Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hot topic: 6-year-old kindergarten trend

Below an SF K Files visitor poses a question for the group:

"My daughter has been given a "too-young" letter from our dream private (She has a late July bday). They would like her to try for kinder again next year...she'll be 6 by then. She is "academically" ready but still a little immature (has trouble following directions). Does anyone have any idea what percentage of kids will be 6 when entering kindergarten? Just curious if its a growing trend."

73 comments:

  1. It seems to me as if that is now the norm in private schools.

    Our daughter will be 6 when she starts school, as will at least the slight majority of her preschool.

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  2. This just seems crazy to me. Do most people really think it's a good idea for 18-year-olds to be starting their senior year in high school?

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    1. It's perfectly normal to be 18 at the start of senior year. Do people really think it's a good idea for 17 year olds to be starting college?!

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  3. In my son's class there were a few who came in at 6, then a few who turned 6 shortly after the school year began. I think the largest percentage have birthdays between December and early March followed by a trickle of birthdays into May. My son is one of the last ones. I think Town's cut-off is now July 15.

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  4. Do most people really think it's a good idea for 18-year-olds to be starting their senior year in high school?

    Do most people really think it's a good idea for both 16-year-olds and 18-year-olds to be starting their senior year in high school? I'd rather err on the side of being older!

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  5. At least 16-year-olds belong in high school. Most 18-year-olds are ready to be moving on, I think.

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  6. In my daughter's class at an often mentioned private I think only two had turned 6 before school started; a few turned 6 just after; and the birthdays have been steady through the year. I wouldn't say 6-year-olds are in the majority at all, but they're not unusual. There is at least one girl who won't be 6 until August 2009, so the oldest in the class is one full year older than the youngest. This is an all girls class.

    I didn't think those letters went out until March, with the others. Are they doing them separately this year?

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  7. In my son's public school K class there are several kids who turned 6last fall, and most will be 6 by the spring, despite the school district's late birthday cutoff date.

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  8. If you look at all of the national cut off dates, California is one of very few states that still have a December cut-off. Most states have pulled it back to September or October...although some are even earlier. Most private schools have summer cut-offs as well.

    In addition, the curriculum that is taught in Kindergarten was what used to be taught in 1st grade - so expectations have changed.

    Most kids do fine either way - pushed forward or held back - but only the pushed forward parents ever second-guess their decisions.

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  9. I was one who skipped a grade back in the day, and I remember a good friend of mine, a grade behind, finding out that we were the same age--actually, she was a few days older. She was soooo envious that I was heading off the college! We were both ready. No regrets--I was psyched to get out of Dodge and into college, whereas Jeannie had to endure another year.

    Along the same lines, my daughter is one of the youngest kids in her class, although she easily made the SFUSD cut-off of December. Both she and the other young one in the class were well ahead of the rest of the class in reading, and my daughter is socially advanced too--an early puberty kid like I was, very tall for a middle schooler. She didn't skip a grade, but so many were red-shirted that it sometimes seems like it! But she totally holds her own. No regrets there. I think she would be feeling stifled and bored if we had held her back.

    On the other hand, my son should be in the middle of his class but isn't. He's one of the younger ones, only because of red-shirting. And he skews a little to the younger side, compared to my daughter. Too late now, but I have some small regrets about not holding him back. He's academically ahead of track, but emotionally he is dealing with kids almost a full year older. I kind of resent it, because I don't think kids want to be still with their parents at 19--at least, I didn't--but the trend is pushing all of us to rethink it because we don't want our own child put at a disadvantage.

    Maybe there needs to be an upper age cut-off as well as a lower-age cutoff to stop the arms race--I mean, age race.

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  10. also, there is a class divide with the red-shirting. working class and low-income families usually don't have the luxury of three years of preschool, so they put their kids in when they are eligible. upper-income families can afford to wait in order to get that advantage. and the age divide further perpetuates the achievement gaps. solutions:

    1) i agree that there should be an upper cut-off as well as a lower one. it could be generous, like 15 months span, but there should be limits.

    2) i do agree with the poster who said that kindergarten is the new first grade. well, if that is true then maybe we should be offering free transitional kindergarten so that social/play time learning that used to the kindergarten is accessible to all, and not only those that can pay for it. with an overlapping age span per #1, above, families could choose whether to put their kids in a TK program or accelerate to regular K, based both on chronological and developmental age factors.

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  11. Pre-k is the new kindergarten.

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  12. Yes, Pre-K is the new Kindergarten. Unfortunately, we don't make it universally available the way we did Kindergarten, at least for my generation (1970's). So the class divide widens right there.

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  13. As a teacher, I'm really glad to see that there's an awareness here of how much kindergarten has changed, as well as of the equity issues that brings. The children I see who are four at the beginning of the year often have a difficult time transitioning into programs that have become much more academically challenging. In most cases I would not recommend holding children out until they are six, but I agree with the private schools that they shouldn't start before five.

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  14. i have a related question for the group. we're moving to sf in early march for my husband's work. our daughter, whose birthday is in mid-September, missed our public K deadline by two weeks in our current state, so she's in preK. is she going to be outrageously older than the rest of the kids if we wait until the fall to put her in K in California? technically we could put her in K now in SF -- she meets the California cutoff -- but in my gut i don't want to do that to her. i want her to have the whole "it's September and you're starting kindergarten" experience.

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  15. With a September birthday she won't be much older, because lots of people hold kids back.

    I agree with the poster who suggested an upper end age cutoff as well as a lower end one. If you turned 6 in the spring before starting K, chances are you're just too old to be in K - but that's what starts to happen at private schools. I think kids should be in the correct grade for their skill level, and not held back just so that they won't be the youngest. I'm also suspect of individuals or schools that always support holding back, rather than considering it in light of what's appropriate for the individual kid.

    by the way, I think there are two somewhat distinct discussions here: holding back in public schools of kids w/ Fall b-days, and holding back in private schools - those are the kids who are more likely to really be too old to be held back.

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  16. This has been a big bone of contention for me, which I've tried to get over by chanting "it's all about the specific kid." My 4 year old son has a very early September birthday, and we don't intend to redshirt him. He is good sized for his age, well coordinated, and is already emotionally more secure than most 5 year olds I've met. Academically he is probably in the middle of the pack (so far as we can tell now). So we're pretty confident he'll be ready for K in the fall. But I've been VERY put off by some of the blanket statements I've heard about this issue. The West Portal principle essentially said that no kids born after Sept 1 should go to K (which is a bit self-serving, no?), and many of the preschools have a Sept 1 cutoff, or earlier for boys. My son is born on Sept 2 - does that make him automatically less qualified than one born on Aug 30? I also agree that redshirting is primarily the luxury of the well-to-do, which frosts me to no end. But I recognize that kinder is different than my day. In the end, it seems like most public schools will continue to have a broad mix of ages, which argues even more strongly for maintaining small class sizes to accomodate more individual instruction.

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  17. I am amazed that the discussion has not mentioned in my opinion what is the real reason for holding kids back. It has very to do with how prepared they are academically, if anything. It has to do with their emotional readiness and their ability to fit in with the rest of the class. I knew a mom who was driven by putting her kid in K early. She actually had her kid in private and did K, so that she could then move him into public K early. He is doing okay, but I really think that is selfish - and a big mistake. You will often never know what the impact of decisions like this are, but unfortunately, the one paying for this experiment is the child. At MCDS, and I'm sure other privates, they really stress emotional readiness and maturity, as a well-rounded child is a hallmark of their program. I really love this about the school, and was one of the reasons we loved this school when we toured a couple years back.

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  18. My son is born on Sept 2 - does that make him automatically less qualified than one born on Aug 30?

    It's not all about your son. You have to have rules or it doesn't work.

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  19. I understand rules - it makes perfect sense to me that CA has a cutoff date. But I have not seen any data that says that a Sept 1 cutoff is some magic number in terms of academic and emotional readiness. For some kids it is a good indicator, and for some it is not. More helpful would be a slightly earlier cutoff (Oct 15?) and clearer guidance to parents and preschools to assess readiness. And to me it is even more egregious for privates to have arbitrary cutoffs. I agree with 9:53 that it is about emotional readiness, and privates by far have greater resources to evaluate readiness than the public schools (look at the previous thread about those processes). If they really cared about "the well rounded student" they would actually evaluate for that. In my mind it is just another way for them to cherry pick for the wealthy / stable / academically advanced (which brings into real question their stated desire for greater diversity). One educator I talked to admitted that it would be a good idea to move up the public cutoff, but there is not enough money for publicly funded preschools to accomodate an additional year's worth of kids.

    And maybe I'm naive, but I resist capitulating to the current fad of driving academic achievement to K and below. Where does that stop? Will we start sending our kids to K when they are 6 and 7? I think parents really need to push back and say "wait a minute - I learned to read fine and my kinder was much less academic." Just because we do it this way now doesn't mean it always has to be this way. A friend recently did a private school interview where they expected the kids to know the sounds of all the letters - she asked herself, so what are you going to teach them in Kinder?

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  20. i'll admit it: i don't like redshirting, period. i think we should all hang together on this. if we want to fight the academicization of kindergarten or seek other approaches for closing the achievement gap, fine. but if the state says the cutoff is dec 1 for public school, then we should all send our kids based on that. americans need to stop thinking so individualistically and start balancing what is best for the whole. sure, it's tough -- we love, love, love our kids -- but having watched my daughter's kinder class function for the better part of a year now, i'm convinced that we'll get the same results if we all just go for it in the same general age range. my daughter goes to a school with very few kids on free lunch, clarendon, so that's your demo. her class has a small handful of kids who started at age 4 -- including her -- a handful that started at 6 or near, and a majority somewhere in the middle. to my observation, in no way do their ages correlate with their social readiness, academic prowess or anything else. some kids are just going to be outliers, no matter what.

    my issues with redshirting are these (some have been stated on the thread prior): equity (only the wealthy can afford to not send their kid); and social appropriateness and safety in the teen years (i am NOT keen on my future 13-year-old girl attending the same institution as 19-year-old MEN).

    i think redshirting's popularity has grown along with the idea that we have both the power and the justification to Give Our Kids Every Possible Advantage. sometimes i wonder: what if GOKEPA isn't the best way to parent after all?

    every kid will have some areas in which they excel and some in which they don't, social, academic and otherwise. i sort of get that there is an optimal kinder readiness zone, but i can't believe there is a hard threshold. that's just silly.

    mind you, i might sing a different tune when #2, my son, comes along: he's puny, tightly wound, stubborn as hell and has just a touch of lazy eye. time for martial arts, right?

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  21. I agree. For girls, I see it as an advantage as well as a safety issue to have them start on the latter side...so what if she's 18 at the start of her senior year...she'll be older than most of the boys and better able to fend for herself. Besides, most of the class will turn 18 during the course of the school year. Very few,if any kids actually graduate at 16! Most are 18 with a few 17 year old Turing 18 during the summer. I've been debating this myself and the more I read this thread, the more inclined I am to hold my early fall daughter back.

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  22. i think redshirting's popularity has grown along with the idea that we have both the power and the justification to Give Our Kids Every Possible Advantage.

    We do. It's better for kids to start school later. Period. Now let's find a way to make that feasible for everyone.

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  23. I have an October birthday and I started school when I was 4. I was the youngest but I got great grades, had just as many friends, and was more advanced in certain areas than most. It's all about the kid. It was never, ever an issue for me. I started college at 17, went straight through, got good grades, etc.

    I understand you need some cutoff points, but that should be more about maintaining a reasonable age range in the class.

    I don't really see how K has changed that much, either.

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  24. "We do. It's better for kids to start school later. Period."

    Err...no.

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  25. I can post links, too. Your blanket statement is still ridiculous.

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  26. When in doubt--lower expectations!

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  27. You, on the other hand, have taken up two posts without actually saying anything.

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  28. I've learned it is a waste of time to try and discuss things rationally with those who deal only in absolutes.

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  29. "I have an October birthday and I started school when I was 4. I was the youngest but I got great grades, had just as many friends, and was more advanced in certain areas than most."

    You probably went to kindergarden with the rest of us moms and dads when kindergarden was mainly for socialization and more play based. Preschool was not the norm like it is today. Kindergardens today are what we experienced and learned in 1st grade. Do you think you would have done as well at 4 years old in a 1st grade class? Maybe not. That is why this issue is a relatively new concept for most parents with kinder age kids to have to digest.

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  30. I'm 11:16 above

    Funny, the studies and the articles linked to above say what us absolute folks have said - the gains are not clear, there are equity downsides, and it really depends on the kid. The Kinder teacher in the news article admitted that it really depends on the kid, and changing the age "couldn't hurt." That's hardly a rigorous scientific evaluation. The PPIC paper indicates some benefits, but it's not clear to me (I'm a public policy geek) how much they controlled for important variables like mother's education, pre-school attendance, etc. It only mentioned socioeconomic factors, age and gender as variables for most of the studies.

    And the range of cutoffs from different states is eye-opening - those and the PPIC paper indicate that there is no one "perfect" cutoff. Dec. 2 may be too late, but I'd say Sept. 1 is too early, depending on the kid (of course, that's my Sept. 2 bias!!!) July 15 for some of the privates seems ludicrous. However, an earlier cutoff might reduce redshirting, thereby narrowing the age range in any given class. With the current move to redshirting, we'll likely see kids entering Kinder ranging from 4.75 - 6, which is probably too much.

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  31. Maybe, but I know kids now who started at four and who are still in elementary school and they are doing well. I'm not saying overall it might be something to consider, but I don't think it is horrible to start at four either. Why the change in K, if there has been one? Why not just go back to more of a preschool-like K? That sounds like it would help out the families of kids who can't afford preschool more than delaying start times. When did the difference start?

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  32. that last was addressed to 4:20

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  33. All SF four year olds are eligible for free preschool for three hours a day. But not all preschools are part of preschool for all. There are very stringent requirements and most don't want to bother going through the process.

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  34. Four year olds don't belong in kindergarten.

    Yes, we need better subsidized childcare. But that is not the same thing as kindergarten.

    Sending kids to kinder who are too young and not ready does a disservice to those kids *and* to those who *are* ready.

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  35. Sheesh, another blanket statement. I think I'll just bow out now.

    Your opinion does not equal fact or indisputable truth.

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  36. I teach Kindergarten. The four year olds do fine - I had a lot of them (about half the class) this year. The students who are less ready in terms of social-emotional development, interest in print, motor skills and what have you (and those students are not always the youngest) are generally at grade-level by the end of the year. The progression is slower, maybe - but everyone gets there in the end, and a decent K teacher will differentiate and stress personal bests so that no one feels behind.

    I do not feel any discussion of changing the cutoff date should be had before California offers universal Pre-K. There is no advantage for a child to enter Kindergarten about to be 6 when that child has not had some kind of preschool experience. In fact, that child is probably further behind than he or she would have been at five compared to his or her age-level peers.

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  37. If you don't turn 5 before Aug 1, a lot of privates won't even let you apply.

    I kept my daughter back, and in her preschool, it seemed that the majority are doing the same. She will enter k a month into being 6, but so will all of her classmates.

    I am in no rush to have her grow up, I really think she needed this year, and I don't see any downsides to this.

    on the other hand, I feel as if NCLB is pressuring kids unduly, and if the kids are under advantaged, they are going to suffer even more starting at a younger age.

    This is only a trend I see on the coasts though--in the Midwest where I am originally from, it does seem to be more of, "your kids too young, too bad."

    I think it’s good for her to be older when she enters college--I think this was good for her intellectually. Besides, when I was the youngest, and couldn't even get into the bars (you had to be at least 18)!

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  38. I'm really glad we're having this discussion. This is a real eye opener to me.

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  39. Disadvantaged kindergartners will still be behind at 6 years of age. The teacher (the one with actual experience here) is right--a universal free preschool or go back to the original style Kindergarten.

    In my experience, none of the kindergartens I saw, public or private, looked so horribly stringent that most almost-fives couldn't handle them.

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  40. I don't think the admissions people are worried that the kids can't handle kindergarten. From what I gather, it seems that some of the summer birthdays are cognitively ready for K, but perhaps not socially. The admission people are concerned that in later grades they will suffer when they are not socially as mature as other students. A friend with a late-fall birthday kid in pub school says her daughter has been conflicted as many of her friends hit puberty 6 to 9 months ago and she's still feeling like a kid.
    In my own experience as a summer birthday, it was a drag to be physically smaller and weaker than other kids. I could never compete strength-wise in games like Red Rover. On the other hand, (this was public school), I was bored by the content of the classes and rarely challenged. I doubt sincerely that there'd be a lack of challenge in the private schools mentioned in this blog (or the public schools mentioned here either).

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  41. I've asked and been told by many k teachers that social and emotional readiness is the most important skill a new kindergartener could have. Can he/she sit still and listen to directions, and work in groups? No matter what, you're going to have some span of ages, but it helps the teacher tremendously if the children have that age appropriate maturity.

    My daughter has a December birthday so she will be one of the older ones in her class. She's fine and ready. My son has an October birthday. If we end up in public school, we'll turn in an application in January 2010. If we end up in private school, we'll need to wait anyway due to the September cutoff. We're going to try to work with the birthday cutoffs but are ready to redshirt for public if he does seem immature for his age and disruptive. So it'll require keeping a close eye.

    My daughter is the oldest in her preschool class right now, and she is definitely very confident, savvy, a leader. She holds her own with the boys. She's also rather petite for her age, and for her, I think it'll be beneficial to be older if not bigger than everyone else. In a previous school where the classes had a 3-5 year old mix, she was a head shorter than the oldest kids. They were always picking her up (because they thought she was so cute and little, her teacher said), and she HATED it. Physical size is a factor to consider, for sure, whether you're a girl or boy.

    So anyway, the reason I'd redshirt my son would be if he really is too immature for k. There will be flaky kids in every classroom, but I'd be guilty of taking away opportunities from the kids who are ready just because the teacher is disciplining my unruly son. That said, I was still a bit offended when the West Portal principal (he must make that spiel at every tour) said to keep our four year olds home. I'd like to think I'm honest enough with myself to gauge whether my son can handle it.

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  42. We redshirted our October-birthday son, and NOT to give him an advantage. He clearly wasn't ready to work in groups, sit and listen, and other basic requirements of kindergarten. We were afraid he'd be traumatized and that it would be a disruption and a problem for the teacher and other kids.

    He's now 18 and a high school senior. Our daughter is 14 and a freshman at the same school. There are certainly things to fret about involving high school kids, but truly, the age span of the kids at the school isn't one of them! (It's considered fairly unacceptable for a senior to date a freshman, by the way.)

    Any academic advantage a child might get simply from being older is blurred out by, say, third grade or so. By high school it isn't even a blip who's older within a grade -- the only way it becomes apparent is when kids start driving (very few kids drive at all at my kids' high school, but in surburban schools this would be a big deal). And it was big news last fall when the kids who were 18 -- all of them having been "redshirted," by definition -- were old enough to vote! The others were definitely envious. Other than that, it's just not an issue at all.

    So from experience, I'd say that both extremes in viewpoints are stressing needlessly -- and that the notion that it's any big deal at all is an unnecessary concern.

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  43. In our public kindergarten, my son (November birthday) was one of the oldest kids there (the only child older was one repeating kindergarten with a September birthday). There were many Dec. and January birthdays, but not all that much red-shirting (plenty of 4 year olds with fall birthdays as well). The kids don't really seem to notice or make a distinction between the children a year older or younger -- I would imagine the only differences are as your child gets older. Also, there is such a great variety in maturity at this age! My son doesn't "feel" older (to us, either) than his classmates.

    For the poster moving in from out of state: I would definitely start her out next August at one month shy of 6!

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  44. You know, I agree with what Kim Green said about redshirting completely... but only if we made the cutoff date something like September 1st and not December 1st.

    I know that there is no way my son would have been emotionally ready for kindergarten at 4 3/4 (though many of the younger girls really seemed to be in his class). Also, every kindergarten teacher I've talked to has really believed (along with the West Portal principal, I gather!) that 4 is generally (though not in absolutely every case) way too young. Unless there is a lower teacher-student ratio (2 teachers per 20 students, closer to a preschool class?) and they delay teaching reading until 1st grade, I think it makes sense.

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  45. This is an interesting thread to me. I agree with the poster who said earlier, "you have to have rules" and I think that is true - the system is too large to do everything on a case by case basis - there has to be a cut off somewhere - and whether it is Aug 1 or Sept 1 or Dec 1, there will be plenty of people out there where it is not going to be "clear" what to do with their kid.

    I actually think whether you wait a year or not doesn't usually make that much of a difference. If anything putting a kid in too soon seems more detrimental than waiting would.

    My daughter has a mid August birthday and seemed very ready for K last year. We started her at a public K. She is very obedient, good at following rules - and really values rules also - yet we realized that she was more immature socially than we thought - hard time making friends and socializing with other kids. Academically she did totally fine. For other reasons we switched her to private school with an Aug 1 cut off so she had to repeat K. There are a range of ages in her class. One boy is turning 7, but my daughter at 6 is still one of the oldest kids in the class. Most seem to turn 6 between Nov-Feb.

    I think having her repeat K has been good - mostly in that her new school is a way better fit for her, regardless of the grade she is in - but I am also glad that she has more time to work on social skills. I just don't get all this rush to push kids into school (except for the financial incentive if you are choosing public school).

    And to those who are referring to Kindergarten back in the day - yes, I started K at 4 (Oct bday). K was a HALF DAY where we had free play and snack. My daughter's public K involved sitting in a circle and listening to the teacher for 5 hours with very little free time, being forced to write letters, sight read words, learn punctuation, etc. WAY more stuff than we ever dealt with until 1st or even 2nd grade.

    OK end of my 2 cents.

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  46. There must be a lot of variance within public school K's, then. My son would never have survived that kindergarten setting even starting at almost 6. Luckily, his wasn't like that at all.

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  47. Reality check for the absolutists out there. One of my kids, an October birthday, was still wetting her pants on an almost daily basis when she should have been starting kindergarten. She was otherwise pretty ready. But I just couldn't send her to an all-day kindergarten knowing she would be wet most days. By the time I sent her the next year, she had better bladder control and I don't see that being a little older has made much of a difference to her or her classmates.

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  48. This NYTimes article on redshirting is almost two years old, but very interesting - touches on many of the issues raised in the previous comments.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03kindergarten-t.html?scp=1&sq=redshirt%20kindergarten&st=cse

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  49. My child's toilet training was still having lapses until mid-fall of the year he would have started K if we hadn't kept him in preschool for another year. The shift from shaky to perfect toilet training was astoundingly sudden -- and obviously late. But by the following fall it was a non-issue, and it would have been a source of terrible stress, embarrassment,annoyance etc. the year before.

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  50. I was one of the youngest in my school (started a year early, but this was Europe in the 70's). I was among the strongest academically from the beginning, but I found it really difficult socially in middle school. There is a big difference between being 12 and 13, 13 and 14 etc., in terms of physical and emotional development. Boys and girls have different pitfalls in those years, but I would rather my kid was on the older end.

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  51. We've been working with this issue for a year or so now, and we are still trying to figure it out to our satisfaction.

    We have a daughter with a late Sept. birthday. Last year, our preschool felt she was ready for kindergarten. But we could not apply to private schools based on her birthdate. Long story short -- we eventually turned down a spot at a fantastic TK program and enrolled her in an excellent public school as a 4-year-old turning 5 at the beginning of the school year. So far, she is doing fabulously and is right where she needs to be. She's had no trouble making friends, she's well-adjusted, she participates in class, enjoys her homework, etc.

    Yet, this year we are applying to two private schools that we absolutely love. Should our daughter be admitted, she will repeat kindergarten. After thinking about this a million different ways, I really think that's OK. She's OK as a young child in public, and she will be OK as an older child in an independent school. At least at the two schools we've applied to, I think there is plenty of engaging curriculum, plus differentiated instruction, to keep her engaged in another year of kindergarten. There are two privates -- Synergy and Presidio Hill -- that actually have a 2-year kindergarten program for fall b-day kids.

    The thing that's mostly driven me batty, though, is how the birthdate thing has turned a one-year process into a two-year process for us. We were faced with 2 choices: send her to public now, or wait a year and send her to private in a year. I don't like how we had to choose our "path" (public or private) somewhat logistically based on just her birthdate. We didn't have the luxury of applying to a range of schools and then making the best choice from our available options. And that has left me feeling dissatisfied. While we are happy with the public school, we really love the offerings and overall approach of the two private schools we applied to.

    At least, whatever happens, we will be OK with the outcome. If we had waited a year, we would have had the stress of applying to everywhere all at once. And if she ended up in public kindergarten as a 5-year-old-turning-6, I do believe our daughter would seem a bit old.

    Argh!

    Clearly, if the public and private schools had the same cutoff birthdate, it would have made things so much easier, and I daresay fairer. I have felt somewhat at a disadvantage simply because of our daughter's birthday, which is just silly.

    Case in point: last year we did apply to a private school we loved. We got a "two-young/try-again-next-year" letter. This year, we revisited the school, fully intending to apply, and the admissions director -- upon observing our daughter drawing -- indicated that she thought she would seem old in kindergarten at that school. Go figure. So -- we didn't re-apply to that school, since it seemed our daughter just wasn't going to "fit" there.

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  52. Any Convent/Hamlin/NDV parents out there know what percentage of their childs class was/is 6 in kindergarten?

    Is the class generally skewed older?

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  53. K isn't the same as it used to be when we were young...life isn't the same. The pressures on children these days are enormous. I wonder why parents are in such a hurry to send their children to school at 4 years old? I wonder why parents would subject their children to situations that they may not be socially able to handle. As a mom of a boy who is the youngest in his preschool, I've witnessed the effects of his being ostracized by children who are only 6-9mos. older. That was last year. Now that he's in the middle of the pack age-wise this year, there's a huge difference. I wonder sometimes if all of this is just overachieving parents trying to show off their children getting into such and such school at such a young age (no offense intended at all...but still those types do exist). And for those who question a 16 year old and a 18 year old being seniors at the same time...my response is how many 18 year olds do you know that go off to college that are not ostracized for thier young age. Really, maybe it's the 16 year old that shouldn't be a senior in high school.

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  54. I wonder sometimes if all of this is just overachieving parents trying to show off their children getting into such and such school at such a young age

    There does seem to be a lot of "my child is so bright she will be bored if she doesn't start K at 4" going on here. Private schools make kids wait until 5 or 6 -- bright, bored, or otherwise. It helps the school out, and, I would hope, the kids too.

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  55. I couldn't agree more. One of the admissions directors at a private school told us that with very early readers, it was often at the cost of something else, usually social development. To think that the academics is all there is is just wrong. Someone was worried about their 13 year old daughter in a school with 19 year old men, but I would be more worried about the 16-year old guys. Their judgement and impulse control is much worse.

    My husband's grandfather used to say "amazing how many geniuses there are at 4, and how many idiots at 30".

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  56. I'm glad to read some of these last few comments. I have a July birthday boy, and at this time last year I was completely anti-red shirting for many of the reasons cited in the first several comments. But after being told by no fewer that three of my son's teachers that my son needed another year before starting public school kindergarten, we made the tough choice to put him in a fabulous TK program before starting him in SFUSD K. There was discussion earlier about the equity of holding some kids back. I really don't think it would have been fair to his classmates in "regular" kindergarten to send my son off to K last fall, when he had trouble getting through the day without a complete emotional meltdown. If at some point it turns out that his teachers think he's too old for the class, we can always skip him ahead. I envy the parents who have successfully transitioned their young-ish kids into K with no problems. I myself skipped a grade and never had a problem with always being the youngest in the class. But I've learned that it doesn't always work out the way we planned, or the way we initially thought it should.

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  57. I really think blanket statements that 4-year-olds don't belong in kindergarten are not helpful. Our fall birthday girl is doing great in public kindergarten. Academically, from what I can observe in the classroom, she's right in the middle of the pack -- neither bored nor struggling, just learning at the right pace. Socially and emotionally, she's doing great and is completely well-adjusted. It's hard for me to see how we should have waited a year to send her. She seems to be exactly where she's supposed to be.

    Now, I wouldn't advise this for everyone. We have friends with kids whose birthdays are right around our daughter's. Some of them sent their kids to public kindergarten, and some are waiting a year. Not that this is scientific by any means -- but most of those waiting a year are boys. But some of the girls are waiting, and some are not. Family by family, it seems to me that everyone is making the right choices for their child.

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  58. 7:30 -- Let us know how she does in middle school.

    I was the youngest in my class and a late bloomer. That made it *very* tough socially, even though I was top of my class academically.

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  59. 10:27 -- if this blog is still going then, I will. ;-)

    Our daughter is also tall -- so physically she fits in with the others in the class -- even the 6-yr-olds. In a year she would look giant by comparison. Other young kids in her class are also smaller, and I can see how that might be a big reason to wait.

    We did a lot of thinking about this, and in the end concluded that there's no way to know. We've heard stories of young kids that did fine all the way through college. In fact, my college roommate (at a top Ivy) was a full year younger than me -- the youngest in the class, actually, and she did not feel that she was ever at a disadvantage.

    And yes, we have also heard the stories about younger kids struggling in middle school -- late bloomers as you say.

    Anyway -- in our case our preschool clearly thought she was ready, so we went ahead and sent her. So far it's fine. Maybe I'll regret it later, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. It's hard to deal in hypotheticals years ahead of time.

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  60. My son (Nov. birthday, now 4) was recommended to remain in his pre-school classroom for an additional year. I was told this decision was made because of maturity. However, my son can write his name, count, recognize shapes, colors and phonetically pronounce most letters of the alphabet. I am really struggling with this decision, but realize that he still has difficulty following directions and sitting still. He is an energizer bunny, but he learns what is taught to him.

    Any thoughts....

    By the way, he attends a Montessori school, if that helps at all.

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  61. Lots of kids in their pre-K year (the year before attending K) can do those things.

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  62. To 9:58pm - here's the question for you: "why do you want to send him to pre-k"? If the answers include: "his friends are all there", "he really thrives even in crowds with older kids", "he seems challenged and bored with kids his age"...then by all means enroll him this fall. But if you can't come close to those answers, if all you can come up with is: "he's ahead academically", then wait. What's the rush?

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  63. 9:58,
    I'm guessing you put him in for the K lottery? If so, I would see what you get. If it's one of your dream schools, go for it. Even go through the additional rounds. You know you have a viable option (leaving him in Pre-K) and can go high risk in the lottery. If you get nothing, apply again next year with a more risk-averse strategy.

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  64. 9:58, if as you say "he still has difficulty following directions and sitting still" then he's almost certain to have a difficult time adapting to the demands of kindergarten. Even in classes with several unstructured recesses and a free-play time built into the daily schedule, he is going to be expected to follow directions and to sit still for read-alouds and lessons for a portion of the day. If he can't do it, he'll inevitably disrupt the class, and the teacher will have to "correct" the behavior. I'll also point out that this will add stress not only to your son's experience, but for all of the other students as well.

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  65. I am planning on having my triplet boys do KG twice. They have June b/d's and they'll do KG in different schools. I'd rather have them "pull-out" of the c/room for an "advance" rather than a "behind". Everyone who I have spoken wtih who held their boys a year have no regrets!!

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  66. I would guess that most kindergarten classes hold back one student a year. Usually this student is not failing academically, but rather is not ready for the demands of first grade.

    This was the case for our daughter. If I had to do it over again, I would have gladly kept her in pre-school for an extra year. In stead, she struggled in kindergarten, was constantly being corrected, and found the year to be frustrating. That is not a good way to start a child’s academic career.

    Even today, three years later, her self image has been scared by being held back. I imagine that if she was promoted that she would have eventually caught up; however, at what cost? Constantly getting in trouble, being corrected and struggling to keep up academically would have a greater toll.

    It’s not an easy decision, but if you are in doubt, you probably should hold your child back.

    I’m sure there are tons of resources available on the net, but here are two that seemed to be good:

    http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/showarticle/416

    http://childfun.com/index.php/parenting/grade-school/953-kindergarten-readiness-assessment.html

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  69. I realize this is an old thread...but: this is an issue I agonized with forever. I have a later summer (end of Aug) birthday boy. Daycare, preschool, etc all said ready for K. Enrolled @ a parochial -passed their K readiness evaluation, even met with the Principal. I knew he was ready but with red-shirting, how much would that impact HIS experience? So, I enrolled him into K. Academically, he's totally doing fine. He's very outgoing, so that's never been an issue but his fine motor (writing) and ability to pay attention are issues (easily distracted/distracts others, in a non-ADD/ADHD kind of way). So here's the deal, for a young 5 boy, he's fine. But because the oldest kids (boys) have April birthdays (TURNING 7!), the age range is 16 months!!!!!!!! So he does seem the youngest.... I feel K is the last year I can reasonably hold him back- and we've discussed this for years (some kids do K twice, some start at 6, etc)--- so sure there will be some adjusting, but we've decided to have him to K again, time to socially mature.The school is rigorous academically so I'm not concerned about him being "bored"- I'm more concerned about him always playing catch up b/c he's so much younger than his peers -25% 6 by 1st day of school, and most birthdays stop after January, 2 in the spring! I would LOVE for there to be range, like sept 1 through aug 30 or something, like an oldest and youngest b/c now our choices are being dictated by others who chose to hold back their kids. Apparently, I needed to get that off my chest!

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  70. I think the blanket statement about 4 year olds not belonging in kindergarten is rhetoric. Some do and some don't. My son was a 4 year old beginning K last year. I wanted to hold him back, but we had several people including his preschool and teachers I know, all of them insisted that he was ready. The preschool said that it would be detrimental to hold him there for another year. We also read the pamphlet regarding whether a child was ready for kindergarten or not and he was. He is doing really well in school. The last report card was astounding. Yes, maybe things will be different in later years but who knows. We could have afforded to keep him in preschool but I don't think it would have made him more ready.
    We didn't send him to public kindergarten due to money concerns since we are solidly in the upper middle class. Both my husband and I are professionals with degrees and hold good jobs making good money. We own our own home and are financially stable.

    Our son is just a old soul. He has used words like plethora in its correct context. In fact, when he was placed in preschool at the age of 2, the preschool teacher swore that I sent them a 20 year old midget. He was so mature and considerate and all around well rounded little boy.

    So it depends on the child and making blanket statements about people's parenting skills due to what age they send their children to school are immature an nonsensical unless you know each and every child. Yes, we might be the exception but you are lumping us all into one barrel.

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  71. Read Malcolm Gladwell's book 'Outliers' - older children have an advantage in their grade - they have a head-start in education, sports, maturity, confidence, etc. This may not be fair - but we each have to decide what is best for our child and their future.

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