My oldest son turns 13 in April. He’s in the 6th grade. Up until this year, he’s been the oldest student in his class. In fact, he’s over 18 months older than some of his classmates, those with fall birthdays.
All three of our boys are “old” for their class. Two of them have spring birthdays and one has a summer birthday. They were all six when they entered kindergarten, with the older two having 4-year-old classmates.
Can I tell you how we arrived at their kindergarten readiness decision? How we decided when my boys were ready for school?
Well, the answer is we didn’t, but my husband did. When my oldest was six days old, I was holding my newborn son in my arms when my husband said, “Oh, and by the way, he’ll be six when he goes to kindergarten.”
“Aren’t we supposed to, you know, wait and see how this whole thing goes before we make that decision. Like when he’s four and we can tell if he can read and write and do math and skip and play well with others?”
“No. He’ll be six. I’m sure he’ll be just fine with school and play. Because he’ll be six. “
You see, my husband is an educator. He is the son of educators. And in his world, the kids go later than sooner. So I went with it.
And I haven’t regretted any of it and this was the right decision for our kids (even before we knew their scholastic aptitude).
Of course, there are so many factors that go into this decision. My husband and I are not tall people, so the chance of our children towering over their classmates would be slim. In fact, my oldest is one of the shortest on his basketball team. Neither are we college athlete standouts (unless you count intramurals, then in that case we boast a two-time wiffleball and sand volleyball championship between the two of us), so our kids will likely have regular sports careers. If you find your child on the tall side, or that they will physically standout by being older, that could be a factor too. Also, my boys majored in the art of play and roughhousing from 3-5 years, not so much in reading and writing, so there was not much chance of them being overly bored once they had to sit still.
When my older two were starting school, the age cutoff was October 15. Since then, Nebraska has changed the date a child must be 5 to July 31, with those kids whose birthdays fall between 8/1 and 10/15 having the ability to test into school early.
It’s time to start thinking about Kindergarten round-up all across the state and I know there are lots of parents with kids on the bubble, haggling over what they should do.
Here’s my advice:
- You know what you want to do, and generally that’s what’s right for your kid. If you want to hold, then hold. If you want to start, then start.
- Take a preschool recommendation as that, a recommendation from a preschool teacher who never sees what happens when the littles leave his/her room an enter into school. As a note, not one of our preschool teachers felt that our decision to hold our boys was the right one. We did it anyway.
- I have lots of friends who are elementary teachers and I’ve never heard them talk about how hard it is to teach 6 year olds in Kindergarten. Not once.
- Keep in mind that boys and girls are different (As if I needed to state that..). Girls are suited well for the kindergarten learning environment…sit still, quiet, color…etc. We gave our boys another year to play outside, romp, and exert their energy before they had to learn to reign that in for a classroom. As such, we have had hardly any behavior issues.
- Keep in mind that young kindergarteners will one day be young high schoolers and young college students. Some of those kids who started kindergarten at 4 will be 13 years old when they enter high school, sharing a building with 18 year old men!
- You know your child. Don’t fret too much. If you know your child is ready, regardless of age, send him/her. If you are hesitant or wondering, go ahead and wait another year.
In regards to this issue, someone once asked me:
Do you want to give your kid an extra year of childhood or adulthood?
In my world, childhood wins every time.