"I have taught elementary school for 12 years, most of which has been at
the 5th/6th grade level. I can see within the first couple of weeks who
the children are that were born in October versus those that were born in
May. The place that the difference in age really shows is when the
students start to get into a more formal algebraic approach in math. The
younger students simply struggle more with the abstract concepts. So, when
the time came to enroll my son, whose birthday is just a few days from the
cutoff, into preschool, we waited until he was a year older. He may have
been ready academically, but socially he was not. But, when we tried to
enroll him in Chicago Public Schools, they told us that he would have to
skip kindergarten, and go to his "age-appropriate" grade, which was first
grade. We sent him to kindergarten at a private school, and then tried to
enroll him again in our neighborhood school. Again, Chicago Public School
officials informed us that he would be pl!
aced in second grade, skipping first grade. No, really, that is the
policy. It is downright frustrating to have no say in my child's
schooling. For those people in districts around the country, fight for the
parents' right to choose when to send their children to school.
"It makes sense to me that children who start later (and graduate later)
will be less likely to pursue advanced degrees because they'll feel like
time is getting away from them and they need to start their career and/or
start a family. It just seems to me that you're taking a year from their
lives. I would like to see a study where it examines whether kids who were
held back are more or less likely than other children to pursue careers
that require a lot of schooling like being a doctor, dentist, lawyer, or
therapist. I would also like to see whether kids who were held back and
have some difficulty in college either academically, financially or both
which delays their graduation are more likely to drop out as they feel
they're getting too old to be a "college kid" than their younger peers in
a similar situation.
"Wait another year! There is no rush and they are only babies for so long.
My son started K early; at 4 years old & did not turn 5 until late
December. I wanted to wait but he was so smart and preK said he was ready
to go. As each year went by my sons grades slowly went down. We moved to
another state where middle school started in 6th grade & against my better
judgement I put my 10 year old baby on a bus with 14 year olds. He was
still very much into toys and not at all ready for the middle school
scene. In 7th grade he was one I the smallest and at 11 still a little
kid. He ended up repeating the 7th grade. I told myself and him that it
was for the best, he could use the extra year to grow and mature. He did
well and now in 8th grade he is not doing week. Staying back really
lowered his self esteem. He is struggling now just to pass. My advice is
WAIT ANOTHER YEAR! Even if my son were doing very well in school, I would
feel the same way. My son is on the same maturity level!
as the kids in his class now but he really struggled with whether he was
'suppose' to still be playing and being a kid! What's the rush??
"My son is the youngest in his class - but he is also one of the smartest -
so holding him back would have helped him in sports but hurt him
academically because boredom is a problem. I don't regret this choice.
I find that parents who "red shirt" do so to get their kids into the
"gifted program". Its a strategic move to to have a better looking college
application (I think).
Aptitude, IQ and drive are what matter in the long run ...
Honestly, I lose some respect for the parents who do this when its not
necessary beyond bragging rights - as they are only fooling themselves.
"In Asian countries, kids start school at 3 years old, and by five are
already competivitve and loaded with exams. In the USA, we have to bring
people from these countries because we cannot find the internal talent to
fill roles of engineers and doctors. Our student lack the drive and
motivation to compete and be top notch. They are fearless, and
comfortable. Every mom wants to protect their child but protecting them
from the future of our world is not in their best interest. We are
outsourcing most of our skilled jobs to countries where competition is
applauded over 'self esteem'. I am sad to see the American trend continue
despite clear indicators that our culture is getting its hiney kicked.
I would say if you can support your child well in to adulthood, protect
them from the real world as long as you can and hold them back from going
to school. Heck, why not just enroll them in summer classes so that they
have time to 'find themselves' the rest of the year?
"Four and a half and in K? Much too early, if you ask me. Unless the child
is mega gifted, he or she should be about to turn 5 when they start K.
"I'd like to know more about the "young fives program" mentioned in this
article & if there are preschools in the silicon valley/San Jose CA area
that offer it or something similar?
"When I was facing this decision my son was testing into a accelerated
private school. Having an end of summer birthday I had the choice of
having him be the youngest or waiting a year and having him be one of the
oldest. Holding him until the next year was the best decision of my life.
I see the kids in his class that are the youngest. They have trouble
carrying the work load, staying as focused and with a couple exceptions
making the same grades as the ones a year older. It really paid off with
my younger son who is not as focused and driven in academics as his older
brother. Sports are also a plus.just that one year of coordination and
skill has put them to the top. Granted...genetics play a part....Most of
my sons friends have waited the extra year and in 6the grade at this
particular school test out at least 2 years ahead. My son just tested on
a 9th grade level in some subjects and above in others in the John Hopkins
test. Big plus for college testing! Do we n!
eed out kids 3 years ahead...no...for mine it works... It is the extra
gift of a year that I gave him at 5 that has made all the difference at 12
now. IT is not for everyone. There is a child 1 yr younger that is so
smart and driven and smart at our school that holding him back would have
been useless. Just have to go with your gut for your particular child.
"My son started kindergarten right after he turned 5. There were several
kids in his class with close birthdays. Some of them are thriving (now in
1st grade) and others are struggling. Children are individuals, and their
parents know them best. My son is doing great -- he learned to read on his
own and was reading well by the time he finished kindergarten. If I had
"red shirted" him that would have been awful for him since he would be
even more bored in school than he is.
There has to be a way to engage those that are academically advanced and
challenge them while meeting the needs of those that are struggling. If a
child is struggling to meet basic kindergarten requirements, then
red-shirting them may be a good idea. On the other hand, kids that already
exceed the end of the year kindergarten requirements need to be
academically challenged in kindergarten (and forward) as much as the child
who is average.
"This issue comes up in the GreatSchools parent community more often than
any other subject. It's compounded by the fact that states have different
dates, so moving can get dicey. Family economics get entered into it
too--pay for another year of preschool or go to kindergarten? And it's
not just a few months spread when you have families holding back July
babies and people sending November and December babies to school--that's a
full 18-month difference!
Bottom line, only the parents can make the right decision. And it
shouldn't really be made for finances or sports--but whether the child is
academically ready to sit through six hours a day of instruction. Because
in the end what we all really want is successful kids, right?
"As a former K teacher, I can tell you that K IS the "new first
grade"....and I don't like it. The academic standards have been raised --
a lot -- but children are still pretty much the same as they always have
been developmentally, and I found that many of my students were not ready
on numerous levels for such a program -- many of them could not hold a
pencil correctly, yet they were expected to write, etc. Even those who
were successful in mastering the skills often felt that school was
"boring" because there was little time for music, art, or dramatic play
with so much focus on academic standards. I think if you have any doubts
at all about whether or not your child can handle such a curriculum, it
would be best to err on the side of caution and wait a year. At my school,
the problem was made worse by having a policy that discouraged children
from repeating grade levels, so those students who fared poorly in K went
on to first grade ill-prepared.
"I started kindergarten when I was barely 5... in 4rth grade, I had a huge
growth spurt. I was taller, so to all your parents that say your going t
be small, take that! I am still the top of my class, highest GPA and I'm a
year younger than most ever since 1st grade and now in 8th. So there!!
"I can fully attest to the beni's of "redshirting", as my parents did not
offer me that opportunity. I turned 6 on my birthday, which was also the
first day of 1st grade...Not Fun! I was always one of the smallest &
youngest kids in my class & it went downhill from there. Bullies, social
pressures, keep in mind most of the kids were a full year older than me.
Do you really want your just turning 14 yr. old in high school with 18/19
yr. old boys?? Redshirting is not just for boys, as it affected my entire
academic & social life, as well as college & future earning potential.
"If your child seems ready, holding them back is not the answer. I went to
school with lots of smart, older kids who were bored, bored, bored. Being
a little challenged is a good thing. I was always the youngest in all of
my classes. Having a summer birthday, I started kindergarten having just
turned 5. I then did first and second grade in one year, which resulted
in graduating high school at 16, and graduating college at 20. Both
socially and academically, I almost never felt out of place with my peers,
even those who were almost two years older than me. The only exceptions:
being behind the curve in getting my "curves" compared to other girls in
junior high, and being the only UCLA senior I knew who didn't have a valid
I.D. to get into a bar! My husband was also a younger student who skipped
a grade early on. We have no reservations whatsoever about starting our
summer birthday son in Kindergarten as a "young five"...he seems more than
"Do not hold your child back if he or she is ready. I have always been they
youngest in all of my classes. I graduated highschool at 17 years old, and
because of my choice I left for Marine Corps boot camp. I turned 18 IN
I was more mature than my friends who were older than I .
"DO NOT RED SHIRT if your child is ready. Held back my son who was both
academically and socially ready and he was BORED!!! If your child NEEDS
the extra year, give it to him, if not just send him at 5!!!
"My first son's birthday is right before cut-off. He's very social and
passed the school's assessment (private school)-- and no one recommended
holding him back. Academically he did fine and then in the spring I could
see a difference. First, due to other redshirters, there was a 16-month
age span in his class, with my son being the youngest. And there was the
maturity issue. I decided to hold him back & do the other K class (there
are 2 classes per grade). This teacher is more rigorous and it's been an
excellent fit! So I tried not to redshirt but decided differently. I found
not only is about your son, but the age range of the class. At my school,
6 year old boys are the norm.
So son 2 has a May birthday so I assumed he's be young, but K at 5. Come
to find out, I know about 8 kids with a May birthday, half waited, half
didn't. Sure it's about the kid but then I already know of classmates who
aren't sending their kids at 5 for his class so already if he goes at 5,
there will be another kid who's 6 with a may birthday- as in my son will
be 12 months younger than the oldest kid & this is what matters as well.
By contrast, in my older son's K class, the oldest kid has a July bday
(started at 6) and the youngest kid has a May bday so there is only a
10-month age range.
So my advice to people is don't have Spring and Summer babies ;)"
"My son was born in July, he was old enough to start kindergarten at the
age of 5. Most of his class mates were getting ready to turn 6. My son
was academically ready to start school. As a matter of fact his has
always been on the A honor roll with no real problems. It was not until
the end of last year did I start to see a problem. He was then in 4th
grade making A and high B's. I started thinking about the end results in
my child's education, he was going to be 17 when he graduated! That was
going to put him in to college just after he turns 18. College is hard
enough not to put the added pressure of placing your child into college
that just turn of legal age. I spoke with his 4th grade teacher and she
agreed to keep him in 4th grade an additional year. She has given him
advance studies in English, math and science. He just complete the 4th
grade a second time it did not phase him one way or the other that I held
him back. I'm glad that I did it and not waited un!
til he got to be in junior high or high school. He is still working at
an academical level that he is capable of doing and I will not be throwing
out into a hard, curl world too early."
"In attempt to hold my child back, (he turned 5 a month before school
started) I put him in a neighboring school district's every-other day
Kindergarten program thinking that I did not want him to commit 'social
suicide' with the possibility of him needing to repeat K at our school
district. Mind you, I worked at his Headstart in another classroom-saw him
often and spoke to his teachers often. All of this to find out that he did
very well and putting him in the all-day K in my school district would not
be good for him per his teacher (this was my original plan). I tried to
make the best decision possible and it ended up only hurting me with my
work schedule because of different Spring Breaks and other days off. Now
he gets to be the 'new' kid in First Grade!! PS: Socially, he is still
slightly behind others but I'm told... he's just a BOY!!"
"My son started school a year early and is now in the 8th grade about to
graduate middle school and on his way to a private high school on an
academic scholarship. His elementary school had what they called K-4 (or
pre-K) that was designed for 4 year olds. My son turned 4 at the end of
Sept so he was actually a late 3 when he started. He had several years of
quality preschool and was well prepared. There have been a few times that
I was a little concerned about his emotional maturity, but cognitively and
socially he was advanced so I let him start. I have to say that overall,
I don't think it would have been a good thing for him to wait because he
is very bright and I believe that boredom would have created a host of
behavior problems if he wasn't being challenged academically. He was
diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten and even with that, keeping him
challenged academically by him learning with his academic peers has been
one of the things that led to his success. He is also a gifted football
player and that would be the only area where it might have helped him to
wait a year. We have heard of some families considering having their sons
repeat a grade for football purposes but I don't agree with that if they
are doing well academically. My son has said that he looks forward to
being a young college graduate because that means that he will be
established in his career sooner. So he sees it as a positive. The moral
of the story I tbink is you have to know your child and you have to weigh
their strengths and weaknesses and then create the best learning
environment for them. Regardless of what the research said and what other
people were doing, somehow I knew that was not the best course for my son.
And he is doing great. (And P.S. - about the football thing, my son said
even though he's a beast in football right now, his ultimate goal is not
to play in the NFL, it is to be a psychologist. If he can play football
along the way, he'll be happy). I was floored! How's that for a balanced