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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Should she stay or should she go? (to kindergarten)

January 18, 2007

I knew it was coming — re-enrollment time at preschool. Top of the form, first question: Will your child be going to kindergarten next year? Our answer: UGH!! We can't decide!

Anna (our younger daughter) turns five in early July. In Virginia, the kindergarten cut off date is September 30, so she clearly could go. But, should she? We waited an extra year with Molly (our older daughter), whose birthday is in mid-August. Molly entered kindergarten having just turned 6, and she's done beautifully. It was the right decision for Molly. But Molly and Anna are different from each other. Very different.

This concept of "academic red shirting" for rising kindergarten students has gotten a lot of attention. CBS covered the story, with opinion from Barbara Willer, deputy executive director for the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The National Center for Education Statistics examined the reading and math achievement data of children who repeated kindergarten or who began kindergarten a year late.

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children refers to the practice of holding young children out of school for an extra year before kindergarten as "buying a year," and suggests that the practice widens the gap between the most and least advanced children. I'm not looking to do that! I just want to provide Anna with every opportunity to flourish once she does get on the hamster wheel of public school. I feel like this is our only opportunity to give her the gift of time; like others , I wouldn't consider a grade retention later on in school.

Academically, Anna's ready. Knows her letters, sounds, loves to "write" and will count to 100 for anyone who will listen. Socially, she's ready. Outgoing, friendly and funny. Motor development, ready. Rides her two wheeler like a whip, jumps rope. Hmmm. As I write this she seems ready, doesn't she? Maybe it's the mom that isn't!? Stay tuned. Forms are due by the end of the week!


This is on my mind also (I have a late July b-day boy). I am looking forward to hearing how you work through this and make a decision.

I also have a son, August birthday who is academically ready to go. I worry about holding him back in the academic area for basically two years just so he doesn't get teased by other kids his whole life for having been the youngest, last birthday, last to get a license etc. Love to hear more sites to visit for advice...

I have 3 kids...#4's in the oven=) Yeah, I'm crazy! My oldest son was born in April and I started him in school on time, and sometimes I wish that I hadn't. (He's in 7th grade now) He was ready in every area except for maturity. He would have been better off starting a year late. He was our first and we were young, so it didn't even occur to me to keep him out another year. My next baby was a boy and he was born September 3rd, and cut-off for kindergarten was September 1st. I had to hold him out an extra year, but boy am I glad I did. He's in 3rd grade now, and doing well. Then came my daughter. She went to pre-k and was VERY ready for kindergarten. She could write, knew her letters, and socially she was ready. She is in kindergarten now and doing VERY well. She's reading books her brothers didn't read until the end of 1st grade. Our next bundle of joy is due this August, we'll just have to play it by ear. My experience tells me that she'll let us know if she's ready when the time comes. Every child is different and only you know if and when they are ready. My experience (as a mom and a teacher) tells me that girls are ready before boys are. Boys most of the time aren't mature enough for kindergarten at 5, they are able to achieve more at 6. They are also more confident and tend to be leaders instead of followers if they're held back a year. And again, that's just my experience. Tho, there are ALWAYS exceptions to every rule.

Hello. I am wondering what you decided. I am going back and forth with my decicion to send or hold back my August boy. I have never heard of anyone regretting holiding back their child.

My son is an August child I am with you I cant make up my mind

I am in the same dilemma. My son is a late August birthday who is eager to learn and has taught himself to read. However, he has only recently in the last few months become more socially confident, and is slightly short for his age. Any thoughts?

I am a 1st grade teacher, having also taught Kindergarten. My opinion is to wait. I would never send a summer baby to school, girl or boy. Maturity is the big thing. We pre-tested kids going into K with a maturity test by the Gessell Institute. I have had parents thank me decades later for saying they needed to wait a year to send their child. Don't pit your child against the school system. Remember too that if you send your August boy that many others will have had held back their spring and summer boys so yours will be the youngest by far. I see it in my classes. I can almost always line up the students by age, all depending on my observations of maturity. Many of the brighter ones have maturity lags. When my husband and I decided to have a 2nd child I refused to get pregnant until January, so I wouldn't have summer baby and wouldn't have to worry about holding them back. Our daughter was born in September. Books to check out, any by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and Is Your Child in the Wrong Grade? by Louise Bates Ames (Gessell Institute). I suggested holding back a student with a 160 IQ, her maturity was not up to her IQ. She was still a 5 year old girl despite the fact she is one in a million as far as intelligence goes. It was a good decision. My other daughter born in January read Black Beauty in Kindergarten, but I never would have wanted her put ahead.

Hello everyone, My son is going to the 3rd grade. He is my first and only child and I too did not think about holding him back in kindergarten. He has had to go to summer school to obtain extra help and it seems he is always playing catch up. His reading has progressed tremendously. He is reading a grade level, but he is still behind in math and writing. He is so excited about going to the 4th grade. My husband and I have talked about holding him back, but we know he would be devastated. We have decided not to hold him back and to keep working with him and let God do the rest.

I have twin 4 year old boys who were born very premature and have been a little slow developing in every way. I was a first grade teacher before having kids and always recommended holding boys back so they would be at the top of their class instead of always struggling to keep up. This would be a no brain-er right? Definitely hold them back, However my boys are extremely bright and their birthday is in March. So they would actually be 6 1/2 when they started kindergarten. I would appreciate any thoughts on whether or not it would be detrimental for them to be so much older than the other kids.

I too have an August boy - his daycare/pre-school teachers think he should go to Kindergarten on time; however, my husband & I agree w/ you that seldom can you give anyone the gift of time, so we are definitely leaning towards a year in a pre-K program after this year's preschool session.... I look at it as giving him another year of childhood instead of another year of adulthood! I will be interested to hear more on this topic. My son seems to be a quick learner at this stage, but aren't most curious kids? Buying another year of maturity at the other end of his formal education journey seems important as well - sending a 18 year old boy to college vs. a 17 year old is a comforting thought....

i have triplet boys that were born two months earley with no medical problems i have thought about home schooling just for kindegarden and then sending all three to a private school do you think this is wise? i think they need time to be a child.

According to many studies, making your kids a year older gives them maturity and allows them to advance faster until about 3rd grade, when it all evens out. If your child is ready academically, I think they should go to Kindergarten. My son was born at the end of May and I struggled with this, but he was ready....why make him wait when he is dying to learn? I sent him and he is fine. I think you can create a whole other world of problems such as behavior issues and boredom. If school is boring, you're creating their first experience of school to be boring. I think your child will be as smart as they are. Intelligence is innate. If there are obvious reasons to hold him/her back, then you should, but if not, send them to school.

Hi! I have a little boy who has a late August birthday. I am debating on whether to send him, too. I look forward to hearing comments!

I have been debating this as well and quite frankly driving my hubby nuts. We have 3 boys, our oldest is an August Boy and then twin July boys. Our oldest started Kindergarten this fall at 6 and has been doing very well. I do not regret waiting to send him. I always thought he was ready at 5 but I listened to others and he seems to have benefitted from waiting especially with maturity. Now 2 years later I am going through the same dilema with my twin boys. They are further from the cutoff being July vs. August and in some ways seem more ready than my older son. I took them for K screening just yesterday and passed everything with no issues. I realize though with a public school system they must accept all kiddos that meet the deadline. To keep thing status quo in our house I suppose we are fairly sure they will also start Kindergarten at 6 and be the older ones in their class. I have to keep telling myself they will not be an entire year older than everyone, just summer birthdays that started at 5. They will only be a few months older than most. I guess my concerns of waiting are whether they will feel out of place or school may not be very challenging. My inlaws are teachers and they think waiting is the better option. My sister, also a teacher, feels they are ready. So in addition to my confusion I have various opinions. I suppose I wish it was like it was 20 years ago where if you qualified you went and that was the decision. I hate having to decide this as I do believe it has some effect on the rest of their lives. I have read many blogs and I have read many that do not agree with waiting, however, I have yet to come across someone tell me they waited and wished they would have sent them. I am trying to err on the side of caution but would welcome all thoughts. Sorry for the lengthy blog. Does anyone regret waiting that has been through this before?

I have a 7 year old daughter with a birthday in August, I did not hold her back from starting Kindergarten but wish I had. She has had problems with reading since the start of kindergarten and her maturity level is much lower than the rest of the childre. Her pediatrition wanted us to hold her back because of that, and now we are wondering if she is going to have to repeat the 2nd grade. My recommendation is, if in doubt, hold him/her back, it will probably benefit them greatly.

I have read a lot about keeping kids back and not being ready when they have summer or fall birthdays but what about the kids that are born Jan - May? Do we wait to send them until they are 6 1/2 or go with the 5 1/2 start. And if they are held back then what? The kids are going to be 19 or 20 when they get out of high school?

I never even thought so many parents are in my shoes! I have 3 kids, a 17 year-old girl (October b-day), a 13-year old boy (August b-day) and a 4 year old girl (with an early December birthday). My two older kids went to HALF-DAY kindergarten at almost five and at five, and I never had a shade of doubt about sending them. I think the reason why is that they went to kindergarten for half day only. Now with my little one, I am going back and forth - our district's cut off date is 12/31 (while the rest of NYS is 12/1), and one day I think she is ready and another day that I should hold her back, give her another year of childhood. And my main trepidation is because now our district has a full day kindergarten (from 8:15 to 2:30); if it were a half day, I would end her without a doubt in my mind. But should I end her to a full day or not? She is very ready academically (actually, she is bi-lingual, speaks russian and english, has a phenomenal vocabulary in each language for her age, tries to read and write in both); maybe socially not that ready, but has no problems at her pre-school; her teachers say she will do fine either way - so I am torn! Any suggestions?

I never even thought so many parents are in my shoes! I have 3 kids, a 17 year-old girl (October b-day), a 13-year old boy (August b-day) and a 4 year old girl (with an early December birthday). My two older kids went to HALF-DAY kindergarten at almost five and at five, and I never had a shade of doubt about sending them. I think the reason why is that they went to kindergarten for half day only. Now with my little one, I am going back and forth - our district's cut off date is 12/31 (while the rest of NYS is 12/1), and one day I think she is ready and another day that I should hold her back, give her another year of childhood. And my main trepidation is because now our district has a full day kindergarten (from 8:15 to 2:30); if it were a half day, I would send her without a doubt in my mind. But should I send her for a full day or not? She is very ready academically (actually, she is bi-lingual, speaks russian and english, has a phenomenal vocabulary in each language for her age, tries to read and write in both); maybe socially not that ready, but has no problems at her pre-school; her teachers say she will do fine either way - so I am torn! Any suggestions?

My daughter turned 5 years old in March. She is in a K4 at a local Christian academy in the Charlotte NC area. Her teachers said she is academically ready for kindergarten, but is not quite socially ready to progress. Should I not start her in kindergarten next year or go ahead and send her? This has become a big dilema for myself and my husband and we are not sure what to do, please help.

When is your cutoff in your district? In PA most places is Sept 1st. It seems March would place your daughter in the middle age wise and this would be a good thing. However, if you do not feel she is ready I don't think it hurts to wait. My 3 boys are all summer (July and Aug) and we are most likely waiting with all 3. As I struggle with this decision I know we all want what is best for our kids and most likely they will do fine whenever they start.

I can really understand how hand-wringing this decision can be for you and your husband, Ann. We too really struggled with our decisions, and then came to two decisions for our two girls! (Molly started K at 6, Anna started K at 5). At some level, you need to trust your instincts as parents. With a March birthday, I'd be inclined to send her at 5 1/2 rather than waiting until she's 6 1/2, but without knowing your daughter, it's difficult to say. Are there other reasons to question sending her? Some families with children born prematurely or who have children with developmental delays make decisions based on those factors (and in those cases, early intervention is critical). Have you gone to see the school that your daughter will attend? I encourage you to make an appointment, tour the school, and meet one-on-one with the principal and a K teacher. Share your concerns and hear what they have to say. If it would help, perhaps your daughter's K4 teacher could go with you, or could call the school too. Keep in touch and let me know what you decide!

just an FYI- Connecticut has a Jan. 1 cut off.I let my four year old go- not many problems- now in college- but - they don't tell you- when your child is 14 and others are 16 and dating, or driving, or working.... and yours is young- in the same grade. also developmentally an 8 yr old and 10 year old are really far apart for math concepts- we always talked about ready for K not about ready to go away to college at 17 or to high school at 13. Art teacher complained of dexterity issues with so wide an age group in the grade-I can not go back and probably would not see a huge difference- but just wanted share more concerns than ready for the kids get older in K they are still older in each grade- and the state testing, SATs and such are not on age- but grade.

I'm so glad you brought up the points about dating, driving, and working. We're all so crazy busy with our little ones, but it's good to think about the big picture too!

Hi! I, too, have a daughter with a late August birthday. Our cut-off date is Sept. 1st. She is our oldest daughter out of three children. When it came time to decide on kindergarten, the decision was a no-brainer because we had all three in daycare at the time (a major expense). We did not want to start her at such a young age (just turning 5), but our plan was to let her go ahead and we would repeat kindergarten. However, she loved kindergarten and did well in every aspect - we got nothing but good reports from her teacher. Therefore, when the time came to move on to first grade, we didn't think anymore about the age issue and let her move on with her peers. Now, we have spent an entire year in first grade and the age issue has come up again. She is doing okay academically. She is a "B" or "average" student in the class, but my husband and I spend many hours working with her. Her math and spelling are very strong, but her reading could be stronger at this point. The main concern from her teacher is her maturity level. We now regret that we did not hold her back in kindergarten as originally planned. We met with her teacher and school counselor yesterday to discuss holding her back in first grade. Her teacher provided us with standardized test scores that, again, showed that she is where she needs to be to progress to second grade, but her scores are at mid-low average levels. Her teacher gave us the facts/figures of her academic and maturity levels. She didn't voice a strong opinion one way or the other, as she could see both the benefits and concerns of holding her back. However, the school counselor was very much against holding her back. She thinks that her maturity level will eventually catch up and if we continue to work with her, her reading will improve as well. She thinks that it will do more harm than good to hold her back. It does seem kind-of crazy to hold an honor roll student back, but my question is - what if she has the potential to be an all A student and just needs that extra year to mature and get a better base level on the reading? Based on what the counselor said, we are afraid that repeating first grade will bore her or not challenge her enough, but at the same time, it might give her the extra boost that she needs to excel instead of always being one step behind. We did mention this idea to her and, to our surprise, she was excited about it and all for it. Although we don't want her to be against whatever decision we make, we are not sure if this excitement is from fear of facing new challenges and harder work. We don't want to give her an "easy out" but we do want to provide what's best for her. Any thoughts from other parents or teachers on this? Any opinions or thoughts from others who have been through or faced this situation would be greatly appreciated!!

Both of my girls have August birthdays. DD1 just finished first grade. DD2 will be entering kindergarten in the fall. It was a tough decision, but we chose to start them "early". Being the youngest in class has worked out beautifully for DD1. She is doing spectacular in school. She never missed a question all year on her math and science tests. She missed very few spelling words, and exceeded the goal for sight words by over 300 words! She does fine socially. She loves school and is actually sad that it is summer break. I have every confidence that DD2 will also flourish when she gets into school. Like the DD of the OP, she is ready academically and socially. I have examined every kindergarten readiness checklist I can find, and haven't found one good reason to hold her back. I can't make this decision based on her birth month alone, and if I were to hold her back, that's exactly what I would be doing. DD2 and I had the opportunity to visit the kindergarten class toward the end of the school year. There was nothing that I didn't feel she could handle a year from now. It also crossed my mind while we were there that if I had listened to the generalized advice to hold kids back, then DD1 would be in that room! That would be a disaster. She would be bored silly and would likely act out out of boredom. The only school work she hates doing is the stuff that she thinks is too easy. If she were in K this year, she would have been so miserable. Anyway, the schools try to scare you into waiting. I don't know why. Maybe they do this because they think younger kids will bring down their test scores. Who knows. To the OP, think of it this way: pretend for a minute that your daughter turned 5 in February. Would you still consider holding her back? If so, then maybe you should wait. If not, then my advice is to send her, and do so with confidence and without reluctance! Best of luck!

OK, after I posted I went through and read all the comments. Now I am just annoyed that we have been put in this position. I am annoyed that the school system has started this trend of holding kids back just because they have summer or even spring birthdays! Someone mentioned that they wish it was still the way it was 20 years ago. If you make the cut-off, you go to school (unless there are significant factors). I totally agree. This trend of holding kids back has created such a blurred line. I don't know how it benefits anyone - the school or the students - to have kids in the same class who are 1-1 1/2 years apart in age. Many of you seem to be beating yourselves up over the fact that you sent your child early and they struggled with certain subjects. Well, I was a Feb. baby and I still struggled with several subjects:) LOL! PLease don't beat yourself up over this any longer! Kids struggle at some point through school. The month of their birth has nothing to do with that. You don't honestly think that a 3rd grader struggles with reading because he was born a few months later than his classmates? Let your mommy instinct kick in and do what feels right. That's really all there is to it.

It's comforting to know that there are many others out there who are struggling with the issue of whether or not to send their summer birthday boy to Kindergarten. My oldest son will turn 6 in early July. (he was born premature in early July, not due until early Aug.) We spent the past few years in a huge struggle over this decision! After much agonizing, praying, asking others, and just about going husband and I made the decision to WAIT to send our son to Kindergarten until this a 6 year old. This past year has been really hard for me as I have struggled with "second guessing" this decision to wait. My son started reading at 4 1/2, knows his letters, sounds, counts to 100....basically has mastered all the benchmarks required for kids to know by the end of Kindergarten. I was beating myself up on and off all year, wondering if we made the right choice! I wonder if he'll be bored in Kindergarten. At Kindergarten Registration I was in tears because I felt I should have been doing this a year he breezed through the testing with no problems. The teacher assured me that no one has ever regretted waiting. My son is quite small for his age and very active. He is quite high strung and hyper....always on the go. Yet academically he's very bright. As we contemplated what to do, we were concerned about his social development and his attention span. Those factors combined with his summer birthday led us to WAIT. Now he'll be off to Kindergarten in the fall. That hurdle was huge, but now we have to face it again in a few years! I have another son, age 3, with a mid April birthday (shy, laid back child) and another one, age 2, with a mid May birthday! (a busy spitfire like oldest brother) (I NEVER considered this when getting pregnant!) I would welcome any feedback and / or confirmation regarding the decision to wait. Are early spring birthdays as debatable as the summer ones? I have a few more years to think about it, but this issue never goes away. It's always in the back of my mind! Thanks for letting me share some thoughts!

It does help knowing we are not alone in our struggles with this decision. I will share my experience which was waiting on my son (Aug Birthday) until 6 for Kindergarten. He is completing K currently and really enjoyed it in the beginning but is ready for summer now. When going into his class (Public School) he was definitely on the more mature side for the boys, but seemed to fit right in with the girls as far as maturity. He does seem to be the class helper as far as taking things to the office, etc. He did not struggle with the work but I would not say he was bored. I feel he could have been more challenged but that may have been the case last year, too. I am starting to realize that there is a wide variety of learners in every class and some children that know the curriculam before they start and some that have never written their name. Therefore, I am glad we waited to start him, however, on the academics he probably would have been okay the year before. Our cutoff is Sept 1st so he only made the cutoff by a week and a half. Where he would have struggled going at a young 5 vs. young 6 is the length of the full day K and emotionally would have had a few more melt downs. It was reassuring putting him on the bus at 6 and feeling he was READY! I hope this helps in your decision. I have a July Birthday Boy and am also struggling with the decision a second time around. It worked well waiting with my first son, but the next one in some ways seems more ready. We are most likely waiting though since we did for my oldest and then they will be 2 grades apart as they are 2 years apart. Hang in there!

After reading these posts it just makes me so aware that every situation and child is unique. I am a mother of 4 children, Oldest Son,(almost 16)July Birthday,Second Son (10) December, Third Son (9) March and my Baby Girl (4) July Birthday as well. Sending our oldest to K at early 5 we never even thought to hold him back even though he actually was born 6.5 weeks early and would have indeed been a September birthday. This proved to be a nightmare for us later. Every year he struggled and they continued to advance him until 2nd grade when we fought the school and ending up retaining him. I wish so much we would have just waited. The story ended well through, my son is now finishing Freshman year with an A/B average, went to State Finals for Track the past two years, made the Freshman Football team out of 200 kids as their starting Running Back, has tons of friends, and above all seems to have the maturity to be making good choices as a teenager. My other two boys are in the middle, December and March, both do great in school scoring well above their grade level on their MAP and ISAT tests. Which brings me to my daughter. The baby of the family(and tiny as can be), the July birthday, and quite immature for her age especially as far as attention span goes. Our grade school which is K-8, runs 8:00-3:10 everyday. Her preschool teachers have said she along with many other summer birthdays childern need that extra year to mature and make their first school experience a positive one.We are fine with giving her the gift of another year to mature and catch up, but have a few friends with little girls my daughers age and are more than ready to go making it hard for us to see alot of her friends go on without her. I have heard from many teachers that parents gut feelings are the best guess as far as what is best for their child. Good Luck everyone.

I noticed that a few people think it is a some kind of conspiracy by the school to have children wait a year to enter to make it easier their jobs easier to teach the kids! Are they kidding? They too are trying to do what is best for each child. I have taught for years and can honestly say that summer children are at a disadvantage no matter how bright. Here is what a teacher does in most classrooms. As she teaches she "shoots" for the middle and hopes to draw in as many low and as many high students as she can. If she has time she works with those having trouble. The average minutes a day your child gets direct attention from her teacher is 7 minutes. There simply isn't enough time in the day.Those who are younger simply need a bit more, and often the teacher just can't meet their needs. It isn't humanly possible. I have two August boys in my class this year (1st grade). Bless their hearts, they are the sweetest boys you every saw. Both are very bright and have learned well. But one struggles with maturity and very poor motor skills. I can barely read his handwriting. The other struggles with fitting in as the older boys are into other things. He sitll has a bit of a baby belly! I just want to rock him. Academically they are doing great, but I can see the problems ahead for both of them. They would have benefitted greatly from waiting a year. I also have 2nd grader who struggles horribly with maturity. Every year it gets worse despite the fact he is brilliant. He is a May birthday.

It is very helpful to read these posts from other moms who are in the same situation regarding wondering whether or not to send their summer birthday children to kindergarden. My husband is "exhausted" with this subject and he too is thankful that there's other moms out there with whom I can relate. I really appreciate the imput from teachers who have addressed the issue of summer birthdays and shared what they have personally seen in the classroom. We have waited to send our July birthday boy until this year when he is 6. He would fit into the category of "very bright" as he has a fantastic memory and can retain information wonderfully. He is reading...started at age 4 1/2 and is way ahead of his peers with academics. I want to just say a huge, heartfelt THANKYOU!!! to those moms who encouraged "waiting" no matter how "bright" a child might be. While he is bright and catches on to new concepts quite easily, he is also immature, very active and small for his age. I pray that I can feel at complete peace sending him to Kindergarten at age 6 and stop second guessing the decision to wait. I hope other moms out there will be encouraged by the info you read on this site.

I too am struggling with this decision. My son has an August 30th birthday. He will be 5 this August. The cut off is Oct.1st. He is currently in Pre-K and in August will have been there for 1 1/2 years. I am in a strange situtation. Because if I keep him there another year, the children closet to him in age are 7 and 9 (both boys) months younger than him. And the other children are mostly girls and a whole year younger than him! The teachers feel I should send him. But if there were other kids closer in age to him I think they would say it was OK for him to stay. It's just unfortunate, that although I feel I want to wait until he is 6 (or at least 5 1/2 for a boy), his current Pre-K location is not the best fit either. I have looked for other solutions, but have not found any. I've read a couple books on this matter, and one in particular said that boys especially should wait or repeat kindergarten. He says this because in general, they have slower motor skills and maturity levels. It's too bad the schools don't follow this rule and we could all be together on this. But how it works today, is that holding them back in Kindergarten causes teasing from other children and I think may make your child feel bad. This is a great book: "Raising boys : Why boys are different-and how to help them become happy and well-balanced men" by Steve Biddulph. I learned a lot from it and highly suggest it. Because parents in general hold their summer kids back, sometimes you have to go with society. Plus my son is on the smaller size and doesn't have much for height in the gene pool. One thing my friend keeps telling me is it doesn't hurt to let them be a kid another year.

My first boy is an Oct birthday and I held him back. He did wonderful in kindergarten. I thought he was ready academically at 4, almost 5, for kindergarten but my plan was to hold him back based on the fall birthday. A neighbor of mine has a fall birthday and he said he wished he would've been held back just because he felt like he was at a disadvantage for sports. I don't regret my decision at all to hold my first back. He was smarter than most kids in his class but the teacher found ways to challenge him. My second boy is 20 months younger and a June birthday. We have been debating for the last 6 months whether or not to hold him back! If I send him then my kids will be back to back in school. I don't know if that's good or bad. Right now we are leaning toward pre-k because I have never heard of people regretting holding their kids back. It's not right now that I am worried about. I think he'd do just fine in kindergarten. It's when he gets into middle school and high school that I don't want him to be more immature than everyone else. From what I hear, kids will all catch up academically but socially later on is what the concern is. My first that did so well in kindergarten was working with a special teacher once a week to work with him at his level of reading, which she said is at least at a 3rd grade level, and she said that she feels like regardless of how well they do academically she'd hold kids, especially boys, back all the way back to April birthdays just because of the maturity issue later on. I think the other thing to keep in mind is that the demands on kindergarteners is more than when I was a kid. My first son's teacher said that what they need to teach in kindergarten is what they used to have to know by the end of first grade. That alone makes me feel like holding back my June boy is a good idea. I don't think it hurts for a child to have an extra year of just being a kid. When I was in kindergarten we had more play time and recess time than my son had this past year. The expectations seem greater. I would rather have my kids be in honors classes than to have them struggle. It is such a tough decision! As a parent you obviously want what's best for your child. As far as worrying about whether or not your child will be bored, my oldest was never bored and I feel like it's the job of the teacher to find ways to challenge the kids that are more advanced. I know it's hard for a teacher to work at so many different levels but my son's teacher did a great job with it.

It is sad to see so many with spring birthdays holding their children back. I am feeling the pressure of this decision and understand everyone's reluctance to send them because I have a 4 year old who is to start kindergarten this fall. Her birthday is 5 days before the Sept 1 cutoff. And with everyone waiting, she will be in school with children 1 and sometimes 1 1/2 years older than her. If it were 1/2 day I wouldn't be as concerned. AND if I hadn't heard of everyone keeping their children back until they are 6 I wouldn't be as concerned. However, it seems the new way is to send children to kindergarten when they are 6 and to treat it as if it is first grade!!! I feel the only children who shouldn't start kindergarten if they have reached the cutoff should be those who are TRULY emotionally challenged and those who may have medical issues. Then there wouldn't be so much pressure on parents to make a "decision" on whether to send the children. Sorry for the rant, but this shouldn't be such an issue and wouldn't be if everyone would just stop trying to make their kids better, brighter, faster, stronger and smarter than all the other children. As for me I now have to worry if my child can handle being with children so much older than her. Good luck to everyone!!!

It is sad to see so many with spring birthdays holding their children back. I am feeling the pressure of this decision and understand everyone's reluctance to send them because I have a 4 year old who is to start kindergarten this fall. Her birthday is 5 days before the Sept 1 cutoff. And with everyone waiting, she will be in school with children 1 and sometimes 1 1/2 years older than her. If it were 1/2 day I wouldn't be as concerned. AND if I hadn't heard of everyone keeping their children back until they are 6 I wouldn't be as concerned. However, it seems the new way is to send children to kindergarten when they are 6 and to treat it as if it is first grade!!! I feel the only children who shouldn't start kindergarten if they have reached the cutoff should be those who are TRULY emotionally challenged and those who may have medical issues. Then there wouldn't be so much pressure on parents to make a "decision" on whether to send the children. Sorry for the rant, but this shouldn't be such an issue and wouldn't be if everyone would just stop trying to make their kids better, brighter, faster, stronger and smarter than all the other children. As for me I now have to worry if my child can handle being with children so much older than her. Good luck to everyone!!!

I also have a boy with an August birthday. My husband and I have debated on whether to send him to kindergarten or hold him back a year. After talking to many teachers that say it is best to hold boys back because of maturity, we have decided to hold him back a year. We have also talked to many parents that say that they wish they had held their children back a year especially boys. I feel that we should let our kids be kids as long as we can and let them be ready and mature enough for school especially since they teach harder things at earlier ages than when we went to school. I hope this helps everyone. Good luck with whatever you decide for your children.

My daughter will be 4 the first week in Feb, so by the time school starts she'll be 4 1/2. She can spell & write her first & last name & most of her letters and counts & recognizes all digits whether in order or not. She's completely potty trained & dresses herself most days. Here in Va we have full time pre k in schools, but usually spots fill with children who qualify due to not doing well on the screening, so the better they do the less likely they are to be able to attend. We've applied for that but are doubtful she will make it because she is so bright. I am leaning more toward starting K, it would only be 6 months until she turned 5 & if she is capable why not? Yes she is small for her age, still wearing 2 & 3T clothes, but what does size have to do with it? I teach remeidal math at a 3-5 school and neither age nor size of the child determines whether or not they need me! In my experience, most children who fall behind in school have missed key building blocks at some point, maybe from missing too many days of school, or attention issues. These "lapses" make it difficult for them to move on to higher concepts. A good example would be most of the 5th graders I see can't do any computation with fractions, not because they don't understand the steps involved, but rather because in 3rd & 4th grades they missed learning the skill of multiplication. Same with long division, they can tell me the steps, but can't figure out what numbers to use because they don't know how to find the multiples of the divisor. I guess my thought is as long as the child is building an understanding of the concepts & is capable of building upon those concepts they are ready. If they are struggling in school it may take a more active parent at home to help fill in the gaps that develope. Just my opinion...

I am a fourth grade teacher and always "knew" that I would hold my son ( An August baby) I have always seen younger students struggle. Many of them were fine until fourth grade but suddny the age gap grows as puberty starts. My son is 5 and in a private kindergarten this year. The problem is, he is fully reading, plays chess etc... He is academically ahead of his peers. The public school kindergarten which I was planning on sneding him to is a half day program. Now I am stressing this decision. I khow as a parent I can help to enrichor remediate him but socially we have no control. Any suggestions?

To acinva, have you checked with your public school? I'm not sure that you can enroll a 4 1/2 year old in Virginia. I've heard of cases where parents petition if their child's birthday is within a few days of the cutoff, but not 6 months. It's a different story if you're thinking about private school. Just a thought!

To Mom and teacher: That's a tough one! It sounds as though the public school setting may not provide your son with enough of an academic challenge next year. How does he get along with his peers? Would it be possible for you to meet with the principal and perhaps a K teacher at your public school?

Does anyone have any comments about March Birthdays. My daughter turns 5 and I haven't made a decision (I'm really torn)! Kindergarten registration starts Monday. Help please need some sound advice!!

Your daughter sounds A LOT like mine. Nearly identical situations. I am currently having the same struggle w/ the decision to send her to K or not this year just after she turns 5. What did you end up doing? PLease advise!

I have read many comments about boys with summer birthdays not being ready for school. What about girls with early spring/summer birthdays? I have 3 children. My oldest daughter will be 5 June 12. My middle child, a girl, turned 3 May 7. My son will be 2 July 29. Our districts cut off date is May 31. I'm fine with my son starting school at 6. He will only be 6 for a few weeks before school starts. I'm less sure about my girls. They are a few weeks shy of being exactly 2 years apart. Our districts cut off date is right between their birthdays, making them one year apart in school, but 2 years apart in age. Or, I could send my oldest to a private school for a few years. Or, start all my children in kindergarten at 6. I'm very torn. My oldest has had 2 years of preschool. She did very well She is so sweet and mature. Although she did well, her teacher said she is still a bit more interested in play than learning. My younger daughter seems very bright. I'm not sure holding her back till 6 is appropriate. I'm not sure I want my girls 1 year apart and more in competition with each other. I'm so confused? I'm quite tall and so are my daughters. I worry about them being the oldest and most mature in Jr. High. On the other hand, I don't want them to struggle unneccesarily if school is really getting more demanding. Our cut off date seems earlier than anywhere else in the country. If a moved a few miles aways we'd have a Sept. 1 cut off and I probably wouldn't be so worried about sending my oldest off to kindergarten. Help!!!!!

I hope our experience will help someone reading this. Our son has a May birthday and is now 10. He was born a month early and has food allergies and asthma. We decided to hold him for a couple of reasons. He was accidemically ready, but still cried every time I dropped him off at pre-school. He also was very shy and embarassed about his medical issues. He would need his inhaler, and would be too afraid to raise his hand and let his teacher know. Much to his preschool teachers dismay, we held him. Every teacher at the elementary level encouraged us to do so. Now he will be starting 4th grade in the fall. The toughest part is that most of his good friends that he has made from sports and in the neighborhood are going into 5th grade this year. But many of those boys have also been held back due to July or August birthdays. There are even some boys younger than him that are the grade ahead of him. However, he has tested as gifted and now goes to special classes for that. He has also been a leader and role model in every classroom he's been in so far. I've talked to many parents with sons the same age who have had to plan tutoring and put in extra time because their son is always slightly behind. Our biggest concern is that our son is bored, but the gifted classes have helped take care of that. He is very confident and well liked. His school friends really look up to him. He is pretty far ahead accidemically than his classroom peers and I have had thoughts about moving him ahead a year. My husband is very much against this and thinks he has a huge advantage to be where he is. I've asked my son's teachers about moving him up at just about every teacher/parent conference. Every teacher has said the same thing; Do you want him to always be a leader and a step ahead, or do you want him always being a step behind? That makes our decision easy...we did the right thing.Just my opinion, but I would hold any child with an August birthday, regardless of the situation.

hi,just wondering what happend to all those who posted those earlier questions, what decisions they made and if they're happy or regretting??? I have a july girl (Dec cutoff) who is ready but a huge number of people saying it's better to hold. I waiver all the timethanks

Hi Kaylee,I can only speak from my own experience, and for the most part we're glad we made the decisions we made (hold our August girl, send our July girl) but our cutoff here is Sept. 30. Our decision was based almost exclusively on our daughters' differing personalities. Molly is cautious, tentative, and shy. Anna's always been pretty wide open and she does well in lots of social situations. We suspected Anna would be just fine, and she is. Molly is fine too, and does well being the "big fish in a little pond."

It depends on what is being taught. It seems that US kindergarten curriculum is very flawed. Kid should not read and write words before their brains are wired and ready. If reading and writing of words are taught before time then that could induce learning disability which would be noticed in later grades. Dealy is good option if the school insists on teaching too much too early.

Thanks, Das, for writing and commenting. I have to disagree, though, with your statement about inducing learning disabilities by teaching reading and writing too soon. The scientific evidence about the causes of LD is clear, and are widely accepted. The primary problem for children with reading problems is in phonological processing, not the age at which they are taught to read and write.

Wow I can't believe there are people holding back summer babies. I thought the older kids in my childs class were learning disabled and that is why they were older. I don't think holding kids back to give them an advantage is fair and it definately should not be allowed in the public school system. I put my December girl in K at age 4. She is in Grade 1 now and so far she is doing well.

As I primary teacher, my advice would always be to hold June, July, and August birthdays. This is the one of the first things that many of us look at as we get our class lists. My suggestion to parents with these kids would be to make a list of pros and cons about sending them or holding them out a year. Why wouldn't you want to give that little one one more year to mature socially and academically. And as for being bored, gifted/talented/capable kids are rarely bored. Parents usually introduce this word and it can be used to sit and do nothing in class. My highly capable students will challenge themselves with novels, writing projects or reading projects. These kids are self starters and love knowledge. Why rush? Keep them home and cherish your time with them one more year!

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"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom" —

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