Kindergarten-to wait or not to wait?need to know this week!

Catalina_ARJanuary 30, 2002

Hi, I have a 4 year old daughter who will turn 5 on August 16th. SHe makes the cutoff by 14 lousy days (Sepember 1st)which means if she had waited 2 more weeks, I wouldn't be agonizing over this now. I am really relunctant to send her to kindergarten and I have to know if it is for purely selfish reasons and how much it will effect her later. If I send her this year, she will always be the youngest in her class. How will that effect her later when the other girls are reaching puberty ahead of her and are into boys and she is not ready. Or if I wait, she will be one of the oldest. I think this wont be so bad since she will always have a year extra maturity on the other kids and maybe wont be so easily influenced.

A few other factors: she is intellectually very bright, has an outstanding vocabulary and can figure out complex problems. But she is very clingy, still nurses (please no negative comments about this. Its not the worse thing that can happen to a child of mine and its by her choice)and gets easily upset when scolded. I lost her brother before she was born so she is all I have, my miracle baby so I know that has a lot to do with my relunctance to let her go. I am an older mom, 48 and I do worry about being here when she is older. I think will being 62 or 63 really be that big a difference when she graduates.

I need to make a decision by next week because that is when registration is for the coming year. Thankyou and if at all possible, please email me. I never receive followups even when I check the followup box!

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If I were in your shoes, I probably would send her to a preschool this year. My son is an only child and I am a SAHM. Since kindergarten here is all day five days a week, I thought it would be good for him to gradually learn to be away from me. I found a preschool that was for 2 1/2 hours three days a week. It worked out great and I think that would be best for you and your daughter.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 3:37PM
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Whew....On one hand she might get bored if she is up to the task intellectually of K, but you might need to take time to give each other some space before you do a big split. I guess it would come down to how long a day. Is it all day K or half day? I think if I were you I would go for a half day program, but not a full day. Good luck.

My mom was older than you when she had me. Her age when I graduated High School didn't make any difference. I kept her young!!!!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 3:40PM
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My sister was born 9/21 and somehow made it into school but she was always the youngest and the smallest. It was hard for her sometimes. She your daughter physically young or old (I know that will change)? Has she been doing preschool? I'd rather be oldest then youngest.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 4:20PM
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My DD is one of the youngest in her class. She was also clingy before JK but she became more confident after school started. She is one of the tallest in the class and one of the top in grades. She has lots of friends and I know I made the right decision by sending her rather than holding her back. If I had felt she was emotionally or intellectually behind then I may have kept her home. Your daughter will not be far behind...if at all...her peers physically. It would only be a matter of months (not even that in some cases) and that is insignificant. She will probably be right on par with her peers. I think if you hold a very bright articulate child back then next year she will be bored stiff in school and probably too mature for the kids she will be with in class.

I know you will miss her but you will adjust too. You can offer to volunteer in her class which will help you feel involved in the whole process. It's hard to let our kids go but they take these little steps towards independance and we can't hold them back (we CAN hold their hands, though, during the first of these little steps ;o)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 5:18PM
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I wouldn't worry too much about her being the youngest- my birthday is Aug. 24th, and I started school right after I turned 5. I was one of the youngest kids in my class, but it was never a big deal. Most of my classmates birthdays were before mine, but not always by much, often by only a few months or less. So there was never any gap in maturity due to age at all.

Are you sure you have to decide this week? Our schools also have kindergarten registration for September this month, but it is not required that a child be registered now, although that is the way the notices are worded. With my youngest daughter, we weren't sure what school we were going to have her attend, so she ended up not being registered for kindergarten until the August before school started. The official rule is that any child who is a resident must register for kindergarten within 5 days of school starting, or they have to wait until the next year. So maybe if your district is the same you can postpone your decision until you are certain what would be best for your daughter.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 5:49PM
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I think it is always better to wait. Intellect is important but certainly not the only factor that children need to be successful in school. Emotional and social maturity are just as important when entering kindergarten. It won't hurt her to wait and will most likely make you feel a heck of a lot better. My DS was at the cutoff and we started him in school- he was ready intellectually but not emotionally mature enough and he really struggled through. In first grade we finally asked that he be held back a year and now he is right on track with his classmates. A year makes a world of difference. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 6:50PM
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I would never use "always" when making a decision - there are many variables to consider making each person's decision uniquely theirs.

My DD was 4 when she entered kindergarten and is now 10 and in the gifted program in the 5th grade. Academically school is a breeze for her and she is more than holding her own. She is, however, the youngest in her class and is physically very petite and slim, which easily marks her as the youngest in the class.

My DD was ready and eager to start kindergarten, however and she has always been assertive and outgoing, so this made our decision to start her early easier. If she were hesitant, shy or clingy I think I would have waited another year before putting her in school and this sounds like the situation you are going through now. I will say that there is more social pressure now that DD is entering middle school than there was in elementary school and socially, DD is at a bit of a disadvantage in this realm.

If you are not ready, or if your DD is not ready, then there is no harm in waiting another year. Even if you do decide to wait, there are usually many kids who are in the same boat as your DD (kids whose parents decided to wait another year) so she won't be the only "older" child to start school.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 7:20PM
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I would definetly wait and send her to preschool. I let my 8 y/o daughter start too early and she was fine in K and 1st grade, but now that she's in 3rd she struggles a little harder with certain subjects than do many of the others. It's not a big deal she always catches up, but I really wish now I had waited 1 more year because I believe it would be a little easier.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2002 at 10:40AM
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Our cut-off is August 1st but the kids born around May sometimes end up being the youngest because our school has a transition class for kids who are not ready for 1st grade after kindergarten. It's an in-between for kids who are not mature enough and not the same as being held back. The kids with summer birthdays usually either get started late in the first place or go through a year of transition so they end up being the oldest. If that's the case in your school system, your daughter would not be the oldest one if you wait a year longer. It seems like kindergarten used to be more like a preschool to help get kids ready. I took my two oldest girls to preschool two half-days a week for the year before Kindergarten. They were the clingy type also and I think it helped emotionally. Can you go ahead and take your daughter to the screening/testing to see how she does and talk to her teachers? It would be good practice for her and help her get used to the school even if you decide to keep her at home another year. It would be a good idea to get the teachers' opinion about it too. I don't think you're being selfish. School is free. If you were being selfish you would send her off and not care about whether she was crying at school or being picked on so you could have more free time. Pam has made a good point about social pressure. Things like self-esteem and confidence can have such a big empact later on. I don't think you would regret keeping her at home another year.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2002 at 11:41AM
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I had to start at age 4 because my Birthday was Aug 17th. I hated it until I was in 9th grade. Everyone was always older than me and I felt out of place, it was bad enough kids got to celebrate their B-days in class and I never did but I really felt like I didnt belong or kids got to do things before me. Education wise I dont think it affected me a bit.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2002 at 12:43PM
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I never really thought about it with my son. His birthday is Nov. 30th and he started Kindergarten at the age of 4. The cut off here is Dec. 31st. He is now in the second grade and is doing very well in school, socially and academically. He is average size compared to the boys but the girls are larger. Must be something in the water. LOL

My niece is 4, born Dec 16th, and will be starting Kindergarten in Aug. She is sooooo ready. She loves doing work in the workbooks that we buy for her. And she is looking forward to going to "real school" with her big sis and cousin. She is smaller than a lot of kids her age because she was only about 3lbs at birth. She is a very smart, mature and outgoing little girl. I think it helps that her sis is 11 and her cousin is 7 and she spends lots of time playing school with both.

I would let her go. JMHO

    Bookmark   January 31, 2002 at 1:37PM
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msnikki - there is a difference here that I can see from your posting in that your son and niece were emotionally ready for kindergarten - the OP has some doubts as to whether her daughter is ready. I still think there's no particular benefit in pushing a kid before s/he's ready to make the transition to school.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2002 at 1:43PM
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can you sign her up and then change your mind at the start of the school year? Is there a penalty for this?

And remember, if you send her to Kgarten and midyear you realize this is a bad idea, you CAN take her out. It's a pain, and everything, but it's possible.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2002 at 3:05PM
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Six months is a long time in the life of a young child. Has she been to preschool? Size wise, how does she measure up to other children her own age?

Is this a private school where you have to pay a hefty fee to pre-enroll her or a public school?

If it's a public school, go ahead & enroll her. If you decide she's not ready next August, then don't.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2002 at 12:15PM
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I don't thing it makes a big difference whether you send her to kindergarten this year or the next. If you don't want her to be the youngest kid in the class, then I don't see any harm in sending her to preschool this year and kindergarten the next if you think that is the best for her. I don't think you are being selfish. That's not the impression I'm getting.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2002 at 7:08PM
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Intellect is just as much a factor as social and emotional "readiness" for any child.

I wish I had waited with my son back in Kindergarten. The teachers were more concerned with him "fitting in" (size wise) than with his academics. So now he struggles academicly but is "just the right size for his class". How silly is that???

My oldest SD repeated Kindergarten because she was not socially ready to move on. To watch her friends move on to 1st grade and her being left behind still bugs her and she is 18 now. If she is not socially ready....wait. I would suggest though that you start weening her off nursing (kids are cruel and may tease her for it once she is in school)and maybe enroll her into pre-school for a few hours a day a few days a week.

good luck

    Bookmark   February 1, 2002 at 8:44PM
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I would wait. Better than have her alwyas playing "catch up" with the other kids.My niece missed cut off by one day. Keeping her "back" was the best thing for her (she was smart, etc. too). Keep your child home/preschool, but work on developing socialization & readiness for school.
And don't fret about the nursing thing! In Europe, most nurse until 5, somtimes 7. Good for you! (and her.)


    Bookmark   February 2, 2002 at 11:12AM
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Size does not matter as much as maturity and intelligence. The child could be very intelligent but just not mature for her age. I have seen many children that were small for their age and started to school, and turned out fine. And then I have seen though that were large for their age and very immature, that didn't. So the child's size should not matter as much as the childs maturity.(I knew a mother once that sent her child to 5 year old Kindergarten early -at a private school-because the child was so tall for her age. The child though was very immature and she eventually failed a grade and was held back.)
The mother regrets her decision based on the child's size only.

If the child has been in playgroups, preschool, or some other activiity where she has a teacher and interacts with children this would be very helpful in deciding just how she might act when you aren't around. Also is this kindergarten 1/2 day or full day?

Even though we want to be close to your children we do need to prepare them for growing up and letting lose of their parents some.
If it has always been you and the child that were very close without her having any playmates this could be very hard on her.
You should concentrate on her learning how to play and interact with children her own age.

This is your decision. But I have never heard of a parent that regretted holding their child back a year from school. Only those that later say they "Wish" they had held their child back because of immaturity.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2002 at 1:30PM
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I agree with Fufu about nursing and the kids picking on your daughter. Kids pick from the very beginning of school and some of those kids will be in high school and still bringing up that your daughter still nursed in Kindergarten. I don't understand why it's so widely enouraged and people are congratulated because they're children are still breastfeeding at 3, 4, 5 and older. What do you people think about a child that age still taking a bottle? Not accepted, huh? What's the difference? I'm not totally ragging on you. It is your choice and you can do as you please with your daughter. I just don't understand why the doctors tell the parents of bottle fed babies to take the bottle away at a year yet breast fed babies are allowed to go on forever. Isn't it a double standard?


    Bookmark   February 5, 2002 at 11:29AM
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I do agree if the children ever found out about the child still nursing in Kindergarten the child would still be teased and talked about even when she was in High school. Something like that could not be lived down.

Even though it may or may not be encouraged in Europe. It is not encourged in the U.S. that I have ever heard of from a Peditrician to have a child still nurse at age 5.
And I know everyone can do things the way they want. But if a child were taking a bottle, in Kindergarten the kids would aggravate her about that also. Not a good way for the child to start out her schooling with child annoying her.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2002 at 11:54PM
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Didn't the OP specifically ask people not to comment on the fact that her child is still nursing? You are entitled to your opinion of course, but if the OP has specifically asked you not to comment I think you should refrain. Why is it so hard to respect her wishes?

If the child has never been to preschool I would send her to preschool before kindergarden. When I was a child (I am 36) K was where you learned about school, the social aspect, the behavior aspect, etc. In today's schools kids are already expected to know how to behave in school. They start the academics on day 1. For that reason, I think it is important that kids be ready when they start school. If you question her readiness then send her to preschool first and K afterwards.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2002 at 11:53AM
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Agreed. This isn't the time to debate the benefits and cultural mores of extended nursing. The OP was very specific.

And I also agree that the function of kindergarten has changed. My cousin's daughter was expected to know how to read and write her own name, address, and several other things before entering kindergarten. Many districts are opting for full day kindergarten, teaching basic math skills, and implementing pretty advanced curriculum.

When I was in kindergarten (I'm 28) it was about not running with scissors, waiting in line, and practicing tracing letters.

Not only have the academics changed, but, in the course of that change, the amount of time spent on socio/emotional development has been shortened. If she's not at the same level of emotional development and social skills as other 4 - 5 year olds, then it may be appropriate to hold her back, send her to preschool, and work on those skills for a year.

I had a Nov. birthday, and was one of the older people in my class. I can't remember that age -- either way -- was a big deal, except maybe when we were starting to drive. By high school, though, some kids will have been held back, so even if you start her late she won't be the oldest by much out of her original class, and there will likely be older kids who are repeating a grade. I really wouldn't let being the oldest/youngest be a determining factor. I also wouldn't let her start and then pull her out. In the long run, that's going to be more detrimental than helpful.

It seems like delaying kindergarten is fairly common and accepted for boys. I'm wondering if some of the reaction is a little different because this is a girl?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2002 at 12:49PM
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I agree that the nursing should not be an issue in this discussion as the OP specifically requested that it not.

One point of clarification regarding nadastimer's reply. Many pediatricians don't tell parents to discontinue the bottle at a year. My 19 month old is still on the bottle and the ped specifically discouraged me from weaning until he is ready to give it up on his own. I wanted to wean before his sister is born in June.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2002 at 5:33PM
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Maybe it's just the dr's in this area or just happen to be in the articles I've read but they do discourage it. Kids who stay on the bottle after one are harder to get it away from. It also causes problems with teeth and they say ear infections also. Maybe my dr's are just weird. DS wasn't exactly 1 when we took the bottle but he wasn't 18 months or 2 or later.

Also, I think if the OP didn't want breastfeeding mentioned at all, she shouldnt' have even thrown it in there. Obviously it was on her mind and part of her decision, also. I still would like to know what you would think if she said that her 4 yr old was still taking a bottle or pacifier? Would you think she was fine to go to Kindergarten then? Why does it have to be all two sided? Fine if you're breast feeding, but not if bottle feeding. Why are people such hypocrites about this? People look down on parents who don't take a bottle away but it's fine and dandy to still breastfeed. Why is that?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2002 at 7:58PM
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Because breast milk is a much better food for a child than anything that they could get from a bottle.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2002 at 7:38AM
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