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Young mother with toddler child drawing with a crayon
Dr. Joanne Meier
Sound It Out
Joanne Meier

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

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 (opens in a new window), 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 (opens in a new window)covered the story, with opinion from Barbara Willer, deputy executive director for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (opens in a new window). The National Center for Education Statistics examined the reading and math achievement data (opens in a new window) of children who repeated kindergarten or who began kindergarten a year late.

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (opens in a new window) 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 (opens in a new window), 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!

About the Author

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

Publication Date
January 18, 2007