Wednesday, January 23, 2008

To Kindergarten or Not to Kindergarten....

John is 4. He will be 5 years old on August 31st. School starts August 1st in Hawaii, but the kindergarten cut off is in like December or something.

Since he was a baby I have planned to keep him home from school the year he turns five. Here's why:

- we lived in South Dakota and will be moving back there in a year or two. South Dakota's Kindergarten cut off date is the first day of school, so some years he would not make the date.

- he's kind of small for his age.

- and other stuff, like sometimes writing is harder for little boys, and older boys do better in sports in high school and stuff like that that I've read and friends have told me.

- our friend from SD turned five a few days after the K cut off. She stayed home one more year and when she finally started school she was SOOOOOO ready!

- K here is full day. I'm not sure if I love full day.

- I like hanging out with John. We are buddies.

Now that he'e nearly five, I'm not so sure any more. Here are some reasons to send him to K in the fall.

- I think he needs to be in real school. I've enjoyed the neighborhood swap this year, but I think he needs more structure.

- The elementary school offers a young class for K4.

- I would have more time to volunteer and get my eyebrows waxed.

- John's buddy "Max" will start school in the fall and they are just the same age.

- Kindergarten at the school is free. Preschool is not free.

- He would be going to the same school as his sisters.

This is something I have been asking everyone about. Today, my sister Mary asked a similar question about her daughter Lindsey and preschool. (I hope you don't mind that I'm totally copying you, Mary!) You must go see Lindsey all dressed up for school. She is so cute! I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one wondering about the fall, even though winter term just started.

What is best?

Some people say it's easy to treat your youngest like a baby - it's not a bad thing to let him grow up.

Some people say they kept their son home another year and they are so glad.

Some say they wish they had kept their son home another year.

Some say they sent their son early and he's doing great....

What do you say?

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Jessica said...

Those are good points. I have noticed that there is a huge trend lately to keep kids (especially boys) back an extra year if their birthday is anywhere near the cut-off. Here is my opinion, take it for whatever its worth:
I would put him in kindergarten this fall. You don't seem to have any concerns about his cognitive abilities, you didn't mention any big difficulties socially, so I bet he would do well. Besides, you can always take him out if he seems to be struggling or have him repeat kindergarten altogether if at the end of the year you feel he isn't quite ready for first grade. This is where I am at with my daughter. Her birthday is five days before the cut-off, and our school district just switched to full-day kindergarten this year, and she had not been in any sort of structured preschool (other than the occasional at-home activity with mom). Yet so far, she seems to be doing well. I am keeping open the possibility of her repeating, but right now it doesn't look like she'll need it.
Also, as to the argument that boys who are older will be bigger for sports, it seems like a weird reason to delay school. How can you know when your son will have his growth spurt? Some boys never get big, some don't until 19 or 20 or so, and some might in the 7th grade.
On the other hand, I can see why you might want to delay the full-day school thing with your youngest and keep him with you for another year. He is a cutie!

Army Wife said...

My son is in kindergarten and just turned 6.

I am glad I waited an extra year, as he made huge stride in that year.

Also kindergarten is a full day here. That is a big day for little folks.

I spoke with several teachers about this decision, and heard an overwhelming WAIT. And I took it seriously as those folks are the ones who see how a 5 year old integrates into a school on a regular basis.

Do what your heart is telling you.

I will also note that my son goes to a private school now with only 11 children kindergarten and first grades combined. He is doing a lot of school work he would not have been capable of doing a year ago.

telling time
counting money

My son would have been frustrated last year with himself, as asking a child to sit and work when they want to play is rough stuff.

my 2cents.

I will send my youngest to school either next year or the following, as she does not meet the age criteria, but she is a different bird altogether.

I will miss the time with them greatly. They are only small for a wee while

Tori :) said...

I'm no help because was like "Yeah. Oh yeah. Good point..." on like every single pro and con you had listed!!

TripleE said...

I had the same issue with my oldest daughter, her birthday is Sept 29 , but the cut-off is Dec 1st in CA. Most other states, she would not have made the cut-off.
I sent her to kinder at 4, she was ready, she would have been totally bored with kinder if I waited another year. Since it was a full day, it was tough the first couple months, but she loved it after that. She is still the youngest, by more than a year from many of the kids held back, but not the shortest any longer now that she is in 2nd grade.
Just follow your gut, you know your own son better than anyone else.

Steph said...

I will have the same problem in a couple of years Zach's birthday is mid-august so he will be four when he starts year-round school starts(which is in July)!
I will definitely be starting him then...I can't imagine him being another year older and in kindergarten but it is also half day (full day would worry me too).
Another thing to think about is how much college he'll be able to get in before he goes on a mission. Some of the guys we knew were able to finish a year pre-mission and I think that helped them out once they returned (less college to finish). So am I helpful? Probably not, just adding another thing to think about ;).

wendy said...

Steph, you bring up a good point about the mission. My nephew is on his mission right now and my sil says she liked that after he graduated he had just a few months to work before going on his mission. On the other hand there is a young man in our ward who is at BYU now and will go on his mission after he finishes up the spring term...I don't know...

I really appreciate hearing all your opinions!

orchard_girl said...

Wendy, our friend Kelsey's son turned 19 shortly after graduating last summer. She said it was great when he was young to start him late for kindergarden, but as he grew older, she wasn't as pleased with her choice. She said the last year and a half were very hard to keep him in school. Just something else to think about.

No Cool Story said...

ITA with Tori, I was doing the exact same thing.

I guess you know your kids best, so you'd know how he'd do.


Mary said...

These responses have been very interesting to me. My mind is still muddled on my own quazi similar issue, so I'm not really any help. But, I do like the idea of giving John a year of college before his mission. I guess I am biased on this since my freshman year of BYU was filled with a bunch of pre-missionary boys doing their one year of college before going on their missions, but I do really think it helps them grow up a little and prepare for their time as a missionary more than they would if they went from mom's house to MTC.

But, like the others said, you know John best and know if he's ready for school or not. Another year together before he goes to school would be fun for you guys, but he would probably also love kindergarten too, so that's hard!

(sorry, longest comment ever)

semper gumby wifey said...

Hi Wendy- I found your blog through your moment of fame at spousebuzz! (and I'm so jealous that you're stationed in Hawaii!)

Because you seem open to opinion, I'll throw in my two cents. I don't have kids of my own, but I am a teacher.

I taught first grade and have been in and out of kindergarten classrooms since I was in college. You obviously know your son better than anyone, and know what his cognitive skills are. But I have witnessed how that extra year is really beneficial to a lot of children (especially boys!) There are many younger ones that get through kindergarten just fine, but there are others who struggle because of the age difference/maturity/cognitive ability. My first grade students who were younger than the others did struggle a little more, but that could be a result of outside factors too, not necessarily age.

You have a hard decision, but your son will do just fine with either route. Just consider a few things before he starts: does he know all of his letters? (and recognize them out of context by sight) Does he know his letter sounds? How high can he count? Can he create/recognize/extend patterns? Can he write his first and last name? Can he write most of his letters? Does he know his shapes and colors? Does he socialize well with kids his own age? Can he make it through a 7 hour day? If you think he can handle most of these, then he's well prepared to start (just based on what most kindergarten teachers start the year off with) You always have the option, as someone else mentioned, of keeping him in another year if it doesn't seem to be working out. But then you may deal with the guilt of holding your child back. (although kindergarten, in my opinion, is a good time to do that if you and the teacher don't see the growth that is expected)

Sorry to make this so long, especially from a complete stranger!

wendy said...

semper gumby wifey - thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts. I really appreciate a teacher's view. I am not a teacher, but I have spent a lot of time in my girls classes and one thing that I've noticed is that the kids that seem to have a hard time focusing are often the younger little guys.

Mary - I was thinking of you and Randy at BYU.

and Heather - That is an important consideration, too. Yikes! So many things to consider!

One thing I didn't mention is that Hawaii schools are notoriously laid back, so his first year of school, whenever he goes, won't be all high pressure or anything.