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Thread: when to start kindergarten?

  1. #31

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    Just for a counterpoint to the "17 when starting college" thing, sometimes that works out fine. My sister was skipped a grade from K to 1st when she was 5, and she was 17 when she graduated. She went to a good college, had no trouble adjusting, and is very successful in both her social and professional life. She was also very athletic and had no trouble keeping up with her sports teams in school.
    I was 16 when I went to college and lived in the dorms, and my birthday was in April so I didn't turn 17 until almost the end of my first year of college. Socially and academically I did fine, although some people did make comments about me for being so young. Being 16 didn't really affect me as far as being on my own, either. Dorms are like an extension of home -- there are other people around, a cafeteria, etc. I was 17 when I got my first apartment and that was fine too.

    I really think it's important to take things on an individual basis if you can. But if you do end up having to start him late, and you think he's bored/unchallenged/much more mature than the other kids, you can always look into moving him forward or enrolling him in a different program. I know there are lots of pros and cons re: skipping grades, so again it's really going to depend on the kid in question whether it's the right thing to do or not. I just mention it because I remember when DD1 was just starting school -- I sweated bullets over every decision I made because I thought they would all have some huge effect on her future. But in reality, it's a continuum, and life and schooling are pretty flexible... especially in the early years. Now that she's in high school I realize I didn't have to worry as much as I did.
    -- mom to DD1 1/98 and DD2 10/09


  2. #32
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    In NY the cut off is Dec. 1st and DD's bday is Oct. 20th. I decided to let her go ahead an start K this year. She was 4 for 6 weeks after she started and then turned 5. In addition to that a bunch of kids in her class turned 6 in December... like 5 out of 20. So, she is the youngest... by a lot. But, for her it was the right choice. She is thriving. Doing way more than she would be in Pre-K or at home with me. It really is an individual thing. But, I also know kids who missed the cut off by days and their parents were upset that they didn't have the option to test in. It's such a tough choice!
    Growing fast... DD1 (6) & DD2 (4)
    Forever loved, forever missed... Twin Girls with us for 19w3d 6/12/06

  3. #33
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    My kids' kindergarten class spans a wide age range. There were children who were 6 by the time school started, and children who were still 4 even a month into it. It is, especially for the boys, almost an across-the-board noticeable difference in self-control and willingness to sit still. Academically it's not so much of an issue. My kids are on the younger side, with late July birthdays and having just turned 5 less than a month before school started. They are both doing great with the academics. My son is having somewhat of a hard time sitting still, keeping his hands to himself, paying attention, doing what he's told. The boys who are younger than he is are often under the tables and being squirrelly. The youngest boy in the class at the beginning of the year was also doing well academically but having enough issues with self-control his parents decided to pull him out of kindergarten and return him to pre-school for another year, so as to not start off his school years always being told "no."

    So I would not worry so much about being the oldest or the youngest, but more about whether your child is ready at the time, not so much academically but socially and emotionally, if he can do all the self-care things he needs to do, and if he will be able to follow all of the instructions and sit in the class all day (at least here, our K is 8:30-2:30, with short recesses, so it's a long day for little kids), and if he will be able to enjoy it enough that he doesn't start out feeling like school is something that isn't fun.

    Incidentally, there has been enough red-shirting around here that my friend's daughter, born in August but two years before my twins, was the youngest in her kindergarten class when she started at age 5. I thought for sure my twins would be the youngest with their July birthdays as well, and was surprised that about four kids were younger.

    ETA: I skipped a grade when I was in grade school, and I didn't mind at all being the youngest person in my class. I did skip a year before starting college, though, but I would have anyway. I moved in with a boyfriend.
    Last edited by 3andMe; 01-11-2013 at 06:39 PM.


  4. #34

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    Things these days are so cut-and-dried with no options. I am the youngest of five kids. The beginning of the school year before I turned 5 in December, I was SO ready to go to school. At that time, the cut-off wasn't until October 1st, and kindergarten was not a requirement. The public school would not take me because I was only 4 and would not be 5 until right before Christmas. My mother found a parochial school that said they would take me after the Christmas holiday when I would be five. If I caught up by the end of the year, I could go on to 1st grade, and if not, I could stay in kindergarten. I didn't care; I just wanted to go to school like all my sisters. I caught up by the end of the school year. Unfortunately for my parents, because kindergarten wasn't a requirement back then, the public school would not take me even in first grade because I was too young, so my parents had to pay for another year of the private school. Once I completed first grade, the public school HAD to take me for second grade.

    All of that said, I was always the youngest in my class and it never really bothered me until high school. On the other hand, I thought I was hot stuff when I graduated at only 17. LOL

    Bottom line to me is IF you have a option, you have to consider your child's readiness. I was ready; some kids that young would not be.
    Lynne, Grandma to three beautiful girls and one handsome little man!


  5. #35
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    I am watching this thread with a lot of interest because Grayson's birthday is September 19th. The cutoff in Michigan has always been December 1st but I just found out they are going to gradually cut it back a month each year and by the time G is 5 the cutoff will be September 1st. It looks like he will be one of the older kids in his class.

    I was on the younger side of my class with a late July birthday and I did fine, graduated with honors. They even talked about having me skip kindergarten and go straight into 1st grade since I could read already but my mom thought I wasn't mature enough. Two of my closest friends in school had October and November birthdays. My friend with the October birthday ended up being our valedictorian. My friend with teh the November birthday graduated magna cum laude from college. You just never know.


  6. #36

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    I was enrolled early in kindergarten (did not turn 5 til November 27 and our cutoff was Dec 1). It was definitely tough once I got to college -- I couldn't even get a library card without a parent's signature, and had to get a friend to go with me to rent a required movie for one of my classes! My mom enrolled me early because I was academically very ready, but it was tough on me socially as I was a very shy child. She says now if she had to do it all over again she would have kept me back. I also think if athletics is important to you, an extra year will allow your DS to grow more and become that much more advanced and he will be better prepared for sports teams in any grade.

    Read the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell... it may influence your opinion. Very interesting book too.
    Katie (34) DH (33). DS1 Derek (3), DS2 Adam (1)



  7. #37

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    I'd much rather have him be the oldest than the youngest, for all the reasons stated above.
    Formerly villagespin


  8. #38

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    I started kinder at 4 (bday is in November). I excelled in school and did well in college. So, I did well and had a good experience.

    However, if I had a child that was close to the cutoff, I would most likely hold them back a year. It is a trend where I live where parents will hold their child back on purpose to give them an advantage...to be bigger and more mature than their peers.

  9. #39

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    Overall I think its good that schools are keeping a set standard so they don't end up with extremes either way or students more than a year apart in the same class. I think that will make this much less of a big deal than it seems now. DS's bday is Sept 23rd. He is in K4 now. He was 4 at the start and turned 5. He definitely developed fine motor skills slower than my girls. His maturity has been slower too. I questioned this same thing a few years ago too, but as he has gotten closer, I can see the difference a few months can make in being prepared. Not only that, thanks to their not having exceptions, his K4 class has 5 Sept kids and at least 2 Oct. it's not like every other kid is a year younger than he is. My DD is June and that's been fine too. As for being bored in school, I was bored often and a top student but not a trouble maker. After the first grade, maybe 2nd, I don't think age has near as much to do with whether a child will be bored as smarts do. I think a smarty in 4th grade would be just as much a smarty in 5th grade if they started sooner. I am good at math. Whether I was in geometry or algebra or calculus, I was going to excel in what was being taught. I don't think starting school when I was younger would have suddenly made me struggle and I don't think starting later would have made it easier past the first few grades. I may not be making any sense since having 4 kiddos has numbed my brain. Birthdays are spread out all throughout the year and good teachers will do their best to meet all their kids' needs. DD is in 2nd grade and her classes are balanced well imo. They read books every night and take tests from the Accelerated Reader program. Kids get books based on where their current reading level is (a range slightly above and below). So some kids are reading at beginning of 2nd grade level and she's reading 3rd grade 9th month level books. It keeps her chalkenged. For math they are tested on math facts up to 9+9 or 18-9 weekly. There are 100 problems and they have 5 minutes to do them. On average kids answer half at first and build to 100. They are all rewarded based on their own progress. I think they are rewarded for getting 5 more than previously. I think this keeps all the kids motivated well.

  10. #40
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    This may be a dumb question but does anyone know why some districts/states have a cutoff of Dec 1st??? Why not make it very simple like if you are not 5 by the time school starts (or the 1st of that month) you wait until the following year? It seems like Sept 1st (or Aug 1st for school that start in Aug) makes much more sense.
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  11. #41

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    The triplets were born 7/12...Oregon cut off is 9/1. If they had not been born premature they would have missed the cut off, as the EDD was 9/11. We are holding them out and starting K at 6. I would rather them have an extra year to mature and grow that to push it and see if they can handle it.

    ETA: The trio are about to complete their 2nd year of part time PreK, we hope to find another PreK for them for one more year.
    Last edited by TripMomma; 01-11-2013 at 10:05 PM.

    ~*~Katrina~*~ Momma to Xander, Hayden & Lily (6) and Jericho (3 1/2)

  12. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    I would WAY rather my child be a little bored for a bit in kindergarten than get held back. Besides there is no guarantee a child will be bored. They are all bored at some point when they come back after summer break, etc. Most teachers will give advanced kids something more enriching and the newness of school in general is enough to keep their minds busy imo.

    As others mentioned, other issues come with being the youngest like going to college at 17 and also getting your license way later....or way earlier if you are the oldest lol.

    In our district I don't think they will let you start early but can hold back if you feel your child isn't ready. I know someone DH works with has a DD who missed the cut off by a few days and she was pissed. Her kid could already read so she was quite advanced already. As far as I know she is doing fine and not bored at all.

    On the other hand, there was a boy in DD's kinder class who was held back and it was kind of sad. DD loved this kid and she was so confused as to why he was still with the same teacher when she had a different one. They say it doesn't effect them but I think it does. They probably get over it after a while but it has got to be rough to be left behind on the FIRST year in school when you spend the whole year getting to know the other kids and making friends, going to birthday parties and then the following year you are left behind and have to do it all over again.....
    This is another reason we want to "red shirt" the trio. Xander has some attention and speech issues, minor but he has them. His sisters do not. You can already see a gap between him and the girls. I am scared if we don't hold them out until 6 the day could come when they want to pass the girls and hold Xander back. I wouldn't go for that at all. So I would rather give him an extra year and hopefully spare us that coming up later.

    My Bday is 10/1 so I missed our cut off too. I have always been a more mature and responsible person than my peers were.

    ~*~Katrina~*~ Momma to Xander, Hayden & Lily (6) and Jericho (3 1/2)

  13. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by GA1977 View Post
    I'm just talking to myself outloud here:
    Your DD1 would be similar to boden (turning 5 right at the beginning of the year so technically a "younger" one). Ive also talked to teachers and other moms and they've said that sometimes the "Oldest" kids in the class can be bored/not challenged/etc and then they end up acting out because they're just bored. I was thinknig that if Boden has 2 years of prek(its a pretty advanced preschool program and they learn more than the typical preschool programs (from what I'm told) then he have learned most of the basic kindergarten things so I was afraid that if he had to take 3 years of preschool, he would be bored out of his mind with the curriculum by the time he gets to kindergarten. know what I mean?
    I taught kindergarten and found in most cases (most, definitely not all!) that the older boys did better behaviorally. Early childhood goes beyond the academics, and behavior and maturity do play a very big part in the success of a young child. When I taught in CA, the cutoff was December 1st and we had a boy in the class that had a Dec 1st birthday. He was a very sweet boy and was right on with all of the academics. But his maturity level just wasn't there and so his mom ended up having him repeat kindergarten - and she realized it was the best decision to give him another year to grow. (An example: when we would ask him to complete a task, he would tell us "no" and just not do it. It wasn't that he couldn't do it, he just didn't want to and didn't understand that it was part of school to complete the work.)

    Again, it really is a very individual decision because each child will be ready at a different time. My advice would be to have regular discussions with his preschool teachers about how he is doing and their recommendations. They should be honest with you about if they see him as being ready or not when it comes to making the decision.


    Anne (37) DH (37) Olivia (4) Harrison (1)

  14. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwenn View Post
    Well, no...once a student enrolls in kindergarten he can only repeat it if he is retained.
    I think this may depend on the school district. I know of at least one person who was passed in kindergarten, but was held back because his mom felt that he was immature for his age. (In reality, I think he may have been acting up/out because his parents were going through a divorce at the time, but that's besides the point.)

    For the OP, I'll add my experience. When I started school, the cut-off was December 31st - everyone born in a given year was supposed to start at the same time. My birthday is October 30th, and I was one of the youngest kids in the class, although there was one girl whose birthday was Dec. 31. Obviously, I was also significantly younger than the kids you're talking about as borderline. I excelled academically, but had problems socially. I don't know if the social difficulties were related to my age, or simply to my personality at the time. I was extremely shy around other kids, and I think I might have had exactly the same problems if I had started kindergarten a year later. It's impossible to know for sure, of course. Like Gwenn, I also went off to college and lived in a dorm at the age of 17, and I was really excited to go. I had no problem whatsoever with it. As I recall, hardly any of my freshman peers had credit cards, so it was not exactly an issue that I wasn't old enough to get one for a couple more months. Honestly, my age was never an issue at all at that time, at least not that I can recall. I think some kids are going to have a lot of anxiety about leaving home to go off to college, whether they're 17, 18, or 19, and other kids won't - it's the way they're wired, not whether they're this age, or a couple months older or younger, in my opinion.

    When the time comes to decide whether he's going to start kindergarten, I guess just look at his overall development - is he fitting in better with his peers that are slightly older, or those that are slightly younger? Is he academically, socially and physically (since you're particularly concerned about athletics) ready when he's just shy of 5? If you think so, go ahead and start. Truth is, that's the only thing that really matters.


  15. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    This may be a dumb question but does anyone know why some districts/states have a cutoff of Dec 1st??? Why not make it very simple like if you are not 5 by the time school starts (or the 1st of that month) you wait until the following year? It seems like Sept 1st (or Aug 1st for school that start in Aug) makes much more sense.
    Here the cut off is Jan 1st! So some kinder students are 4 years old for half the school year before they turn 5!

    I personally would start Boden in Kinder if he turns 5 in September, that seems normal and an average age to begin, imo! Unless of course they are strict with the dates, or you think he's not ready when the time comes.

    Good luck Mama!

  16. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by macksmom View Post
    This may be a dumb question but does anyone know why some districts/states have a cutoff of Dec 1st??? Why not make it very simple like if you are not 5 by the time school starts (or the 1st of that month) you wait until the following year? It seems like Sept 1st (or Aug 1st for school that start in Aug) makes much more sense.
    I agree. They've been moving ours each year to make it earlier. I think the goal is to make it 1 Aug and school starts mid August. I think its important for kids to start on time for their school though so you don't have as big a span in ages unless the child has specific problems. If the cutoff is 1 Dec somewhere, the class age average should be lower and the expectations should be a little different than a state with a 1 Aug cutoff. I think it can be problematic if a lot of kids Re "red shirted" for summer birthdays if they actually have a 1 Dec cutoff. There will be exceptions for kids like ones that were premature, but I think the more "on time" kids are started, the better for all the students.

  17. #47

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    we're debating the red shirt for our son. He's mid-August. He'll definitely be ready for school (only 3 now), but to be the youngest in his class... He'll have been five for about a week when school starts. Versus being the oldest? We're conscious of him being bored with the lessons if he's older, but we also know the stats about how older (i.e., more developed) kids in the classes are the ones IDed as gifted, given supplemental opportunities, etc. I don't know... We'll figure it out when we get there, but we're certainly discussing the possibility before that time.

  18. #48
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    If you have good teachers, being bored should not be a problem. I was one of the oldest in my class and school was very easy for me. Once I could read (I don't really remember before that), my teachers always let me have a book to read once I finished. Or there was various extra credit projects. Or working in peer mentoring. In grade school there was the gifted program and I did that a bit. There was an advanced reading group. By later in grade school, like 4th and 5th grades, it seems like they kept us that were at a higher level in the same math class for example. One year I got to be the younger grade in a 3/4 split class and that was fun.
    By junior high and high school, being bored isn't so much a problem because I was put in the honors block of classes and high school was able to take mostly honors or AP classes.

    I really would rather be a little bored than maybe struggle or be not at the top of the class. Though I really don't recall being too bored probably because my mom always said that only boring people get bored. So whenever I was finished with the work or the test, I would mostly read my books....or sometimes make up little stories of my own. Or even ask the teacher for some more work.

    It's hard to know looking back but I don't know that I would have been as ready for college a year sooner. When I was 16, I went to France for a while as an exchange student...it was over the summer. I loved my family and my French sister and I still close today. But I was so incredibly homesick and cried every night. I was so much more ready for college two years later.

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  19. #49
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    In our district, the cut off is also Sept 1st. My daughter was born August 31st so I could have sent her but she would have been the youngest one in her class. I had many discussions with various eduacators and decided to delay kindergarten for a year. It was the best decision I ever made! That extra year allowed her to mature, develop more, and now she is a leader in her class versus the youngest child feeling as though she needs to catch up. I'm due Sept 6th and I keep saying I don't want to have this baby until at least the 1st so that there is no question as to send or not send. I would rather have a child miss the cut off by a few days than just make it. If this baby is born in August though, I will keep him/her home again.



  20. #50

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    I teach too and have been a reading specialist for several years. Younger boys do have more trouble in school. Of course, not all of them do. Once a child struggles and gets frustrated, they are more likely to give up and not try. I saw this a lot. Boys don't want to look like they can't do something, so they quit trying and act out. This makes it even harder to get them to be successful.

    In our district you wouldn't be able to start him with his birthday after the cutoff anyway. State law, and we don't make exceptions. Good luck!



  21. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by GA1977 View Post
    Just curious---why is that?

    Dh and I are leaning (strongly) towards getting him in early (7 days. lol)
    There are a few reasons.

    A lot of people redshirt their boys around here (meaning they keep them back a year), so if he were to go a year early, he might be a LOT younger than a lot of the boys in his class, meaning he'd be socially and physically behind.

    Sitting quietly in a classroom setting is typically a lot harder for boys than it is for girls, and having a bit more maturity in prep for that is a good thing, imo. When you consider that most of the kids who are left back in the earlier grades are boys, I think keeping them back (or being sure they're at least not the youngest kids in class) has a lot of merit.

    My SIL, who is a teacher, was telling me about some research showing that the kids (both boys and girls) who start school as the older kids in class typically perform better throughout their school careers. They're often ahead of the other kids because at that young age, a few months can make a huge difference. And once they're identified as being "ahead," they tend to be put onto track for the more advanced classes.

    And finally, right now my boy is the oldest in his preschool class, and while he's definitely ahead of the other kids in his class, he's doing well. He loves it, and his teachers make sure to challenge him.



  22. #52

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    My husband's birthday is in Nov and while his mother intended to keep him home another year, he ended up skipping a grade so that he was always the youngest, and as someone already mentioned, because other boys who didn't make the cut off, or were close to the cut off were held back from the year before he was a *lot* younger than some of the others in his class, more than a year in some cases. (You will find that a lot of parents will hold back a boy born in June, especially now as the trend is to wait) DH was shy and small, and being as much a a year and a half younger than some other boys just made him appear all that much smaller. He struggled socially all through school and avoided team sports because of his size. Acedemically he did fine, but unfortinately the way public school is set up, acedemics are almost secondary to socialization and sports. Struggle in those areas and you are doomed.

    Because of his experience he knew long before we had children that if they had birthdays anywhere near the cut off they would wait a year, and 5 of our 6 children have late summer or winter birthdays. We home school so it is not that big of a deal as far as what grade level they are working at, but for any outside activity we do they go by gradelevel associated with age rather than say, what math they are doing.

    Every teacher or educator I've ever seen or heard address this subject says to wait a year. There are many benefits to waiting. But what would be a long term advantage to not waiting?

  23. #53
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    Echoing others, I think it depends on the child. I'm an Aug bday and started kindergarten right after I turned 5, never went to preschool. I struggled with school till the day I graduated college. I had terrible study habits, no focus, and I really believe I just was not ready for it when I started. Now my younger sister (10 years younger than me) is a July bday, and with her my parents kept her home an extra year so she started school right after she turned 6. Again, never went to preschool. Of the 5 children in my family she is by far the smartest, most focused and best student. She is the only one to consistently get straight A's. the only way I would have gotten straight A's in school is if there was a printing error on my report card

    I know that every child is different, and keeping me back a year may not have made me a straight A student but I think at the very least I would have been a little more mature and able to focus and develop better study habits which would have helped me out tremendously if my parents waited a year to put me in school. Personally, I think holding him back a year can't do any harm, while putting him in too early possibly could. That's my 2 cents!
    Angela (28) DH, Pat (30) DS Connor (4), DS Leo (2), DS Nathan



  24. #54
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    I spoke with the school and they said 5 1/2 for our DD. because her birthday is the end of January, she misses the cut off by 5-6 months. But, I honestly think she could start early. But they changed the laws, so she will be going in at 5 1/2.

  25. #55

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    My DD has a September 4 birthday and I was so upset when the doctor gave me a September 2 due date until I realized that I could enroll her on time as long as she was born by the 2nd. I worked for the system at that time and immediately called the student services as soon as I left the doctor's office. When she wasn't born until the 4th, I was beyond devastated but I have gotten over it now. Although she is 3, she is the oldest in her PK class; she is actually in the older 2s room and she is where she needs to be. So, I have made peace with her kindergarten start date.

    It also helped that I have heard about students with bdays after Sept. 1 who would be enrolled in neighboring states for a few months so they could transfer to a K class. Often times, these students would struggle but it was mainly due to developmental issues. The teachers would say that they would have probably never struggled if held out another year.

  26. #56
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    All mine are summer birthdays (June, July, August). Cut off here is September 15th. I plan to start them all on time. Youngest or oldest doesn't matter to me.
    Our Family <3 Est. July 2007 <3
    Samuel (5 years), Elliott (3 years), and Evelyn (1 year).

  27. #57

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    Honestly, I think it depends on the kids. Our cutoff is the same as yours but we start school in July. So while my son made the cut off (his Birthday is July 31st), he wasn't 5 until about 2 weeks into school his first year. I wasn't going to hold him back since he made the cut off, but if he hadn't made it, no way would I have tested for him to start early since he was barely ready as it was. Now my oldest daughter misses the cut off by a few months (her b-day is Nov. 6th) However I will be getting her tested to see if she can start early next year. She is MORE then ready, and has been asking to go to "big kid school" since she was 3.

    I was always one of the younger kids in school growing up since I had a June Birthday, and honestly the only time it sucked or bugged me a little was in highschool when everyone else is turning 16 and can drive, and I couldn't yet...

    *Kimberly* Mommy to Hayden (7), Alexis (5), Makenzie & Brooke (18m)!
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    Here is a retrospective opinion: my sister and I are both summer babies so with a then September 1 cutoff, we were among the youngest in our classes. My mom has said that she wishes she would have at least kept me back for maturity sake, not intelligence. I was an ADHD child (and that was almost 35 years ago) so I had difficulties paying attention. She felt maybe one more year of preschool would have benefited me. I was academically on par, or ahead of my classmates so that was not ever an issue. We will face a similar decision with DD, who is a June 22 bday and we now have a July 1 cutoff.

    Good luck!
    Phoebe Grace 6-22-11; 37.5" and 26.2# at 2 years old! She is my wild child!
    Me & Geoff, 40; DD Phoebe, our June Bug

  29. #59

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    I've always heard about the "boy" thing. My son is a Nov child, so it's a non-issue to keep him back (cut off is oct 1).

    I would say it could depend on the child. 7 days is not awful...but I know a lot of Sept/Aug boys that are staying back.

    How about..."Do what works for you" parenting

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    I remember one thing a teacher said to me when I was making my decision about delaying kinder....She said that she has never had a parent come back and say they regret delaying the start of kindergarten but she has had many parents come back and state that they wish they would have given their child that extra year. I experienced this first hand with one of my daughter's friends. Her mother sent her on time and told me that she wishes she would have waited because emotionally and maturity wise her daughter would have benefited from that extra year.



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