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

And what about starting kindergarten "early" or "young"?

This is the time of year when many parent conversations are all about schools - lotteries, holding back, testing, and maybe even the question of public vs. private.  An urbanMama recently emailed:

My daughter will be turning 5 on August 29th, meaning she is old enough to be starting kindergarten next year. While there is no doubt she is bright, she will always be the youngest in her class. I have brought this up with her pre-k teacher and the principal and I suggested maybe she stay in preschool an additional year. Both said if she was behind, she could repeat kindergarten twice. That's what worries me. For one, I think she will do fine in kindergarten, but what about when she's older. And two, why would I set her up to even fail kindergarten? To me, that seems out if the question. I have heard plenty of parents who recommend holding back boys with summer birthdays, but most give the advice that little girls do fine starting kindergarten a young 5.  Has anyone else dealt with this?  Were you the youngest in your class and always felt behind although you were bright and capable?  Will a stigma be attached to a child who didn't start kindergarten until 6?

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My daughter's birthday is July 9 and I will be waiting to put her in kindergarten until she is 6. I am not worried about her being one of the youngest in kindergarten, but I do worry about when she hits middle school, that she is mature enough for the social issues at that time. I was one of the oldest in my class, and I remember noticing differences both socially and academically with some of the summer birthday children in my class (although definitely not all).

My birthday is Aug 28th, so I just made the cut off and my parents sent me to school "early". For me it was a huge mistake (though I'm happy with how I turned out). I was the youngest, yet I was "smart" enough, I wasn't really mature enough yet. It felt like everyone was miles ahead of me in many things. We have too early fall children and I've told my husband that we will holding off on putting them in school until the following year. I'd rather them be the oldest in the class vs the youngest.

My daughter is turning 5 on August 13th. I will be keeping her out one more year as well. My birthday is September 6th and I was one of the youngest in my grade. I was above average academically - until high school. Emotionally, etc. I would have done better being held back a year.

My daughter's birthday is August 19; she started kindergarten at 5 and did great. She was way ahead academically, so kindergarten gave her a chance to grow socially. She's now a second grader, still doing great.

My birthday is August 17 and I also started K at 5. Academically, I was always ahead in elementary school. Would it have helped me if I'd been a year older in middle school? Impossible to say for sure. I think middle school was horrible because other kids were horrible. I don't think it would have made a big difference. In fact, when I got to high school I got on better with older kids.

Frankly, I often feel the "older" kids (ones that have been held back a year) are often more of a problem in the classroom than the younger ones. I've noticed that the big held-back boys (some of whom are a whole year and a half older and a whole lot bigger) have a tendency to throw their (literal) weight around.....No one ever talks about what it's like to be older than the other kids.

I truly believe the schools should have some type of testing for not only children seeking early admission, but also for children seeking to delay. I think the growing number of older six year-olds in kindergarten really changes the dynamic in the classroom. Not to mention the extra teaching time that is required to teach to an ever-growing age span of children. The age guidelines are set to keep that span to one year and someone will always be the oldest/youngest. I really don't feel it is fair to the other children to alter entry time without compelling evidence as determined by an independent panel.

My son's birthday is August 4, so he had just turned 5 when he started kindergarten. While he is almost always the youngest in his class, I am glad we didn't wait a year or have him repeat a grade. He may not have cared at 5 or 6 years old about being "held back", but I can just imagine him being 10 or 11 and being the oldest and having the other kids wonder why and jumping to conclusions. I have an 11 year old daughter so I have seen how insensitive kids that age can be...

There is no "right" answer, it depends on the child. Personally, I wish we had waited. My daughters birthday is August 5th. She started kindergarten this year at 5 and did great the first part of the year but is really struggling right now with her hand writing. It is important for you to know that kindergarten now is what 1st grade (or higher) was when we were in school. So really think if your daughter is ready for that. Most kindergartners in Portland go full day (our school did not have 1/2 day option), and they are doing lots of worksheets. For example last week my daughter brought home a work sheet with 30 subtraction problems on it. I didn't do work like that until second or third grade. I think this might be why so many people keep their kids out a year. I don't know about your daughter, but my 5 year old just isn't ready for as much academics as they have in K now.

I have two high schoolers (one boy, one girl) who are both one of the oldest in their classes. One thing to consider with the kids being older is that when they get to H.S. they become one of the first to drive. You can certainly lay down ground rules but they are still subject to peer pressure to give their friends rides because no one else can drive yet. I think that there are great ways to prepare children for the horrors of middle school (that's just going to be an awkward time anyway). I am a June baby and was young in my class. I don't recall one single incident when I felt ill-prepared because of any age difference. I'm in favor of being a little younger and hope that the parents will keep close communication during the puberty years.

I was an August 23 and started at 5. I was always the youngest, but never had any problems at all socially, emotionally, and certainly not academically. Also, her preschool teacher is probably the very best person to give advice. As a preschool teacher myself, I know I would give my most honest opinion, and if a kid wasn't ready I would not hesitate to let a parent know. Those are my two cents.

I was the youngest kid in my classes, and it didn't bother me a bit, socially, emotionally or otherwise. My daughter is a mid-August baby and she'll be starting K in September at very newly 5. I figue since she's a bright, outgoing girl, she'll do fine.

Yours will too. If your only fear is your kid being the youngest, there's no reason to hold her back.

My mom has been a preschool teacher for almost 30 years and in all of the years that parents have been seeking advice on whether or not to wait a year she has never had a parent come back to say that they wish they hadn't waited (many said they were happy they had). Doesn't mean it didn't happen, but it must not have happened very often. If you feel like waiting will be best, it probably will be.

I also wanted to comment on the idea that she could repeat kindergarten if she isn't ready to move on. I know a mom who wanted her son to do 1/2 day kindergarten this year and then full day next in order to be prepared from a social/emotional standpoint. She was told that if he meets the academic benchmarks then he cannot repeat - so be sure that your child actually can.

My birthday's in early October, and I started kindergarten at age four. I was academically bright (in first grade I took a few classes with third-graders), and a similar size to my classmates, but I often felt shy and socially awkward around my grade-school peers. I had the same group of 50 kids from first grade until eighth grade, and my initial awkwardness stayed until I got to a very large high school and could kind of reinvent myself.

I'm not sure my age was the sole factor in my grade-school socialization; I also had weird hair and glasses and an odd fashion sense, and I suspect I'm just a natural introvert. Nor do I think starting a year later would have been much better; I would have been bored with the academics.

It's hard! I'm glad my son's birthday is in the spring, so we don't have this issue. But I'd definitely gauge your daughter's personality -- how well does she play with kids she doesn't know on playgrounds? do her feelings get hurt easily? -- as well as her academic skills. Good luck.

You know your child best and should go with your gut as far as how ready she is. Our son's birthday is late August, and we did do kindergarten that year - although we kept him at a small Montessori school for kindergarten, then started public school in 1st grade. He needed that extra year of a small class and a small school. He's in second grade now and I am confident we made the right decision for him. There are kids in his class who are more than a year older than he is, and that also seems fine. Academically it would have been very difficult to wait. He is socially less aware than some other kids, but that's more just his nature than his age. Also, he's very tall for his age, so although he's aware of being younger than some of the other kids, physically he fits right in.

The New Year Times Sunday Magazine had an excellent article on this a few years ago:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03kindergarten-t.htm

The article found that the advantages older kids have in kindergarten and elementary school often last them their entire lives, even when they are no longer (for example) taller and stronger than their peers.

The article also talked about how wealthier families (ie those who can afford another year of preschool) are more inclined to hold kids, especially boys, back, whereas poorer families can't afford to do this, and so you end up with a situation where the wealthier kids tend to be older and thus more mature and prepared, and it exacerbates existing inequities.

My kids have mid-year birthdays, so we didn't face these decisions with them. It's definitely a tough issue!

Do read the article if you are thinking about this issue. It's quite good.

I too was born August 23rd and went to school as a "younger" student. I never noticed a difference and had a great experience.

I am a Nov 20 baby whose district had a cutoff date of Dec. 1! Yes, I noticed a difference, but not the summer vs. late winter/spring babies: it was the Dec babies whose parents pushed for early admittance who really struggled. I'm amazed that, absent any true, concrete concerns, PPS parents of "midyear" kids would game the system like this! We fall babies did just fine--and yes, academically, too. Alas, parental insecurities run deep, I guess.

I was 4 when I entered kindergarten--my birthday 12/1, for a 12/1 cut-off date. I was definitely ready. Perhaps being female with a sibling 5 years older helped. Quite frankly, I enjoyed being the youngest in my class, and it never held me back academically or athletically where I excelled among my peers. If I could have skipped a year of high school to get to college quicker, no doubt I would have. But that was me, and it certainly depends on the person. If you have any doubts about your kid, then wait. What's the big hurry anyway?

We're facing different issues on the other side of the cutoff. We have a September-born 4 year old who is academically and socially ready for K, per her preschool teachers. But based on advice and gut feelings we're going to keep her in pre-k til her 'true' PPS entry date, when she'll be nearly six.

I think that as parents we'll always find something to worry about. Although we're firm in our decision, we're very concerned that she'll get bored academically.

For what it's worth, my husband and I were both among the youngest in our classes. For me, it was a positive thing - I excelled academically and was outgoing and popular among adults & kids. I was naive to any negative issues with my peers, although looking back now I can tell that they definitely did exist. My husband, while he also excelled academically, felt the negative effects of being youngest much more fully.

I have two boys with late summer birthday days, but 12 years apart. With my oldest who is now in college, he was one of the younger kids but it was mostly a non issue. (Yes being the last to drive is great but he was just 17 when leaving home for college!) 12 years later, with so many kids waiting a year and the expectation that kids are basically reading by the end of kindergarten things have changed a lot! I do wish we had waited a year for my youngest who is now in first grade. Malcom Gladwell's Outliers book is an interesting read on the subject of birthday dates and success, I wish we had read it before making the choice.

That study has been debunked by more recent studies that say being older isn't necessarily better, especially in the long run.

This is an interesting article about this topic - http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/nurtureshock/archive/2009/09/03/should-children-redshirt-kindergarten.aspx

I personally believe with one of the above posts saying "The age guidelines are set to keep that span to one year and someone will always be the oldest/youngest. I really don't feel it is fair to the other children to alter entry time without compelling evidence"

Like some of the earlier posters, I have a November birthday and started kindergarten at age 4 due to a December 1st cut-off date. Then, at age 9 my family relocated to a state with a September 1st cut-off date, so from late-elementary through high school I was very young compared to my grade level peers. I was certainly aware of it (especially when my classmates began getting jobs, driving, etc. and I wasn't old enough yet), but it didn't have any negative effects on me, socially or academically. My children both have spring birthdays but if they were near the cut-off and I felt they were kindergarten-ready, based on my own experience I wouldn't hesitate to send them. Good luck!

I read both articles. It sounds like the subsequent studies referred to in Newsweek tempered the conclusions of the ones referred to in the NYT, but didn't "debunk" them.

Had your daughter been born just a couple of days later, this would be a non issue. And she would be the oldest in class, not as a result of red shirting, but naturally.

If you're really unsure, have a back-up plan; sign her up for Kinder, but keep her enrolled in preschool as well and then reassess in August. Six months is a long time in the development of a young child and you may feel less concerned about her school readiness when September rolls around. What does *she* want to do? That may be the biggest signal as to how she will fair if sent to Kindergarden.

I have one child on each side of this issue--my son is an August baby, so he started kindergarten having just barely turned 5. My daughter is an October baby, so she's spent most of her preK year as 5 already. I'm firmly in the camp of people who say this depends on the individual.

My son is and always has been advanced academically and physically. He's a little small for his age so now, in fifth grade, many of the girls tower over him. But he's in a racially diverse school. He's always going to be taller than his Cambodian friends, and the size thing doesn't seems to bother him a bit. So hanging back an extra year would have been a big mistake, and he definitely would have noticed and questioned what that meant about our confidence in his abilities.

My daughter is advanced academically, but not socially. So it's been good for her to naturally land as one of the older kids in her class. I've seen her develop some confidence and leadership skills that probably wouldn't have blossomed if she'd been the youngest, like her brother.

So by chance, the PPS cut off has worked well for both my kids. Of course, I haven't yet dealt with high school or adult life, but so far, so good, and it makes me think that if you're close to the cut off you should pay attention to the child. If they're ready academically, can you provide some extra social support to bring them up to their peers? If they're ready socially, can you help out academically?

Also, I wouldn't assume that just because the maturity level matches the grade that you're going to be home free. I'm sure there's many people out there with mid-year birthdays who experienced challenges in school. Fiddling with kindergarten entry can just give the illusion of control.

I was the youngest, and never felt like I was lagging behind in anything, in fact, I was usually ahead of my peers with my studies and frankly just as mature of not more so come middle school and high school. My son has a June birthday, is 6 years old, and in the first grade. I agree with some of the comments that no one talks too much about being the oldest in a class. I thought it was pretty strange to see 7 year olds in Kindergarten! My daughter is under a year, so for now, I'm not too worried, but I doubt I'd be holding her back when the time comes. It seems like, looking at the comments, folks pretty much tow the line when it comes to their own experiences growing up! Best of Luck!

I have a boy in kindergarten now who turns six in early September, past the PPS cutoff for entering first grade. I have heard (but not yet confirmed) that this year PPS will allow five year olds who have completed a kindergarten program to enter first grade. That would be great news for us as we believe our child would be bored staying in kindergarten (and when he's bored, he tends to be mischievous and goofy--a frustrating distraction for teachers). We question whether he's ready socially but I don't think we'd think twice about it if he'd been born a few days earlier.

Its a hot button issue! I think if your child is on the young side and really seems un-ready for school, especially socially and emotionally, wait a year.

That said, I think much of the popularity of redshirting is due to competitiveness on the part of the parents. Perhaps they don't even realize it, but that is what all this sizing up is about.

Being in preschool or pre-K when you really could be moving on is no fun for the kids.
Kindergarten may be the new first grade but I have many friends who held their boys back before kindergarten (don't even get me started on the whole "well, he's a boy so hold him back" thing) - and their boys were totally bored, became completely turned off to school in general due to understimulation, and then, as the oldest in class in elementary school, had bullying and behavior issues.

Redshirting, whether you like the term or not, isn't a panacea.

And our public school has a kindergarten that is the way it should be - painting, music, free movement about the room for much of the day, lots of art and games. Its not all academic by any means.

I know hitting puberty "early" because you're by far the oldest in class is no fun either. My redhirted neice is dealing with that and is miserable. It could have happened anyway, but being almost 2 years older than many of the girls in her class isn't helping.

I'd say research and research some more. And know your own child.

I was a late Nov birthday in a Dec 1 cutoff, so I started K when I was still 4. Never suffered, and like someone else mentioned, would have finished HS earlier if I could have.

My daughter has a late August bday, so she will start K when she has just turned 5. I thought nothing about it, and she is (at 3.5) eager to turn 5 and start K. But I do worry about those redshirted boys & girls, who will be a full year or 18 months older in K -- I agree that there should be criteria for holding back as well as for accelerating.
Sounds like a great research project, to ascertain if bullying occurs more by older students in the class (male or female -- female bullying is awful!)

Yes, it most definitely is about having a competitive advantage. I don't want my children being the "runt of the litter." So I will hold them back if they will be young for their class and if other kids give them a hard time for being older, well, my kids will be bigger than them...

My son has a mid-September birthday and we're prepared to follow PPS and enroll him just before he turns 6 in 2012. I've always heard if your child isn't five by the cut off you have to have them tested to gain early enrollment. Is that true? Has anyone had any experiences with this? What is involved?

Both my husband and I were among the youngest in our classes and both of us had no issues with age. We were both great students and never suffered due to being younger.

Our son has a late August birthday and we didn't hold him back. He is doing quite well at school and would have been bored if we had kept him back a year. He had two classmate last year that were well over a year older than him (May and June birthdays) and would loudly complain about how easy everything was and how boring first grade was whenever they could get away with it. Several other parents noticed it as well and we mentioned it to the teacher. She said it is a problem in the early grades when kids who are held back for no reason other than to be the oldest/biggest/strongest. We could all see that it was difficult for the teacher to focus on grade level appropriate teaching with such a wide age span.

I have two kids and both of them fell past the Aug. 31st deadline. With my son, who was born in December, it wasn't an issue with us because we knew he needed to wait until he was older to go to Kindergarten. With our daughter, who was born in September, we really struggled for awhile with this decision because we felt she was ready for Kindergarten. We knew that she was smart and could get bored easily if not challenged enough. So we made the decision to have her tested to get in early. There is a lot of paperwork to fill out and you have to pay for a psychiatrist to test them (which was not cheap). My husband and I had many discussions back and forth before we made our decision. Our daughter is now in 1st grade and we are so glad we made this decision for her. She is one of the youngest in her class but you can't really tell because she blends in so well with her class socially and academically. She's one of the smartest in her class so no regrets for us. As parents, we know our child best so go with your gut feeling. That's the most we can do for our children is try our best.

I'd say wait. She's got the rest of her life to be in school if she wants. I was one of the youngest kids in my class but I was also at the top of my class. I think my age perhaps compelled me to be even more competitive and to 'succeed' at school. What a waste of time and energy THAT was for me ;-)

Are you allowed to wait?? I thought the "law" stated that kids who turn 5 prior to the cut off must attend kindergarten. Is this incorrect? It seems like waiting might be a good option for some kids, but isn't it, in some ways, altering the idea of kindergarten in a sense if so many kids start going when they are 6 or 7?

I'm in total agreement that it is an individual decision based on each child. I also know that it is really hard to make this lifelong decision six months ahead of the start of the school year, when your child is just 4 and a half. Anyone who is considering an extra year of kindergarten, or wanting to delay the decision until your child is a year older, please consider our "cusp" kindergarten at Open Minds Preschool tailored just to these kids. We have space for 2 more boys and one more girl this fall, and look forward to creating a class that meets the developmental needs of children turning 5 in summer and fall. www.openmindspreschool.com/kindergarten
(Yes, it is an afternoon session, but the enrolled families have some wonderful ideas for morning activities outside school!)

We agonized over this decision last year for our fall birthday son. He's a very bright child, but not off the charts. He has good social skills, but still needs improvements in some areas.

It seemed like everyone we talked to recommended waiting as a precaution. We listened to our child and our gut and sent him to kindergarten. He is flourishing. He was bored last year at Pre-K, and another year would have left him frustrated with school.

We still catch flack from people who ask us why we are "pushing" our son. They suggest that we are depriving him of his youth. I want to know when learning became associated with losing one's innocence? When did structure and instruction become something to fear?

What really convinced us was when we asked ourselves what message we would be sending our son if we held him back: it is good to shy away from challenge, you're not ready, you can't succeed.

When I see how well he is doing this year, I get angry with myself that I almost gave in to group think.

Trust your gut - no one knows your child better than you.

And let's all remember that we can't control everything. Oldest or youngest, they will all face challenges, have a hard time fitting in at some point, not look the way they want to look, or be teased by peers. Oldest or youngest, there will always be someone bigger, smarter, and more talented. We can help our kids build self-esteem by telling them this truth, rather than shying away from it and trying to shield them from it.

Mamacita:

You asked if PPS would accept a student who had completed a year of accredited kindergarten, even though their birthday is after Sept. 1? The answer is YES. They may try to discourage you, but they can't prevent you. We've done it and so have many others. Every year they have new first graders come in from private kindergartens, many because they missed the public school cut-off. Others because they transferred from states where the cutoff was Dec. 1

Public school is a right. They can't keep your son/daughter out if he/she has finished kindergarten.

The NY Times article wasn't "debunked." Rather there are some different conclusions now being drawn about *one* out of many, many studies addressed by the NY Times article.

I'm not saying to redshirt your kids. But, rather, just offering up some more information for people.

I have to say I am rather surprised at the number of parents talking about kids being/not being "smart"...how is this measured? Are you speaking in terms of being "smart" b/c kids can write their names, read, do math, etc.? In other words, "academically smart"...as it is deemed in our society? I really worry about people "measuring" intelligence and in this way, without regard the other domains that kids can also thrive in (physical, spatial, artistic, musical, imaginative, etc.). Our current system of standardized testing rewards very little in these other domains and instead focuses on the type of "smart" that it seems like people are referring to--perhaps that is why many feel they can say a child isn't/is "smart"--give kids a chance, they are only 4, 5, 6 at this point.

I'm very happy to read the last comment @ PPS accepting first graders that have already finished kindergarten. As a kid I was the youngest and advance academically, because I was already so young my parents didn't allow me to move up and I eventually struggled because the rest of the class moved so slow.

As a Mom of a early Sept boy I have debated and struggled with this issue. My son is a giant and towers over his preschool class, he is mistaken for a 5year old all the time, it doesn't help that he speaks well.

My biggest concern with this whole debate was not only will he become bored academically if he has to wait but what happens when my gentle giant realizes that he can use that to his advantage. If hes surrounded by smaller kids I think not only are these bigger boys getting an unrealistic advantage and expectation (thinking sports and academic skills) but what an ego inflation when they are put in the real world. If my son is not challeneged with kids at his age/size/speed Im afraid I will potentially set him up for failure years down the line!

I think its a kid by family decision but definitely am against giant kids dominating classrooms, and i say that kindly as I am referring to my own offspring!

Does portland have a high 5 program? Ours is run by the school system and is half day. check to see if the school district offers kindergarden readiness tests. In Minneapolis, every kids needs the test before entering. It's a great solution for summer babies and kids that may need a little extra support.

I was in one of those mixed grade classes for K/1 and then 1st/2nd. They messed up the roster in my 1st/2nd class and I ended up in second grade instead of first. By the time they caught it, it just didn't matter- I was doing fine. I never noticed it, personally.

As someone with an October birthday when PPS deadline was 11/15, I was always one of the youngest. Besides being laughed at once by a classmate for being younger at the beginning of 3rd grade (which really seemed like his issue not mine), I can't remember any problems with being younger. I do know I would have been bored senseless if I'd have been held back, for no reason except for fear of potential age related problems.

Don't think being held back would have stopped middle school from being awful - some pre-teen girls are just mean, regardless of age relative to their peers. But that is really a whole other topic.

I was an October birthday, so I was often youngest in my class or close to it. I don't remember it bothering me much. Around the time of driver's permits and licenses I felt left out, but other than that I always did fine in school and didn't have too much trouble with social issues due to age. Hope this helps. :)

This is so interesting.. I didn't turn 5 until the very end of December in kindergarten! When I entered high school at age 13 in another school district where the cutoff was 9/1, a lot of kids were over a year older than me!

I never felt behind academically in elementary school, but I did have trouble, which I guess could be labeled "social" but was probably more of an undiagnosed learning disability -- perhaps exacerbated by the age difference?

I do remember feeling immature in early high school, especially in English class. It took me a while to "get" things like deep symbolism in texts that other students seemed to understand already. I don't know how to describe it, but there was an immaturity to my writing. I did very well in high school, but not excellent -- maybe this had an effect but, really, who knows?

Our daughter is a late August baby - and she's small, to boot - but we have no doubts about enrolling her in kindergarten this fall, right after her 5th birthday.

Frankly, all this redshirting pisses me off. It screws up the curve for everybody by enlarging the age spread.

The average elementary school kid is unaware and unconcerned with age cutoffs. It's only us parents who get so hung up on that stuff.

I say, unless there's some glaring reason that your kid needs to start early or be held back, just enroll them according to the schedule.

If you follow the theory that kids aren't developmentally ready for the work of academics until age six or seven/around the time their teeth change, then making kindergarten this big academic prep is a fool's game. Nobody's kids should be started according to this schedule. That schedule was developed when kindergarten was really about playing while learning the basic ropes of obeying the teacher and getting along with others. Those days are gone - but the age cutoffs live on.
In other words, so-called redshirting is NOT what I'M pissed off about.

I'm amazed when people get upset about "redshirting." Why don't we support other moms' ability to make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of their child? I think the whole redshirting concept is just ridiculousness that was created to incite gossip and sell parenting magazines. I don't know a single person who actually held their child back so that their child could be the best batter in the little league. Every mom I know who held their child back made an agonizing decision about how mature their child was and what was in that child's best interests for his or her education and social development. I have a 3 year old boy who is a mid-summer birthday. He is very tall and very articulate, but he tends to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to social interaction. You can bet I will think long and hard about whether he is ready for school at age 5.

My birthday is early Sept, and I was always the youngest in my class. I never noticed a difference and usually was academically a little ahead of the curve. I seemed to be a more mature child as well, which may be because I was the oldest child in my family. I think like most other parenting issues, it depends on the child, and what you feel is best. There is never one right answer for everything, so go with what feels right to you, and that's the best you can do!

to "curious" - In Oregon you do not have to attend school at all until you are 7 and then they would just put you in 1st grade. Kindergarten is actually and optional grade.

i was a Sept. kid, and older. i think i benefitted from being advanced, in comparison.

@scooter libby, what exactly is "the schedule"? if my daughter had been born 15 minutes later, she'd be missing the cutoff and would start school at age 6. so do i follow "the schedule" and start her at barely 5, or do I look at where she sits emotionally and "academically" and make the best decision for her?

@pdxmomto2 -- really? you don't have to start school until age 7! so interested to hear this. but doesn't it lower your chances of getting into a school outside of your neighborhood, if that is your hope? i keep hearing that if you really want a shot at a school, you better start them in K or even pre-K. (school choice is another debate, i'm just wondering if you have experience on how the odds change if you opt out of kindergarten.)

Such a personal topic. You know your child best, but also it depends, IMO, on the environment where you'd send your dtr to school. I've agonized over this for YEARS as I have a son with a Aug 30th bday! School, daycare, etc all felt he was ready. I felt he was ready. So I figured, he could just do K over if necessary. (This plan sounds so laid out now but it took me like a year to get there)--- He's totally bright...and now he's in K and guess what? Thought he was tested to get in (parochial) and I met with the Principal over this specific issue...this school is very heavy on the summer-birthday-boys wait until 6. 25% of his class and 50% of the other K were 6 when they started or turned 6 in Sept. So while I didn't want to redshirt...academically he's fine. His fine motor skills are fine FOR HIS AGE but since he's 16-months-younger that the oldest kid...it shows. And he's easily distracted/distracts others, completely age appropriate. There are like 2 spring girls and everyone else has Fall/Winter bdays so he's wayyy younger. He'll be doing K over again (different class)-- this is something we've discussed since Day 1. Also, a handful of kids do the public first then come here. I wish there was a rule about when you have to start K; now I have to redshirt to conform to the norms of this school. Otherwise, I love the school & community so I don't want to change. If he went to an independent school that has small classes, I think he'd do fine but also they tend to not take something birthday boys either. A good friend's daughter is the same age (late Aug bday)- she went to an independent private school (15 kids/2teachers?) and is doing fine.

PS: Also I wanted to add that having my son do K over again was my decision. The teacher has the same concerns as me (fine motor, distracted- in a non-ADHD/ADD way) but it wasn't until I brought up retaining that she considered it. She was on the fence. But the other K teacher doesn't take summer birthday boys so she wouldn't have accepted him in the 1st place! I don't regret sending him to K this year, he was goes to daycare FT and had done several years of preschool & last year we were moving daycares...and I was stressed about our choices...so that also helped influence my decision. Lastly, my son is extremely SMALL, he'll still be small next year but he's VERY aware of age & size. So, anyhow, these are more issues we considered.

I may still be a student, but I skipped right through kindergarten-and I'm fine. And there were even two girls in my hall last year younger than me! Sometimes being the younger one stinks-when everyone else turns 16, 17, 18, 21-but it never bothered anyone or myself. I'm still a shrimp too, but it never stopped me!

As someone who has an August boy who will start K as one of the youngest in the fall, I've been worried about this as well. I can honestly say that I hate hearing about the parents that are keeping their children back. It feels unfair, really, given that many of us have the same concerns about social skills with their young ones but go ahead on the idea that there have to be cut-offs to meet the design of the current educational structure in PPS. Mainly I worry that it broadens the spread of those in the class, and has the ability to make what might only be small differences between students even larger (and selfishly, especially for my son). I think everyone can say that they are "doing the best for their child" and "making agonizing choices" - we all do. But deep biases exist about wanting our children to do well in school, and I don't believe that we are always able to best manipulate outcomes in expected ways.

About the studies of "redshirting" favoring life outcomes, the simple link to the fact that the wealthy tend to do it more often complicates the takeaway findings of these studies. It is hard to evaluate the added parental input of "redshirting" families, even with study controls, and I the takeaway points of these studies are hard to assess.

Lastly, I have a friend that held their child back from kindergarten, only to find the following year that there is no space for their entering kinder in the class in PPS. Given other priorities, she was told by the school that she would have to enroll her child directly in first grade. It was a smack in the face for the family who made the initial decision to hold back based on some idea of readiness. Her daughter did fine going directly to first grade, but it wasn't what they expected.

I agree. Worrying about Kindergarden readiness and future academic success is clearly the luxury of the family who can afford another year in private childcare or another year with a parent out of the workforce. It's a dividing factor, and as much thought as this community seems to put into the inequities created by the transfer and lottery system, I find it somewhat odd that the same does not seem to hold true here.

I was born in August and went to kindergarten when I was 5. I did great, never noticed anything. As for not being as mature, well, I "matured" earlier than the "older" girls so that was never a problem.

Bullying is a big concern for us. Sure, our August birthday girl may do fine in Kindergarten, and elementary school, but middle school???! That's a scary time and being the youngest kid won't help matters.

I follow you VIA GFC and I love your blog!

I believe that girls and boys should have different age brackets for school - whereby boys enter 6 months later than girls. In general, but not always, girls are ahead of boys academically and socially. Why not shift the age brackets by 6 months to better fit to this reality? There will still be departures from these new brackets and there will still be red-shirting. But. . . there will be less of it.

Can I ask what you ended up doing? We are in a situation where we have been offered two years of kindergarten by our school district in order to maintain special ed services (speech and physical therapy, nothing like autism or anything, just a lot of muscle issues). I'm worried about throwing my DD into her first year of school set up to fail or at least, we aren't worried about her rocking it. We expect less from her and her first experience with school might be sucky. On the other hand, if we don't take this deal, she loses special ed services. Anyone do two years of kindergarten? THx.

I have a child with a fall birthday and while we will, of course, consider his needs we cannot ignore child care costs as a factor. It is a reality for us and many other families of full time working families. That entrance day is a $12,000 issue for us.

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