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The Debate: When to Start Kindergarten

Reader Ann asked a question recently that is on the minds of many soon-to-be kindergarten parents:

"I was wondering if there has been any recent research on kindergarten cut-off deadlines, pros/cons of sending a 'younger' five year old to kindergarten or holding the child back a year, and what difference the decision may make as the child advances through elementary school. Many parents I know are facing this dilemma, and opinions are very strong on both sides."

The research seems to bend both ways. A 2005 Rand Corp. report indicates that kids do better in kindergarten when they are older. Meanwhile, a 1997 study out of the University of Rochester "found that students who are older than their classmates because they started school late tend to have more behavioral problems in adolescence than students who are the average age for their grade," according to Education Week.

My own two cents: Children learn and mature at different rates. Trying to peg all children into one formula can't possibly take this into account. Thus, each parent needs to make the decision that's right for that child based on the child's maturity and readiness for school. What do you think? Parents who've been through this: What's your experience?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  February 16, 2007; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  The Debate
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Comments


My daughter is a January baby so I never had this issue; she is in the middle of the age pack. Her school has a wonderful way of addressing this issue, though. The younger girls (all-girl school) are provided with an alternate "type" of kindergarten called the "Foundations" class followed by either Pre-First or another year of regular kindergarten if the Pre-First class is full. There have been older girls in this group on occassion if they are not socially prepared to advance. It is not an intellectual thing but rather a social maturity issue. The younger girls aren't necessarily ready for the rigors of First grade (by rigors I mean sitting still for more than 5 minutes at a stretch).

I realize that most public school systems (I went to DODDS and public schools, myself) do not have the resources to incorporate the Pre-First program into their curriculum. I also don't think that a birthday cut-off is the answer. Children mature at different rates. Each child should be interviewed by a guidance counselor who is qualified to determine whether they are ready for a full day of academic activities or if they need the additional nurturing of kindergarten for another year.

Posted by: Private School Mom | February 16, 2007 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Our son has an August 30th birthday. We held him back based upon some very good advice (Courses at UVA) and after some difficult and serious thought. He has always done very well in school (currently Dean's list - public schools). He is also very well adjusted, and is well-liked. He is now in the fourth grade and as of yet shows no signs or indications of behavioral problems.

My wife is a private school kindergarten teacher(15 years), and that personal experience in working with children of that age also helped us to solidify our decision. Children who are not "ready" for Kindergarten for maturity reasons, struggle throughout the year, and continue to struggle after reaching the first grade and on (that is if the school system allows them to go to the first grade-also an important consideration).

One other important thing to consider is what happens if the child is held back at a later grade. The psychological issues related to that must also be given some consideration. Such an experience can be very difficult for a child.

I, and I believe my wife would agree, wholeheartedly concur with the author of the article, that children learn and mature at different rates. However, the most important key to the success of child is the love, attention, and guidance given to the child, no matter what the decision made. If you make an incorrect decision, it just means you need to be more involved. Also, in our view, adopted mostly from my wife's personal experience, too many children are handed off to the schools to "take care of their child", only to take on the role of disciplinarian. Strive to show interest and love, and I believe your child will end up well adjusted. The action needed to address the phrase being bandied about, "no child left behind", starts at home.

Posted by: Public School Dad | February 16, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I am the parent of an Aug. 20th child who went to kindergarten a few days after turning five. I felt he was more than ready after several years of preschool and would have been bored by another year of pre-K. What we found was that the biggest problems he faced were posed by the older kids in his class--two who had been held back--who were bored, unruly and probably should have been in first grade.

Having talked with several parents of held-back kids, I felt that many were motivated by the desire to see their kids at the top of the class. But this is unfair to their own kids--who end up bored--and unfair to the younger kids who find themselves in class with kids more than a year older.

Arlington mom

Posted by: Pamela Edwards | February 16, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I went to kindergarten in a private school at 3-4. I later went to a public school and they made me repeat kindergarten for no reason other than age! I was lightyears ahead of the other kids who were still eating paste and knocking over someones blocks when I was reading. It was a frustrating experience and I resented that I was made to spend a whole extra year in school- especially when I was bored. If your kid is reading and mature enough, please do not hold them back. If you do hold them back, make sure it is because they really need to be held back and that it is not for some selfish reason. I have seen parents who do not want to let go... well, that is my 2 cents.

Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

This is a huge dilemma for us right now. We have DD1 (Nov. bday) who is in kindergarten at a private school and is doing fine, socially as well as with reading/math/etc.

Our DD2 (Aug. bday) may or may not go to kindergarten this fall. Socially she's ready, but she only reads/writes a few letters so far. We don't want school to be such a struggle that she's completely discouraged, but like others we are afraid she will be bored if we hold her back. Hard decision.

Posted by: ViennaDad | February 16, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

My birthday is in November, and at the time, my parents had the choice of sending me to kindergarten or waiting a year. They chose to wait. I was always the oldest in my class, which I always thought was neat. I got my drivers license first, I got to vote first, etc. I was well adjusted, certainly no behavior problems or anything. I did well in school, was in all the 'gifted' classes. Being a somewhat shy child, it was nice that I wasn't also the youngest and smallest.

I would not recommend sending a younger child to kindergarten. I have been on the other side, too- I was too old to be on the soccer team with kids in my grade. They were all in the '77-'80 league, and I was in the '73-'76 league. Being born in Nov '76, I was the youngest and smallest on the team, with the least amount of skill. I felt somewhat out of place with all those huge girls.

My mother told me that when she was in kindergarten, there were 2 classes she could have gone to. One was for the "advanced" kids - those who already knew how to read going into kindergarten and such, and then the regular class. She was very upset that her parents chose to put her in the regular class, because she did know how to read. But she didn't know how to skip. She was somewhat awkward and not very good socially with the other kids. They thought she needed time to work on other developmental skills before she started worrying about reading and such. I think that if your child is on the border, look to see if he or she has mastered some of the less academic skills first - those are pretty important too.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

On keeping kids with their age group in general, which does contribute to the conversation here...the other thing to think about is what happens later on, 10-12 years down the line -- I actually could have skipped kindergarten, but the reason they kept me in it was they didn't want me later to be the only one who couldn't drive/vote/etc. I'm rather glad they let me stay with people my year, since otherwise high school would have been more of a pain than it already was. :)

(Which also means that if your kid is an older one, they'll be the first to have access to voting and driving and whatnot, at least legally.)

Posted by: No kids yet, personal experience... | February 16, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

What about advanced kids? My daughter just turned 4 (so she is not scheduled to go to kindergarten for 1.5 years) and is already in Pre-K (the preschool teachers thought she was bored in preschool) and is testing at the top of her class in reading, writing, and phonics (yep, they test). The teacher consistently comments that she is better behaved than most of the class, all of whom ARE going to Kindergarten in the fall. What am I supposed to do with her for another year and a half? The public schools won't consider someone younger, regardless of skill, and the private schools tell me they'll take her for (full day) Kindergarten, but she'll have to repeat Kindergarten (half day) in the public schools the next year b/c of her age (like a previous poster). Any ideas?

Posted by: Working Mom of 2 | February 16, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

When we were making this decision for our son (a Nov birthday) the schools had not yet begun moving up the cutoff date. We went back and forth quite a bit... besides being young, he is small and somewhat immature. We went ahead and put him in anyway, mostly because he was getting special services and if we held him out he would lose those (slight ortho disability - not a "special ed" student). Kindergarten was something of a struggle, mostly because of class size (27!). He was doing everything in his power to get the teacher's attention - good or bad. But he never struggled academically, and now in 4th grade is doing fine.

I do agree that every child is different. What makes me mad is those parents who hold their kids out JUST so they can be the oldest, biggest, etc for sports. That is shortchanging your child, and isn't fair to anyone.

Posted by: Loren | February 16, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

When we were making this decision for our son (a Nov birthday) the schools had not yet begun moving up the cutoff date. We went back and forth quite a bit... besides being young, he is small and somewhat immature. We went ahead and put him in anyway, mostly because he was getting special services and if we held him out he would lose those (slight ortho disability - not a "special ed" student). Kindergarten was something of a struggle, mostly because of class size (27!). He was doing everything in his power to get the teacher's attention - good or bad. But he never struggled academically, and now in 4th grade is doing fine.

I do agree that every child is different. What makes me mad is those parents who hold their kids out JUST so they can be the oldest, biggest, etc for sports. That is shortchanging your child, and isn't fair to anyone.

BTW, a friend of mine elected to hold her daughter (Oct) out, and now she's in a fight with the school to move her child up because the kid is bored.

Posted by: Loren | February 16, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

When we were making this decision for our son (a Nov birthday) the schools had not yet begun moving up the cutoff date. We went back and forth quite a bit... besides being young, he is small and somewhat immature. We went ahead and put him in anyway, mostly because he was getting special services and if we held him out he would lose those (slight ortho disability - not a "special ed" student). Kindergarten was something of a struggle, mostly because of class size (27!). He was doing everything in his power to get the teacher's attention - good or bad. But he never struggled academically, and now in 4th grade is doing fine.

I do agree that every child is different. What makes me mad is those parents who hold their kids out JUST so they can be the oldest, biggest, etc for sports. That is shortchanging your child, and isn't fair to anyone.

BTW, a friend of mine elected to hold her daughter (Oct) out, and now she's in a fight with the school to move her child up because the kid is bored.

Posted by: Loren | February 16, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

After the previous article indicated the US is ranking nearly dead last in academic and social well-being I'm surprised at the optimism. Also, it seems that internationally social well-being and academic excellence are not directly proportional. I think the statistic is overly simplified. It can't show how well a child would have done if they had started school earlier. It only show there are some children who are held back by their parents and also have trouble when they are older.

We are having problem in social well-being and in schools. Internationally we are raising flags, which is not a good point to being assigning blame. Probably the rule of statistical decision making that does not consider the diverse and unique issues faced by many people in the US today. It is so easy to pigeon hole people and accept a percentage of failure.

If we want parents to exercise more control over their children they need lots of support to do that. We do very little as a society to make sure parents are not penalized for spending more time with their children. We've managed to move the salaries of well-educated people into the middle class, I suspect that making more opportunity available to labor would also improve the lives of children also. Are we spending enough money on parks, community events and embracing individual social identity.

I don't mean to sound accusing but, school just isn't a complete measure of humanity and statistical analysis isn't a good way to make social decisions. For example are Asian societies less troubled because they are considered one race, or have their cultural issues been unrecognized because the are simple a single race to Americans. How we choose to drive the statistics does not make the statistics wrong or the decisions right.

Posted by: swp | February 16, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I am the parent of an October 1st baby. That means by current MD standards he will be among the oldest in his Kindergarten class due to the universal September 1st cut-off date. He will be 6 a month after starting. We have never considered wanting to start him earlier because he is smart or well-behaved. I think what is being missed by some posters is to let kids be kids. There should be no rush to skip Kindergarten or worries that they will have to repeat Kindergarten if you send them to a private school early. Kids need time to play and socialize and be lazy before they are put through thr riggers of 13, 17 or 20+ years of formal schooling.

Posted by: Matt | February 16, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

As some of the other posters have mentioned, age isn't the issue. There are lots of resources on the web with checklists to help you assess readiness for kindergarten.

Some kids are more than ready for kindergarten at age 5 while others do need a bit of extra time. A preschool program can help tremendously with the social skills. We loved Montessori School of Herndon, which allowed our bright kid to do academics at her own pace (2-3 grade levels ahead of age) while working on social skills with her age peers.

Posted by: Herndonmom | February 16, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

In response to the poster above with the November birthday, I think that it just depends on the child like Stacey said. I have a late November birthday and I was in the opposite situation as you. I was always the youngest. I was ready for Kindergarten so I went at age 4 and 9 months. The only time it ever bothered me was at those key ages like 16 and 21, but a year or two of feeling slightly left out, was well worth being challenged in school.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

In response to the poster above with the November birthday, I think that it just depends on the child like Stacey said. I have a late November birthday and I was in the opposite situation as you. I was always the youngest. I was ready for Kindergarten so I went at age 4 and 9 months. The only time it ever bothered me was at those key ages like 16 and 21, but a year or two of feeling slightly left out, was well worth being challenged in school.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who've dealt with the kindergarten issue, what about "advanced" or precocious toddlers? Are there any early preschool programs that you can point me to? My daughter is 18 months, already can count to 6 and knows the alphabet (when she wants to :)...) She's starting to act out in daycare and I think she's understimulated/bored. Advice?

Posted by: LBC | February 16, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I knew a girl in high school that had started kindergarten early, and had also skipped a grade. She was exceptionally bright, but struggled socially. You could just tell she was younger. She seemed developmentally behind in a few areas. Imagine a 16 year old as a freshman in college - even if she were brilliant, I think she would be just not quite ready. She may be a little bored, but will have another year to develop in the social arena - have fun playing and developing emotional intelligence.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

In response to the poster above with the November birthday, I think that it just depends on the child like Stacey said. I have a late November birthday and I was in the opposite situation as you. I was always the youngest. I was ready for Kindergarten so I went at age 4 and 9 months. The only time it ever bothered me was at those key ages like 16 and 21, but a year or two of feeling slightly left out, was well worth being challenged in school.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who've dealt with the kindergarten issue, what about "advanced" or precocious toddlers? Are there any early preschool programs that you can point me to? My daughter is 18 months, already can count to 6 and knows the alphabet (when she wants to :)...) She's starting to act out in daycare and I think she's understimulated/bored. Advice?

Posted by: LBC | February 16, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Working Mom of 2:

This was exactly the dilema we faced with our daughter. While she is academically advanced (she does 2nd grade curriculum in her 1st grade class) she is simply not mature enough socially to be in a higher grade. My only recommendation is to supplement what her school has to offer with more challenging activities at home during the weekends and evenings. We have purchased many workbooks on various topics for our daughter for her to work on in her free time plus assign book reports to help her increase her writing skills, etc.

Best of luck!

Posted by: Private School Mom | February 16, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I knew a girl in high school that had started kindergarten early, and had also skipped a grade. She was exceptionally bright, but struggled socially. You could just tell she was younger. She seemed developmentally behind in a few areas. Imagine a 16 year old as a freshman in college - even if she were brilliant, I think she would be just not quite ready. She may be a little bored, but will have another year to develop in the social arena - have fun playing and developing emotional intelligence.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Having a December birthday, I was going to be either the youngest or oldest in class, and my parents managed to slip me into Kindergarten when I was still 4 years old.

And I don't think there were any negative net effects- okay, so I didn't get my license until after some of the other kids, big deal. Flip side, I was done with High School at 17 with an A average, having taken all of the most advanced classes the school could offer.

Age doesn't really have anything to do with it, and people holding out for some stupid social reasons like, "oh, he'll be the first one in his class to get a license!!!" make me positively sick. If a kid is ready, they are ready. If not, then not.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I never went to kindergarden but was later an honor student in high school. My mother said it's just public baby-sitting. However, a neighbor's kids did go and one of them had to repeat first grade. What is kindergarden supposed to do? Get them out of their mother's hair, give them a leg up in school, or just socialize them?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who've dealt with the kindergarten issue, what about "advanced" or precocious toddlers? Are there any early preschool programs that you can point me to? My daughter is 18 months, already can count to 6 and knows the alphabet (when she wants to :)...) She's starting to act out in daycare and I think she's understimulated/bored. Advice?

Posted by: LBC | February 16, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Working Mom of 2:

This was exactly the dilema we faced with our daughter. While she is academically advanced (she does 2nd grade curriculum in her 1st grade class) she is simply not mature enough socially to be in a higher grade. My only recommendation is to supplement what her school has to offer with more challenging activities at home during the weekends and evenings. We have purchased many workbooks on various topics for our daughter for her to work on in her free time plus assign book reports to help her increase her writing skills, etc.

Best of luck!

Posted by: Private School Mom | February 16, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

''Meanwhile, a 1997 study out of the University of Rochester "found that students who are older than their classmates because they started school late tend to have more behavioral problems in adolescence than students who are the average age for their grade," according to Education Week.''

You know what I also read in "Education Week?" People who go to jail tend to have more behavioral problems later in life. So the clear policy implication here is to not send people to jail.

Posted by: Anon | February 16, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article. My sister, the teacher, would say that many of the concerned parents would trump the parents who use kindergarten as free daycare. She teaches in Las Vegas and her fellow teachers get routinely annoyed with kids who don't have the motor skills to hold up a pencil. These are kids that were born in this country and did not just come over from Mexico or other places not knowing any English.

Keep working with your kids on their skills because if they get placed in a classroom like my sister's class (where half the kids are really, really behind) then your kid will soar and be able to help the other kids.

Posters need to always remember that for many public, metro schools, for every concerned, involved parent, there are 5-10 who are not or who treat the system like it's daycare. Sure, it's a generalized statement but if you're in Vegas anytime, my sister's classroom is open for visits.

Posted by: Rockville | February 16, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I am the parent of an October 1st baby. That means by current MD standards he will be among the oldest in his Kindergarten class due to the universal September 1st cut-off date. He will be 6 a month after starting. We have never considered wanting to start him earlier because he is smart or well-behaved. I think what is being missed by some posters is to let kids be kids. There should be no rush to skip Kindergarten or worries that they will have to repeat Kindergarten if you send them to a private school early. Kids need time to play and socialize and be lazy before they are put through thr riggers of 13, 17 or 20+ years of formal schooling.

Posted by: Matt | February 16, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article. My sister, the teacher, would say that many of the concerned parents would trump the parents who use kindergarten as free daycare. She teaches in Las Vegas and her fellow teachers get routinely annoyed with kids who don't have the motor skills to hold up a pencil. These are kids that were born in this country and did not just come over from Mexico or other places not knowing any English.

Keep working with your kids on their skills because if they get placed in a classroom like my sister's class (where half the kids are really, really behind) then your kid will soar and be able to help the other kids.

Posters need to always remember that for many public, metro schools, for every concerned, involved parent, there are 5-10 who are not or who treat the system like it's daycare. Sure, it's a generalized statement but if you're in Vegas anytime, my sister's classroom is open for visits.

Posted by: Rockville | February 16, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I am the parent of an October 1st baby. That means by current MD standards he will be among the oldest in his Kindergarten class due to the universal September 1st cut-off date. He will be 6 a month after starting. We have never considered wanting to start him earlier because he is smart or well-behaved. I think what is being missed by some posters is to let kids be kids. There should be no rush to skip Kindergarten or worries that they will have to repeat Kindergarten if you send them to a private school early. Kids need time to play and socialize and be lazy before they are put through thr riggers of 13, 17 or 20+ years of formal schooling.

Posted by: Matt | February 16, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I never went to kindergarden but was later an honor student in high school. My mother said it's just public baby-sitting. However, a neighbor's kids did go and one of them had to repeat first grade. What is kindergarden supposed to do? Get them out of their mother's hair, give them a leg up in school, or just socialize them?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article. This may be off topic somewhat, but my sister, the teacher, would say that many of the concerned parents would trump the parents who use kindergarten as free daycare. She teaches in Las Vegas and her fellow teachers get routinely annoyed with kids who don't have the motor skills to hold up a pencil. These are kids that were born in this country and did not just come over from Mexico or other places not knowing any English.

Keep working with your kids on their skills because if they get placed in a classroom like my sister's class (where half the kids are really, really behind) then your kid will soar and be able to help the other kids.

Posters need to always remember that for many public, metro schools, for every concerned, involved parent, there are 5-10 who are not or who treat the system like it's daycare. Sure, it's a generalized statement but if you're in Vegas anytime, my sister's classroom is open for visits.

Posted by: Rockville | February 16, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article. This may be off topic somewhat, but my sister, the teacher, would say that many of the concerned parents would trump the parents who use kindergarten as free daycare. She teaches in Las Vegas and her fellow teachers get routinely annoyed with kids who don't have the motor skills to hold up a pencil. These are kids that were born in this country and did not just come over from Mexico or other places not knowing any English.

Keep working with your kids on their skills because if they get placed in a classroom like my sister's class (where half the kids are really, really behind) then your kid will soar and be able to help the other kids.

Posters need to always remember that for many public, metro schools, for every concerned, involved parent, there are 5-10 who are not or who treat the system like it's daycare. Sure, it's a generalized statement but if you're in Vegas anytime, my sister's classroom is open for visits.

Posted by: Rockville | February 16, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

''Meanwhile, a 1997 study out of the University of Rochester "found that students who are older than their classmates because they started school late tend to have more behavioral problems in adolescence than students who are the average age for their grade," according to Education Week.''

You know what I also read in "Education Week?" People who go to jail tend to have more behavioral problems later in life. So the clear policy implication here is to not send people to jail.

Posted by: Anon | February 16, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article. This may be off topic somewhat, but my sister, the teacher, would say that many of the concerned parents would trump the parents who use kindergarten as free daycare. She teaches in Las Vegas and her fellow teachers get routinely annoyed with kids who don't have the motor skills to hold up a pencil. These are kids that were born in this country and did not just come over from Mexico or other places not knowing any English.

Keep working with your kids on their skills because if they get placed in a classroom like my sister's class (where half the kids are really, really behind) then your kid will soar and be able to help the other kids.

Posters need to always remember that for many public, metro schools, for every concerned, involved parent, there are 5-10 who are not or who treat the system like it's daycare. Sure, it's a generalized statement but if you're in Vegas anytime, my sister's classroom is open for visits.

Posted by: Rockville | February 16, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I never went to kindergarten but later was an honor student in high school. My mother said kindergarten is just public babysitting. However, a neighbor's kids did go and one had to repeat first grade. He thought school was all fun and games and coloring books, just like kindergarten. What is it supposed to do, anyway? Get the kids out of mother's hair, give them a leg up on school or just socialize them?

Posted by: Childless by Choice | February 16, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I knew a girl in high school that had started kindergarten early, and had also skipped a grade. She was exceptionally bright, but struggled socially. You could just tell she was younger. She seemed developmentally behind in a few areas. Imagine a 16 year old as a freshman in college - even if she were brilliant, I think she would be just not quite ready.

She may be a little bored, but will have another year to develop in the social/physical arena - have fun playing and developing emotional intelligence. There are many types of intelligence, and I think that there are some things that can only be learned by experience. Kids like to challenge themselves by doing things like jumping off things - it helps them learn things like how their body moves in space, balance, and coordination. It helps them test their limits to know what they can and can't do. Experimenting with water, blocks, sand - teaches them much about the physical world, as well. Playing house, fighting over toys, chasing each other around the playground - all teach them about social interaction. Reading is important, yes- but don't deny them the opportunity to explore and learn the basics, either. They have the rest of their school career to read - give them the opportunity to play.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

this seems to be less of an issue in montessori schools, where our child goes. they mix ages in 3-year blocks, so 3-5 years are together, then 6-8 years. the older kids help the younger ones and provide some social guidance, but they all do their individual work at their own pace.

I was always the youngest in my class growing up (skipped ahead) and though some aspects of it were difficult, i don't think they were any more so than had i not been youngest. the best time i had in school were the years we used SRA because i could work at my own pace and not feel held back/behind while others struggled. they also liked it because they could take their time and get it right at their own pace.

whatever happened to SRA methods?

Posted by: montessorimom | February 16, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

''Meanwhile, a 1997 study out of the University of Rochester "found that students who are older than their classmates because they started school late tend to have more behavioral problems in adolescence than students who are the average age for their grade," according to Education Week.''

You know what I also read in "Education Week?" People who go to jail tend to have more behavioral problems later in life. So the clear policy implication here is to not send people to jail.

Posted by: Anon | February 16, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

For those wondering about advanced kids having to repeat K in public school after doing it in private school - I can only speak to the policy in Alexandria, VA, but I do know this much - the age cutoff (Sept. 30) is firm, since that's state law. BUT, if you send your child to private Kindergarten, he or she can enter first grade in public school the following year, and after a six-week probationary period, the school will determine if the placement is appropriate, or if the child should repeat Kindergarten. So there is a way around the law, at least in Alexandria. I'm not sure if other Virginia jurisdictions handle it this way. I know Arlington will skip kids ahead when appropriate. This happened to a friend of mine- when her son (Oct. birthday, turned six in K) finished first grade the school decided to skip him to third!

I have researched this because I have a 3-yr-old son with an early October birthday. I had resigned myself to him being one of the oldest, but now that he's getting older and has been attending preschool, I can't imagine waiting another two and a half years! His older brother is now in Kindergarten as a five-year-old with an August birthday, so they'd be three years apart in school, yet only two years apart in age. And then there's the third son, with a July birthday, who'd likely go to K as a young five.

So I think family dynamics should play a part, too, after the primary consideration of the child's individual needs and abilities. I am fearful that my middle son will be ready for Kindergarten academically and socially, and kept out by an arbitrary rule, serving to compound any issues of lagging behind his older brother, whom he emulates very much. And I guess I'm a little biased toward sending kids younger since both my husband (Aug birthday) and I (Oct) went to K young and loved it.

I once heard a quote I loved - "It shouldn't be a question of whether the child is ready for Kindergarten, but whether the Kindergarten is ready for the child", meaning that the schools should be creating an environment where five-year-olds will thrive, rather then one where being older is an advantage. I also have serious concerns about the older children (and younger ones who are academically gifted) getting bored. Basically, I believe that these decisions are best made case-by-case, since so many factors come into play. There's no way it's a black and white issue.

Posted by: Alexandria mom | February 16, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

My son (Aug 5 birthday) has always struggled academically. He has ADD issues, and has never seemed developmentally ready for the current curriculum. He seems to lag a year or so behind in "getting" abstract concepts, especially in math. All through elementary school I regretted that we didn't have him start kindergarten a year later, thinking that would have helped him academically. BUT, he is now 12 and in 7th grade. His voice has changed, he needs to shave his upper lip, and he's "reproductively capable," as his dad puts it. Even though all his friends are 13, I am SO glad that he's not in 6th grade. Academics are still a big challenge, but he'd be way out of place in 6th grade, socially.

Posted by: MoCo | February 16, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

My son (Aug 5 birthday) has always struggled academically. He has ADD issues, and has never seemed developmentally ready for the current curriculum. He seems to lag a year or so behind in "getting" abstract concepts, especially in math. All through elementary school I regretted that we didn't have him start kindergarten a year later, thinking that would have helped him academically. BUT, he is now 12 and in 7th grade. His voice has changed, he needs to shave his upper lip, and he's "reproductively capable," as his dad puts it. Even though all his friends are 13, I am SO glad that he's not in 6th grade. Academics are still a big challenge, but he'd be way out of place in 6th grade, socially.

Posted by: MoCo | February 16, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I were both born around Labor day. My husband is the oldest in his family, and his parents kept him out of kindergarten till he was 6. I am the youngest in my family, and was dying to go to school-- I started kindergarten on my 5th birthday.

Based on our experiences, I think the best solution to this issue is for schools to allow children to work at their own pace, and for parents to keep kids home till they're mature enough for school.

My husband attended fairly progressive schools, and although he didn't start till he was 6, he was rarely bored-- he's plenty bright; he was taking college level calculus in Jr. High. I attended very traditional schools. I was academically ready for kindergarten, but socially overwhelmed. Because the pace wasn't right for me, after a couple years I was still struggling socially, and bored academically too.

We are lucky to be able to separate socializing and academics for our kids-- we homeschool. But not everyone can manage that (especially around DC), so it would be nice if schools were better able to accommodate kids working at their own pace, without parents getting competitive about it.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 16, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Is there really a Dean's List for 4th graders? Come on.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

My son started KG a little early (he passed a test), and he's been doing OK -- fine academically, but not so great behavior-wise. Luckily, out here in WV (Jefferson County) they have a grade called Primary One which is between KG and 1st grade. *You* can't choose for your kid to go into that grade, but your kid's teacher can, if he feels your kid is not quite ready for 1st grade. Sounds like a good alternative, teaches kids the second half of KG along with the first half of 1st grade.

Posted by: spunky | February 16, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I have a November birthday and was past the cut off date for kindergarten. It left my parents in a bit of a dilemma when I came home from pre-school and stated that I wasn't going back because it was boring. They were concerned by my youth, but also my size, since I have always been tiny.

They had me tested at a local university's education department, and it was decided that I could handle the academics and they'd see how the maturity situation developed.

I had no problems with academics or maturity, but did find in my middle and high school years on that I felt a little behind, since I was always the last one to be able to drive, go to R-rated movies, drink legally, etc. Minor issue since my parents counseled me to be strong and proud and disregard those things that would soon pass.

In hindsight, I am glad they started me early as I would have been painfully bored and more likely to act out if I had stayed back. We are facing the same issue with my 4 year old daughter (who is also on the petite side), and I believe that we will start her early to keep her engaged in school.

Posted by: Sotto | February 16, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Sotto, you are female? When we were trying to decide for our son whether or not to push him ahead, a lot of people told us that was not a good idea for boys. They may have been right, since it's been his behavior (maturity) that's been the problem. He is also very small for his age, but that doesn't seem to be an issue so far.

Posted by: spunky | February 16, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Screw that. Our plan is to get our son through school as quickly as possible, even if that means skipping him grades so that he is even younger than the group. Live is too short to waste it sitting in school. Other countries get kids in and out in 7 years, 7 to 17. Nobody needs to still be in grade school at 18 or 19. That's ridiculous.

Posted by: bkp | February 16, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I don't have kids yet and am wondering if it is really necessary to hold a child back considering that most children go to some sort of pre-school. I think that if a child has some of the basics down he/she can go to kindergarten.

Maybe my opinion regarding this topic is somewhat biased considering I started school when I was 4, but I don't agree with putting 6 yr olds in kindergarten after they've been to pre-school.

Posted by: MV | February 16, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm so glad this topic was posted!! Our daughter is only 2 years, 4 months. She's an October baby, but has always "moved up" to the next room in daycare and been playmates with the summer birthday kids. All the kids she plays with are 3-6 months older than her, and she's already saying her alphabet, numbers up to 13 (don't know why she stops at that one, LOL), knows her colors, sings songs, etc., etc...

We're afraid when we transition her to public school for kindergarten (which admittedly is a long way off), she will be held back b/c of her age, and bored stiff.

I was a "younger" kid in my class (September birthday, went to college when I was 17), but that never bothered me at all. Grades, etc., were fine, as well as social life.

Posted by: PLS | February 16, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure you should skimp on your child's educational time, especially math. Last time I checked 17-7 was 10, not 7. And if school is such a waste, then why do people with advanced degrees tend to have higher earning potentials?

I know, I'm being snarky, but the comment seemed rather counterproductive to begin with.

Posted by: to: bkp | February 16, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I am very proud of my son, who at only 14 months old, and is being courted by some of the most prestigous universities in the country. As a Princeton graduate myself, I'm confused over what to do. Even though he is half way through reading and interpreting Melville's Moby Dick, the local school system says he does not have the cognitive skills to attend Kindergarten. Even though he understands and can apply complex algebraic and geometric functions to his everyday play, the local school system says his mathematical skills are too strong and may intimidate the others in his Kindergarten class.

I feel that his intellect is both a blessing and a curse. What should we do?

Posted by: SS | February 16, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

In response to the posters who worry about their advanced kids - I can only speak from my own experience as one of those kids but I think I can offer some insight. My parents chose to wait until I was the right age (Feb. birthday, so I was 5 1/2) to go to public school kindergarten despite being quite advanced, but they soon realized that was not the best decision. So for that year they struggled with the school and the district to allow me to skip first grade since I was already reading and doing math on a 4th-6th grade level (different tests, different metrics). It was a great decision for me, but I was also a very mature kid, probably because I had two older siblings. Most of the struggle was about how to show that I was socially ready for that move since I was a tiny child physically.

When they were given the opportunity to have me skip 6th grade or go to an advanced school where I could go at my own pace, they declined and kept me where I was (this time I was part of the decision). This also was a great decision for me because being socially adjusted is really key to success later in life. I don't regret not taking the chance to be even further ahead at all, even if sometimes I was wholly unchallenged academically. I went to school with kids who were two years ahead or who were one year ahead but not socially where they needed to be, and it was painful for them. One had to drop out of college about 3 months after we arrived because she was just not prepared to be on her own. On the other hand, I have had a very successful academic life and am now getting my second graduate degree at a top law school.

There are ways to enrich academics outside of school if your kids get bored (which I often was until late in high school). The question about when to skip and when to go to kindergarten is nearly all about social skills, and I would err on the side of keeping kids with their age group until you figure out whether that works for them. But skipping a grade or doing outside programs if you can afford them (or get scholarships, the advanced school we considered would have given me a full scholarship) can be a good decision if you child is ready socially as well. Even public schools can be flexible if you do your homework and are willing to work with them.

Posted by: Mary | February 16, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Another factor to consider is the age breakdown of the child's class. My son's K class is young (most with summer birthdays) so that helps him fit in an August birthday.

Posted by: Alexandria mom | February 16, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

i don't think there is a one size fits all requirement. like a lot of issues it depends on the child & the family. my son has a july birthday so i knew that he would be one of the youngest. he is also a little guy so i worried about that too. however, he was "ready" which his teacher said meant that he wanted to learn. now that he's in first grade he is still small. there are kindergarteners bigger than he is but in terms of maturity he is right smack where he should be. if i held him back because of his size he probably would have been bored. there are some pre schools that have a pre school/kindergarten & a kindergarten/1st grade class for children who aren't quite ready. a neighbor has his son (nov birthday) in one of those.

Posted by: quark | February 16, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

So sorry for the multiple posts. This link wasn't working for a while and I kept punching the submit button.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | February 16, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

My kids go to a Waldorf school and there the age-entry policy is very strict based on their view of child development. Kids cannot start kindergarten before age 5 1/2. This was good for my kikds, but if I had it to do over I would have put my older child in kindergarten a second year, when she was 6 1/2. She's just very dreamy and young for her age, but otherwise intelligent and capable.

My biggest problem with public school approach on kindergarten is that there no longer is a kindergarten, which should be an imaginative time for social play, moving bodies, hearing stories and experiencing music and the arts.

Instead, the "reading readiness" thing becomes about skill acquisition --letter formation and recognitionalong with naming things---rather than in-depth literacy, such as that which comes from oral stories, Mother Goose rhymes finger plays and the like. And the way to get to the skill acquisition is to seat kids at desks to tackle tasks that their bodies are not developmentally ready for while cutting off their natural developmental needs at that time.

Its my view that much of the behavioral problems in school come from a lack of addressing the childs developmental needs at the right time. For example, boys often get in trouble for not settling down, but five year old boys NEED to run around, move their limbs in big ways and it is the responsibility fo schools not to cleave that impetus, but to let it be expressed and then channel it, and there are ways of doing this that simultaneously address literacy, skill acquisition and math development.

So, bottom line is we need to rethink some of our hardened thoughts about kindergartens and return to a classic kindergarten approach. In the end I think this will create stronger, not weaker students, and better serve schools.

So if you've got a soon-to-be kindergardener, I say wait until they are at least 5 1/2, and or send them to a private school for kindergarten, one that addresses the whole child, which many others do in addition to the Waldorf approach.

My mom was big on getting me, her third child, out of the house and pointed to my so-called prescience as a reason to send me to kindergarten at age 4. I feel this was a big mistake on her part, based on both her ego and impatience and not on my true needs or abilities. I love my mom, but this was one of her mistakes.

Posted by: Dignity for Single Parents | February 16, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Childless by Choice, I've noticed that you post to this blog and to the On Balance blog and I'm wondering why. I don't mean to be snarky, but are you regretting your choice, are you feeling that those of us who chose to have children aren't doing it right and need your input, is there another reason you feel the need to come here and criticize parents?

All of us who have kids were once childless -- it's not like we were born with them. By contrast, you haven't walked in our shoes, and from where I sit, your comments generally reflect that fact. Why do you bother?

Posted by: Just wondering | February 16, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

having gone through K twice as mentioned above. Would it be possible to send a kid to a private school for k and 1st, and then switch to public for 2nd on? Do they have age restrictions on 2nd grade? If not, maybe opting for an extra year of private school could be an option to prevent repetition. It sucks that it would cost more financially, but it sure beats giving your kid workbooks as someone did- give your kid a novel or something fun-, and certainly beats forcing the humiliation of sitting there bored to tears in school and labeled as the nerd. Being a few months older is not a reason to stifle the development of a child! As someone who suffered it I BEG you to not do this to your kids. The public school system makes it too hard on kids who want to learn more and are advanced. Thankfully I had a teacher or two who would let me get away with reading a book during school- so long as I still could answer questions when called upon and did all my work first.
Age requirements are an ok guideline, but should not be a rule! It is certainly something worth lobbying to have changed. Mandate placement on performance and not on some arbitrary meaningless number.

Posted by: Chris | February 16, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It really depends on the child. Girls are in general more likely to be ready than boys but it really depends on the child.

My daughter has a mid-September birthday, but she was moved up to kindergarten the year before by her (private) preschool, so it was clear she could not wait another year to start MD public school. We had her take the Montgomery County EEK (Early Entrance to Kindergarten) test in the spring before she turned five, and they declared her ready for kindergarten. She's been doing fine despite being the youngest kid in her class. She's also physically big and precociously verbal, though, so she doesn't stand out as the youngest.

Having said that, I must say that my husband and I have made sure we monitored closely how she's doing, given that she started early, and I think that is important too.

Posted by: September birthday mom | February 16, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I think Childless by Choice asked a reasonable question-- what is the goal of kindergarten? Is it to teach specific skills, give 5 year olds someplace safe and stimulating to be during the day or what?

In most places kindergarten is optional-- for those of you who took/take advantage of it for your kids, what are you hoping to get from it?

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 16, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

My twins missed the cut off for kindergarten by three weeks. Many people tried to advocate challenging the rule for them and starting them early. One of them was ready, would have been great with the learning and being with other the kids. Her sister however was NOT ready in any way and I just didn't want to inflict that on the teachers, the other kids or my daughter who still needed a lot of emotional attention. So I kept them home, together and worked with each one on what they were interested in. The one that was interested in learning we spelled and worked on her letters and taught her how to read. The other one still was very young for her age so we worked on social skills, went to library story hours and just let her mature a bit. It has worked out great for us. They are both happy first graders and doing well. They are among the older kids in the class but there are several other kids with September birthdays and early October birthdays.

My next challenge is for my second set of twins who are three. We have been taking them to preschool because they seem so bored at home. One of them LOVES it, she is always asking when she gets to go back and she is having a blast. Her sister couldn't care less and says she hates preschool. She does fine once she is there, but getting her out of the house is so hard. I don't want to split them up because I think and feel that twins are twins for a reason so I am in a bind.

By the way, all my other three kids were older starting kindergarten with winter birthdays and that has been great. They get good grades, have not had any social issues and like school. I think a kid by kid approach is the best way to judge. Only you as a parent can know how your child is and how they will respond to school.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | February 16, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Think about what going from smartest kid in day care to an "average" kid in first grade. My sister teaches first grade in FCPS and sees parents placing their children ahead because they were a standout at preschool or daycare or a parent diagnosed as very smart. It is DEVASTATING to a kid who is used to being the "smart" kid.

Parents will tell her, "my child was reading by age 4." She wishes she could say, "Honey, every child at [FCPS elementary school] was reading at age 4. That may have made her the big fish in the sea at X day care, but that is just not that special here."

More than 70% of her students were reading chapter books by age 5. In the affluent areas around Washington, most children are "ahead of their peers," and as she jokes, "every kid has a CEO for a parent" and a super smart mom or nanny teaching them from the moment of birth. "That is just not that special here."

My sister has seen kids whose self-esteem plummeted when they were placed a year ahead by well-meaning parents who did not want their child to be bored. But going from smart to average is so hard for a kid that she has seen multiple children regress academically and herself struggled with the emotional chaos the kid encounters.

Obviously, she and I want what is best for each kid. But the issue is more complicated than is the child bored now and will the child be ready for college at 16. We would both say that the best solution is taking advantage of the fact that your very smart child has many, many other very smart children in their classroom in this are. By living in the Washington suburbs, you can avoid the cons of being bored and college at 16 by just following the entry rules.


Posted by: The Armchair Teacher | February 16, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

My experience: I was a September baby; I turned 6 about two weeks into private kindergarten. Academically, I tested at the top of the scale that they used. Socially, I was on point with my peers (I think). There were many other "older" kids and I socialized with them more than the younger kids. I went to first grade in public school. There I tested above grade level for reading. I did all the first grade work in less than three months. This was probably seen as a behavior problem as there had to be a new plan for the rest of the year. Fortuantely, the school let me work at my own pace. I went from 2nd to 4th grade and was fine from that point on. I was tall for my age (5'5" at 10 y.o.) so being a grade ahead didn't hurt me in the size department. Driving didn't hurt me because everyone else didn't get their license and start driving right at 16, whereas I did. Voting was a non-issue as well because we came of age in a non-election year.

I would agree with the other posters who said that it depends on the child. Really small children did not fit into high school as well and maturity plays a big role. We are more "trained" as a society to look for academic problems and fix them. Size and maturity are not as easily fixed.

Posted by: curious nonmother | February 16, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I've seen both sides of this, and will agree with most that it depends on the child. When our kids were starting school, the cutoff in Maryland was December 31. Our son was born in December so could have started in the year he turned 5, but while he was academically ready he wasn't socially ready so we held him back. It hasn't hurt him academically; he's now a 16-year old sophomore in high school attending his private school on an academic scholarship, with PSAT scores that place him in the top 1% in the nation (you're not a semifinalist/finalist unless you're a junior, but he would have been). So, we're pretty sure we made the right decision for him.

We have a daughter born in October; she WAS ready to start kindergarten in the year she turned 5, both academically and socially. She's tall for her age, fits in well with the kids around her and is doing very well (she's now in 5th grade).

Our other two kids were born early in the year (Feb and April) so there were no decisions to be made with them - they were ready and started on schedule.

My sister is a first grade teacher and always advocates that parents look at their own children as individuals and make the right choice for them, NOT follow some peer pressure to jump a child ahead or hold him back because of what somebody else says.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Chris:

The public school system makes it too hard on kids who want to learn more and are advanced.

_________________

Thankfully, I've never found that to be the case with any of our kids. The three girls have been in Howard County public schools from first grade on (they went to private kindergarten because it was all-day). The oldest is now a senior and looking at a long list of colleges-that-are-going-to-bankrupt-me. There's a freshman who's very different from her older sister and doing well, and a fifth grader topping all of her older siblings' accomplishments.

Our son was in public schools for grades 1 through 8; we moved him to a private high school primarily because the one complaint we have about HoCo public schools is the overcrowding. He just does better in small classes where he has one-on-one interaction with the teacher on a regular basis, so we found a school with classes of about 15-20 students.

YMMV, of course, but I've been very pleased with the public educations my kids have gotten.

Posted by: Army Brat | February 16, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Great topic today.

My son has a November birthday and is very bright. It also turns out that he is on the high end of the autism spectrum and ADHD, and he receives special services. He is now in 1st grade and has been doing second-grade work. He tested into K at 4.5. He also acted out in K. I expected some issues, because I suspected he was disabled, but I didn't expect the extent of the acting out that occurred. So while his father and I embarked on the special ed odyssey, we caught plenty of flack from the public school that perhaps my child was not ready for K. However, I thank God that I got him in early, because he is receiving the services and attention he needs a whole year ahead of time, rather than dealing with another boring year of preschool. Had I anticipated that the behavioral issues were signs of a disability (that is, weren't going away on their own), I would have gotten help for him sooner from Infants and Toddlers, and he may have had a better K transition. Academically, he's always been fine (his handwriting still needs a little work; he's also got sensory issues). But our decision was made for my child after lots of research and talking with educators and others. I have to admit I'm biased against redshirting. Because how can you say let a kid be a kid but you want him or her to be the biggest and the best in kindergarten, no less? But I don't have a problem with people holding their children back a year because they're not academically ready. Also, in this life, you won't always be the biggest and the best. You may be shorter, less smarter, less athletic, less academically successful, etc. than someone else. And you will have deal with that.

My personal experience tells me: a child shouldn't be held back just because of a disability; that's discriminatory. Also: it's better to have had my child's soical struggles be helped earlier than later. I'll gladly let any "you should have held him back" flack roll off my back, because I'm his mother and I know what's best for him.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 16, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Its been a while since I've thought about this, but we started our son with an October B-day in kindergarten a year "early." He is in fourth grade now and is still one of the brightest of the bunch. He is well socially adjusted, although I think that there are some small age related social issues. We did this because we thought another year of preschool was going to be too boring. I've also heard stories about how difficult it is to keep adults (18 year olders) happy in highschool. Personally I think that the continually roll back of starting dates for kindergarteners is wrong and just an attempt by schools to have older kids taking all the goofy tests instead of doing a better job of teaching children at a level appropriate for their ages. At the time I found lots of documents on the various subjects. I've deleted most of them, but here are a few

Entering Kindergarten: A Portrait of American Children When They Begin School: Findings from The Condition of Education 2000, Nicholas Zill and Jerry West, NCES
2001-035, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001.+ U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics,The NCES World Wide Web Electronic Catalog is: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/index.asp

Selection of Candidates for Early Admission to Kindergarten and First Grade by Nancy M. Robinson & Linda J. Weimer In W. T. Southern and E. Jones (Eds.) The Academic Acceleration of Gifted Children, pp. 29-50: Teachers College Press 1991. www.davidsoninstitute.org

A Good Beginning Sending America's Children to School With the Social and Emotional Competence They Need to Succeed by Robin Peth-Pierce, M.P.A.,
THE CHILD MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATIONS and AGENCIES NETWORK
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/childhp/fdnconsb.htm

Unacceptable Trends in Kindergarten Entry and Placement A position statement developed by
National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education http://ericps.ed.uiuc.edu/naecs/position/trends2000.html

I'm sure some if not all of these links are old, but they are at least a starting place.

Posted by: Joe | February 16, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to sweat the issue of my kids being larger/smaller than their peers at a later grade because of the K entry date. You have zero control over how fast everybody else's kids grow. My kids are small by any measure and they have late September birthdays. We've already been turned away from nursery school "twos" programs because they adhere to the Sept. 1 rule. (To be fair, their issue is different; if we went through their whole program and didn't waive in to early Kindergarten, they would have nothing for us.)

That said, if we think they're truly ready to enter kindergarten early, we'll apply. I think the best thing for us is to view everything with balance. Of course I would do anything I could if I thought it would protect my children, but unchecked, anybody could turn into that nutcase wrestling dad.

Posted by: Home-based Bethesda Dad | February 16, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to sweat the issue of my kids being larger/smaller than their peers at a later grade because of the K entry date. You have zero control over how fast everybody else's kids grow. My kids are small by any measure and they have late September birthdays. We've already been turned away from nursery school "twos" programs because they adhere to the Sept. 1 rule. (To be fair, their issue is different; if we went through their whole program and didn't waive in to early Kindergarten, they would have nothing for us.)

That said, if we think they're truly ready to enter kindergarten early, we'll apply. I think the best thing for us is to view everything with balance. Of course I would do anything I could if I thought it would protect my children, but unchecked, anybody could turn into that nutcase wrestling dad.

Posted by: Stay-at-Home Bethesda Dad | February 16, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

SS,

You too? Our precious one (22.3 months) created a 15 slide powerpoint critique of a Nova episode on quantum physics last month...in Korean.

Unfortunately, she botched her Yale interview (she told me later when the interviewer asked her about colors she said something about crimson onsies bringing out the red highlights in her hair).

Anyhoo...I recommend the "Lil' Genius" program at James Madison. No, it's not an Ivy, and yes, they only have undergraduate degrees available, but some of today's most promising 3 year olds made it through the program and have moved on to some really interesting things.

Posted by: Smrt Kid | February 16, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

On the topic of 'what is KG for?' - Back in the day when KG was the first time your children left your side, it was 1/2 day long, which included a nap! yes, it was really just for socialization purposes, with a little bit of abc's thrown in. I remember learning how to tie my shoes in KG.

Flash forward to now - preschool is the old KG. Your kids need to have learned basic skills by KG - identifying letters, numbers, simple math, identifying the parts of a book, common words. KG is now a full day, at least in Mo.Co. So, i guess KG is the old 1st grade.

I have a 4th grade boy - Oct30 bd and 1st grade girl - july31 bd. I struggled with the decision to put my oldest into KG when he was still 4. Like other posters said, academically he was all there, but socially, he was still immature. We ended up putting him in at 4, and it was tough, behaviorly. But, we worked with his teachers and him and by the end of 2nd grade things were much better.

I'm not sure that keeping him back would have helped. In his situation, most of his preschool friends went to a different school, so a lot of his anxieties were based around that. If we had kept him back, his preschool friends would have been gone anyway, so it would have been similiar.

There was no discussion with my daughter. She had been ready for school since my son's first day of KG! And has been doing wonderfully so far.

Posted by: MdMom | February 16, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

On the topic of 'what is KG for?' - Back in the day when KG was the first time your children left your side, it was 1/2 day long, which included a nap! yes, it was really just for socialization purposes, with a little bit of abc's thrown in. I remember learning how to tie my shoes in KG.

Flash forward to now - preschool is the old KG. Your kids need to have learned basic skills by KG - identifying letters, numbers, simple math, identifying the parts of a book, common words. KG is now a full day, at least in Mo.Co. So, i guess KG is the old 1st grade.

I have a 4th grade boy - Oct30 bd and 1st grade girl - july31 bd. I struggled with the decision to put my oldest into KG when he was still 4. Like other posters said, academically he was all there, but socially, he was still immature. We ended up putting him in at 4, and it was tough, behaviorly. But, we worked with his teachers and him and by the end of 2nd grade things were much better.

I'm not sure that keeping him back would have helped. In his situation, most of his preschool friends went to a different school, so a lot of his anxieties were based around that. If we had kept him back, his preschool friends would have been gone anyway, so it would have been similiar.

There was no discussion with my daughter. She had been ready for school since my son's first day of KG! And has been doing wonderfully so far.

Posted by: MdMom | February 16, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I believe I did ask a perfectly acceptable question and, in turn, was attacked for exercising my First Amendment right by a mother superior. I had the courtesy to use a name some of you know and hate. If I said today is clear and cold where I am someone would have attacked me. From now on I'll either use another name (how about 'Free and Unencumbered') or submit anonymous remarks like the many cowards who lurk amongst us.

FYI, I am amazed at how mothers cope after they reproduce. If you can't handle them, take care of them, or control them, you shouldn't be having children and foisting them on innocent bystanders. From an earlier blog, you're producing little pervs who masturbate and pick their nose while sucking their thumbs (gag!) Your children are reflections of you, so what kind of people are you who need to replicate? When bad weather closes schools you go into a tizzy because -- OH MY GOD --SOMEBODY HAS TO WATCH THE KIDS! Our office is jumping today because everybody brought their ill-mannered ADHD little wretches to work with them. When the babysitter cancels it throws a monkey wrench into your well-laid plans. And of course every one of you produced a Baby Einstein who is far and away superior to every other kid in the world. Get over yourselves.

If you want to watch something grow, plant a tree. If you want companionship, get a pet. Stop boring us with stories about your little 'angels.'

Posted by: Childless by Choice | February 16, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I believe I did ask a perfectly acceptable question and, in turn, was attacked for exercising my First Amendment right by a mother superior. I had the courtesy to use a name some of you know and hate. If I said today is clear and cold where I am someone would have attacked me. From now on I'll either use another name (how about 'Free and Unencumbered') or submit anonymous remarks like the many cowards who lurk amongst us.

FYI, I am amazed at how mothers cope after they reproduce. If you can't handle them, take care of them, or control them, you shouldn't be having children and foisting them on innocent bystanders. From an earlier blog, you're producing little pervs who masturbate and pick their nose while sucking their thumbs (gag!) Your children are reflections of you, so what kind of people are you who need to replicate? When bad weather closes schools you go into a tizzy because -- OH MY GOD --SOMEBODY HAS TO WATCH THE KIDS! Our office is jumping today because everybody brought their ill-mannered ADHD little wretches to work with them. When the babysitter cancels it throws a monkey wrench into your well-laid plans. And of course every one of you produced a Baby Einstein who is far and away superior to every other kid in the world. Get over yourselves.

If you want to watch something grow, plant a tree. If you want companionship, get a pet. Stop boring us with stories about your little 'angels.'

Posted by: Childless by Choice | February 16, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I know you are childless by choice, but those of us who are happily parenting away need to discuss issues. We need to have disccussions about child rearing. We like to figure out how to be better parents. LET US BE. I'm not sure that your opinion is beneficial to this discussion and I'm not sure why you bother participating in something in which you have no stake.

Posted by: Joe | February 16, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Joe, just because someone doesn't have children, doesn't mean they don't have a stake in the way yours turn out.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"I know you are childless by choice, but those of us who are happily parenting away need to discuss issues. "

You're not doing that today. It's mostly bragging about young kids! Come on! It's not a big deal for a well fed, well cared for child with good genes to stand above his/her peers. In fact Darwin had a lot to say about it.

Dean's List in 4th grade? Stop the presses!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Childless by Choice just likes to be yelled at. Negative attention is better than no attention at all. Really loves when we talk about her. Thus her ridiculous posts. I know, the solution is to ignore her.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Childless - to quote from yesterday evening's "Scrubs" episode: "Too mean." Note that I I didn't say "Without merit."

Let's go back to your original question. I'm no child expert, but kindergarten does a whole host of things from building socialization to introducing the notion of formalized curriculum. No question it looks like a bunch of play; viewed through an adult paradigm, that's precisely what it is. However, it is widely accepted that play is the methodology by which children process and learn.

Now then: apply this method with the municipal responsibility of having to do it for everybody and on a budget and there's no question that K is a grand waste of time for some kids. Also no question that some parents exclaim "I'M FREE" when their kids turn 5.

Keep the handle. There needs to be Devil's Advocate to keep things interesting.

Posted by: Bethesda Dad redux | February 16, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

My point is that if the educational system taught at the age appropriate level, the cutoff date for Kindergarten would still be December, and not July like it is in some states.

Our school says "If your boy is not fully five by April and your girl by July, then you should strongly consider keeping your child back a year." What this means, is that come senior year in highschool, many of the students will turn 18 in their junior years. To me, that is just plain wrong. At that age you should be on to the next thing, the start of young adulthood.

Posted by: Joe | February 16, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Childless - to quote from yesterday evening's "Scrubs" episode: "Too mean." Note that I I didn't say "Without merit."

Let's go back to your original question. I'm no child expert, but kindergarten does a whole host of things from building socialization to introducing the notion of formalized curriculum. No question it looks like a bunch of play; viewed through an adult paradigm, that's precisely what it is. However, it is widely accepted that play is the methodology by which children process and learn.

Now then: apply this method with the municipal responsibility of having to do it for everybody and on a budget and there's no question that K is a grand waste of time for some kids. Also no question that some parents exclaim "I'M FREE" when their kids turn 5.

Keep the handle. There needs to be Devil's Advocate to keep things interesting.

Posted by: Bethesda Dad redux | February 16, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Childless - to quote from yesterday evening's "Scrubs" episode: "Too mean." Note that I I didn't say "Without merit."

Let's go back to your original question. I'm no child expert, but kindergarten does a whole host of things from building socialization to introducing the notion of formalized curriculum. No question it looks like a bunch of play; viewed through an adult paradigm, that's precisely what it is. However, it is widely accepted that play is the methodology by which children process and learn.

Now then: apply this method with the municipal responsibility of having to do it for everybody and on a budget and there's no question that K is a grand waste of time for some kids. Also no question that some parents exclaim "I'M FREE" when their kids turn 5.

Keep the handle. There needs to be a Devil's Advocate to keep things interesting. Besides, look at all the goodwill you'd be missing out on!

Posted by: Bethesda Dad redux | February 16, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"The public school system makes it too hard on kids who want to learn more and are advanced."

No, parents who believe and/or let their child believe this make it too hard on kids who want to learn more and are advanced.

You are right that it is not about a teacher giving a kid supplemental work or an extra novel to read. A truly smart kid figures out three and four ways to use and do everything they learn, not just learns things quickly, and is ready for the next lesson.

Challenging a child is about teaching her to figure out how she can use what she learned. And it is about teaching a child to WANT and to enjoy figuring it out on her own.

It is the primary reason that I retired at 29. In the first grade, my parents taught me to (and how to) constantly bethinking about how something I learned could apply to other things--minimum three or four things--instead of moving me ahead a grade or two, as the school suggested.

I made my $$, after reading an article about garage organization, applying basic fractions and a fifth grade science lesson to develop a system for doing more accurate and efficient estimates for painting jobs. I built a commercial painting business with a friend based on the formula and sold it in 2005 after four years in business. (Yes, my parents are a little bitter about paying for a private-university, liberal arts degree, when my big idea was based on thinking about other uses for a fifth grade lesson and a $3.95 magazine article.)

Teaching you kid this will have a much bigger impact on your child than whether she starts school early or late, or goes to public or private school.

Parents can teach their child to find ways to challenge herself and learn more on her own. You can get your child thinking this way by starting with prompting. You can also talk about what you read in the paper or did at your job and something you figured out based on that at the dinner table. Show your child you are still thinking and thinking about how to apply what you learn.

Now, you may have noticed, I just sit around thinking about things and reading things to have more things to think about. Good thing my parents taught me how to entertain and challenge myself when I was bored, instead of just passing the issue off on the school system.

Posted by: Armchair Teacher | February 16, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Good point Armchair Teacher. My mom always says that"Elementry school was for socialization, and that" I taught you everything else."
If you aren't teaching your kids the basics, or how to solve problems in several differnt ways, then you aren't really doing your job as a parent.

Yes, full day Kindergarten is a baby sitting service, but half day is an important investment in socialization. We've done both with our two children,and wished we had done half day with both.

Posted by: Joe | February 16, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

There were children in my son's kindergarten class who were SEVEN!!! Held back by their massively competitive parents.

The part I'm having a hard time with is then you hear the mothers saying: "Melissa is in the GIFTED math program. SHe's doing fourth grade math in third grade." Well, yes, but she's 10. Shouldn't she be doing 5th grade math?

Also, if you do get one of those schools where all the 7 year old kindergarteners have had 4 years of Junior Kumon and are reading chapter books and reciting multiplication tables, then the people who really lose out are the poor suckers (like my husband and me) who actually expected that the kindergarten teacher wuld be interested in teaching our five year old. Turns out she wasn't -- since as a SAHM, those hundred dollar Bed, Bath and Beyond gift certificates were a little out of my range for teacher Christmas presents. She focussed on the 7 year old's with the excess disposable income. WE moved away. And this was a Fairfax county Public School.

Posted by: Another Viewpoint | February 16, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

There were children in my son's kindergarten class who were SEVEN!!! Held back by their massively competitive parents.

The part I'm having a hard time with is then you hear the mothers saying: "Melissa is in the GIFTED math program. SHe's doing fourth grade math in third grade." Well, yes, but she's 10. Shouldn't she be doing 5th grade math?

Also, if you do get one of those schools where all the 7 year old kindergarteners have had 4 years of Junior Kumon and are reading chapter books and reciting multiplication tables, then the people who really lose out are the poor suckers (like my husband and me) who actually expected that the kindergarten teacher wuld be interested in teaching our five year old. Turns out she wasn't -- since as a SAHM, those hundred dollar Bed, Bath and Beyond gift certificates were a little out of my range for teacher Christmas presents. She focussed on the 7 year old's with the excess disposable income. WE moved away. And this was a Fairfax county Public School.

Posted by: Another Viewpoint | February 16, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I think it's great, actually, that Childless dared to mention she cared about the production level of schools. My wife is from, uh, a liberal Northeast state where municipal decisions are made at a town meeting. (Don't be fooled--it's a terrible form of decision making.) When she was growing up, the school-age population was fairly small, so each attempt to upgrade the high school was voted down by legions of retirees.

Now that many of them have moved (on) and the rest have seen what a strong school system does for land values, what do you know: brand new high school with two athletic facilities and a Fine Arts building.

I need a handle. Sorry too about multipost (I got a bottle-feeder here ... .)

Posted by: Bethesda Home Dad again | February 16, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Armchair Teacher

What are your thoughts on Home Schooling?

Congratulations on your early retirement!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I think it's great, actually, that Childless dared to mention she cared about the production level of schools. My wife is from, uh, a liberal Northeast state where municipal decisions are made at a town meeting. (Don't be fooled--it's a terrible form of decision making.) When she was growing up, the school-age population was fairly small, so each attempt to upgrade the high school was voted down by legions of retirees.

Now that many of them have moved (on) and the rest have seen what a strong school system does for land values, what do you know: brand new high school with two athletic facilities and a Fine Arts building.

I need a handle. Sorry too about multipost (I got a bottle-feeder here ... .)

Posted by: Bethesda Home Dad again | February 16, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

WHen my kids went to Fairfax County schools, there were kids in kindergarten who were SEVEN -- with all their adult teeth, walking around and reciting multiplication tables and reciting chapter books. It always kind of creeped me out -- watching the 9 year old second-graders skip around and sing "BINGO". There was something sort of unwholesome about the 3rd graders wearing bras and taunting the kids who still believed in SAnta Clause.

And I think it made the teachers really lazy. It was like the kids got dropped off after several years of outside tutoring and the like, and then the teachers did nothing. The instruction in my kid's school was terrible (no textbooks either, strange), but you'd never know it because all the kids came in already knowing everything.

Posted by: Just a thought | February 16, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Armchair Teacher

What are your thoughts on Home Schooling?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

My daughter has a December birthday; she is 4 and will start preschool in the fall. She'll be 5.75 when she starts kindergarten.

Most of my friends' kids have been in "preschool" since they were two. Of course many of those kids will be bored in kindergarten, since they've been there-done that for the last few years, but have they had a chance to just be kids, hang out with their siblings, do whatever projects struck their fancy that day, stare at the wall and daydream, learn to entertain themselves, etc.? Nope.

I think this trend is sad.

Posted by: Arlington mom | February 16, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow! It seems like the most of kids are either gifted or have Special Needs and there is no in-between.

It's been a long time, but I remember from college Statistics that about 10% of the population is gifted (same as gay percentage, easy to remember).

Where are all of the kids with average intelligence? Don't their parents participate on this blog? What gives?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I was born at the end of Nov. in 1979 and started Kindergarten when I was 4 years old. I never had any issues or problems with being one of the youngest in my class. In fact, the only time it ever made a difference was when I was 15 and my friends were 16 and could drive. I think it all depends on the child - for me, I can't imagine having been held back a year but I know some kids just aren't ready.

Posted by: NYC Gal | February 16, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Re: giftedness

Such a hot button issue! I think it's one of the reasons parents hold their kids back. As an earlier poster said - naturally kids seem gifted according to the grade level curriculum when they are a year or two older than the age the material is intended for! In my school district parents push to get their kids into the gifted program because they worry about their kids being left in the regular classroom with the "slow" kids. So what they really are asking for is a program for high achievers, not the truly gifted kids, which would be 10% of the population AT MOST, kids who truly need a different kind of instruction. I say this as a former teacher of the gifted who has a Master's in the subject.

Posted by: teacher mom | February 16, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

My two children, who are now grown and married (our daughter has a new baby herself) both entered kindergarten at ages 4.5 and 4.75. They were the youngest in their class, always, but did wonderfully well both academically and socially. After several years of good preschool, they were intellectually and emotionally ready to move on, and we were advised by professionals to move them into kindergarten. I'm not sure whether that politically incorrect advice could be had these days. I am of the view that most children conform to the behaviors of their peers, and that children who are kept back are often less mature--because they are in class with younger classmates--and it is a condition which persists for years.

Posted by: LRB in DC | February 16, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

It is an issue with me to know that 50% of my property taxes go to public schools and I am embarrassed at the quality of graduates that receive diplomas. It is an issue with me when an unattended kid whizzes by me and nearly knocks me over in the supermarket because his mother isn't paying attention to him on his shoes with wheels. It is an issue when I go to a restaurant and a spoiled kid is screeching for attention and throws a tantrum, then the parents are insulted when the manager asks them to leave. It is an issue when a trans-Atlantic flight is ruined by a toddler running amuck in the plane and his mother can't control him enough to buckle him in the seat.

You parents seem to be conflicted with your roles. If you are so overjoyed with your kids, why are you so happy to get them out of the house? If you are so happy with kids, why do you say only a mental defective would have more than two? If you are such experts at parenting, why are so many nut cases running around today? Why do you whine and wring your hands over such things as snow days and cancelled babysitters? Jeez, get a life.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | February 16, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the giftedness issue is a hot-button. As mentioned before, children are pushed to learn more earlier. So they are advanced. But are they gifted? Also as mentioned before, giftedness is how you creatively apply the knowledge you have, not just how much quicker you learn. Yet, I'm with the education columnist, Jay Matthews, who says that exposing average intelligence children to classes for high achievers and the gifted can be beneficial.

As for a kid being a kid -- what are weekends, after school, school breaks and summer for? There's a time and place for everything.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | February 16, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

So, Childless, what is your suggestion about when to begin kindergarten? After all, that is the subject of this blog.
Can ya just skip all your confounded straw man arguments and actuallly make a point about the subject?

Posted by: Joe | February 16, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"I am of the view that most children conform to the behaviors of their peers, and that children who are kept back are often less mature--because they are in class with younger classmates--and it is a condition which persists for years."

That is a really interesting point, and one that I think is probably proven every day in families with multiple children. I definitely see my youngest acting in ways (at 19 months) that my oldest never would have at that age.

Posted by: Alexandria mom | February 16, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion today, although I admit I have to sigh at all the "advanced" children talk going on. How dull! Those of you posting who have challenges with your children, however -- best of luck to you.

I'm starting my son (he'll be 2 in Aug) in Montessori this fall. It's 3 hrs/day, 5 days a week. Judging by some posters' wondering about children entering kindergarten at age 4, I have to wonder if I am perhaps pushing school on my son too early? I have 6 months though, to see how he develops. My husband and I both feel it is a right move for him, so we'll see.

I went to Montessori myself and came out alright. We like my son's future school and teachers, although they do seem a little strict. The only thing I remember from my time in Montessori as a child is being shy to approach my teacher when I had a stomachache one time; otherwise, I loved it.

Any Montessori parents out there to comment on the teacher strictness issue?

Posted by: Rebecca | February 16, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

In the book "See Jane Win" (or it might have been "How Jane Won"), they actually say that girls ultimately do better academically if they are younger when they start school. Just my two cents. Great topic.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | February 16, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion today, although I admit I have to sigh at all the "advanced" children talk going on. How dull! Those of you posting who have challenges with your children, however -- best of luck to you.

I'm starting my son (he'll be 2 in Aug) in Montessori this fall. It's 3 hrs/day, 5 days a week. Judging by some posters' wondering about children entering kindergarten at age 4, I have to wonder if I am perhaps pushing school on my son too early? I have 6 months though, to see how he develops. My husband and I both feel it is a right move for him, so we'll see.

I went to Montessori myself and came out alright. We like my son's future school and teachers, although they do seem a little strict. The only thing I remember from my time in Montessori as a child is being shy to approach my teacher when I had a stomachache one time; otherwise, I loved it.

Any Montessori parents out there to comment on the teacher strictness issue?

Posted by: Rebecca | February 16, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion today, although I admit I have to sigh at all the "advanced" children talk going on. How dull! Those of you posting who have challenges with your children, however -- best of luck to you.

I'm starting my son (he'll be 2 in Aug) in Montessori this fall. It's 3 hrs/day, 5 days a week. Judging by some posters' wondering about children entering kindergarten at age 4, I have to wonder if I am perhaps pushing school on my son too early? I have 6 months though, to see how he develops. My husband and I both feel it is a right move for him, so we'll see.

I went to Montessori myself and came out alright. We like my son's future school and teachers, although they do seem a little strict. The only thing I remember from my time in Montessori as a child is being shy to approach my teacher when I had a stomachache one time; otherwise, I loved it.

Any Montessori parents out there to comment on the teacher strictness issue?

Posted by: Rebecca | February 16, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I haven't read the other comments but I will chime in from my own experience. I didn't go to kindergarten. I am a September child and my mom had the choice so she put me in first grade (skipping kindergarten) the month before I turned 6. I have always thanked her for not sending me to kindergarten -- it would have bored me to death. (Mom skipped two grades in school also.) I was one of the two or three youngest in my class, and sometimes I guess I was a bit less "mature" but I was always at the top academically and when I was 12 I was one of the tallest girls in the class. It really is what is right for each individual child.

Posted by: Junebug | February 16, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"Interesting discussion today, although I admit I have to sigh at all the "advanced" children talk going on. How dull! Those of you posting who have challenges with your children, however -- best of luck to you."

I hope the discussion of advanced children is not boring to others. I would like to point out that giftedness comes with its own set of challenges, and having a gifted child does not mean that the family will find the school experience to be painless.

It truly alarms me that gifted education issues are so often pushed aside. Gifted programs are increasingly being downsized or eliminated, and yet we want our children to excel now, and to be prepared for future success in a global economy. It doesn't add up.

Maybe giftedness should be the topic of a separate discussion, but certainly the idea of children being "advanced" or not ties into school readiness. In fact, many school systems hesitate to label kids as gifted before 3rd or 4th grade due to the whole "nature vs. nurture" debate.

Posted by: teacher mom | February 16, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Childless by Choice is just upset because she can never have what any of us have: a happy family.

Her boy friend is married. She is bitter and sad. You can't be nice to her if even if you want too. She has my pity.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Left out of my experience: I started nursery school at 1. I guess the choice was limited as to when to go to kindergarten because of all the prior "grade" age restrictions that lined up to being 5 by September 1 to start kindergarten.

Posted by: curious nonmother | February 16, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I think this issue should be largely left up to the parents, with some guidance from the schools in the form of interviews, pretesting, perspective on how similar students have fared in their school district, etc. But an arbitrary cut off? I feel so lucky that some stupid rule did not determine a large portion of my life, like it has for many other students.

I was born in December in Virginia and started K at 4, I think after a pretest of some sort. We moved to PA when I was in 2nd grade and the school district in PA was still bitter I was younger than the other kids! My mom always supported me and I am very thankful for that. WorkingmomX's point that girls who start school earlier do better is really interesting. I sometimes wonder what life would be like had I started school a year later, and I think about how bored I was in school anyway and how frustrated I would have been. All the fantastic teachers I had who retired the year after I had them. And the people I've met who weren't around a year later.

That year is SO valuable. It changes the timing for everything that comes after (obvious point, yes). I think parents (with some guidance) know best if that year should be spent in school or at home, and I find it troubling that some arbitrary date often takes the place of a parent's wishes.

I can understand how the whole competitive gifted issue can enter into this "No, really, my 2yo is ready for K! She reads and she's even potty trained!" But when individual situations are not taken into account, it can end up punishing the kids.

Posted by: been there | February 16, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I, too, have anguished over the decision of when to start kindergarten, and I have to echo many of the points others have made. In our district the cut-off is Sept 1. My fourth-grade daughter's bday is 10/10, so she is one of the oldest in her grade. She is smart and does great in school. Our son is the youngest in his grade (8/25 bday and was not held back, against the advice of his preschool teacher who strongly believes that every "late" birthday should sit out an extra year). He is smart and does fine, reading on a 3d grade level. His teacher says that his behavior is great and that if you weren't told then you would never know that he is the youngest. His biggest problem is older boys in his grade, some 1.5 years older than him, who are much bigger and bully him. One of his friends who was born the same week was held back, and it was a great decision for that child because he is less mature and still struggles to read.

I believe that if your child has a problem, then deal with the problem. Don't try to avoid problems or micro-manage their lives, because each decision has many consequences which may not be intended. If your child is ready for school at a young age, then send him. Please do not try to give your child an "edge" by holding back a child who is ready and capable of doing the work. Not only will he likely end up bored and lazy, but he will be messing with children like my son, who is where he is supposed to be!

Regarding what to do with children who aren't adequately challenged at school, I echo the suggestion to supplement at home. I use Singapore Math to supplement the Saxon math curriculum our private school uses. Our children earn points for every five completed pages of Singapore Math and can earn big stuff they really want. The first grader just earned a Gameboy by earning 75 points. That's a lot of pages!

Finally, I loved the Yale interview comment. I laughed out loud. Thanks!

Posted by: Mom in South Carolina | February 16, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Well. This is really interesting today. I will admit that I have TWO AVERAGE CHILDREN! I put the girl (Nov 1st) birthday straight into first grade on the advice of the Montessori teacher. She was tall and had lost teeth already and could do the schoolwork. She was pretty immature, though, and got "yellow' and "red" cards on the bus, was always chatting, etc. for several years. She is now a happy and self directed high school student at a school where "everyone is above average" YUCK! Sometimes I just hate the elitism. I held my son out so that he entered KG at 5 and turned 6 in January. Right choice. He was small, hadn't lost teeth etc. Also a normal average kid now. No loss either way!

Posted by: seattlemom | February 16, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

We have two sons who started kindergarten early (November and December birthdays.) They are now in high school and doing extremely well academically and socially; both also say they're glad they weren't held back. The one aspect that's difficult for them is school sports teams. My younger son, 14, plays volleyball and is an agile and fairly talented player. However, he's six inches shorter than anyone else on his freshman team--not surprising as there are some kids who are two full years older than he is. Early kg was not an easy decision, and we spent a great deal of time thinking about it. But the bottom line was that our sons were ready. They were reading 400-page books at the age of three, for fun (and they learned to read on their own; we never taught them.) They always wanted to hang out with older kids, because they were bored by most kids their own age. By four and a half, when we could have sent them or kept them home, they had attention spans that were unreal, and it seemed ridiculous for them to go back to preschool. I sometimes wish we could have kept them back, as they're growing much too fast for my taste--but they were growing fast whether we let them go to kg early or not. Each child is different, and if you really look at your child, the right answer will come to you.
PS: It's not true that all parents of highly academic kids are pushy. We never sent our kids to Kumon, we've never used a flashcard and never forced them into anything. But this is who they are. At ten and twelve they were having arguments about the nature of consciousness. The oldest bribes the youngest: if you play ping-pong with me, I'll explain matrix theory to you. This is as inborn as the love of risk that great skateboarders have or the love of music that Mozart was born with...and kids like this are going to have a tough time finding their way in the world whenever they start kindergarten. So why not start them when there's a chance there might be something in the curriculum they don't already know?
PPS: To answer the next objection; No, I don't feel my kids are superior to kids who are not as highly academic. They have a lot to learn in life as any child does--and they know it. I see my job as teaching them about the other aspects of life that aren't so obvious to them: good manners, deliberate kindness to others, etc. We have also encouraged them to join sports teams because this gives them a bridge to other kids, and they really relish being part of a team. They also kind of like that they are "ordinary good athletes." It's a relief for them to find an area in which they do a good job but don't stand out.

Posted by: nora | February 16, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

We have two sons who started kindergarten early (November and December birthdays.) They are now in high school and doing extremely well academically and socially; both also say they're glad they weren't held back. The one aspect that's difficult for them is school sports teams. My younger son, 14, plays volleyball and is an agile and fairly talented player. However, he's six inches shorter than anyone else on his freshman team--not surprising as there are some kids who are two full years older than he is. Early kg was not an easy decision, and we spent a great deal of time thinking about it. But the bottom line was that our sons were ready. They were reading 400-page books at the age of three, for fun (and they learned to read on their own; we never taught them.) They always wanted to hang out with older kids, because they were bored by most kids their own age. By four and a half, when we could have sent them or kept them home, they had attention spans that were unreal, and it seemed ridiculous for them to go back to preschool. I sometimes wish we could have kept them back, as they're growing much too fast for my taste--but they were growing fast whether we let them go to kg early or not. Each child is different, and if you really look at your child, the right answer will come to you.
PS: It's not true that all parents of highly academic kids are pushy. We never sent our kids to Kumon, we've never used a flashcard and never forced them into anything. But this is who they are. At ten and twelve they were having arguments about the nature of consciousness. The oldest bribes the youngest: if you play ping-pong with me, I'll explain matrix theory to you. This is as inborn as the love of risk that great skateboarders have or the love of music that Mozart was born with...and kids like this are going to have a tough time finding their way in the world whenever they start kindergarten. So why not start them when there's a chance there might be something in the curriculum they don't already know?
PPS: To answer the next objection; No, I don't feel my kids are superior to kids who are not as highly academic. They have a lot to learn in life as any child does--and they know it. I see my job as teaching them about the other aspects of life that aren't so obvious to them: good manners, deliberate kindness to others, etc. We have also encouraged them to join sports teams because this gives them a bridge to other kids, and they really relish being part of a team. They also kind of like that they are "ordinary good athletes." It's a relief for them to find an area in which they do a good job but don't stand out.

Posted by: nora | February 16, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Every child should be homeschooled from birth to elementary school, and, then, from 3:30 p.m. to bedtime after that. In other words, I think children should be schooled outside the home also. Full-time homeschooling (assuming its done well) is definitely an excellent means for teaching your child introductory lessons and then guiding her through figuring out the next steps of what she has learned and other applications independently. But full-time home schooling does not give your kid the opportunities to and experience in challenging herself in the way that "traditional" school and after 3:30 p.m. homeschooling does.

No one announces one of their parenting goals is to "deny their child experiences and/or opportunities." My thinking is that full-time home schooling--as opposed to afternoon, evening and summer home schooling, i.e. after-hours homeschooling--limits a child's opportunities and/or experiences.

If the goal is to teach your child how to take the next step in thinking and finding new applications for her lessons on her own, her doing it during traditional school where she is "bored" teaches her to be thinking this way in every moment of life. There are many professions where a certain amount of time has to pass before you can progress, even if you know it all. A four-year-old first grader might one day be a first-year resident wanting to start a fellowship in a specialized area. She better have ways to challenge herself in the interim, not be used to moving on at her own pace.

No need to list the pros and cons of traditional schooling and homeschooling. Ultimately, a full-time homeschooling advocate can argue any of the possible cons out there with "but you can create that by doing X." Potentially, you can. But it is very likely the parent will run himself ragged trying to offset every possible con. I do not think that is a lesson that parents want to teach their child.

I would rather teach my child about efficiencies. It is much more efficient to take a traditional school up on all the lessons--academically, socially, choosing good over evil, etc.--that it offers. Then, use teaching resources for after-hour homeschooling.

Invest homeschooling energy and creativity in teaching and guiding your child through next steps and applications of what you want them to know or what they want to learn about.

Posted by: Armchair Teacher | February 16, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

As a teacher and a parent, I have seen that any child can do well with involved parents, and that the public schools do an amazing job, esp. with the high # of English Language Learners and the demands of No Child Left Behind (extremely difficult standards usu. 2 grades above developmental levels teamed with less money to help struggling students). If you start your kiddo out and they're struggling and unhappy, give them a chance to stay at preschool for the remainder of the year. If they do well, great-keep on keeping on. If you're hesitant, preserve your peace of mind and keep them in preschool another year- they can always skip kinder and go to first grade when age-appropriate. For most states, kinder is not compulsory. Think about what will make your child happiest and what will preserve your peace of mind. Children are extremely resiliant, and any changes made at those early years of school usually are adapted to by our kids more easily than we would imagine. Trust your instincts-most parents are wiser about their children's readiness than we will ever know.

Posted by: Teachermom | February 16, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

ArmchairMom,

I'm not the one who asked you about homeschooling, but that's a very interesting point, or at least one I haven't seen before. If I understand you correctly, you see a value in bright kids being bored because they have to figure out ways to entertain themselves? I usually ended up in trouble when I entertained myself during school.

How much boredom is enough? Does it really take 12 years of boredom to learn this skill? Do you believe homeschooling means kids are constantly entertained?

An issue I am concerned about that kind of relates to your concern is that my kids will become too accustomed to having things their own way. However its not a problem now, and they're pretty motivated to get along with their friends, so maybe it will never be an issue.

My feeling about "part-time" homeschooling is that it comes at the expense of playtime, and means that kids spend an unreasonable amount of time focussed on academics. I don't consider it an option for us.

I see nothing efficient about spending 6 hours a day (+homework time!) on schoolwork when 2-3 will do. Admittedly it's more efficient for the adults, but it's a colossal waste of time for the kids. Sparing my kids all that wasted time is a major motivator for homeschooling.

As to whether traditional schooling or homeschooling leads to more limited experiences, I guess it depends what experiences you're looking for. I know what my kids do, and I feel like their lives are pretty good, and they get a wider variety of experiences than they would in school, since every day isn't the same as the one before. Admittedly there are experiences they would have in school that they aren't having since we've chosen to homeschool, some good, some bad, but I think that's ok.

The feeling I get from your post is that school is the standard, and homeschoolers must try to match that standard. I don't think most homeschoolers are after a "school-equivalent" education. My kids are going to have a different kind of education-- I won't be running myself ragged to make sure it's better than traditional school in every way, just that it's a good choice for us.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | February 16, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

After the previous article indicated the US is ranking nearly dead last in academic and social well-being I'm surprised at the optimism. Also, it seems that internationally social well-being and academic excellence are not directly proportional. I think the statistic is overly simplified. It can't show how well a child would have done if they had started school earlier. It only show there are some children who are held back by their parents and also have trouble when they are older.

We are having problem in social well-being and in schools. Internationally we are raising flags, which is not a good point to being assigning blame. Probably the rule of statistical decision making that does not consider the diverse and unique issues faced by many people in the US today. It is so easy to pigeon hole people and accept a percentage of failure.

If we want parents to exercise more control over their children they need lots of support to do that. We do very little as a society to make sure parents are not penalized for spending more time with their children. We've managed to move the salaries of well-educated people into the middle class, I suspect that making more opportunity available to labor would also improve the lives of children also. Are we spending enough money on parks, community events and embracing individual social identity.

I don't mean to sound accusing but, school just isn't a complete measure of humanity and statistical analysis isn't a good way to make social decisions. For example are Asian societies less troubled because they are considered one race, or have their cultural issues been unrecognized because the are simple a single race to Americans. How we choose to drive the statistics does not make the statistics wrong or the decisions right.

Posted by: swp | February 17, 2007 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Gosh - who is to know the right decision. I debated and DEBATED and researched, etc. My son was two days away from the cutoff. Our preschool teachers said to hold him back. Coincidentally I met a person on the playground who was doing their masters thesis on this very subject.. and they also concluded that kids should wait until they are older.. so i held my son back... and i never regretted.. but alias, he is having a very troubled teenager time. so.......... could this be the cause? I'd like to think not.

Posted by: C.W. | February 20, 2007 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting blog topic.

Our daughter has a mid-summer birthday so I don't suppose we'll have this dilemma, but one of her playmates, who is about 5 months younger but in many ways more mature than my daughter, will probably struggle with it. This little girl is not permitted to begin preschool next fall when my daughter will begin (at age 3) because she will be 2 years 8 months. This child is light years ahead of her peers in terms of emotional maturity, and would clearly fit in, so it's sad to think she'll be unable to enroll simply because of her age.

I learned to read when I was 4, and because of this my kindergarten sent the five of us from kindergarten class (who could read) to spend a couple hours with the first grade class for their "reading lesson" time while our kindergarten class worked on reading. Other than this time, we spent the full day in kindergarten with our peers. It was a fantastic and clever solution that met everyone's needs in a public school environment.

Posted by: Vienna mom | February 20, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting blog topic.

Our daughter has a mid-summer birthday so I don't suppose we'll have this dilemma, but one of her playmates, who is about 5 months younger but in many ways more mature than my daughter, will probably struggle with it. This little girl is not permitted to begin preschool next fall when my daughter will begin (at age 3) because she will be 2 years 8 months. This child is light years ahead of her peers in terms of emotional maturity, and would clearly fit in, so it's sad to think she'll be unable to enroll simply because of her age.

I learned to read when I was 4, and because of this my kindergarten sent the five of us from kindergarten class (who could read) to spend an hour each day with the first grade class for their "reading lesson" time while our kindergarten class worked on reading. Other than this time, we spent the full day in kindergarten with our peers. It was a fantastic and clever solution that met everyone's needs in a public school environment.

Posted by: Vienna mom | February 20, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

DD is a January birthday but she has already been identified with learning disabilities. I worry about her starting kindergarten, even though she will be right on track. I was actually a November birthday and I did not have any academic problems through out school. EAch child has to be judged on their own. Unfortunatley there is no right answer and hindsight is 20/20.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 20, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

My son was a November boy and the year we had him repeat kindergarten was nightmare. He was more than ready to go to first grade and hated it, even though he was in a very prestigious private Washington school. The only benefit for holding back a very capable child is so you can flip teachers the bird who are quick to blame every possible problem your son ever has on your parental "mistake" of "pushing him ahead." If I had to do it over, I would've sent him on to first grade at 5 and never looked back.

Posted by: McLean VA | February 20, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

My son was born in November and was very advanced academically and socially. The year we were pressured into having him repeat kindergarten was nightmare. He was more than ready to go to first grade and hated it, even though he was in a very prestigious private Washington school. The only benefit for holding back a very capable child is so you can flip teachers the bird who would otherwise try and blame every possible problem your child ever has on your parental "mistake" of "pushing him/her ahead." There ARE very definite problems to keeping a bright child back with others his/her age--but no school will admit this to parents considering their options.

Posted by: McLean VA | February 20, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

My son turns 5 two weeks ahead of the Texas KG cut off date. These are the points to consider:
a)he is is taller than all the other 5 year olds
b)he is academically the same as the other 5 year olds
c) he is not as emotionally mature.
Our decision is to send him on to KG because the one thing we know for sure is that holding him back will make him bored and cause him to act out and behave badly (bully the younger kids, disrepect the teachers etc). We can only hope that his emotional intelligence grows to help him cope - perhaps the way to do that would be to have him around other children in non-school environments such as at home, sunday school, sports leagues, what else?

Posted by: rahel | February 20, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

There's another issue that I am trying to deal with... I personally don't believe in full-day kindergarten. I have friends who have their children in full-day programs, in which they spend time every day watching disney videos and are expected to complete homework every night. In addition, many 5 year olds just aren't ready to be at school for that many hours. I think all this is totally innapropriate. But there are NO elementary schools in my area that offer half-day programs. I think my daughter would be much better off in an old-fashioned half-day program, but they just don't exist. There is so much pressure to have the full day because parents who work then don't have to pay for daycare. But I feel that parents who WANT the shorter day (and there are many of us!) should have that option as well.

Posted by: RestonMom | February 20, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

My son, with a late Novemeber birthday, started MOCO K at 5 and just turned 6. He is not the biggest boy, has lost none of his teeth (Is loosing teeth indicative of physical maturity?), tested out of 1st grade math but is struggling on sounding out words. Plus he is working on behavior issues, like raisng hands or being bossy. I think he's fine where he is -- they encourage him to do advanced math, work with him on behavior, and he seems to love lunch, recess and PE.

Last year he ws ready intellecturally so we palyed lots of math games and read alot ot him but no way was he ready mautrity-wise. My hope for K is taht he learn to like school/learning and be moderately successful so he wants to keep going.
We put him into a soccer class too early and he hated it. Loved the running but hated the instuction.

I think it all depends on the child.

Any thoughts out there about loss of teeth and physical maturity?

Posted by: G'burgal | February 20, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

In reponse to G'burgal's post, we also put our son into soccer and swimming too early. During swimming lessons, he would not pay attention to instruction (not surprising at 3 years) and so we pulled him out rather than have him flail away in the water without knowing why! In soccer, at the age of 4, he just wouldnt pay attention to the game and loved to clown around. We stuck it through the whole season but we (the parents) felt he wasnt really wanted in the team. He did much better in the basketball at 4.5 years. His height helped him score baskets. Also, I think the soccer experience helped him wise up... kids understand a lot more of what is going on around them (with the adults) than we think. Most experience makes them better so the more exposure, the better. Of course as a parent, it is very important to make the right judgement so that you do not put them in a position to fail. The other IMPORTANT thing I have found out is that in everything, even team sports at the age of 4, parents are highly competitve and coach their kids at home. If you do not do the same, your kid will not perform as well, and will develop self-esteem issues. Check out each environment for both parents' and kids' attitudes and see make a decision if you want to hand out with the crowd or not.

Posted by: rahel | February 20, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I have a late Aug son who is 3 and we are beginning to look into this issue. My wife is convinced that holding him back is probably the way to go. We have a July daughter who is doing great in kindergarden. I was September early k-gardener and loved every minute of it. I was smaller than most but isn't this about learning? My issue is with the "experts" from the school systems that get off on judging a 3.5 or just turned 4 year old as to whether they are fit for kindergarden---this is kindergarden we are talking about. We all know how much they can develop and learn in a very short periods of time. These "evaluaters" love to hold parents hostage to their opinion. Here is the rule--girls may be ok. Boys, no way--period. I defy anyone to find me an evaluater who said it would be ok to move a boy forward to the early side. Really causes me grief.

Posted by: VaDad | February 20, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I have a late Aug son who is 3 and we are beginning to look into this issue. My wife is convinced that holding him back is probably the way to go. We have a July daughter who is doing great in kindergarden. I was September early k-gardener and loved every minute of it. I was smaller than most but isn't this about learning? My issue is with the "experts" from the school systems that get off on judging a 3.5 or just turned 4 year old as to whether they are fit for kindergarden---this is kindergarden we are talking about. We all know how much they can develop and learn in a very short periods of time. These "evaluaters" love to hold parents hostage to their opinion. Here is the rule--girls may be ok. Boys, no way--period. I defy anyone to find me an evaluater who said it would be ok to move a boy forward to the early side. Really causes me grief.

Posted by: VaDad | February 20, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Back when my two daughters were getting ready to go to kindergarten (14 and 12 years ago) our school district (Montgomery County, MD)"encouraged" all children to begin kindergarten if they turned 5 by December 31. My oldest daughter had a January birhtday, so she was one of the oldest and did fine (and still does, in college). My 2nd had a November bday, so she was 4 years old beginning kindergarten. She did 2 years of preschool, but in hindsight, we should have kept her out until the following year. We asked advice from preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers who felt she was ready but didn't listen hard enough to the comments from others that "no one has been unhappy that they held their child back". We should have. All kids are different and mature at different times and rates in different areas, but if we could do it over we would definitely have held her back. At 16, she is the youngest of her group, is not as mature and does not have the motivation necessary in high school. This could have been the result no matter when she began kindergarten but if I could do it over... I heard that montgomery County (finally) has changed the kindergarten start age.

Posted by: mariem99 | February 20, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Back when my two daughters were getting ready to go to kindergarten (14 and 12 years ago) our school district (Montgomery County, MD)"encouraged" all children to begin kindergarten if they turned 5 by December 31. My oldest daughter had a January birhtday, so she was one of the oldest and did fine (and still does, in college). My 2nd had a November bday, so she was 4 years old beginning kindergarten. She did 2 years of preschool, but in hindsight, we should have kept her out until the following year. We asked advice from preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers who felt she was ready but didn't listen hard enough to the comments from others that "no one has been unhappy that they held their child back". We should have. All kids are different and mature at different times and rates in different areas, but if we could do it over we would definitely have held her back. At 16, she is the youngest of her group, is not as mature and does not have the motivation necessary in high school. This could have been the result no matter when she began kindergarten but if I could do it over... I heard that montgomery County (finally) has changed the kindergarten start age.

Posted by: mariem99 | February 20, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong, cbc? Did your boyfriend stand you up to spend some time with his wife and spawn? Are you feeling a little lonely?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

My parents enrolled me in Kindergarten when I was 4, my birthday is in October, so I was much younger than most of my classmates. I've always been a successful student, and earned a scholarship to college. I think it depends on the individual child and how ready they personally are, both in regards to curriculum and maturity.

Posted by: Loren | February 20, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

We held our October and November daughters back in the 1980's. They did great and we got to keep them at home an extra year! It didn't hurt that they were the first to get their drivers licenses either - we were confidant about their abilities. College seperation was easier and they handled the issues of college better than I think they would have had they gone a year earlier. Altogether, a win, win, decision for us.

Posted by: older mom | February 21, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

There is truly no enough information about each class for parents to make an informed decision. We started our bright 4-almost-5-year-old in kindergarten last fall (private school). She has had both success and difficult academically and she does have some maturity issues that present in the classroom. We started her there after several years in pre-school with the recommendation of her teachers, and the expectation that she may do a second year of kindergarten. However, there were/are children in the class who turned 7 before the end of the first semester. They were/are older, bolder, and present many challenges for a kindergarten environment where the age range is young 5 to mid-7. We may have leaped ahead too soon, thinking only of milieu of 5-6 year olds, but truly there is much more disparity when the range includes older-6s and young-7s. There are so many differences, the least of which may be size.

This is also a heavily military community and children are shuttled from school to school -- sometimes every year. I can't believe we still have a military that does this. It's bizarre.

Posted by: Sluefoot | February 23, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Those interested in this subject might pick up Lise Eliot's "What's Going on in There?" One of the chapters discusses whether to hold back your child. She makes a good argument in favor of not holding back, assuming they do not have clear learning challenges they're dealing with.

Posted by: Mom to 2 | February 26, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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