When people find out my daughters are four-years-old, they often say something along the lines of "Oh, kindergarten will be so much fun next year." I'm sure it will be... for the children who are in kindergarten. My daughters won't be among them.
Based on the guidelines of our school district, my daughters will turn five exactly three days after the cut-off for kindergarten. Three days. It has been a long, thought out decision (and I've changed my mind numerous times), but I will not ask the district to let my daughters start kindergarten in the fall.
Initially I was concerned that my daughters would get burned out on another year of preschool. We are fortunate to live in a school district that offers preschool and fortunate to be accepted into the program. Last year my girls didn't notice when all but two or three students moved on to kindergarten. At the end-of-school party this year I think they'll notice that they're among the only students not getting a "diploma." (They still receive a nice keepsake from the teacher). I think in the fall they'll notice most of their classmates are "new."
I was also concerned about having my daughters be the oldest in their class. Think about it... they'll turn six within a month of starting kindergarten. Most of their classmates will have just turned five. I am a November baby. I have been asked countless times if I was held back in school. No. I didn't turn 5 by my school's deadline (I think it was Sept. 1). I started on time by my district's guidelines. I just don't want my daughters to be asked throughout their lives if they were held back. Silly, I know, but it was still something that bothered me.
But those aren't good enough reasons to start them early. It may only be three days, but it would still be starting them early. A third year of preschool may give them the confidence that they need to enter kindergarten full-steam ahead. Being among the oldest in their class means by high school they will hopefully be at the same maturity level as their peers, rather than feeling as though they constantly need to keep up.
A mom of triplets once discussed what happened when she had to hold back one of her children. One of the ones who advanced to the next grade started doing poorly in school. When the mom got to the bottom of it, she discovered that her daughter was purposely doing bad in school in hopes of going back to her brother's class in the lower grade. Do I expect my daughters to have some struggles in school? Sure. Didn't we all? But starting them on time, rather than early, could help me avoid some heartbreaking decisions.
Besides, my daughters were born at 28 weeks gestation (and two days). Had they been born on time it would have been months past the kindergarten cut-off and I wouldn't have given their "start time" a second thought.
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