Even though Brody just turned three, I’m waiting another year before I enroll him in preschool and two more years after that before Kindergarten- which he will start having just turned six.
And yes, I’m sure.
In our school district there’s a movement to change the rules, and our views, on the Kindergarten entrance age, and I’m against it. Here’s why.
Districts are encouraging families to enroll their children in Kindergarten as soon as they’re of age. In Minnesota, for example, if you’re five years old on or before September 1st of that school year, you’re in.
Some reasoning for this push includes:
-A wide age range between classmates makes instruction difficult.
-Children not liking being the oldest in their class.
-And students “evening out” by later grades.
Having studied education and taught and parented, here’s what I’ve found:
-Sometimes kids do, indeed, even out. And sometimes they don’t.
-Kindergarten and first grade are extremely formative. These are the grades when most children learn how to read and be students and are socialized into the school setting.
-It is extremely difficult to catch up if you fall behind during these early grades. Not impossible, but difficult.
–Maturity does matter in fostering learning and friendship and it affects instruction much more than a close age range does.
-There’s a difference- a big difference- between a just-turned-five-year-old and one that’s been five for a few months or more.
-When a student struggles -socially or academically- in an elementary classroom the first question that teachers and parents are asked is his or her birth date. It matters.
Some people argue that they don’t want parents deciding against Kindergarten “just because the mom next door said not to.”
I feel the same way about starting “on time” just because a policy maker said so.
As a parent, you’re familiar with that feeling in your gut. The one that tells you that your sweet, lovable, more-perfect-than-any-other-human-being-EVER baby of yours is not quite where his or her peers are.
When that feeling, that gut strike, happens -at the mall, at the park, at a birthday party, or on a playdate- you know it; with every fiber of your being, you just do.
Jason and I are sure of our decision to wait to start Brody in Kindergarten. Our gut tells us that there’s no rush, he’s small, slow to warm, and so the baby.
But most of all, our gut tells us that this is the right choice for him and for our family- and we’re following that.
I have no idea what’s best for you and yours. What I do know is that all parenting decisions, including this one, deserve to be made with thought and research. And not “just because.”
I’d love to see districts present this information -and even their bias- as a choice because that is, indeed, what it is. Your choice.
Advice that leaves parents feeling like they don’t have a choice takes the thinking out of parenting. And that, is wrong.
How did -or how will- you decide when to start your child in Kindergarten?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Galit Breen. On any given day Galit can be found juggling one husband, three children, one puggle, and one lap top. Galit can be reached regularly at These Little Waves, by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter, and Facebook.
Photo credit to the author.