February 03, 2010

No, They Won't Be in Kindergarten Next Year

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.


MaryAnne said...

I think I would make the same decision. I have a July birthday, so was always one of the younger ones of my class. I remember liking it in elementary school but finding it annoying in high school.

Anonymous said...

I think you are making the right decision. We've been going back and forth about separating our kids in next year's preschool class. I am also concerned about the one digressing because they are not in the same class with the other. But they have such different personality types we thought they need to be separated a bit more.

Stephanie Manner Wagner said...

I would definitely go with your decision.

I'm actually tempted to hold my twins back a year when the time comes. They have late June birthdays and one is currently very tiny. I'd rather they be the oldest (like your girls) then among the youngest for many of the reasons you mentioned. (Maturity level, intellectual development, and physical development)

Sadia said...

I read through the post wondering whether you would take prematurity into account.

My husband had the opposite situation to the triplets you mentioned. My husband was held back a year in kindergarten, which put him in the same class as his sister, 13 months his junior. It worked out fine, but I do sometimes wonder if they'd have been closer if they didn't spend so much of high school individuating. They went to a big school, and Rodriguez is a common enough name that only their close friends knew that they were siblings.

Stephanie B said...

Our school system is also September 1. My daughter was born August 30 and my son was born September 3. I'm pleased I let my son start kindergarten when he was effectively six years old. He has issues and may never be with his peers, but he's enjoying himself.

My daughter I started as prescribed and I wish I'd waited a year. She's plenty smart and capable, but my ex and I went through a divorce that year, my daughter got glasses literally days before starting and she hadn't been in the preschool part of her daycare because we all thought she'd be going the next year. She started out behind, with iffy glasses (and terrible vision) while going through significant stress at home with a teacher who felt that she was inconvenienced by our divorce and TOOK IT OUT ON HER. (Sorry, that still drives me insane).

She had a hell of a year that year, leaving feeling unloved, unwanted, unappreciated and stupid (which she most definitely is NOT). I wish it had not been that way. Fortunately, her first grade teacher took considerable care with her and she left reading and much prouder of herself.

Me, I was also born in November and started out older than everyone. Then I skipped eighth grade and I was younger than everyone (which was also a headache).

Do what you think is best for your girls. They'll be fine.

Kim said...

It's quite common, so I don't think your children will feel out of place at all. It may just be my experience, but in both my 11- and 9-year-old's classes at least half the kids have their birthdays in the first semester. And I can think of 3 kids off the top of my head whose parents deliberately started them in kindergarten at age 6 (cut-off dates had nothing to do with it) because they didn't feel they were ready at 5.

Quadmama said...

I'm glad I'm not the only parent thinking about this.
@HT, I haven't separated them in class yet, but I know it's coming. Hmmm... maybe I'll blog soon about why I haven't separated them.

Brooke said...

I'm in the opposite situation. Mo's birthday is 8 days before the cut-off, he was over a week late and is very large and physically advanced for his age. I plan to send him to Kindergarten next year - I really believe he's ready - though my mom keeps telling me that all boys born that close to the cut-off should be held back - and that he'll be behind not just for one year but his ENTIRE SCHOOL CAREER. I'm so sick of it. I told her we'll wait and see how he does in K and then he can repeat it if needed.

You know your kids the best - trust your own judgement.

Sarah said...

My birthday was right before the cut-off, so I ended up being one of the oldest in the class. My oldest will miss the cut-off by a few days, so I too will have to struggle with this decision. Glad you were able to make a decision you were comfortable with.

Becky said...

Lucas missed it by 16 days...so he is one of the oldest in his class. Now that he is in 1st grade there is NO WAY I can even imagine him to have been ready to go earlier. In fact, had he come early, I would have made the choice to wait to send him. They will meet new friends and be happy to move on to kindergarten with them the following year. :) AND you'll get to "keep" them one more year!! THAT's the best part about it....I thought. ;)

Roman and Tiffany said...

I think it is a good decision to keep them back. They have the cut-off dates for a reason and it will probably help your kids excel once they do start. I am curious though, I thought the cut-off was Oct. 1 for the entire state. Am I wrong?

Roman and Tiffany said...

Nevermind...I see that it is Sept. 15. I don't know why I was thinking Oct. 1.

Well, it sound like our kiddios will be starting Kindergarten the same year. That will be fun for them.

Quadmama said...

I'm sure for some children, a three day difference isn't a big deal... I'm just not willing to risk it four times over.

Denise said...

As a teacher, I think that you are making a wonderful decision for your daughters. It will help all of them in their future years of their education. Good for you.

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