Riley has what I suppose is his first best friend, a boy named A. whose family moved here from India a couple years ago. They are in the same preschool class and I suspect A.’s interest in Transformers has a lot to do with Riley’s current obsession with Autobots and Decepticons and “Octomus Prime” and Bumblebee and Oh My God There Are So Many Fucking Transformers I Can’t Even Name Them All Oh Wait Yes I Can Buzzsaw Hound Ratchet Starscream Etc Etc Etc Etc.

A’s mother was nice enough to propose a play date a while back and we’ve met them a few times since, usually on a weekend afternoon at a playground where Riley and A. can go nuts and Dylan can scurry after them, beaming with the deranged joy of a younger brother getting to play with the big kids.

Last Sunday we congregated at a park so Riley and A. could ride bikes (with Dylan toodling around on his tricycle) and A’s mom asked us where Riley was going to school next year. A. would be moving on to kindergarten at a public school; was Riley?

Well, I said, and kind of trailed off for a minute.

The thing is, we don’t plan to do that, and it suddenly felt like an awkward conversation, like the fact that we were making different choices somehow underscored that one was right and one was wrong. I mean, I know better, but still.

Riley’s birthday is August 31st, so he will be five on the cutoff day for kindergarten. Which means we could send him to regular kindergarten, but he would be the very youngest child in class.

I have no doubts he would do perfectly fine academically, because he’s a smart kid who mastered the basics a long time ago. I’m less sure about his maturity level, his emotions, and his ability to pay attention.

His center has a kindergarten program, so he can stay there another year and get the same level of education he’d get in a regular school. It’s another year of siphoning our checking account nearly dry every month, but of course public kindergarten with before and after school care wouldn’t be inexpensive either. That’s another thing: I really, really hope by the time he is going to public school—the big cheery-looking one just a few blocks away, assuming we still live in the area—that we have the sort of schedule that allows one of us to walk him over there in the morning and pick him up in the afternoon. I don’t want him to have to stay after school is over, waiting for one of his parents to get off work.

Anyway, I hope we’re doing the right thing keeping him in the same place for now. I’m kind of saddened to think about his best friend moving on while Riley stays in the same place, but they would have separated anyway. It’s just hard to know who will be getting the better experience. And how much it varies by kid, and by teacher, and by a thousand other factors that are impossible to predict.

In other confusing developmental news, Dylan has decided he is terrified of lawnmowers. The trigger for this happened a couple weeks ago when someone had a leaf blower nearby and the noise scared the shit out of him. He flips out every time we leave the house, crying and screaming and wanting to be carried, and if there is even a distant drone of a lawnmower—which is nonstop this time of year while the grass is growing like gangbusters—he refuses to be outside. Last weekend, when we finally had two consecutive days of amazing weather, I couldn’t get him to come in the backyard at all. If we forced it, he stood there shrieking until I thought he was going to barf.

I’d put headphones on him, but, well, HA HA HA HA no. This is the same kid who will Firestarter your face off if you try and put his hood up, so.

It reminds me of the stage Riley went through where he was scared of planes flying overhead, and man, that went on for a long time. I don’t think anything helped, it was weeks of screaming and running across the backyard to get away from the jet buzzing 25,000 feet above his head.

So! Any advice or war stories about kindergarten cutoffs and whether to send a kid or hold them back, or toddlers who refuse to go outside right when the weather finally lets us leave the damn house? Or if neither of those topics interests you, how about potty training, because hey, I’m kind of flailing at that, too.

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Kami
Kami
12 years ago

This is my third time to be making this decision, Yeah. No one needs to guess at what I do in the fall. My youngest will make the cut off this year by 25 days, she has a spot reserved to return to pre-school. I just don’t feel she is ready for 8am-3pm M-F that’s a hell of long day.
My son is 16, there again I had him start K when he had just turned 6…never have I regretted it with him! He also started for varsity football last year, so maybe that is another advantage?!
Anyhow what I’m trying to say is I haven’t regretted it yet…go with your gut!

Kelley O
Kelley O
12 years ago

I haven’t read all the other comments, but had to share this with you. http://popup.lala.com/popup/1657606211335632642

Asylum Street Spankers, Leaf Blower.

Lyrics here: http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858754511/

Last line has a naughty word in it, just so you’re prepared. Enjoy!

Tricia
12 years ago

I don’t want to give you my opinion on educating your kids. I do want to give you my reaction to reading about lawnmowers and airplanes: it put such a smile on my empty-nesting face. And a laugh, too!

Erika
Erika
12 years ago

About the potty training, my daughter was trained at about 13 months. Both of my sons were 3 1/2. I waited until they were ready.

Lori
Lori
12 years ago

You and JB know what’s best. It’s clear you’ve already put a lot of thought into this decision. It’s always sad for kids to leave their little friends, but that’s the great thing about being little — a new best friend is easy to snag. I relied a lot on the opinion of my son’s preschool teacher. Ours was not a debate on whether to send him to kindergarten, but whether he would be ready for full day kindergarten or should stick with the half day option. His preschool teachers were so helpful and I felt comfortable accepting their advice b/c they’ve been dealing with kids for a lot longer than me.

Emily
Emily
12 years ago

I was also born right around the cutoff, and was bright, but socially not as advanced. My parents didn’t send me. I don’t know if that was a good choice or not; it’s very possible it was. I guess what I would say is, *of course* you and JB know best, and you should do what you believe is best for Riley. For what it’s worth, though, children who skip grades are actually shown to do better socially and enjoy school more than children who stay with their “age group”. I don’t know if this applies to early-starters vs. late-starters. I guess I’m just trying to say remain open to the possibility of skipping him ahead later, even though he’s socially not quite there right now?? Clearly I’m not at all conflicted here. :)

SKL
SKL
12 years ago

I don’t see anything wrong with keeping him in the place he’s at. It’s convenient and fits Riley, and who cares what A’s mom thinks of it? It’s not like you’re sending him to military school.

I intend to do the same thing, not because of an age/maturity issue, but because of the convenience. Besides, I don’t like a lot of things about the local public elementary school. My parents were dirt poor but I went to a parochial school for 8 years, so it’s not an “elitist” thing. It’s about doing what’s right for Riley. Do what you’d do if you never met A. and his mom.

As for the lawn mowers, I just hope it passes quickly. My older daughter had a few sensory quirks like this, but usually they would pass fairly quickly. Just be relaxed about it so he doesn’t sense you getting tense whenever the noise happens.

As for the potty training, you know where I am on that. I think childrearing took a wrong turn in 1950-1960, and the inventions of cheap “rubber pants” and disposable diapers have skewed parental wisdom. If you look back throughout human history – up to the 1950s – you’ll see that a boy in diapers at 2.5 is not the norm. I know that today everyone is telling you that boys just can’t do it until they are 3, but don’t believe it. It comes down to what YOU want to do. Your son has the ability to be out of diapers.

Personally I would not relish the thought of potty training a willful 2-year-old and that’s why I recommend starting earlier. You don’t have that option. I agree it may be harder at 2+ but it may not be as hard as everyone says.

I recommend very positively encouraging your son to try the potty and make a big deal about how it’s “his” big boy potty and all that, and then treat its use like a privilege. If he thinks “he” wants to do it, he may get motivated, and that’s really all it takes. If not, you’re on your own. I can’t say whether it would be best for you to push it. It depends on your individual child and your tolerance for wiping poop off his butt.

Sheila
Sheila
12 years ago

My daughter was born on the cutoff date. We sought out an ass load of advice on what to do. But in the end, you are the one who knows your kid, so go with your gut and don’t look back.

Emily
Emily
12 years ago

Oh, please give Riley the gift of time. My niece was placed in kindergarten at 4 (and did not turn 5 until November 15th of her kindergarten year, for crissakes) by my deranged ex-sister-in-law, and it has been a horrible experience for her. She is gifted academically, but she was simply too young and much less mature than her classmates. She received 100% on her spelling tests and other classwork, but she struggled to sit still, listen, and stay focused. Another year would have made a dramatic difference for her.

SKL
SKL
12 years ago

Reading some of the earlier comments, I realize you meant to have Riley take 2 years of KG. Again, that’s up to you to decide what’s best for him. But if he’s doing KG2 in the public school after going to an academic preschool/KG, that might be a big flop. It can be painful to sit mentally still while your classmates are getting up to speed on something you learned a year or more ago. At least investigate what they do for academically advanced kids in the public KG.

If nothing else, you are buying another year to make the big decision.

I will note that 5 of the 6 kids in my family started near our 5th birthdays and the sibling who had the worst social problems was the 1 who had a January birthday. Focusing on the younger boys, my brother with the 9/30 birthday had not been in preschool before KG, but he did not have a problem socially. He had trouble with his fine motor and, when he got older, “responsibility” to keep up without hand-holding. (This resolved itself when he was in jr. high.) My brother with the 5/31 birthday (and also no preschool) was a rock star, super popular, confident, high achiever, etc. So I don’t believe in going by birthdate alone. But it doesn’t sound like you are doing that.

SKL
SKL
12 years ago

Oh, another thing about the potty training. Eliminating in the potty is a type of control your child can have. People advise to avoid “control issues,” but why not think of it as a control opportunity for Dylan? Especially if he fights you or runs away when you try to take control of his dirty diaper, that’s a sign that he would be happier with total control over his elimination – i.e., the ability to do his thing without having you “up his butt” so to speak.

sooboo
12 years ago

I don’t have kids, so salt of grain here, but I always heard that girls on the cusp can stay or go to kindergarten but with boys it’s best they wait the extra year. My sister did not follow that advice (her son was born in November) and although he is very, very bright the teachers had a hard time keeping his ass in the chair and I don’t think he got as much out of it as he would of if she had waited.

elz
elz
12 years ago

The kindergarten thing is a serious mommy war issue in our area. I learned to keep my mouth shut on it for fear of being stoned. We make the best decisions for our kids given the information we have at the time. Everything will be fine. I wouldn’t worry about the friend thing too much, just arrange a playdate every 6 weeks or so.

Jenny
Jenny
12 years ago

I don’t have any first hand expirence, but I haven’t talked to too many people who regret starting their kids in kindergarten a year late.

My brother was an August baby and is really, really smart (#1 in his high school class, 4.00 GPA in college engineering, etc). I think it helped him to be a year older and really helped him socially not to be the youngest kid in his class. I also have twin sisters who are just graduating this year. They were born 3 days before the cutoff and my parents kept them back too. Since my parents were older when they had them, I think they had to feel very strongly that was the best move for the girls since it delayed them getting the last of the kids out of the house! Again, I think it helped them socially as well as just knowing more when they went to school. (My mom ended up doing a lot of phonics work with them because at the time their school was teaching reading by sight and not the way we learned it as kids). I am the oldest and a June baby and I think that they would have kept me back if they had to do it over again.

As an aside, you will love that Riley is a year older when he is 16 sooner than his classmates and can drive himself to whatever activities/practices he has :)

Jen - Mom of 4
Jen - Mom of 4
12 years ago

I have totally be in your same position. Both my boys are August birthdays – Aug 15th and Aug 26th.

With our oldest (who is now 14) we really thought he was ready for kindergarten, but we had my older daughter’s kindergarten teacher give him a test (not sure which one)and he tested as exactly his age. She stated that since his birthday is so late in the year and with his test score that we wait. It was the BEST decision we ever made. There has never been a day where I regretted holding him back.

When my youngest son (who is now 6)was turning 5, we didn’t hesitate – we knew that we were going to hold him back. He is now in all day kindergarten (another BEST decision). They both are thriving and doing fantastic.

Now, on other side, I have a daughter who is 11 and has a June 15th birth date. We sent her to kindergarten when she was five. While she is doing great, I can tell that she is one of the youngest kids in her class – even now that she is in 6th grade.

Good luck with your decision. I know that it can be difficult. But the best advice I got when we first went through this was “I’ve never have seen a parent regret holding a child back one year, but I have seen several who have regretted sending their child too soon.”

Ashleas
Ashleas
12 years ago

I’m sure it’s been said before, I’m only halfway through the comments, but the afterschool care could be a blessing in disguise.

Sure, it may seem sad that you can’t pick up your child directly from school but after-school care can be a lot of fun a child. I remember having a blast in it. I went to it from kindergarten till 3rd grade at a church near my school. I have fond memories of playing in the gym with giant balls, legos, the stage, going out to the playground.

The blessing in disguise might be that it helps his maturity and social skills, especially if he is at that cutoff age. He’d be around other kids in a setting that may not be structured (My after school care was simply: Go play. Don’t kill yourself. We’ll be over here watching if you need us.) like how school is. Sure, Kindergarten has a lot of fun, play periods and what not but I remember desks and doing paperwork and being read to in circles and all that stuff that was kinda structured but disguised. So.. he may not be ready for any of that and by all means do what you feel is right, but I wouldn’t feel too bad about the thought of after school care. Yes, you want to be with your babies, no one will deny that and you have every right to, but it might do him some good to run and romp with other kids every day also.

Good luck with the lawn mower issues! and Potty training!

Kristinc
12 years ago

So, in our school district we have a pre-k (not preschool) program. It is basically for kids with birthdays just before the cutoff for Kindergarten. It is fantastic! It is 1/2 day kindergarten, just like we used to do… the K classes are full day in our district and are basically like what our 1st grade was like. We are currently in that program and are planning to do it again with my preschooler. I work with children and i think that the “gift of time” is nothing but positive! My 5yo is impulsive, wiggly, active and very bright. He tends to shy away from fine motor/writing/coloring and leans more toward roughhousing, riding his bike, playing outside, etc. He would have really struggled in the K class. I already know that is the best decision I will make for him regarding school — especially when he gets to middle school. I think it just fits my son’s personality too… he tends to shut something out if he can’t get it the first time, or if he is told he did something wrong… now that he is already reading and writing, he will hopefully have a little more self-confidence going into next year.

Debbi Osowski
12 years ago

My oldest daughter is now 14 and will turn 15 in June. My husband and I will say that the biggest mistake we have made as parents is sending her to school that first year she was old enough. She is one of the youngest kids in her class. Although she is a good student, she has always worked a lot harder than her classmates. And although she is mature in many ways, she often seems much younger and more naive than many of her friends and classmates. We wish we could have one more year with her before sending her off to college. And, I know some will cringe at this next statement, as far as athletics goes – we wish she had one more year for high school athletics. She will graduate at age 17 and, depending upon summer school and/or athletics, she will not even be 18 when we send her off to summer school! Again….my advice all the time to people is to wait, wait, wait!!!!

Catherine
Catherine
12 years ago

Our kinder cutoff is 9/15, my son’s bday is 9/22. The first month of kindergarten was hell. He was angry. He acted out. He was bored. We had a parent-teacher conf where I asked about moving him into 1st grade (oddly you have to be 5 by 9/15 for kinder and 6 by 9/30 for 1st, my son met both). His teacher quickly pointed out that, yes academically Elliot could move to 1st, but emotionally he’s a kindergartner. Here we are at the end of the year and my son is happy, well adjusted and flourishing. I’m pleased with our decision not to push him forward.

And to give you more insight into how crazy these choices can make a person: our daughter will be 5 on 8/31. She’ll go to kindergarten this year. She’ll be one of the youngest. She’ll go to college at 17. She can’t read (yet), her brother read the summer before kinder. I’m constantly comparing. It’s not fair because he was a full year older heading into school than she is. But it’s the right choice for her. Not only is she a girl, she’s a younger sibling. The same rules don’t always apply.

Google “kindergarten red shirt” and you’ll get lots of people’s thoughts. Given my experience with kindergarten, I think you’re making the right choice.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

I think the “gift of time” is complete BS. I think the cut-off should be hard core – you must send your kid if they are 5 on this day, you can’t until the next year if they are 4.

Someone is always going to be the oldest, someone the youngest. If Riley is on the cusp and you hold him back, then the early August/late July kiddo is now the youngest. If parents then hold back the July kiddo, the May/June kids are the youngest. Where do you stop? If an April/ May kid doesn’t start kindergarten until effectively 6.5 then, they are 1.5 years older than a late August kid starting at 5. Is the 5 year old not ready? Or was the other kid held back?

I say this as someone who went to first grade at 5 with an October birthday. I was always one of the youngest, but never actually the youngest. I also wasn’t nearly the last to get my license, but it also just wasn’t a big deal in my area. That said, my son (7.5 mo) is a 9/22 baby so will likely be “back” a year.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

I didn’t real all the comments, but have you thought about sending him to K this year at public, see how he does and go with the recommendation of his teacher (together with your own gut) on whether to repeat or move on to 1st? This is what we did with our daughter, her bd is 8/18, cutoff here is 9/1. Repeating K is not unusual, and you don’t have to pay for that extra year of private pre-school. BTW, she’s going to 1st next year, but we definitely left it open. 2 kids in her class are repeating.

MotherGooseAmy
MotherGooseAmy
12 years ago

As usual… it happens in our house and you blog about it the VERY NEXT DAY!

Jacob’s birthday is December 1, which is the cut off day for Kindergarten here in MIchigan. Last night we went to our daycare’s information night for their Kindergarten. We decided to do the exact same thing for the very same reasons as you. It seems like most people I know are doing the same with their kids who have late birthdays, so you are in good company.

A teacher relative of mine pointed out to me that if we sent Jacob to kindergarten (public school) at 4 1/2, he could be as much as 15-18 months younger than his friends. Frankly, I do not want my 13.5 year old getting rides from classmates who have their driver’s licenses!!! YIKES!

Andrea
Andrea
12 years ago

Two words…
Gift Year.
I know many families who made the decision to give their children the gift of time to let their social and emotional development develop. I’ve never heard any regrets from these families. Their children have gone off to kindergarten and thrived.
My own boys? No gift year for either, and I do have regrets about son #2. Took him *years* to find his niche socially.
I don’t kick myself anymore, what’s done is done, but if I had it to do over again, I would do it differently. Childhood is a journey, and there’s a reason it lasts so long. Parenting with the end in mind, I would so like a do over with son #2.

bobbi
bobbi
12 years ago

i was 5 a week before the cutoff date, my little sis turned five a month after. i was the youngest and she was the oldest in our respective classes.

we both qualified to be skipped a grade when we went to first grade, and she was able to skip up while my parents chose to keep me put to avoid my graduating high school at 16. i would have loved to graduate at 16, but i don’t know what i would have decided to do with that time. it could have gone either way; go to college or work for 2 years until 18 and then go to college.

however i was much more studious at 16 than i ended up being at 18 by time i went to college, so who knows.

looking back at old photos it was always cute to see my sister a whole head taller than the rest of her classmates because of the age difference.

Meagan
12 years ago

Wow, yeah, you are so not failing at anything. All you can or should do is make the decisions that you think and hope are best for your child. I promise, in 10 years it will not matter to Riley even a little if one of those choices turns out to be “wrong.” I take that back. In 1 year it won’t matter.

No matter what we do, our kids will find SOMETHING to hold over our heads as proof that we were the worlds worst parents, meanwhile, they’ll be happy healthy and fine. Then they’ll get a little older and realize maybe we did ok. Everyone makes mistakes, and they’re generally not the things that we think are important at the time, and ultimately, they mostly turn out not to be that big a deal anyway. Love your kids and do your best. That is all.

parodie
parodie
12 years ago

No opinion on the kindergarden thing – you know your kid and your system! – but re:before/after care, don’t feel any guilt about using it. Being in “after care” as an elementary school kid was lots of fun: I still remember one of the teachers/sitters who was hugely influential for me. Judge the particular set-up, sure, but the concept as a whole does not merit guilt, IMHO.

Also, though unrelatedly – based at least in part on your example, I (a dedicated non-runner, I-hate-running type) have bought myself appropriate shoes and embarked on a running program. So far I don’t hate it – which is very bizarre but surprisingly pleasant. Thank you.

Nicole
12 years ago

I would also add that the after-care program can be the best part of the day for kids, which took me some time to realize. My daughter had to go for a few days when I got called out of town on a family emergency (I’m a SAHM so she had always gone home with me right after school) and she LOVED it. School is pretty regimented and so its fun for the kids to spend the after school period just playing with their friends. This was even nicer for my daughter because we don’t have any friends living close by so she had to play alone. Since then, she asks me if she can stay after once or twice a week. It depends on your program, of course, but I think that you don’t need to worry about it being a ‘punishment’ for Riley.
As for holding him back, my daughter had a mid-year birthday and I could have sent her since about half her friends were starting school. I thought it would ultimately pay off for her to be the older one in the class rather than the smallest/youngest. Now, she is BORED to tears and seems to have lost her ability to sit and concentrate. I’m switching to a private school next year to see if we can get things back on track. Its a hard call but if Riley is in a smaller program with more individual attention it will probably work out for the best.

sarah
sarah
12 years ago

My daughter will be 5 in June and the cut off is Aug 30 so she COULD go to kindergarten. Academically, she’d be fine. Socially, that’s another story. I have 3 teachers in my/my husbands family and 2 that are friends. I’ve asked all of them (seperately) their opinion on this and they have all told me the same thing….you won’t hurt them a bit by waiting a year, but you most certainly can by sending them too soon. We’re holding her.

Clare
Clare
12 years ago

My older boy has a Feb b-day, so he turned 6 in the middle of K. Perfect timing. He did pre-K last year at a different school. There were several boys in both classes who had been held back a year, so 5/6 in pre-K and 6/7 in K.

And…those were the boys with the behavior problems. I don’t know if they were bored because they were not challenged by the material, or overly aggressive because they were so much bigger than the other kids, or those problems predated formal schooling, which is why they were held back.

My second son has an early August birthday, and my husband and I both want to start him in K right after he turns 5. It will take _considerable_ convincing for us to hold him back an extra year.

And my Kindergartner is forever pestering me about letting him stay for the after school care program (b/c there is extra snack and more play time), so I wouldn’t stress about Riley not enjoying it if he does go.

carmen
12 years ago

Ok, 128 comments so maybe you are sick of opinions, but here goes. I have 6 kids. My oldest graduates in 13 days as one of the youngest in his class. I wish I’d held him back. Not academically, for he held his own with that, but he’s always been socially just a half step behind. I was always the youngest in my classes, and I’m not certain it was smart.

I learned my lesson – my other 5 kids are all the oldest in their classes. It’s much, much nicer.

Becs
12 years ago

My sister was in the same situation as Riley was and my parents actually decided to enroll her in Kindergarten. She did fine academically but her maturity level just wasn’t where it needed to be. Her school offered a class called D1 which was basically an in between grade between Kindergarten and 1st grade. My parents had such a hard time deciding whether to let her move on with her friends or “hold her back.” They decided to have her go to D1.

Now, she is older than a lot of her classmates but it doesn’t bother her at all. In fact, in high school it is pretty cool because she was one of the first to have her sweet 16 and start driving! Also, she is now leaps and bounds ahead of all her classmates academically.

I know it is a really tough decision but it sounds like you already know what to do. Go with your gut and I am sure everything will work out.

Debbie
Debbie
12 years ago

I am a late September birthday and husband is a mid-October birthday. We both lived in states with late cutoffs and started school at four and started college at 17. Neither of us had any issues beyond some I think mentioned before like being the last to start my period (ha!) and waiting until I was a junior to drive.

Now our son is also a late September birthday but we live in a state with an early September cutoff. We’ve had the opposite struggle. I feel like he would be fine starting school with all of his peers — his daycare has moved him up as though he were in the cutoff. But, the schools here don’t make any waivers for starting early.

We struggled for a while about what to do as most of the kids in his current 3K class will be going off to 4K next year. We decided to move him to a montessori school that groups the kids aged 3-6 together. We figured it would buy us some time and options to see if he would be ok if he were to start school a bit early or if another year would be beneficial.

Good luck. It is a tough choice all around.

hydrogeek
12 years ago

My birthday is August 30, and my mom was going to hold me back. I begged to go, because all my friends were going that year (it was a very small town, we knew everyone) and she finally relented and let me, but told me if I didn’t do well, she’d hold me back at the end of Kindergarten and everyone would know! Gasp! So, I went, I did well, I graduated and went to college at 17 and….I’m fine? I mean, I had a very young starter marriage, but I don’t think that’s because of when I started school. However, I’ve never really heard anybody regret holding their kid back, so take my story for what you will. And I’ll be stalking the comments for advice about potty training.

Debbie
Debbie
12 years ago

I wanted to say thanks to the person who posted the link to the nytimes article. That was an interesting read.

Jill
Jill
12 years ago

I am a first grade teacher and a mother of a August 9th 4 year old who will be doing preschool for 2 years- like you my son is ready with academics but we feel he would benefit from another year of social growth-and as a teacher I couldn’t think of a negative-besides another year of cost

Eve
Eve
12 years ago

I agree with one of the commenter who said to think about giving him the gift of time later (ie College). And also, thinking about what it is to be the oldest kid in the classroom is somewhat important.

Here the cutoff date is September 30. My 3 brothers and sister are born before it (or right after it) and all started Kindergarden at 4 and turn 5 within a month it started. They all did fine, despite the fact that my oldest brother was the youngest and tiniest kid in the class. I, on the other end, am born 2 months after the cutoff date and was the oldest kid in the classroom, and hated it. I was so bored in class that at some point during elementary school I skipped a grade, and I still don’t know if that was a good decision or not. But I do know it would have been much better to start Kindergarden when I was 4, rather than skipping a grade later on (which meant having the make new friends, lose all the ones I had, and adjusting later on to being with older kids).

I know it’s a hard decision, and you know your boy best. But I think that thinking in the long term is also important at this stage. Throughout College I knew that if my undergrad degree took me longer to do (or if I switched major), I wouldn’t really lose a year.

Garnish
12 years ago

The old adage “mothers know best” holds true here. You know your son better than anyone. If your gut is telling you to wait, then wait. No second guessing. You know what’s best.

In regards to after school care. My boys have never needed it but have begged me for it because it is so much fun!

Potty training…youngest son is 3 1/2 and still in diapers. While he uses the potty (really only at daycare because they are way better than I), unless I’m on him all the time it doesn’t happen. I’ve decided to not force the issue and as long as he’s wearing underwear by kindergarten, I’m good with it.

Lawnmower, well that just plain ol bites the big one but kids go through phases so hopefully this will be a short one! Maybe feed Dylan a story about how the lawns are being cut so the grass can be taken to the horses. You never know what works!

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

Where I live in Canada it’s all a little different… we have Junior Kindergarten (the child must turn 4 by December 31st the year they begin) and Senior Kindergarten (the child turns 5 by December 31st the year they begin.) We don’t really have the option of sending our son this year or next… he turns 4 at the end of September so he must start Junior Kindergarten this year and Senior Kindergarten next year. He will be one of the youngest in his class and I really am a little nervous. He’s super outgoing and I know he’ll love it, but I wonder if he has the attention span or maturity sometimes that some of the older kids will have. What is making the situation particularly scary to me is the fact that apparently since it’s a relatively small school the class is a SPLIT between Jr. and Sr. Kindergarten kids. So basically my son will turn 4 a month after school begins, and 3 months later some of the kids in his class will turn SIX! Good grief, just thinking about it all over again is giving me a panic attack lol. I just can’t believe September is so close….

Laura
Laura
12 years ago

We had my son repeat Pre-K and it was the best decision we have ever made as parents. Period. My son had a pretty severe speech issue that was causing him to act out because no one could understand him. He was also pretty immature and just had a tough little time with the social aspect of school. Academically he was fine so everyone and their brother (except the teachers) told us we were making a mistake. Still, we just knew something wasn’t right so we had him do Pre-K again this year and I swear to God, he is a different child. He loves school, has a lot of friends (PLAYDATES! We had PLAYDATES!) and is so well adjusted. Every single day last year his teacher was telling me about some freaking issue that he was having and this year there has been blissful silence. My kid is going into K as a 6 year old (just turned 6- May birthday) but who cares? He is really tall for his age so even if we had sent him at 5 he would be one of the biggest kids in his class.

I attended a Kindergarten readiness program when I was still kind of worried that I had screwed everything up and the speaker said something I will never forget. She said that kids who go to K before they are ready can usually putter along okay but when they hit ,iddle school the shit hits the fan and all the issues present in K rear their ugly heads in a big way. I will never forget that because I know it was true for me (I started K when I was 4 and struggled my entire school career with social stuff.)

Fact is you know Riley best. Keep reminding yourself of that.

Redbecca
Redbecca
12 years ago

One more voice on the hold back. I was held back for kindergarten due to a late b-day and it was the right thing for me. Then we lived overseas for a few years where they did year-round schooling and so in two years I did the U.S. equivalent of 2.5 years of school. So when we got back to the U.S. they tested me and decided that except for handwriting and a few math things (fractions and percentages are still a GREAT MYSTERY to me!) I could go into 5th grade instead of 4th. For years I was very proud of the fact that I got to skip 1/2 a grade, and academically I never had any troubles, but in hindsight I wish I’d been kept in 4th because we had just moved back into a culture I didn’t really understand (but still living in a foreign country), doing some things in class that I wasn’t ready to do, and emotionally I really wasn’t ready to be with my “peers”. If the skip had happened when I was in high school or something I don’t think it would have made a difference, but back in 4th/5th it really put a ding in my self confidence, for all that I did well in school.
Our son has a late august birthday (he will be 3) and we will almost certainly hold him back when the time comes. He is actually attending a public education preschool class 5 days a week (2 half days and 3 full days) for autistic kids – in the first two months they’ve figured out he isn’t autistic, or if he is it is only mildly so, and want to mainstream him next year into a regular preschool class with some push-in help from aides. He is sharp as a tack, but emotionally and maturity wise, we already know he won’t be ready for kindergarten with the ‘big’ kids for all that he will be used to the structure and length of a regular school day. We’re lucky in that we might get him into the mainstream preschool class in our neighborhood so he will get to know some actual neighborhood kids. The full days kick his butt right now, but the progress and improvements we’ve seen in him – he will engage people other than his parents in conversation! He will occasionally do things you ask him to do! have made it worthwhile. We only hope we aren’t damaging his self-confidence levels by pushing him into a structured program so early. On the other hand, the other kids in the class, for all that most of them are older than he is, maturity and emotionally are on the same level if not younger in many respects (most are severely autistic).
So all that to say, as a kid who has BTDT, it is easier to hold them back now, then later, and will only increase Riley’s confidence level in his ability to achieve. You aren’t doing it for “wrong” reasons (better at sports? EGAD!), so go with your gut.

Potty training…we aren’t pushing it. The other kids in preschool are potty training, and so my kiddo is exposed to it daily, and even talks about it, but when we ask if HE wants to go on the potty, we get a resounding NO! and aren’t going to push it. Yet. We have a potty waiting for him though, and he has always been very aware of his bodily functions.

Erica
Erica
12 years ago

My sister kept her son out of kindergarten for a year (we have two years of it here, starting at 4) as he would have been the youngest kid. BEST MOVE EVER. Now he’s one of the oldest in his class, absolutely thriving and LOVES school as a result. He doesn’t notice teh age thing. You know what’s best for Riley. Keeping him where he is sounds like a fab idea!

SKL
SKL
12 years ago

I wanted to add something I didn’t think of last night. I’ve heard of some research to the effect that kids’ optimal learning time is up through age 17, so if all you’ve accomplished by that age is 11th grade (or less), your outlook for your whole life will be limited by that.

Another thought is that if a child needs to work harder to do well in school, versus just gliding along, what that really means is that he’s developing a learning / working style that will make him a higher achiever throughout life – assuming he is actually capable of achieving what is expected in each grade.

Personally I don’t understand what’s so wonderful about being the oldest or so horrible about being the youngest. I was the youngest and I never wished to be older in school. I was more concerned that the curriculum be challenging enough to be worth my time. I hated that so much of the school day was spent in review for the kids who learned more slowly than I. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who didn’t cry about not being first to get my driver’s license. In fact, I didn’t get mine until I was in college, and it was not important to me at all. Knowing Riley as you do, what do you think he’s going to care most about – being the first to drive, being bored silly, or something else? Beware of pat statements that imply there’s only one right answer.

H
H
12 years ago

I didn’t read all the comments so I apologize if I”m repeating the same situation as another person. I was very young (August birthday) when I went to kindergarten and I was also very shy but academically ended up at the top of my class as a senior. This was back in the late 60’s, early 70’s. So when my son, with a late July birthday was 5, and the current thinking was to wait until kids are 6, especially boys, I questioned that. I was fine, wasn’t I? Yes. His daycare teachers told me to send him and we met with the kindergarten teacher and she wouldn’t really say (of course, she didn’t know him personally either). We sent him. Big Mistake. I should have realized he wasn’t mature enough but he was my oldest and I didn’t factor in how different the experience is when most of the other boys were 6. It turned out the teacher wasn’t helpful AT ALL either so when he struggled, she let him instead of trying to help him out a little. He ended up repeating.

That was my worst fear, because I didn’t know how to handle that without somehow allowing him to feel like a failure. You can say it is YOUR fault, but kids internalize that stuff. Our saving grace was the second kindergarten teacher. We met with the school counselor and with her, and she said she’d make him feel like a leader without letting the other kids know why he knew so much about kindergarten and the school. She made him feel extra smart because he already KNEW where the milk was, etc. We explained to him that it was our fault, he was supposed to be 6 when he went and we didn’t know that.

We are now 16 years past all of that and he’s a great young man. Everything worked out fine. I also still believe that there’s no rule about whether or not a kid is ready and that parents shouldn’t automatically make that decision based on the child’s age. However, if your gut tells you he’s not ready, then he’s probably not ready. If you send him at age 5, it may turn out fine but I’d caution you to really think about it in case you run into a situation like ours.

Melissa
Melissa
12 years ago

My Riley’s birthday is August 14th. When he started school our cutoff was July 1. (They’ve since moved it to August 1, but that still wouldn’t have helped him.)

We contemplated petitioning for a waiver to get him in when he turned 5, but decided against it. I don’t even remember exactly why we decided not to try in the end, but I’m glad we didn’t. He’s always done really well in school, currently 12 and in honors classes. And sure, he could have ended up doing just as well if he’d started a year sooner, but we’ll never know!

Of course, all kids are different, but if you’re gut is saying he should stay where he is, then I say it’s right.

Annabelle
Annabelle
12 years ago

Best of luck on the kindergarten redshirting issue. I’m pregnant with a boy, due September 8th, and the cutoff in my area is October 1. I’ll be flagging this for reference in 5 years.

On a somewhat-related note… here is a link to a pediatric OT blog that I’ve been finding very interesting.
http://pediatricot.blogspot.com/

I’ve been unable to stop reading the archives, learning about behaviors and therapies and the whats and whys of it all. You might find some interesting topics related to development and readiness and kindergarten.

ErinM
12 years ago

My brother, now 32, should have TOTALLY been held back. Smart as a whip, but immature as hell! Because of the immaturity difference compared to his peers, he learned a lot of hard lessons a little too early that no doubt have an effect on him even now as an adult. He and I couldn’t be more different at communicating and we were raised by the same parents! I really believe a lot of his trouble comes from having been more immature than his peers.

My opinion…can’t hurt to hold Riley back. If he gets bored you can skip a grade later on.

Faith
Faith
12 years ago

If I’m not mistaken, you yourself have had various anxiety issues throughout your life, so it’s understandable that Dylan and Riley have both had to confront various fears. I think the key thing to remember is not to force anything, but just to show him by example that there’s nothing to worry about, and try not to make it a big deal. You’re not scared, Riley’s not scared, JB isn’t scared, and he doesn’t have to be scared either. It’s an inconvenient fear, but soon enough he should realize it’s inconvenient for him too, and then he’ll hopefully be motivated to get over it. Good luck!

Molly
Molly
12 years ago

My oldest son will be six in two weeks (how in the heck did that happen?!). He’s been in a kindergarten prep class this year and will start kindergarten in the fall. I had a few moments when I wondered if we had made the wrong decision on this – he’s also pretty bright, and I think sometimes he is bored.
But then I went to kindergarten orientation this spring and talked with the kindergarten teachers and other parents, and it really confirmed our decision to wait. I think if we had put him in kindergarten last year, we may have been dealing with a lot of discipline issues. But now? He’s ready, he’s excited, and I think he’s going to do GREAT! Stick with your plan, definitely.

Sound Body, Sound Mind
Sound Body, Sound Mind
12 years ago

Send him to school! He’ll be fine. Don’t overthink it – if he makes the cutoff date and isn’t a total spaz then let him be with his friend. Believe me, there will be tons of immature kids in Kindergarten. Seriously though – he’ll probably be bored out of his gourd next year and it sounds like there are doubts you’re ignoring.

As for the little one and lawnmowers, maybe let him root around in one, get familiar with it, let him try to push one or go for broke and take him to a home depot. He’ll get used it to it at his pace.

Brooke
12 years ago

Whelp, I see that you have 145 comments already, so I’m probably not telling you anything that 145 people haven’t already said, BUT…

Our cutoff for Kindergarten is November 30. My daughter was born Sept. 18. Although she was tall for her age and prepared very well by her preschool for the academic rigors of Kindergarten, we had second thoughts about putting her in at 4, to turn 5 a couple weeks after school started. She was very shy and didn’t speak much in class. Her preschool was at a Jewish synagogue, and they had a program called Gesher, which was like, pre-K but post-pre-K. So we said, well, let’s start her and if it doesn’t go well, we’ll pull her out and put her in Gesher and try again. Well, she soared in Kindergarten and I’ve never regretted our decision. She is among the youngest in her class, but is an honor student.

On the other hand, my stepdaughter’s bday is November 24, and she is small for her age. I met her months before she started Kindergarten so my familiarity with her maturity is light. But her folks kept her in preschool another year and started her when she was actually 5. So she is among the oldest in her class, although the shortest, and is also an honor-caliber student.

So, you know, I guess you’ll have to decided what Riley’s maturity level is and realize that it’ll be OK no matter what. Do you have the option on bailing on Kindergarten if it doesn’t work out?

Also, my daughter has been in full time daycare since she started K (she is now finishing 5th grade). The school has an on-site center and it’s been great. Despite the fact that she is now 10 and could walk over to my house after school, we left her in because we love the staff and they love my daughter. It’s been an amazing addition to her schooling.