in both math and reading. They are consistently bored in school even though they are in the TAG program. I was hoping to avoid this with my daughter as I have seen the negative effects of being bored in school in my sons. Research shows that the actual chronological age is not as important as the child's readiness. We will enroll her in the private kindergarten this year, and fight this fight again next year. The district will not automatically let her into first grade next year, but will make her repeat kindergarten even if she has a successful kindergarten year. I wish I could send all my kids to private school for their whole education, but we are unable to afford that option. Beaverton School District definitely needs to revise it's very rigid deadline and look at more factors to assess school readiness than one test score. I still don't understand why they don't look at the district sanctioned specialist's (that they sent my daughter to) recommendation that my daughter start kindergarten, and they only look at the one test score. Basically, it is very hard and almost impossible to start your child early in kindergarten in Beaverton School district. Even if she misses the cut off by two days.

Hello All,

It is so comforting to read these comments. I and my husband have been going back and forth on this topic for our soon to be four year old (turns 4 this November). Everyone we talk to has a very different opinion of how it should be... so we are very confused. Mama's who have already gone through this -- it would be really useful to list some of the private schools in Portland/Beaverton area that would accept children who were born after September 1st. Any advice?? Please??

Sonu, you might be interested in The International School. It's an authorized International Baccalaureate school, Pre-K through 5. Full language immersion (pick your language track: Chinese, Japanese or Spanish). They do not have age cut-offs. The decision is based on the child. It's a great school. My daughter loves it. www.intlschool.org

Don't enroll them early. Name one positive. Let them be kids. They have the rest of their life for school, work, etc.

We had the same experience when we moved here. We never mentioned his birthday and they never asked. He had already done most of kindergarten and his peers were discussing first grade. He would have seen it as a problem to go back to kindergarten. As for early enrollment, no two children are alike....for some it is the right decision and for others it is not. Do what is best for your child.

Hey all, I've been through this with the TAG office and what you all need to know is this:
They pass the buck on exceptions to age based entry. Ignore them and talk to the principal of the school you apply to. That is the person who calls it. The TAG office often isnt aware of who has been accelerated.

And avoid teachers who oppose it. ALL the science supports early entry for academically capable students, and teachers who aren't trains to handle it are often reluctant - that's just because they lack the confidence and skills to manage it.

We came here from abroad my daughter completed 5 in November she is not getting here school she feel very boared she was in grade 1 there she is well grown

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment