Early entry into Kindergarten...pros and cons.

lisa_ziMarch 12, 2002

I am looking for opinions for and against enrolling a child early into Kindergarten. Here's the scoop...I have a very bright and VERY social little girl. She was born 01/05/98. Which would put her regular entry into Kindergarten in the Fall of 2003. We are wondering if she is ready for the Fall of this year. We have arranged to have her tested in the summer by the school Psychologist. If she falls beneath a certain percentile (90th I believe) in even 1 of the tests with the Psychologist it will be a moot point anyway, but if she doesn't we need to decide what is best for her. Her brother who is 5 is currently a Kindergartner. She knows EVERYTHING her brother has learned from school (and then some). I don't know if it's genetics or if she has benefited from being present when we work with him... a little of both I imagine. But besides that she is already reading on her own. She sounds out the words she sees in her story books, on the computer, signs etc... and we are CONSTANTLY amazed. She is writing as well (we help with the spelling). She THRIVES on this type of activity, she would sit and write and read all day if she could. Her preschool teacher believes she would do well in Kindergarten, her only concern is a SLIGHT speech problem in which she substitutes her G's with D's and her K's with T's. Example: Dramma instead of grandma, Tim instead of Kim. Funny thing is our son has the exact same speech problem (I guess she learned that from him too)LOL. We are VERY aware of the fact that academics are only one small part of the entire picture. She is very social. Not shy. Ummm...often takes charge (may or may not be a good thing:). She is patient in most circumstances and really is an excellent listener, at home as well as at school. So what do you think? I want to 'challenge' her and nurture any abilities she may have but I don't want to push her either. Geez....parenthood is just filled with these big decisions isn't it. I'm open to suggestions. Maybe some of you were jumped ahead of your classmates or felt you should have been. let me know. Thanks in advance. Peace

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My DD is 12/23/97. Very advanced for her age. But I'm not going to try to accelerate her start yet.

I have heard it is better to make that judgement at about 1st grade. So she will start K, basically when she's almost 6. And we'll watch and see where her maturity level falls, if she's challenged/not challenged, etc, during that year.

I figure she's not going to be the only kid with a Nov/Dec/Jan birthday, so she'll have other peers her own age and maturity.

I would feel this would be a more critical decision for, say, Sept/Oct babies. Maybe then I'd feel different. But Dec. 23, I think, she'll be fine if I wait until 1st grade to observe how she is maturing.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 8:15AM
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I say put her in early, she can always stay back later if she needs to. I am a September birthday and was put into first grade ahead of what the school district would have said (I skipped kindergarten) and was able to work more quickly academically than most of the kids anyway. I really think that the academic and social environment of the school is more important than the kids' exact age.

If she doesn't do well in kindergarten, she can just go again next year. But why hold her back if you think she might be ready? I kind of liked it that I graduated college when I was 20 - it gave me time to pay off my student loans, then buy a house, then - right now I am working on this - go back to graduate school, and live abroad for a few years, all in my early twenties. There are lots of things for a woman to do before she has babies - you might as well give her as much time as possible to work with, if she seems ready for it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 1:51PM
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What is the deadline in your district? Around here the K deadline is Sept 1, meaning that a child with a Jan birthday would be 15 months younger than the oldest child in her class. 15 months is an awful lot of age difference at 5 years old.

My son is currently in K. He is the youngest in his class (bd is 7/6) and he is 10 months younger than the oldest kids. Even the 10 months is noticeable. Academically he is doing great but there are still some challenges for him.

My older son (8, in second grade) has a child in his class who was accelerated by his parents into a private K so he could start public school 1st grade a year ahead. He turned 7 in Nov as his second grade classmates were turning 8. I have become friendly with his mother. She GREATLY regrets putting him in school early. She thought he was brilliant (don't all parents?), but it turns out he is just slightly above average for his age. And of course, he is a full year younger than the kids in his class so he doesn't even measure as average where he is. Although he is above average for a 1st grader (where he should be) he is slightly behind for a 2nd grader (where he is). He would likely have been a "star" student had he stayed with his age mates.

So a child who would have found school a joy and easy is now in the position of having every school year be a difficult one for him. They are not considering retaining him because he is only slightly below grade level in 2nd grade. It's just a shame that it has to be so difficult for him. As I said before, his mother regrets the decision.

Good luck to you.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 2:24PM
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If the cut off date is December, as I've heard of in a few, rare, places, I would consider it.

If the cut off date is September and my child didn't turn 5 until January, I would not put her in K early even if she knew the periodic table backwards. I would wait, let her enter K on schedule, and see what happens. She could get places into a gifted/challenged program at that point or in early elementary. Entering K early is not her last opportunity for a challenging educational experience. She will have 13 years of opportunities for advanced placement or studies.

There is such a big difference in ages. Remember some of those kids who would be in her K class this fall are almost 6, more than a year older than her. There is a big difference even when compared to a bright, social child. But these are the same kids who will be in her middle school and high school class, as well. So she will always be with peers who are older than her. One might say "Yeah, but she's more mature than kids her age." That might change someday, like puberty. And her intellectual age at 4 doesn't change the legal limits later. When everyone in her class starts to drive, she'll be waiting a year, but she'll be hanging around with kids who have driver's licenses (that's enough to scare a mom, heh?). When her curfew is still 11:00, her friends' curfews will be later. How about dating? Do you let her date at 14, or when the other girls in her class date and she's still 13? It means going to college at 17 instead of 18. A small difference, but still one worth noting. Even if you know she would do fine socially now, when the social pressures heat up it will be too late to go back. Placing her with older peers now will place her with older peers for the next 13 years.

That was the advice the principal at my older son's school gave me in regards to my 5 y/o who missed the cut off my 2 weeks this year. He is also bright and very social (a little too much at times) and used to the influence of an older sibling. I didn't want to hold him back from his potential. Now I know I didn't, I let him be a little kid for another year. No pressures, hang out with mom a little more. I was also very uncomfortable with the idea of testing him, that seemed like too much pressure for a little kid to me.

I was almost a year younger than my peers, graduated at 17. I survived, had friends, didn't get into trouble, and usually did well in school. So I'm not speaking from bad experience here. But the way I see it personally for me and the way I see it as a parent for my children are very different. The world is different, different standards than 25 years ago, ya know?

Just my 2 cents. I think there is little or nothing to gain in jump starting kindergarten in the long run, and the long run is what matters.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 4:26PM
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Hmmm! I think the testing will tell you the answer to whether your daughter is mature and if it would be best for her to start Kindergarten. After that weigh all your options. Usually it is best to NOT start a child early. But if for some reason the child is found to be very mature and her I.Q. is high (You could get that checked even at her age or- is it age 5, I can't remember) then you may let her go to school and if she doesn't make exceptionally good grades then let her repeat Kindergarten. This can be hard to do, but it will be easier than her repeating a grade later. But as said it is usually best to NOT start the child early. In about every circumstance starting the child later is your best Option.

I hope that your son is taking speech. Around here children can take speech as early as 4 years old from the speech teacher at the school they will be going to. The earlier any type of speech problems are handled the better it will be for the child. Many bright children have speech problem along with average. It doesn't have anything to do with intelligence. But it is very important that this problems is addressed as early as K5 if not age 4. That way it can easier be corrected. I had a nephew that took speech for three years and the child next door took for 4 years. The child next door's problem was her stuttering .her mother wanted to have that corrected as her own sister has this problem even in adulthood.

So do ask for help for your children, if they aren't already getting it.
If the school does not provide this service there are some services that can handle speech problems, possibly the best are those services offereing help by individuals with degrees in Speech Pathology!

You may already have your son taking speech, though. But just in case you didn't I thought I might mention the fact that he could get help now.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 11:14PM
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My son is currently seeing his speech teacher 20 mins twice a week. I am in the process of having my daughter see a speech pathologist also. I am also considering having my son ALSO see a speech pathologist in addition to what is provided by the school. Insurance covers it so I figured it couldn't hurt, I'll see though.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2002 at 5:19PM
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I am so glad you are getting your children help!! There are lots of kids that can use the extra help! I see you are an "On the Ball Mom" Glad you are :o)
Take care and God bless.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2002 at 7:34PM
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I was one of those kids that missed the cut off by 9 days (at the time the cut off was Dec 31). I found school so easy that it bored me. I never learned study skills because nothing was challenging until I reached 10th grade. By then it was too late to learn how to study. I struggled to graduate on time, barely passing the 10th and 11th grades.
On the other hand I have a DD who makes the cut off by a couple of weeks (the cut off is now Aug 31). I really do not think she will be ready for full day kindergarten by August. She might shock me, but as of now she is not mature enough.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2002 at 10:40AM
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Are you sending her to K? I thought you HS your kids?


    Bookmark   March 15, 2002 at 5:51PM
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We held our son back from K when he was solidly 5 years old, so he started K at 6. I am so glad we did. Of course, he was brilliant, in his own way. But he wasn't in the least interested in going to school. Now as a high school senior he is consistently on the honor roll. I feel certain that if we had started him a year earlier, he would have struggled all the way.

This has very little to do with your situation, but I do want to make the point that it is often good to wait longer than to start kids early.

I feel it is somewhat different for girls, since they seem to mature earlier than boys. But it is worth thinking about how you'll feel when your daughter is only 13, and about to go to high school. It's difficult to see it now, but sending your child off to high school can be pretty scary for the parents. Being exposed to all the new things that require resisting peer pressure is a challenge for any teenager. You may wish at that time that your daughter had another year to ease into it.

I have a friend who started her son at age 4 because he was so ready. He was an outstanding student, but the parents started having second thoughts when he got to eighth grade. They had him repeat eighth grade (actually he had his own program) because he was not socially ready for that big step.

Lastly, as a teacher, I would like to commend parents who send their children to Kindergarten ready to learn, with the maturity to listen, participate, experiment and experience, follow directions, sit still for a period of time and be able to make mistakes without falling apart. It is such a joy to have such children in class.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2002 at 1:17AM
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mammabear... I homeschool my DS (7th grade)because the public school in our area is so far behind. In 6th grade in the second highest reading group in his class he was given reading material at a 4.2 reading level. They skipped over anything involving fractions, percentage, etc in the math books. We are still debating on what to do with DD. She attends a church preschool this yr. There is a good christian school near by that only goes to 3rd grade. We will more than likely send DD to the christian school for K-3 and then see if the local school has improved by then. DH wants to send her to the public school untill we see signs of her classes being behind. My thoughts on this is that by the time we realized what was going on wiht DS he was already too far behind. If not I will then homeschool her until high school (the local high school is pretty good, it is only the elementary and middle school that are so bad).

    Bookmark   March 18, 2002 at 8:38PM
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It is a hard decsion. We sent our young 5 yo to K. He is reading and doing great in math (he scored perfect scores on his last 9 week tests) but he still seems like a baby to me when I encounter other K kids. His teacher says he is a little immature (not alot), but she doesn't think he should repeat K because he excels academically. She says you can't recommned that a child be retained just because he is a little babyish.

The teacher's opinion is that if the child is so immature that he cannot function in a classroom, or cannot handle the curriculum (our school is challenging) then it is sensible to hold back a young child. However, she does not think that slight immaturity in a very bright child is enough of a reason to hold them back. They will mature eventually and as long as they are able to do the academic work they should do it. So the thing you need to evaluate is whether she is mature enough to excel in K. If not, maybe holding her back makes sense. But if she can excel then sending her would be in order.

It is a hard decision to make. If my son were going to public school (he goes to a charter) where there are OVER 30 kids in a K class and no assistant I would not have sent him this year. The charter school my son attends caps class size at 25 and has a teacher and an assistant in each K class so it was an easier decision for me to make.

Your public school DOES seem backwards. My son is doing fractions (in a simple way) in 2nd grade. They introduced concepts relating to percentages in 2nd grade, but they don't actually calculate percentages yet. But-I think the 3rd graders do percentages.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2002 at 10:06AM
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Mommabear... I know what you mean when you say your DS still seems like a baby to you comparred to the other kids. Our DD is also very small for her age (about 25% on the charts). This really makes her seem so young compared to her friends. I also believe that a lot morte is expected of Kindergarten students today. They are expected to know things entering K that wer not taught until 1 or 2 grade when I was in school. I just learned that our 3 yr old great niece (who seems to talk like a 3 yr old should IMHO) was tested and will be taking speach thearpy starting next month. I just think there is way to much pressure in todays world for our "babies" to be little adults way too soon. I know when DS was in public school they were expected to not talk during lunch. I am constantly told by those against home schooling that my DS is missing out on the all important socialization. I know from the local school that after 3rd grade there is no such thing. Things here are looking up. The superintendent was forced to resign as was several school board members. The new super has a lot of great ideas but he keeps getting "shot down" by the "old school". The schools seem to be suffering right now from the backlash against all the changes he has made. I really hope that things calm down soon for the sake of all the students.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2002 at 1:20AM
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