What Age to Start Kindergarten

Parent Q&A

Has anyone successfully held their child back from Kindergarten? Jan 20, 2021 (1 responses below)
Summer birthday. When to start school? Jan 18, 2021 (10 responses below)
Montessori to BUSD -- Repeat/Skip K? (Turning 5 AFTER Sept 1) Oct 5, 2020 (2 responses below)
Young 5s - start K or delay Dec 18, 2019 (9 responses below)
Advice on delaying kindergarten Jan 24, 2019 (16 responses below)
I regret not redshirting my child Dec 9, 2018 (5 responses below)
Transitional Kindergarten vs Kindergarten for advanced 4YO May 23, 2017 (6 responses below)
Late bloomer starting kindergarten Dec 4, 2016 (3 responses below)
Redshirting illegal in California? Nov 2, 2016 (7 responses below)
Public TK or Private K? So confused. Sep 14, 2016 (4 responses below)
  • Hi all, My son will turn five right before Sept 1st this year, meaning he should start Kindergarten this fall and be very young for his class. I know that Berkeley public schools won't allow me to hold him back and would send him straight into first grade if I waited a year. Nevertheless, for multiple reasons which I won't get into here, I want to give him one more year before starting school. Here is my question: has anyone held their child back from Kindergarten by sending them to two years (or more) of private school and then making the transition back into public school? If so, do most private schools accept young six year olds into K? I'm looking into it but would love to hear from anyone who has been through it already. Thanks very much! 

    I am not sure about Berkeley but in Oakland, many summer born kids opt to enroll in TK instead of K. 

  • Summer birthday. When to start school?

    (10 replies)

    My daughter's birthday is at the end of July. I'm considering having her start kindergarten when she has just turned six rather than her starting at 5 and being one of the youngest kids in her grade. Is this choice something that schools allow? Does anyone have thoughts about this question of when to start a kid with a summer birthday? The school I attended as a child allowed kids to start kindergarten at 4 rather than 5. I really thought my younger classmates struggled, particularly socially, for years. We live in Oakland in the Emerson school area and plan to send her to public school. Right now, she's 2.5 years old. It might seem early to be asking this question but I'm deciding on pre-school programs. Some of them are two year programs and some are three year programs. If we want to wait to start her in kindergarten later, we'd need to enter a three year program now.  Thanks for any thoughts you can share. 

    Emerson has a great TK (transitional kindergarten) program, and OUSD allows families to opt into this even if their children are kindergarten-eligible, so you will have options even if you decide she's not ready for kindergarten. I'd choose the preschool that's the best fit independent of the program length.

    My sense is you are probably worrying about this too soon. Pick the preschool that works for her and your family situation now, not what you think might work in 2 or 3 years if X, Y, and Z happen. Some school districts are also adamant about the age cutoffs and if you bring in your six year old, will sign her up for first grade not K. You run the risk of pre-determining a choice for her now that may be a misfit in three years.

    Otherwise, in general it really depends on the child. I tend to think a child who is pre-reading (knows some letters and sounds they make - ie., early phonics) is ready to start K. Girls are also a little more likely at that age to be able to follow directions, sit quietly when asked, etc. I have two kids in middle school who are both the youngest in their cohorts and so far that has been a non-issue.

    If your child is attending preschool, most likely she will be ready for K at 5. 

    Our son has a July birthday and we started him at 5.  I noticed that there are a fair amount of other summer birthdays in his class (he's in 1st grade now) and there are no children with summer birthdays who are a full year older.  We're also at an Oakland school.  What I've heard (and don't disregard) is that it's sometimes the later years, middle school and high school when immaturities become more apparent.  It was a hard decision, but we felt, and our son's preschool teachers felt that he was ready to start K when he did.

  • Hello all,

    I tried searching for a similar situation and couldn't find any threads (but happy to be pointed to any!).

    Our child is at a Montessori preschool, which includes a "Kindergarten" year. She turns 5 a little over a month after the Sept 1 cutoff, so she will be almost 6 to start Kindergarten (BUSD enrolls based on age: age 5 by Sept 1 for K, age 6 by Sept 1 for 1st, etc.). Assuming that she is academically/emotionally/socially ready, our preference is to have her as one of the younger children vs. older children in her classroom, as she learns by observing her peers, and tends to regress to baby-like actions/emotions when around younger children.

    Have any of you with Montessori-educated fall babies repeated Kindergarten? Or, been able to skip to 1st grade? Any options available other than private elementary? It sounds like BUSD enrolls strictly by age, so even if she were to transition at a later grade, they would still enroll her based on the Sept 1 age cutoff for that grade.

    Thanks in advance!

    We did not end up enrolling, but Albany USD was happy to place my Oct birthday baby in 1st grade (she would start the year at age 5 then turn 6) after completing 3 years of Montessori preschool and kindergarten. I believe CA law about birthdate cutoffs only applies to K and 1st grade, so if you stay private through those years and then move to public, they can’t force you to repeat a grade. Anyhow, Albany USD has been actively recruiting and accepting district transfer students, so it might be worth a try... 

    In BUSD I have heard of many parents trying to enroll their kids early / late because they’re near the cut off, but I’ve never known of anyone who was successful. If this is important to you, you may have to go with private school for a few years and then transfer.

    As for whether you should try to enroll your young kid in the higher grade, I’m not sure I’d recommend it at BUSD. Maybe at private school? As to why - my kids came from Montessori and are young for their grade at BUSD (July and Aug birthdays). The public school is pure chaos compared to a Montessori classroom which takes some getting used to and can be really hard on younger kids. It’s not a social or academic maturity thing, it’s an ability to deal with unpredictable situations thing. And that can be HARD for the youngest kids.

    In our experience BUSD is fine if your kid is fine. But you don’t get any say in anything for better or worse. Nothing advanced for your advanced kid, no special treatment for “minor” problems that don’t severely limit academic performance. If you want that level of input or support, you might consider private school. We have one kid with medical problems related to stress at school, but nothing severe enough to be labeled a disability. This child performs at grade level academically. So there is no assistance or accommodation for that child at all and the child is frequently in trouble at school. We have other friends with kids with similar issues - their kids are struggling but not enough for services. There is no help for these kids, and I’ve seen a couple of families move kids to private school where their kid goes from underperforming troublemaker who hates school at BUSD to performing at grade level, far fewer behavioral issues and loves school. 
    All of that is to say, if you want something special for your kid, BUSD is not the place to get it. It’s a fine district, and there are many great teachers, and it’s fine for most kids.  But if you want something special for an individual kid (like placement not based on age and birthdate) it’s rarely going to happen. At least in our experience.

  • Young 5s - start K or delay

    (9 replies)

    Our daughter will turn 5 in August and start K a few weeks later. I know it's a long way off yet but she really doesn't seem ready (has trouble sitting, following instructions, can't/won't hold a pencil, etc). I know that public K is not play-based which is disappointing and hard to understand (didn't K used to be more play?!) We are in Berkeley schools so I understand that delay means that she would start 1st grade and not K so she would miss all of that limited hand-holding from K. What have other families in Berkeley with young fives done? Homeschool? Private? Sink or swim in public?

    RE: Young 5s - start K or delay ()

    Sharing my story in case it’s helpful.  My daughter was born early August and we put her into kindergarten at 5 years old.  While she is younger than most in her grade, there are definitely a bunch of girls born in June / July and overall her experience has been totally fine.  Now in 7th grade, I can’t imagine her being happy with the 6th graders.  She is on the taller side and hit puberty when she turned 12 and I think she would have felt like a fish out of water with all the younger girls.  

    RE: Young 5s - start K or delay ()

     Alot can happen and change in the next few months. Your daughter may not seem ready but she might be by the time August rolls around. There were a few kids in their young 5s in our daughters K class. From our observations, the girls had an easier time adjusting and keeping up socially more then the boys. One of the boys had no issues academically and was very bright but he required with dexterity (help opening his milk) and understanding social dynamics and relationships. But by the end of the year, the boys were acclimating too. Does she go to preschool now? If so, what do her teachers think? 

    RE: Young 5s - start K or delay ()

    Sink or swim in public! But swim, really. Our young 5 (late July bday) son started K last year and did great. He could sit and follow instructions pretty well, but was emotionally still pretty young, with separation anxiety and not a ton of coping skills. His incredible teacher saw everything he needed and provided it, and he soared.  He made great friends and learned to read! And write and do math! And had tons of fun. (Don’t worry about the pencil-holding.) Good luck with your decision! My main point is not to discredit BUSD kindergarten teachers - I think they’re up to the challenge.  

  • Advice on delaying kindergarten

    (16 replies)

    My son has an August birthday and we have decided to hold him back and start K just when he turns 6. Any advice on where to send him on his 3rd year of preschool? Has anyone done this? Are there any places that take older kids 4 and 5?

    This doesn’t answer your question about preschool, but are you in Berkeley and planning on going to BUSD? If so, be aware that admissions will try to enroll your son in 1st grade. We delayed K entry for our son this year (for legitimate medical reasons he was not ready to enter K at age 5 with a late summer birthday and we kept him in his montessori preschool). It was a BATTLE that took several months to resolve to get admissions and other administrators to allow him into kindergarten. I’m talking multiple letters from current preschool teachers, doctors, threats of legal action (as there’s no written district policy and the state only outlines minimum but not maximum ages for each grade, the district is on shaky terms with their attempts at regulating this). If you’re in Oakland or thinking about private school then this won’t be such an issue! 

    Hi, one thing that comes to my mind is EBGIS; the East Bay German International School. They are bilingual and follow the German curriculum, which means that in their Kindergarten year kids continue with a heavily play-based approach and are not required to sit and learn to read and write. So its a bit more structured than preschool but less intense than american kindergarten. Of course the language piece might not work out, but still thought I share.

    Hi - our twins were October babies and we decided to do the same.  In their case, they remained at the existing pre-school (Griffin) and there were two other children parents who had decided to do the same.  They started Berkeley kindergarten at Malcolm X the following fall.  I did look around at a Montessori pre-school and Step One but ultimately, with the other friends staying at the existing, it worked for us to stay put.  I should say that my twins are about to graduate from college this spring so we are a few years out but...I never regretted it.

  • I regret not redshirting my child

    (5 replies)

    Hello everyone

    My 4th grader (June birthday) is a good student but she definitely is lacking in maturity and does badly in tests. Every year her winter conference is the same, and every year she spends January onwards catching up. I fear that this will get worse as the pressure increases in middle school.

    I didn't know red-shirting was a thing until after we enrolled her in school. Now I wish we had.  It pains me to know she would have been fine if she was in 3rd grade this year instead of 4th.

    It's too late now, but I wondered if there is a way for us to support her now and in the future.

    Anyone else feel the same?

    Thank you!

    Have you asked the school whether your child can repeat a grade?

    It might make it easier to switch schools if you decide to do this. We've known several families who've had children repeat grades when switching schools. There's no stigma as far as I can tell. 

    Montessori schools are also more fluid in grade levels because their classrooms are multi-grade. A 4th would be in a class with 4th-6th graders.

    I'm not a proponent of redshirting automatically because of birthdates but I do see many families practicing this. Finding a better fit for your child would relieve stress for you and her for the long term.

    Good luck.

    Yes! My son is the youngest in his class.. and he has a hard time. He compares himself to others and feels bad that he gets lower grades than many of his friends. It’s hard.

    I could have been you. I would consider holding her back a year. The school will get wigged out about it, it will not be easy, but things will only get worse from here. I now have a sophomore in high school who is more or less refusing to go or really "do" school and is so discouraged. She is always just behind her peers in the emotional maturity to get focused. She also has ADHD - not diagnosed until 8th grade, and I would encourage you to see if that is part of her issue. It can be different in girls and can lead to a lot of lack of ability to manage all the school "stuff" in ways you might not realize. Been there, wish I'd done that.

  • Hello,

    My daughter will be 5 yrs old at the end of October.  She is required to enter TK (transitional kindergarten) because she will not meet the age requirement at the time school starts in August.

    I do not want her to go to TK because she is more advanced academically and is probably doing some Grade 1 work.  As far as socially, she is currently in a multi age class and her social skills is not more different then her TK and K peers.

    I have spoken to the principal but there is a numbers game and filling vacancies in the schools.  She claims we can have a meeting to access her for K once she turns 5 but I am sure that the class will be full and no space available to move her.  Also, is there any possibility of moving her from TK to 1st grade?

    Any suggestions?  Thoughts?

    Thank you 

    I feel like I have to post this response every month or so for parents who have the same concern. 

    Here was my experience with TK: It is an excellent program that basically amounts to your kid getting an extra year of kindergarten. Yes, at times, it can be tiresome for a child with academic advantages, but if you are in a good school, you can talk to the teacher about giving your child more challenging work. The more important piece of the puzzle, and one that many parents with academically-advanced children forget about, is your child's emotional development. It may seem like you need to push, push, push to have her placed in a higher grade, but she will then be the youngest and under a ton of pressure to behave in ways that may not be developmentally appropriate. 

    My experience was this: When kinder started for my child, I was very irritated that she was doing kinder "again," even though I had been shown how different the curriculum was. She complained that she was bored. However, when I spoke to her teacher about putting her in first, she said, "Do me a favor, come to the school and watch her along with the other students. Look at her attention span, watch how she behaves, see if you think she would do well if she were dropped into a first-grade environment." I did as she asked and I also asked a friend of mine who volunteered in the class to also watch the same thing and give me her honest impressions / reality check. At every point, my child was developmentally in line with her cohort. Kindergarteners walk around school like little peeping chickens, looking around, still getting a feel for the place. A year later, in first graders, they are laser-focused by comparison.

    Things are not perfect for my daughter; it can be as difficult being towards the oldest in the class as the youngest. There are struggles either way. But this thing of trying to push your kid ahead, or even trying to skip a grade? I really recommend you drop it. It's not good for your child's emotional health. And they district will NOT go for it -- they did this in our parents' generation and often had disastrous consequences trying to rush kids through emotional development that they need time to process. 

    Please don't try to push her ahead. You can't do it, and it's not good for your kid or her classmates. 

    Is your child reading chapter books by herself already?  Is your child able to understand and do all 4 math functions?  If not, please understand that there will be kids in kindergarten that can do those things in your public school.  In good schools, the teachers are able to differentiate and keep kids challenged and learning no matter what their incoming abilities.  School is not a race.  Unless your child is profoundly gifted, do your child a favor and follow the age guidelines.

    I have two kids with late summer/fall birthdays and we "held back" both of them. Over the years I have questioned this decision on and off, as all parents do. But my oldest is going to graduate from BHS next month and it's become clear that we made the right decision. So much development happens in just one year! As we navigated through the college admission process, he showed maturity, confidence, and thoughtfulness. Compared to the previous year, it was striking. I can now say with confidence that he is ready to leave the nest (sob!). By giving him the "gift of an extra year," we allowed him to mature at his own pace and find his own way. Getting along with other people, learning how to deal with frustrating situations, and having fun are just as important as academics, if not more so. FWIW, my kids were early readers (chapter books in preschool) but guess what? Turns out most kids are all caught up by 3rd-5th grade. Children don't all develop at the same rate, but they all usually do the same things: crawl, walk, run, read, etc. Same goes for emotional development.  Let your kid enjoy her life. 

  • Late bloomer starting kindergarten

    (3 replies)


    My son will be turning five the last week of August and will just make the date cut-off (by one week) to start kindergarten next year.  He's a bright kid-- articulate, and curious, but still has such big challenges with emotional regulation.  He often breaks down and gives up at the smallest frustration, often with intensive, high-pitched screaming.  He struggles to control himself physically, for example, hugging and kissing others too often and too intensely.  He has difficulty making friends at preschool and dreads going.  Though he does better at preschool, he's been told he's not allowed to hug kids and feels apart there.  He's always been hyper-sensitive to stimuli.  Loud noises make him freak out and he has to change his pants immediately if he gets even a drop of water on them.  I don't think he has Aspergers--he's often very aware of his own emotional state.  He could tell us at three that he was struggling because he was jealous of his new baby brother and can tell us that he feels anxious if we talk about Donald Trump.  He just often can't control his responses. 

    We've gone to a child therapist for advice on strategies for helping him and things have gotten better.  We're also looking into the "Be Friends" class at Seesaw to help strengthen his social skills.  I do think things will get better with age and I'd feel better if he could wait a year to go to kindergarten.  The other boys in his same class at preschool seem so much older and he refers to them as the "big boys."  He just seems like he needs to wait a year to go.  Are other parents considering keeping their young five-year olds out a year?  Have others had similar issues and sent their kids to kindergarten anyway, with things working out over the year? I'd appreciate some insight. 

    If you have reservations about sending your child to K then you should go with your instinct. I've never hear anyone say the regret waiting another year, but do regret sending when the child is not ready. We waited and school is a joy rather than a struggle.

    Please trust your instincts and wait a year! The social - emotional aspect of school is at least as important as the academic. If he starts school having trouble "behaving" and regularly gets in trouble, this can turn into a vicious cycle (low self esteem, anxiety, easy target for bullies, etc.). We are still trying to undo the damage in our middle schooler who learned early to "hate" school. He is still a smart, creative, emotional kid, who probably would have had a very different experience with an extra year to mature. With our youngest, we decided to give him that extra year, and it has made such a huge difference. Now he is seen as a mature, responsible kid who is academically and emotionally advanced for his grade. I feel bad for the youngest kids in his class (and their parents) who continue to have trouble regulating, due only to the fact that they are a year behind! If you need more data, read up on schools in places like Finland, where kids start formal school much later than they do in the US, and end up far ahead.

    Hi there,

    You mentioned that your son was sensitive to many things,  hyper sensitive to loud noises, and needing hugs. The one thing that immediately came to my mind was he might have  sensory processing  disorder. That was my son and still is st age 13. This can impact a child's relationship with people . I suggest you speak to your health care provider and ask to be referred to an Occupational Therapist. Early intervention is best.

    Good luck.

  • Redshirting illegal in California?

    (7 replies)

    Hi - I have a late summer boy who is young for his age, and am trying to figure out my options in terms of possibly holding him back a year for kindergarten.  The Berkeley school district has told me that it is illegal to hold a kid back who will technically be 5 by September 1, and they referred me to the state law provision saying that people between ages 6 and 18 must be in school.  But I know many people who have redshirted their kids, and my understanding from the district is that they would allow him to stay out for the year and then enroll in FIRST grade, which seems also to violate state law under their theory, so I don't see why waiting and enrolling him in Kindergarten would violate state law.

    Does anyone have experience with this or thoughts on how to navigate the system if I decide that holding my son back a year is the right thing for him to do?  I would rather avoid kindergarten continuance (repeating K), which I know is also an option if he doesn't meet milestones in kindergarten.

    Does your preschool offer kindergarten?  If so, he could do kindy there, and the teacher could recommend he repeat (if she really believes he needs it).  Or you could just enroll him and see how it goes.  He might be fine.  And if he's not, well, kids repeat kindy all the time now and there seems to be no stigma with the other kids.

    Would it work for you to send him to a preschool that includes a kindergarten or pre-K, somewhere like Step-One, but there must be others. That way, you/he can opt in to kindergarten or not. If the kindergarten works well, he can go on to 1st grade the next year at age 6. If it doesn't work out he can repeat kindergarten at your public school. Also keep in mind that he will be almost 19 when he graduates from high school, being a year older than his classmates might make him feel self-conscience later on (I mean *really* self-conscience; I have an older teenager and trust me you don't want to do anything now that may damage him later, even if you mean well).

    We live in Albany and our youngest is in 3rd grade this year. He is an August kid too. We did not register him for K the year he turned 5 due to a chronic health condition. He spend a year at a private TK, and then we registered him for public school K next year. The enrollment was smooth and nobody questioned his age. Not sure why the district people said it is illegal. Must not be true since so many people homeschool around here.

  • Public TK or Private K? So confused.

    (4 replies)

    Our daughter's birthday is Sept. 3, 2012. (2 days after the Sept. 1 cut-off) We live near Lake Merritt in Oakland and are zoned for Piedmont Avenue Elementary School (PAES) which has a transitional kindergarten program. The school seems to have low test scores and some of the older reviews seem to suggest there's been bullying and violence. The demographics of the school means that our 1/4 Asian and 3/4 white child will be a minority.  The school is majority African American and close to 20% hispanic. She currently attends a wonderful play-based preschool. All of her friends from preschool will be attending K (mostly Chabot, Cleveland, Hillcrest, and Glenview or Park Day, St. Paul, Shu Ren, EBI, Aurora, Redwood Day). None of the parents plan to send their kid to PAES. I don't think we want to keep her at the same preschool for the 3rd year when all of her friends have graduated to elementary school. Her preschool does not have a TK or pre-K program. 

    We are torn about what to do.

    1) Do we send her to PAES for just one year (TK) and then try to get her into a higher performing OUSD elementary school such as Peralta, Chabot, Crocker, Glenview, Kaiser, etc.? Obviously this will save us a lot of money but our kid will be literally the oldest kid in class and all of her current friends will be a grade above her. And we'll have to do the school search again next year.

    2) Do we go for private school and enroll her in K, since many private school cutoff is Dec. 1? We're looking at spending $30,000 / year factoring in tuition and after school care. I guess once she has done K at private school, public school will have to accept her at a higher grade than she would have been if she started at public school. So, if we can't afford the cost for the long term, we could switch her to public school, although my wife is strongly against changing schools in mid-stream. 

    Of course, a lot depends on the child as well. Our daughter is very tall (90th percentile in height) and is socially and emotionally pretty mature. She is also very articulate and an excellent negotiator. She isn't academically brilliant or anything and we haven't been pushing the academics. She knows how to write her name and a few other letters, has known her alphabets for a long time, and can do basic math (2 + 2 = 4). She knows colors and shapes as well. Her self care skill is on par with her friends. (potty trained, dress/undress, albeit clumsily, etc.)

    We'd love to hear from parents whose kids were the youngest or oldest in class and your take on the pros and cons and what you would do for the kid. Also we'd love to hear any recent experience on Piedmont Avenue Elementary School's TK program. 


    -- Confused

    Your question is right in my wheelhouse - I have 2 fall birthday kids; we agonized over placement for each. The older one, a boy, made the K cutoff by one day. We sent him anyway! So he is the absolute youngest in his cohort (now in mid-elementary school). It's fine. The younger one, a girl, spent last year in TK (in a different district than you, but same situation - not our home school since they centralize the TK class). Knowing her and believing her to be very smart (like your daughter sounds) before the year started we were kind of expecting her to thrive so much that it would become apparent to all that she should actually be in kindergarten, and moved partway through the year. Guess what, daughter didn't bother making an effort in TK until more than half the year was over. But, she finally got the lead out in the spring, tested very high in the academic abilities they measure, and we requested she skip kindergarten at our home school, where it was approved. So, she's now in first grade and doing fine. I could not imagine a smart child going through TK and then sitting through a year of K, which virtually duplicates the curriculum. Long story (and I'm even leaving out some details!)... if I were you, I'd enroll your daughter in TK wherever that is; closely monitor her performance. If it warrants it, request moving to kindergarten (wherever there's space that you want to be) midyear; or if she's not quite there yet, starting bugging the teacher/principal/district about accelerating in May for the coming school year. Bottom line, a girl who is the oldest in her class will almost certainly not be academically challenged for at least the first few years of elementary, and we did not want our daughter getting lazy and assuming she doesn't need to try. Don't worry about where her preschool friends are going, or what they're doing. She will make new friends. Good luck!

    Our son started K at Piedmont Ave Elementary this year and I'd encourage you to check it out and tour the school, before you write it off. Test scores are not the best way to assess a school. They don't have a lot of the resources that wealthier schools have, but they do a lot with what they do have. Their principal is very responsive about concerns and his kindergarten teacher is fantastic. I still have some concerns about the higher grades, but things appear to be changing and the staff that have been working directly with my son have been fantastic, including Ms Peggy, the lunch lady.

    In terms of age, there are a lot of early September birthday kids in TK. Our son's birthday is late August, so he's one of the youngest in K. It doesn't seem to be affecting his experience one way or the other.

    Hi - we were actually in the same predicament (early October 2011 birthday) and are currently at Shu Ren International. We recently moved back to the area so enrolled him in their Pre-K4 class and he just started Kindergarten a few weeks ago. He loves it and we love it - the atmosphere and community are great. Since we were new back, we actually didn't know about TK options and really wanted him to attend Kindergarten early per cut off dates (and felt comfortable him being one of the youngest in the class) since he is pretty mature (and also tall) for his age. We figured we would have to pay for another year of pre-school care anyway, so why not give Kindergarten a go and ask the teacher to help us assess along the way. This gave us the option to continue onto Grade 1 or repeat Kindergarten. We highly recommend Shu Ren if you are considering them, no need to speak Mandarin as kids learn along the way (especially when entering at Kindergarten). Feel free contacting me if you have any questions, unfortunately we don't have any experience comparing oldest vs youngest child in class, but have queried a lot of my friends (and educators) and their advice has always been that each child is different and all really depends if you feel they are ready. And we did. Hope that helps. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Daughter's birthday is September 1 - wait a year?

June 2016

We are considering keeping our kid in preschool for another year rather than sending her to kindergarten this fall (She turns 5 on the cutoff day of September 1st and will be the youngest if we send her and we are not sure she is ready). I called the BUSD admissions to ask about it and they said that if we keep her back, she will automatically be enrolled in 1st grade next year instead of kindergarten (no exceptions, need to be born on September 2nd to wait a year!). She referenced a NEW Alameda County rule/law ''education code 48000'' but I looked that up and it doesn't mention this scenario. Essentially, she said that kindergarten is not required and they want to avoid a lot of people red-shirting their kids. The administrator said the only way around this is to send her to private school for a couple years starting next year and after 2nd or 3rd grade, they will go based on her report card rather than age but that seems unreasonable (and expensive). Has anyone run into this or held a kid back and had a problem this year? I believe this is a pretty new law (september 2015). Any potential solutions? you're only young once

I predict you will regret holding your kid back in Berkeley. Walnut Creek, yes. But in Berkeley the parents pretty much enroll them as soon as they qualify. So, your child will likely feel really out of place--both academically and socially/developmentally. And this awkward difference will only increase as the years go by. In my kids' classes there were LOADS with Aug/Sept birthdays. If you want to hold your child back, I would advise moving to a (more suburban?) area where this is the norm. Been There

4 years old in July - What are my options??

April 2015

We are relocating from Montreal in a couple of months and I wanted to get my son into a class for next school year.I was thinking pre k, or transitional kindergarten, but I am confused if this exists. He was in Montessori before and I would love to get him into a montessori based program or French Immersion but I see just one option and that is too expensive for us.

Any suggestions? I will have a newborn girl in June and we are also looking for a rental. I’m overloaded with things to do, and I can't imagine having both kids home next school year. ;( We were thinking Berkeley, Walnut Creek or Fremont, but it seems the Berkeley school system has so much more to offer; if we live in Walnut Creek, can I drive him to school in Berkeley? Any suggestions would help!!

Welcome to the Bay Area! You probably need to leave some of your preconceptions from Montreal behind, unfortunately. I have a cousin in Toronto who has kids the same age as mine and the system is totally different. Her daughter started kindergarten a year before my daughter and they are both December babies. In California if you're not 5 by September 1 you don't go to kindergarten that fall. Only Sep-Nov birthdays go to Transitional K in BUSD. Happily, this has worked for us. Our daughter is thriving in school despite being one of the older kids. Your July kid will have no trouble on the ''normal'' schedule. However, it means you either have to get in to one of the cheaper public preschools or pay through the nose for private - which is the norm here.

Your other question about living one place and going to school in another - nope. With the exception of charter schools, you have to live in the town you go to the public school of. Only those who pay taxes to that town can go to the schools, with very few exceptions. However, there is a French immersion public charter school starting up in Oakland soon that you may be interested in - more info at https://francophoneschool.wordpress.com/ Bonne chance et bon courage!

Hi there, Congratulations on your upcoming move! You have a few questions and I'll try to address all of them. First, regarding preschool or transitional kindergarten (oftentimes called TK), it depends when your son turns 5. If he turns 5 between September 2nd and December 2nd of 2015, he is eligible for TK in the public schools. You should check the specific school districts for more information. For Berkeley, you will need to complete the enrollment information, but I don't think that you can do that until you have a signed lease proving your residency in Berkeley. You can find a lot of information at http://www.berkeleyschools.net/

If your son is not eligible for public TK, there are plenty of preschool options. Some of them may have already filled their classes for fall 2015, but you should start calling around to ask. The BPN site is a great resource for narrowing down preschools by city. Sometimes the term ''pre K'' is used, but in general you should just look at preschools with a ''4s program.'' I don't know much about French immersion preschools, but there are certainly a lot of Montessori preschools in Berkeley. You also mention living in Walnut Creek and driving your child to school. I wasn't sure whether you meant for preschool or for elementary school, but either way, that would be quite a commute. Depending where in Berkeley, you could be looking at a 30-40 drive, and you would likely be driving at peak commute hours. I would not recommend choosing a preschool in Berkeley if you find a rental in Walnut Creek. There must be plenty of good preschool options in Walnut Creek. If you are thinking of enrolling your child in Berkeley public elementary school, you cannot do so if you live in Walnut Creek. You have to be a resident of Berkeley (or an employee of BUSD) in order to enroll your child in Berkeley public schools. Good luck on your move. All of the cities that you mention will be a great place for your family. Berkeley parent

If you end up in Berkeley or north Oakland, I can recommend The Model School. They enroll year-round, so chances are there will be a spot open when you arrive. They have two pre-K classrooms as well, so there is more of a likelihood of a spot opening up mid-year. If you end up in Walnut Creek, no way should you drive to Berkeley for preschool. Way too far, way too much traffic. I'm sure you could find good preschools in WC, but I can't help you there. Anyway, The Model School has warm, loving teachers, a large outdoor space, very flexible scheduling, and very reasonable tuition, especially by Berkeley standards. In summer they go on field trips. They offer weekly music and Spanish. In short, a lovely preschool experience. Welcome to the Bay Area! Mom of 3

Hi, I would like to offer this in response to your concerns about your child who will be 4-yrs old in July. If your child is not 5 by September 1st, s/he would probably be a great candidate for MCPC's Bridge Kindergarten program. Teacher Anthea teaches an emergent curriculum and provides a fun, stimulating, extremely creative experience for old 4s and young 5s ... the program is small (12-15) and each kid is personally focused on to a great extent. The class combines play time, physical challenges and lots of very creative art with some academic rigor: the children are learning to write and achieve other milestones that OUSD expects of their incoming Kindergartners. My son regularly comes home with original art, seeds he has planted, jewelry he has made ... another benefit is that the program runs from 1-4pm, so it helps kids make that transition to the typical Kindergarten schedule of 9am-3pm. I believe they are still offering Bridge K tours for anyone who is interested. www.mcpc.com Julie

September 1st birthday- school advice?

March 2015

We recently moved to the area with our little girl. Her birthday falls on September 1st! We see that both Berkeley and Oakland have a September 1st cutoff for kindergarten and were wondering what that is like for other parents of kids with the same special birthday. Does that mean she will be the youngest kid in the class? What is it like to have that birthday with school-- does your kid develop super fast or does she feel too young for school. Our little girl is doing great in a mixed-age preschool and is happy and comfortable so we don't want to mess her up. Do we even have the option to keep her home for a year and make her the oldest? Any advice would be very welcome as we struggle with figuring this out! Specialbirthday

What does your daughter want? Is she excited about going to school? If so, I'd honor that. Does she truly not seem ready? If so, honor that. You know your kid better than anyone else, so I would take anyone else's opinion w/a grain of salt. Kids are not one-size-fits-all. I honestly wish that school entry would be based on readiness and not on birthday. In my opinion, it is equally bad to hold back a child who is ready as it is to push forward a child who is not. Go with your gut, and hers. Past Kindergarten Now

I have two sons, both with late summer birthdays (Aug 29 and July 22). My husband and I also have summer birthdays and went to school when we were just 5 ourselves. We sent our kids when they were 5 though they are at a private school in Oakland where the birthday cutoff is Dec 1st, still they are both the youngest in their respective 3rd and 5th grade classes.

It is a tricky question and really depends on who else is in the class. At our particular school, they try to group the kids so that 1/4 of the kids birthdays fall in the each 1/4 of the year, and in one case, the oldest kid is born in October so is only 9 months older than the youngest. In the other case there is a year spread. But I went in knowing this as another school had told me that my oldest was academically fine, but would be the youngest by about 18 months with the next youngest being born in May so he was really, really the youngest and as a small and young boy, he's likely be picked on for the 9 years he was there. Not something one want to hear, but I was really glad they were upfront and told me this so that I could ask better questions at the other schools.

In both cases, my sons are extremely happy in school, fine academically and socially. I don't know if another year at home or preschool would have helped though it probably wouldn't have hurt. In K, they probably would have been less wiggly and they might have read earlier by their grade though probably still the same timing for their age.

I still wonder sometimes if we made the right call but I know they wouldn't change their classmates for anything. Tough Choice these days

Although this is an individual decision for everyone, I thought I would share our experience. First of all, yes, you do have the option to wait another year for your daughter. She will not only be the youngest by a year if you start - she will probably be in class with kids 15 months older than her. You might be able to enroll her in the district's TK program instead, but keep in mind that this will be probably 25 kids with one teacher, as opposed to your preschool.

Next year I will have a 6th grader, a 3rd grader, and a kindergartener. After seeing the youngest kids consistently struggle (often socially / behaviorally) in my older kids' classes I decided to hold my youngest for an extra year. He has a summer birthday, is shy and small, and is very happy in his preschool. I feel confident that this was absolutely the right decision. It's amazing what an extra year does for maturity at this age.

You can find lots of articles on both sides of this issue, but these are two that I find interesting. The first compiles research from many studies, which is much more helpful than any individual study. The second is interesting from the perspective of how teachers apparently perceive disparities in maturity in the classroom. In our school, this seems 100% accurate.



-Happy with an extra year.

We have a first grader whose birthday is at the end of September. The cut off for his year was October 1st, so he just made it under the wire. There is one kid one day younger than him in his grade. There are a handful who are more than a year older in his class, so even if you kept your daughter home another year, she likely still wouldn't be the oldest.

We waffled about whether or not to start our son on time and decided that we would start him in Kindergarten when he was supposed to start and, if it didn't work out, would have him repeat Kindergarten the next year at a different school. I figured that while it might be good for him to stay home now but it would be awful to have an 18-year old who still had a year of high school left when all he wanted to do was get out in the world.

Starting on time was a great decision for our son. The academics have come easily to him and because he's very athletic, he tends to play with the boys in 2nd and 3rd grade instead of his peers. I think our son would have been bored if we had left him in the same mixed-age preschool he was in though when we were deciding I wasn't sure if he was ready to go to school. Anon

I have a September girl as well and she is the youngest in her grade. I also have a son who was close to the oldest in his grade and another daughter who is right in the middle for her grade. So my advice is...it depends on the kid. My son needed all the time he could get (and I didn't redshirt him--his birthday was one day after the cut-off). Even now in middle school he can barely stand to hold a pencil. My middle daughter is rock-solid. And my 1st-grader, who is the youngest in her grade is also rock-solid. I cannot imagine her being in kindergarten right now, even though some kindergartners are older than her. She's mature and super-smart. She's on the quiet side in class, but that was true for all three of my children, regardless of whether they were the oldest, middle, or youngest in their respective grade. So what's your daughter like? Quick-learner, emotionally mature? Or not terribly interested in academics and melts down easily? And what about transitional kindergarten? That was an option for my daughter but it was not offered at our neighborhood school so we didn't pursue it. Depends on the kid, but not a fan of redshirting

Mostly this is to say thanks to another parent who wrote a response mentioning his/her Sept. 08 birthday boy now in 1st grade. I have one of those too, and they are definitely rare! But my guy is doing fine in 1st as a young 6, and I can't imagine how miserable he would be if I'd held him back to be in K now instead of first. If your daughter makes the cutoff (sounds like she does), go for it. It is okay to be the youngest. If anything, it gives them some motivation to strive a little harder and builds grit.

In response to the question about when to start Kindergarten for a Sept 1st birthday, I would strongly recommend considering the Bridge Kindergarten (''Bridge-K'') program at Montclair Community Play Center. It's the gift of one extra year you can give your child to transition from the non-academic world to the many requirements in today's average kindergarten class ... Each child is met at their level. They LOVE coming to school and generally do not want to leave. Teacher Anthea heads this program with wisdom, insight and so much kindness that every child thrives. The program prepares children for the incoming kindergarten requirements in an atmosphere that is creative, collaborative, educational and fun. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am happy to answer any questions folks have through email ... julie s

Kindergarten for a delayed child, or wait a year?

Oct 2014

Our daughter is very inconsistent and we're not sure if we should hold off on kindergarten. She is getting speech and occupational therapy through OUSD and was diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction. She can express herself quite well but lately has had a hard time interacting with kids at preschool and acts aggressively to get attention and to fulfill her sensory needs. She says she cannot help herself. She is also very behind in fine motor skills and motor planning. She can barely write her name. She will be 5 in January. I'd hate for her to be almost 7 and starting kindergarten but I also don't want her to always be behind. Does anyone know of specific schools that might suit her needs? She either needs a very small environment that allows her to move at her own pace, or a public school setting with lots of support. She can follow directions well and is very sweet. She is also in a Montesorri preschool and is doing just fine there. I think she can do well, but only in the right setting. We prefer to stay in oakland, but are flexible. So far I'm looking at Mills, St. Paul's, Crocker Highlands, urban Montesorri, noccs, piedmont ave elementary and kaiser. Please advise! Confused parent

Stay with Montessori, my boys did until they were out of primary education. Its an awesome education for children with different learning needs and challenges. Felicia

I'm a pediatrician and the parent of a first grader who's behind in several areas. My son's preschool recommended that we hold him back but we didn't. His kindergarten teacher last year emphatically agreed with our decision, even though he was a kid who took extra effort on her part. Holding them back helps if all they really need is another year of maturity, but if there are underlying issues that aren't likely to go away you're better off getting them into a supportive public school with appropriate services. You're describing enough going on with your daughter that these sound like issues that you'll be working on in the years to come, so there's probably little to gain by waiting. I'd encourage you to check out your list of schools during the options process/application period. Try to talk to principals about your daughter and her needs, see where you get a good vibe that they'd be supportive. This will also help when they're making class assignments so they know to give her a teacher that's good at dealing with ''outside the box'' kids. My son can still barely write (gets a little OT at school for that), struggles with math, is mostly on track in reading, and though he's reasonably well-liked he doesn't get how to fit in and make friends. But so far he likes school, he's making good progress, and his teachers and the school have been good about using the (limited) resources they have to help him as best they can. We're still early in the K-12 years and I'm expecting more challenges to come, but starting Kindergarten at 6 instead of 5 wouldn't have changed that. Love my little monkey exactly as he is


Hold boy back from kinder because he is small?

March 2014


We no longer live in the Bay Area where red shirting is common. We do live in No. Cal where there are usually 5-8 ''red shirted'' boys, held over a year before entering kindergarten. My older son is tall, and my younger son is not; he is likely going to be a smaller kid. In all ways, our younger son will be ready for kindergarten, but my husband wants to hold him back because he is small. His birthday is in July, so with the new cut-off, he will likely be one of the youngest in his kindergarten class, but I don't think holding him back is the right answer. My husband (who is short and has many emotional scars from being picked on)and thinks that our younger son will be teased and a target. Our younger son has a quiet self-confidence and a great sense of humor. I think he will navigate the social stuff as well as our older son (who frankly because of his sensitivity had issues, even though he is tall/big!) His older brother (3 years older) is also at the same school. anon

Your son sounds like me. I was small and (5'5'') still am. I was a November baby, and my parents not only did not hold me back, they sent me to a private school (this was Virgina in the 50s) for 1st grade so that I could enter the public school in 2d grade the next year. It's the kid that matters. Yeah, I was teased, but I learned to roll with the punches and give as good as I got. I was almost always the smallest kid in the class, but I was generally the smartest as well, and my friends came from the entire range. If your son is a small kid like I was, he's gonna be small EVEN IF you hold him back. A year or even two would not have brought me even into the 50th percentile. I think you ought to be guided by his emotional & educational maturity. My name below is a gmail address as well if you have any specific questions about growing up as a small male that I can answer. You say your son has a great sense of humor; I think that's the major requirement. AboutTheSame

As a parent of two small boys, one thing to consider -- he'll be small next year, too. It's just something that he'll have to deal with. Although I think this generation teases and bullies less than what many of us remember, it will be a source of comments a lot. Every year, my boys knew who the smallest kid in class was, smallest boy, smallest girl, smallest overall. One of mine was red-shirted and remains small by comparison. The other is a Feb birthday and is small, would be small compared to kids one grade younger. They both hate being short. Not something you can fix. Now, being the youngest kid in a class has other disadvantages. I've seen so many of the young guys just not quite having an easy time. So, I'm not saying don't do it -- just don't think you're solving the size thing! in the same boat...

I have a son who is one of the youngest and smallest in his class and I would not change a thing if I had to do it over. If your child is ready then what does size matter? If you're thinking about his future pro football career, then perhaps you should redshirt him but otherwise, children really don't care if they are a head shorter than their best friend. At least that's my experience. Keeping him back may cause him to be bored amongst kids who are almost a whole year younger academically, developmentally and socially than him and that poses a whole different set of challenges. Best of luck with your decision. Mom Who Doesn't Believe in Redshirting


Pull our son back a year for kindergarten or not?

May 2013


Our son turns 5 on September 25th so he qualifies for kindergarten (cut off date is October 1st this year). The kindergarten teachers who observed him for 15 minutes think he should be held back a year so he would not be the youngest kid in the class. His pre-school teacher thinks he is ready for kidergarten. We do not have the money to afford his pre-school but my husband thinks we should hold him back anyway because that's what the kindergarten teachers think. I- the mom- think he is ready for kindergarten but I don't want him to suffer or feel bad because he is the youngest. what should I do? confused mom

I would recommend holding your son back. I did that with mine, and he had a great year! Kindergarten's curriculum is like first grade. You should check in with the Kindergarten teacher and have them show you what is expected at the beginning, middle, and end of Kindergarten. I have also found that most pre-schools have not realized that the expectations for Kindergarten are quite different now! anon

There is no right answer to this question. I have many friends who are teachers and have personally worked with children for 25 years. When it came time for my boys to start - both of them were close to the cut off - I listened to advice and started them on time. In both cases I wish I'd held back for very different reasons. One was academically very excelled and was very bored in school. That would have been more obvious if he had been older and I would have moved him to private school. But he was socially behind. The other one was great socially but academically behind and struggled so much in elementary school that it is still a challenge. Even in HS we are holding back things like starting a language, etc. You are welcome to contact me if you want more on this.

As a teacher I work with a lot of mothers who have been in this position. Moms are usually right. I'd seek another Kindergarden teacher pronto. The teacher will likely not change their mind and will likely look down on you for not taking their advice and then they'll look to prove this to you and your child for the remainder of the year. Ryan

Our son's birthday is September 30th. We were in a similar situation. The preschool teachers told us he was ready, our instinct was that he wasn't ready. It pained us to pay an extra year for preschool, but we bit the bullet and did it. I couldn't be happier with our decision to give him an extra year. I have a friend who is a counselor at a middle school and says the majority of the kids she sees who are struggling are late fall birthday boys. I think the issues might not happen in elementary school -- but later on. The other thing to factor is that nationally the majority of school systems now have a September 1 cut off date, and most schools around here are transitioning to this (at least BUSD is). So this decision impacts how your child will be grouped when he goes to college. In the end the way I look at is he is now in a position of things maybe always being a little easier -- vs in a position where things are a struggle. I figured best to set him up to have school be a successful experience -- and so far it is. My friend who was making the same decision chose to send their son to kindergarten. He ultimately redid first grade and things are better. anon

Argh, this drives me crazy. Let me just say that kindy teachers (and administrators) have a vested interest in how old their students are. Older kids will bring test scores up. Plus, teachers want mature kids who are more likely to sit still through circle time. My girl has a 9/24 birthday and she will be starting kindy this fall, right before she turns 5. And guess what, the teachers at the elementary school (who I know quite well, having two older kids there as well) are advising that she stay in preschool for another year, despite the fact that she is reading, and is emotionally mature. That's just their bias and it won't change. Her preschool teachers say she is more than ready for kindy. I know that the elementary school is advising all kids with late summer/early fall bdays to stay in preschool, but I also know that many parents are ignoring them and enrolling their children anyway (because the kids are ready for kindy!!!). So my advice to you is, if your preschool teachers say he's ready, then he's ready. Enroll him in kindergarten. 3x kindy mom who's been around the block

My birthday is also 9-25 and I started 1st grade at age five, turning six shortly after the school year started. I didn't go to kindergarten because I was in a Montessori program, but I could read and was ready for 1st grade 3 weeks before turning six. I never noticed a difference between myself and other ''older'' kids - we're talking about being older by months. I understand that they have to have a cut-off, but it seems pretty arbitrary to me. My question would be whether the teachers observed any specific behavior that indicated a lack of readiness. Being younger than other kids by one month, two months, three months...does not seem like any kind of big deal. That being said, if I had started at age 6 just before turning 7, I don't think it would have mattered much, but I would have been older than everyone. Does that matter? I think it depends on the child. another sept 25th birthday

We faced a similar quandary to yours with our daughter, who is about to graduate from high school: she was born in December on what was then the cut-off day for kindergarten. We went ahead with starting her, and she has always been the youngest in her class, often encountering kids in the grade below her who are older than she is. As with your son, her pre-school teachers thought she was ready to go. But we also got the go-ahead from one private school that was willing to consider her. She did their standard classroom visit for kindergarten applicants and was accepted. We chose the public school instead, but switched to a private school in fourth grade, which made her three months younger than the youngest of her classmates, and a year younger than many. Because she is socially poised, her teachers throughout her school years have been surprised to learn that she is young for her grade. However we wondered at several points whether she'd have been better off if we'd delayed starting kindergarten.

Here are some comments I'd make:

I've never heard regrets from a parent who delayed kindergarten. I was aware of this when we made our decision, but chose to disregard it. I've spoken to fewer parents who made the same decision that we did, but I'd say the reactions are more mixed.

A pediatrician friend remarked that age difference is a much bigger factor and being young is likely to be a much bigger issue in middle school or when kids enter puberty. So it's important to project ahead, not just think about the primary grades. Boys tend to mature later than girls, and a boy who is both young and matures more slowly may face significant social and other challenges if he is chronologically younger than his classmates.

Consider whether it would be difficult to move your son back a year if you feel that you made a mistake and if he is not thriving. You might discuss this with the public school and also consider looking into pre-kindergarten programs.

The upshot for us is that our daughter is planning to do a gap year between high school and college, a decision which we arrived at mutually and about which we are all enthusiastic. Knowing that she is younger than her classmates may have made it easier for her to do this. Would it have seemed important to do a gap year if we'd delayed starting kindergarten - who knows? What's important is to be flexible enough to re-evaluate whatever decision you make and adjust course as seems appropriate.

Our daughter has a September birthday and after consultation with her preschool, which offered a transitional K program, they advised that she was ready to go to K at age four. Kindergarten was fine, but now that she's in second grade (and to a certain extent in first) I'm noticing that there's a very real difference in terms of ability to sit still and in terms of social maturity. In our district it's very common to redshirt kids, and there's very few kids her age in her class, and lots who are a year or 18 months older. Academically she's fine, and even ahead in several areas, but I kind of wish we'd waited. We may end up doing a sabbatical at some point, and if we do that I may just use that as a time to repeat a year after we come back.

On the other hand my older daughter was a June birthday, and she was fine starting as a young five year old, so it really does depend on the kid. Kids who have excellent self regulation and social skills may do fine, but more impulsive kids may well benefit from an extra year. Wish we'd waited

Sorry I didn't see this first time but have to respond. You always hear that you will never regret holding them back. But I am a parent who really does. My son has a Sept birthday and we waited the year due to some behavioral / social skills issues. Kindergarten this year has been awful. All of the behavioral issues are still there but now he's the oldest kid. He's really bright and is completely unstimulated academically and its just made his behavioral problems worse. I don't know what the right decision for you is but just chiming in as an example where holding back was probably not the right decision.

I would trust your own gut about your child (who you have known all of his life better than anyone else), rather than giving over your decision-making to teachers who have only observed him for 15 minutes. I know that holding kids back is hip and trendy lately, but it is not the right decision for every kid. There will always be a youngest and an oldest - big whoop. If he is ready, I say honor that and don't hold him back. Trust mama's instinct!


Kindergarten for a 4 1/2 girl I am adopting

April 2013


My husband and I are adopting a sibling set through social services in Alameda County. We do not yet have custody of the children since they are out of county (5 hours away) and we are working with a secondary agency..in any case, we should have the girls by June at the latest and the older child will be five years old in September-kindergarten ready (she is currently in pre school). I am asking for recommendations for possible schools-I am open to catholic, private, pretty much anything besides public. I know that the enrollment period for many of the schools has passed, but wondering if anyone else has been in the situation and can offer advice or a recommendation. Thanks so much.

You might try Walden Center & School, http://www.walden-school.net/ . Fun, arts-based education that encourages children's love of learning. The school is so small and friendly that all the children get to know each other. J

Call Lisa Piccione, Admissions Director at Aurora School. Aurora is a sweet, nurturing, inclusive community in which your daughter would thrive. It is located between Hillcrest School and Holy Names High School off Broadway Terrace in Oakland. I do not know if the Kindergarten class is full and if your daughter would meet a September birthday cut-off but call Lisa and ask. 428-2606. Aurorian

This might not be what you want to hear, but she will be BARELY old enough to start kindy this fall (and next fall the public school cutoff is Sept 1), so even though I usually am of the opinion that kids should start school when the calendar says, I think in this case, I might put her in another year of preschool. I have a daughter the exact same age and she will be starting kindy in the fall with a great deal of trepidation on the part of her parents. And my daughter has had a stable, supportive, nurturing environment from conception. I think, being the very youngest in her class will be stressful, but she isn't having to overcome five years of trauma, neglect, abuse, whatever your adoptive daughter will be coming from. I'm not sure how old the younger sibling is, but I would think that a preschool/daycare placement where they could be together for a year as they get accustomed to their new family would be really, really beneficial for both of them. Kindergarten has high expectations these days (my older two have already been through it) and my heart goes out to your daughter who will have a whole lot of adjustment to do. She will have enough stress in her young life, by getting new parents, a new home, etc. She really doesn't need the stress of kindergarten at the same time. And, by waiting a year, you could navigate the kindergarten process as everyone else does, choosing the best school for your child (might be public!) and not just getting stuck with the one that has an opening.

Just one other thought ...many districts offer ''transitional kindergarten'' for kids born in the fall. It's free and kind of a cross between preschool and kindy. In Berkeley, I believed it's called High Fives. Oakland offers it too, but does not have a cute name for it. In fact, we would have put our daughter in TK had it been offered at our local elementary. Just another option to consider... Best of luck to you in this exciting time. Thank you for opening your home to these kids! Momx3 (who has lots of advice)


Hold my daughter back for K in Lamorinda?

March 2013


We are moving to Lamorinda this summer. Where we are moving from, the cutoff for Kindergarten is September 1st, so I've always planned on having my daughter, whose birthday is September 29, in preschool for another year. However, I just learned that the cutoff in CA for this fall with be October 1st; and the following year will be September 1st. I know that there is a trend to hold kids back (even if the child makes the cutoff by several months); I am wondering if I should keep my daughter back since she barely will make the cutoff this year, and next year the cutoff will be Sept 1. If this were a year later, she would miss the cutoff. So in theory, if she did go to K this fall, she would be the youngest in the class instead of the oldest in the class. That is, unless there are so many kids being held back by parents that she would actually end up being in the middle of the class if I held her back as well. If that is the case, I would prefer to hold her back.

She is academically and socially ready, but she is small compared to others her age, and I wonder if it would be hard to be the youngest and much smaller than others. I welcome any insight, especially about why CA is moving the cutoff date, and especially from anyone in the Lamorinda area that has an idea of what the entering Kindergarten classes have tended to look like over the past few years. Thank you!

We live in Moraga and are the parents of a 5 year old who is entering Kindergarten in the fall. This is a huge conversation right now among my friends with kids my son's age. I can only speak about Moraga (but it's probably the case with Lafayette and Orinda), but the trend here is definitely to hold kids back a year. It's actually gone a little far, in my opinion, where people are now holding their (turning 5) summer birthday kids back.

In this year's kindergarten classes there were many kids that turned 6 the summer before K started or turned 6 right after school began - and this is when the cut off was November 1. I've already met one parent of my son's incoming class whose son will be 6 in June and I have a friend whose son will be 5 this April and she is considering holding him. Now, kids with April/May/June birthdays are among the youngest in the class and my son, who is November, will be somewhere in the middle. The whole thing is crazy, IMHO. The districts should have cut off dates on both ends - the kids must be 5 by September 1, but can't be older than X when they enter unless there is a a good reason.

What you might be able to do is get your child into TK through the school district. This year those in TK are turning 5 in October and November, but if there is room, they have the choice to open it up to children who turn 5 in September as well. Moraga did that this past year; the district was only required to have TK for November birthdays but opened it up to October birthdays because there weren't enough kids to fill a class. I have two friends in Moraga whose kids will be 5 in September who are hoping to get into TK. Moraga has a dedicated TK class and Lafayette is supposedly having a dedicated TK class this year as well (they integrated the TK with K last year). Hope this helps!!! Kindergarten Madness

When you describe your late September birthday daughter, you describe my late September birthday daughter! Smart, social, and small for her age. But we are sending her to kindy in the fall. If anyone can handle being the youngest, she can. And, if for whatever reason, she doesn't thrive, she can repeat kindy, which in our school, seems to carry very little stigma. But I don't expect this to happen. I believe California is changing its age requirements to be more in line with the rest of the nation, but it annoys me. Kids have been starting kindy at age 4 for generations (including me). September baby


2010 - 2012 Discussions



What age do children with August birthdays start K?

Sept 2012


Hi, I will be moving to the Bay area, with my two children in October and I'm very confused about what age children there actually start school. My son is 4 and was born in March 2008, here (in the UK) he has already started school (just), and as I understand it he will go back to some kind of Pre K programme over there and then begin Kindergarten in the August of 2013 at age five. My daughter has an August birthday (August 23rd), will she start kindergarten in August 2015, just as she turns 5, or in August 2016, just as she turns 6? What is the cut off date? Sorry for the rather confused question, but I'm just trying to get things straight in my mind. Thanks, Catherine

Your daughter must be 5 years old by September 1, 2015 to enroll in kindergarten in the 2015-2016 school year. Please see the California Department of Education website for more information. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/em/kinderinfo.asp Kindergarten Momma

Both your kids would start school when they are 5. Your son will be 5 1/2,and your daughter will be exactly 5. That is the perfect age to start K! I think if you wait til your daughter is 6, she'll be way ahead of the other kids academically, physically, and socially, and she'll be bored. The current cutoff is that they have to turn 5 by December 1st to attend Kindergarten. mom of 3 in Berkeley

California is in the process of changing the age cut-off for kindergarten. It used to be you had to turn 5 by December 2, but they are gradually rolling it back to Sept 1. So, your daughter, turning 5 in August, barring any developmental delays, should start kindergarten right after she turns 5. Mom x3



May 2012


Having just moved to the Bay Area with children in elementary school, I'm a bit perplexed by this ''redshirting'' that seems quite popular in our local public school. In our old district, the max age span between children in the same grade was 12 months, but some of the students in my children's current grades are 18 months older than my kids! That's actually the age gap between my 2nd and 3rd children who are two years apart in school. My daughter came home upset because some of her classmates see a separate math teacher who gives them more challenging work...obviously-they are much older than she is. I think what upset her was a comment from the children who said ''the math teacher is for smart kids, and you aren't''. Although our daughter receives the highest grades, I told her that was the work her older brother was doing in his 5th grade class because he is the same age (or a few months apart) from her classmates. I've tried to find some information about the pros/cons of redshirting, but there is a lot of information from both sides of the spectrum. As someone with children who are in the above average category, it's frustrating to have such older children in the class, not only for the teachers having to teach with such a wide gap, but for the other students as well. Anyone have any input or similar experiences in their school? anon

Blame it on the book Outliers. I never thought about it until I read the book and I've been freaking out about it as my daughter makes the K cutoff by only three days so would be the youngest. In the end, we decided to send her to K but it was a tough decision. It was made tougher by the fact that so many people are redshirting so there will be age spans such as you note. It is definitely more prevalent in the affluent schools where people can afford to pay for private preschool another year. And I understand more prevalent for boys. -wishing less people would redshirt

I feel your pain. The redshirting is out of control in the Bay Area, where everyone wants to give their kid an ''advantage'' -- over your kid. I had two young boys (August and October birthdays), and I wished so often that the older kids were in their proper grade. They often were bullies, lorded their greater skills over the younger kids, and got all the goodies (attention, leads in the plays, whatever). There are lots of comments on this in the Advice archive. My only input, now that my kids are through it (one in college and one a high school junior), is that it gets better. As your child gets older, the differences are less pronounced. And the recent studies show that the kids who benefit from redshirting are not the older kids, but the younger ones. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html So hold on, tell your kid that she is awesome and just where she belongs, and she will be fine. Mom of Big Guys

I agree, redshirting is annoying. I look around at my friends, and guess what, the ones who are PhDs and MDs--they have November birthdays, meaning they were the youngest in their classes. I think achievers will achieve no matter what. My late-September baby will start kindy right before she turns 5. Sure, she'll be the youngest, but she's already indicated that she's smart, sociable, and capable. I think an extra year of preschool would hold her back. Mom of the oldest, the middling, and the youngest

Why?...you can call it what you want..for me it,s about being able to give my child another year of Childhood. I come from a country in Europe where children start school at age six ,no earlier.There is no way I send my 4 yr old to kindergarten even though he,d be 5 a month after start.Having one kidin school already made me realise that once they are there that,s it.There is no way back,there is learning and homework and printing your letters.Have I ever had a thought that my child would have an advantage over yours by being one of the oldest? Nope and I frankly don,t care.I am happy he spend another year digging in the dirt,learning about worms and getting all excited about getting notes from the fairies.Trust me I could have used that tuition money better but looking back on the last year it was worth every penny.If you and others want to send your 4 yr olds to school that,s fine but don,t tell me how annoying it is to you that I decide to give my child another year of childhood and just fun.My child is smart,sociable and has started to read and people told me he would be so bored another year in preschool..boy were they wrong and I have a happy kid. Happy kid on the block

Hi. I just read the replies that you have received so far, and it looks like the question has not been answered yet by someone who actually held back their kids. We made the very difficult decision to wait to enroll our sons in K. We did not do this to give them a competitive advantage over any other children. What we did want for them (different circumstances for each child) was to be able to sit in a circle, listen to directions, know how to communicate with their words (not get physical when upset), and make friends. We wanted their behavior to make their teachers' lives easier, not more difficult (I am a teacher). We didn't want their behavior to stifle learning of their classmates. We were thinking of your kids when we made this decision, in what was best for the class, not just our kids. For the poster who said that the older ones are bullies, well, maybe you know a few who are, but ours are not. The investment in a strong bridge-k was not easy for us financially, but worth every penny for the maturity they gained that year. We would not push this decision on other parents whose children have late birthdays... there is a huge gray area depending on the child. Please, do not be offended by our decision. Team Player

My son has a September bithday so given that I didn't send him to kindergarten last year I guess that is considered red-shirting. Here's why I did it 1) I recognized that being either the oldest or youngest is not ideal - there are pros and cons for both -so I was trying to figure which was best for my son 2) we were fortunate to live in Berkeley which offers a Pre-K as part of the school system and it is a wonderful program 3) he loved to play and showed absolutely no interest in learning. This was my main reason. Now at the end of the bridge year he has learned a lot but still shows very little interest in learning to read or in academics in general so I do not regret my decision. I'm not actually thrilled about him potentially being one of the oldest in his class this year, (we all learn and are inspired to do what kids older than us can - ask anyone with two kids -the younger one does a lot of stuff a lot younger) so don't kid yourselves that its all upside. I hate all the assumptions and judment about it being about giving your child an edge. I was not trying to give him and edge I was trying to do what was best for him. Why is that so looked down on? Are the rest of you out there doing what's not good for your kids? I don't think so. So I suggest you people do what's best for their kids and try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. proud that I did what was best for MY kid


5 or 6 for kindergarten?

March 2011


My little girl will be 5 in July. Should she start KG or wait until next year when she is 6? She will be the youngest in her class if 5 and oldest if 6. Her school recommends holding kids back if they have summer or fall birthdays.

I saw your question on the BPN and felt compelled to reply - I'm sure you'll get a bunch of input. Our son also has a July 2006 birthday and we decided to wait until he is 6 to start K. I think it really depends on the child. In our case I think he'd do fine now but I'm more concerned for when he gets older. I would really like him to be the oldest vs the youngest hoping that he'll be at the top of his game. As many teachers told me ''I don't know any parents who regretted holding their child back, but I have meet many who regret NOT holding them back''. Good luck with your decision. Pre-K for a year

Oh, she won't be the youngest - my boy will be there, and he was born September 2006 so not 5 until after the 1st day of school. christine

I'm sure you will receive many responses telling you to give your daughter ''the gift of another year,'' but I think you should allow her to enter Kindegarten at 5. A July birthday is NOT a late birthday. The ages of kids in any grade would naturally fall on a continuum if parents did not artificially skew the balance. If no one is willing to have their child be among the younger ones in a class, where will this end? Will parents start redshirting March and April birthdays next? anonymous

Montessori Family School as a Kindergarten Transition Program that is specifically for children in this situation. There is a description of the program online http://montessorifamily.com/kindergarten-transition.php Our son is currently in the preschool and we have had a very good experience there so far. We have also heard good things about the transition room. Anonymous

I have a daughter who turned 5 last July and I decided to put her into the Bridge program at Step One Preschool, rather than put her in a traditional Kindergarten. I am so happy with my decision. I can see her skills developing in a natural way for her that feels supported and comfortable. I know now that she will be ready for Kindergarten this fall, and that has everything to do with the support and love she's been getting this year at Step One! Madeleine

Hi, I can't tell you what the right choice is for your family, but I can tell you what we did. Our son could have gone to K this year but instead we chose to send him to a bridge-K program this year instead. There was no real reason to do it (he's competent at all the things that Kindergartners are ''supposed to be'' doing, etc.) but we just wanted him to feel really confident when he entered public school Kindergarten and not to have to worry that we rushed him. He has spent the year at the Bridge-K at Step One, which is a really wonderful program. They are very focused on preparedness, social skills, and learning to treat others with kindness and respect. At least half of the kids in the class come from other schools. They also have a great financial aid program there if you are interested in the program but the potential cost is a factor. We've really enjoyed this year! not rushing

My son was born in July, and we went back and forth about sending him to K, too. He seemed ready in terms of being able to focus, but socially pretty young. We went ahead and sent him, and we're very happy we did. He has blossomed, but also, in his K class alone, there are 8 kids who turned 5 the summer before K, and 2 who turned 5 in the fall after school had begun. He is younger than some classmates, but is very confident and comfortable, and with a July birthday doesn't stand out. People do talk about things changing as kids get older. Both his dad and I were young for our grades, and very happy in school all the way through high school, so hopefully that will be true for my son, too. kindergarten mom

I have a girl who is a July birthday. Her fine motor skills are not the best and she is not the most emotionally mature. But I am so glad that I sent her to Kindergarten when she was 5. She is not the youngest but it does not help that there were 6 year olds in her class. The 6 year old boys are bored sometimes and are not doing better than my girl. She is excelling in some areas and not in others, like them. But she is doing great over all. She has lots of friends. I would totally send her. If it does not work out repeating Kindergarten is not so bad. It happens 1 out of 60 in my public school and the kids who is do it is not so bad. Don't be scared of Kindergaten

Let me offer the perspective of a 6th grade English teacher (as well as the parent of a successful 6 y/o in Kindergarten. Please consider the longer term impacts of your decision. Your child might plug on through K, 1st, 2nd, etc, but when he/she is one of the younger kids going into middle school, in my experience it is much more likely that he/she will struggle both socially and academically. Based on the grades in my class, I see a direct connection between academic success in middle school and a child's age when starting Kindergarten. You can repeat a year in the early grades, but often the damage to a child's self-image is already done. Repeating a grade later on is usually so emotionally and socially devastating that the moderate academic gains aren't worth the costs to self-image.

Parents of kids on the verge of Kindergarten, I implore you to consider the long-term impacts of your decision. State standards and excessive testing have turned Kindergarten curriculum into 1st grade. Any elementary school teacher will tell you that. Ask yourself if your child is ready for 1st grade at 4 (or even a young 5). Also ask yourself if you want him/her to start junior high at 10.

Every child is different. Most are ready at 5 and some may not be. My son has a mid-August birthday and when we were looking at kindergarten, we were surprised that some people we met suggested we might consider waiting until he turned 6 so that he would not be ''behind'' -- socially, academically, or in size. He was enjoying pre-school, but seemed ready to move on -- to us and to his teachers, so we decided to go ahead, figuring that he could always repeat kindergarten if it turned out that he was a bit too young when he started.

At our first parent-teacher conference in kindergarten, we grilled the kindergarten teacher on how he was doing -- socially and academically, and whether we should have waited a year or should consider having our son repeat kindergarten. His teacher, who had over two decades of kindergarten teaching experience, assured us that our son was right on target and that there was no question he was kindergarten ready and in the correct grade.

In first grade, we noticed that our son was right in the middle of the pack in terms of reading, but that there were many girls who were quite advanced, and we worried again. Other than the reading, he seemed to be doing fine, but we wondered if we should have waited to give him that ''jump start'' that others talked about.

At the beginning of second grade, the reading clicked and he became a voracious reader. He's now in seventh grade and still one of the smallest kids in his class. It doesn't bother him a bit because he focuses on academics and not sports. He's doing exceptionally well in 7th grade -- including in an advanced algebra class. Many of his close friends who are also doing extremely well in middle school also have August, or even fall, birthdays.

This is not to say that there is not some correlation between a late birthday and struggles in school; it is to point out that the correlation does not apply across the board and it depends on each child. Some kids with late birthdays are very strong all through school, and some kids with late birthdays are not. The same can be said of kids with early birthdays, or kids who are ''held back'' a year. It all depends on your child and if you think that your child is ready to start kindergarten, your child probably is. And if it turns out that you made a mistake and your child needs to repeat kindergarten again, it's not the end of the world.

Having watched my son go from kindergarten to 7th grade with many of the same students, and having volunteered in his classroom over the years, I have observed some correlation between the kids who were unable to focus or to do the classwork in kindergarten and first grade and those who struggle in middle school. This correlation seems to be more direct than any correlation between age and middle school academics.

Unfortunately, many parents fight recommendations to hold back students in the early years because of a ''stigma'' that they think is associated with it. (My mother taught first grade and ran into this issue every year, and a child canot be retained without parental agreement.) I admire those parents who opt to have their students repeat kindergarten or first grade because they are putting the interests of their child first -- and not worrying that other parents are judging them or their child by how they did in kindergarten or first grade. (At my children's elementary school, the kids on the playground really don't care and quickly forget who repeated kindergarten or first grade, even though there are a couple of such students each year.) -Good luck with your decision

I have to respond to the 6th grade English teacher who wrote that if a child with a summer or fall birthday enters kindergarten at the appropriate time it is ''much more likely that he/she will struggle both socially and academically.'' I'm very troubled when people present their personal observations as if they are scientific conclusions, particularly when stated in ways that strike fear in the hearts of those who may have had to make this difficult decision.

There are other factors at play in this correlation, not the least of which is that households who are economically challenged are not as likely to pay for that pricey Bridge-K program or an extra year of preschool.

Unfortunately, there is no optimal time for a child born between May and November to enter Kindergarten in our community. Parents who simply seek academic advantage for their children by holding a child with a June birthday back create issues for the rest of our kids. The parents of a child born in July should not have to fear that their child will be the youngest in the class! And a 5 year old entering kindergarten should not have to face a room filled with tall, bored 6.5 year old boys.

Based on the responding teacher's comments, I conclude that any kids who are the youngest in their class will trail the others academically and socially. So what is the solution? Is it really possible to have everyone's child be among the oldest, or even near the average, in a classroom? fed up with redshirting


Age of kindergarten boys in Berkeley pub schools

March 2010


My son will turn 5 in August, and I hear that things have changed since I was in school. I'm wondering if any current BUSD parents could tell me what the typical age range is for kids starting kindergarten now. A friend who lives elsewhere told me that in her district most boys with summer birthdays are held until the next year, so if we lived where she was, he'd be an outlier. Is this true in Berkeley, too? confused mom

There is a wide range of ages of boys entering Berkeley kindergartens. I think kids are not held back as they are in other districts, or even in private schools. Our son, whose birthday is in late October, started kindergarten in September at age 5, then turned 6, and is one of the oldest in his class. He was prevented from moving on to kindergarten the year before in his private school in San Francisco, where he was before we moved to Berkeley. That said, I don't regret that he's older. For reasons of emotional maturity (not to get a let up academically) it is to some kids' advantage to be older. But not all kids. I would say enroll your son in kindergarten if he seems ready. He'll have plenty of company his own age, older, and younger. anon

I have a boy in a BUSD kindergarten who was 5 when he started kindergarten but turned 6 in November. There are boys (and girls) in his class who are 11 months younger than him. Some seem (anecdotally) to struggle with the expectations of sitting on the rug, focusing, etc,; some don't. California Kindergarten of 2010 is not kindergarten of 1972 (when I was in kindergarten). The academic standards are real and the teachers have to live up to that teaching expectation.

For what it is worth, I am really grateful that my son got to have a terrific last year at preschool where things gelled for him socially. My particular child would have had a really hard kindergarten year had he gone in almost-5. I just couldn't find any reason to risk his first year of ''education'' with those odds.

Now, to the other side! My 5 year old nephew in Portland (who turned 5 in August) started kindergarten a month after his birthday and is having a terrific time. He's also a really social, gregarious, only child and he was really ready. It can feel like a really daunting decision and I wish you the best. Good luck.

I was surprised to find this past fall that about a third of my son's kindergarten class at Rosa Parks in Berkeley had late summer or fall birthdays. There were many young 5 year-olds there, and a few who were not yet 5, including my son who has an October birthday. It has worked out fine. Kate

When you make a decision about when to start your child in kindergarten it is helpful to look down the road. Your child will be a year younger all the way through middle school and high school - physically, socially and emotionally. Even when kids are fine during kindergarten the age gap can show up at 6th grade. My son is in middle school and when I look back over who struggled socially and academically it was often the younger kids. Now that isn't always the case and it depends on your child. However I think boys in particular really benefit from beginning kindergarten a year older. What used to be the first grade curriculum is now what is taught in kindergarten and that kind of academic focus is challenging for many children (appropriately so but that's another topic!). I think it is easier to adjust to the demands of school, learn to read and sit still when you have an extra year of maturity. Good luck in your decision


2007 - 2009 Discussions



Oct birthday - Kindergarten or another year of preschool?

April 2008


Every day I go back and forth about deciding to send my October birthday 4 year old to Kindergarten or go to a Pre-K program and send her next year. Looking ahead, I would like her to learn to drive as a junior in high school, and graduated when she is 17 almost 18 rather than 18 almost 19 Any words of wisdom out there? Patty

Hi Patty, I had the same dilemma with my daughter late last year. She has a late November birthday and we were on the fence about her starting kinergarten at 4. I knew academically it wouldn't be a problem but socially I wasn't quite sure. We felt she had out grown her preschool (she had been there since 2 1/2) and was ready to move on but we also felt maturity wise, another year would do her good before kindergarten. So it just so happens that the elementary school I wanted her to attend for kindergarten had a Junior Kindergarten program. We enrolled her in the JK class and its been a win win siuation for us all. I felt like we made a great decision. She loves it and she's at the head of the class! She got to move on to a new environment with different stimulation and that class will roll right over to kindergarten next school year with most of the same peers and the foundation of the school is already in place.

If you feel your daugher is ready socially and academically then enroll her now, but if not then another year may give her an advantage over her class when she starts K. And remember she can always be skipped up a grade but no one wants to be held back. Talk it over with her preschool teacher but ultimately you call the shot. Hope this helps. ENS

My daughter is also an October birthday and physically small. She's now a ''young'' five-year-old, so we went through the same thing. We got into a fantastic school via an impossible lottery, so that informed our decision greatly. Our daughter is now thriving socially and hitting all the academic milestones she's supposed to. What do your daughter's preschool teachers think? Are you satisfied with your options for kindergarten and see your daughter doing well there? I also think you're wise to consider what her teenage years will entail; it could be difficult for a girl to hit puberty or reach a level of social maturity before her friends. Good luck to you and your daughter

I taught kindergarten for 15 years and have found this to be a very individual question. I have a slight preference for allowing children to be older rather than younger in their class (waiting a year) especially in the current era of more high stakes testing and less developmentally appropriate activities. But gender, temperment and birth order are important considerations. Is there a preschool and/or kindergarten teacher that knows your child and might be able to give you some advice? teacher

There is no ''one size fits all'' answer for this question. I have heard so many perspectives on this topic (including a recent response which tried to evoke guilt on behalf of parents who wait...) but I will share my perspective as we have an Oct boy.

We are finishing our ''extra'' year in a preschool, and are very glad we did. Our son ''could have'' gone, but we, and his teachers, sincerely believe that he benefitted from this extra year. His confidence has blossomed, and he's developed more refined social skills as a result. Academically, he's right on track, if not ahead; that was never a concern for us, and between his school and what we do at home we've kept him engaged and challenged.

From what I've seen, girls are *generally* more socially- developed at this age, and can focus for longer periods of time, but I don't know of any girls from our preschool entering kindergarten in the fall who will be under 4 1/2 as of Sept. I have to add that I do believe in giving kids as much time to be kids as possible; it's a bit trite, but every kindergarten teacher I've spoken with has reiterated the same thing. They have seen how much kindergarten has changed over the last 10 years and as most of them are parents too, understand that extra pressures brought to bear on children and families as a result.

Yes, our son will be among the older kids, but it is common enough (esp. among boys) that he is not going to be an odd man out because of his age. I personally don't have a preference as to when my child learns to drive or graduates as long as he's thriving. . You don't mention if you've spoken with your daughter's current teacher; that obviously is a good place to start. Our school does assessments (administered in a very low- key manner) and follow-up meetings with parents to discuss. Teachers have a context for your child's readiness that parents don't, so if your school doesn't offer this, ask for it. Visit the kindergarten she would go to, and consider her friends: are they going now or are they going next year? Finally, trust your instinct and your child. Worth the wait

If you believe ''40 is the new 30,'' then maybe you should also know: ''6 is the new 5.'' I also grappled with this issue, and decided to take the advice of our pre-school and pre-K teachers and staff, when they said our (Nov. birthday) daughter was ready to start kindergarten, and that she would be bored if held back a year. (She has always been considered very bright, and very social.) What I didn't realize is how many people are holding their kids back a year just ''because...'' My daughter is in 1st grade now, is the youngest in her class (and almost always will be.) Some of the kids are a head taller, are clearly further ahead socially, and to some degree, academically. Only in the past month or so have we seen her start to catch up a little bit, and we did get help from the school with an extra reading class every day and a session of special ''social interaction'' classes. (Nice that our school offers these services, gratis.) Our daughter did express some frustration at her difficulties, without understanding where (in part)they stemmed from.

I hate to sound cynical, or like I'm making excuses, but I suspect (some parents have stated it straight out) that some people put their kids through an extra year of pre-k so their child will have the ''advantage'' of being ''on top'' come grade school and beyond. But honestly, I do believe that the playing field does even out after the first couple years or so. My mother graduated from highschool at 15, and she said she had no problems, socially or otherwise, except that she had no boobs and could not drive. (Selective memory? Who knows. ;-) I would really try not to worry about it. With your encouragement and involvement, your child will be fine whether they start K at 5 or 6. anon

Oh dang - I have a son (Oct b-day) and I struggled for months with the pre-K /Kindergarten decision. I made myself miserable! I spoke w/TONS of people, looked at approx 8 preschools, read books on raising healthy boys, talked w/parents of other Oct babies. Yes, I made myself crazy. In the end, we have decided on another year of Pre-K based mostly on his personality.(super smart/introvert) It's not the most convenient option for us, but it is best for him. I want him to enjoy school and people. Another year of play will help him with this. Jo

This is one of those situations where there is no clear right answer. And you will need to make a choice for your own child based on her personality and the school you are planning to send her to. But here's a little perspective from a few years down the line. It's a decision for kindergarten, but also for middle school, high school, and college, so you do have to think ahead. California is one of only 4 states in the nation with a 5-by date later than October 15, so factor that in when you think about college--most of the other kids will be 18 when they enter college and have that extra year of maturity. I know about 7 or 8 middle and high school students with fall birthdays (after August 1), both boys and girls. Of that group, only one is thriving. The rest are really struggling, and in large part the struggle is because of their relative immaturity. It's kind of shocking, but there you go. We waited, and when I think back on it now, I am appalled that I actually considered sending a 4-y-o to kindergarten. A lot is asked of kids these days, even in kindergarten. They must be very mature, and they have a learning schedule that is a year or two ahead of where we were in our generation. Kindergarten now is roughly equivalent to 1st or 2nd grade 30 years ago. That's one of the main reasons most states have moved their 5-by dates to late summer/early fall. glad we waited

our daughter with an October birthday turned 5 after the start of K and it has not been a problem, she is doing great. I think that if she were stillin preschool she would be really bored, as other children I know who opted to stay in preschool the extra year. My advice is to go for it. There are plenty of children her age in her K class as well as some older kids. I have the older kids to be more distracted socially. good luck happy

I am in the same position, my son is october also. I am planning on having him start Kindergarten Fall 2009. He started Preschool fall 2007 and I think preschool & pre-k is enough to get him ready for a school environment. Also his teachers have agreed that he will be ready. Talk to your child's teacher and get some feedback if they think he/she will be ready by than. There are also good books to buy to get your child ready for kindergarten. hope that helps. katy

Children have their entire lives to grow up. I gave my daughter an extra year in preschool (she was on the cusp), and I've never regretted it. Even though she was reading and was far more socially advanced then her preschool peers, I wanted to give her the extra time to develop her sense of self a bit more. I'm glad I did.

Girls especially are under a lot of social pressure these days, and it only gets worse as they go through each grade. I am stunned at times by the things kids talk about now, not to mention the demands of the curriculum.

My daughter is one of the older kids in her class. She is by far one of the more mature leaders and has not fallen prey to some of the incredible social pressures that kids have today. Even in younger grades, girls can be mean and manipulative and run in like packs. Giving my daughter a bit more time to develop her leadership and coping skills has really been helpful to her and I'm sure it will even become more apparent as she goes through each grade. She is very self-assured, self- aware and compassionate at the same time, and I honestly don't think she would be the same girl had I sent her to school at an earlier age than most of her peers. She's also one of the more popular kids and many teachers (not just hers) have high praise for her social and leadership skills. She just doesn't feel pressured to simply fall in with the crowd and instead is a fun and confident example. This is really something that I know will grow even more important each year.

This is a personal decision, of course, and I only speak from my perspective. If your daughter is happy in preschool and the teachers there can keep her engaged, then the extra year will allow her to enter kindergarten as more of a leader than she may otherwise be. And as she goes through the rest of the grades, she may likely be more prepared to make thoughtful decisions and be less likely to fall prey to peer pressure. Good luck in making a thoughtful decision. Mom of the Class Leader

1. Ask the preschool teachers' opinions 2. Register for school anyway this year. 3. Check around for preschool or pre-K options. 4. Go with whatever seems to work considering the above, then don't stress about it. Seriously. There are people who are sure they made the right decision holding their kid back, and people who are sure they made the right decision sending their kid to school. My fall baby is doing just fine, and we would have had a hard time finding someplace for her to go (i.e there weren't any real pre-K options that were open anyway), and the preschool teachers said absolutely not for another year. We made the right decision, but it's not perfect: she's just now the same age I was when I started, and she's not quite as mature as some of the older kids in her class, but she's doing fine and loving school. Her friends at preschool with January birthdays (who couldn't go to kindergarten are having a rough time in preschool-bored, miss their friends, etc. There are one or two fall babies in our K class who may want to have another year of K. And if you have a tendency to compare your kid w/ others and stress that they aren't doing as well (by whatever standards), you have a choice of either waiting another year or learning that each kid progresses on their own. For example, the winter/spring kids, who are older, make the most beautiful, detailed drawings, with very tidy writing. The fall kids, often, aren't quite there yet. But there's nothing wrong with them, and they're all fine. For better or worse, your public school will have the full range of ages, from 4 yrs 9 months to 6 when they start.

My sister-in-law had the same question and spoke to the superintendent of the school district at the time. His advice was this: ''Your child will only be this age once; enjoy it while it lasts and don't rush it.'' I've also heard from a few teachers that children who have waited that extra year tend to be more confident, mature, and ready to learn. Good luck with your decision. Auds

My experience is that children who have been in preschool before Kindergarten are socially at an advantage which makes them able to adapt to the socially acceptable behavior at school. If your child has been at a school that works on social interactions and conflict your child will emotionally be better equiped to handle the interactions of children that can cause stress, worry and frustration. If you wait your child may be better prepared and if you don't your child might be just fine. Certainly this can not be an easy decision. You know your child and you will have to go with what you feel is right. Teacher/Nanny in the know

My daughter started school when she was 4 because her birthday was at the end of October. It was the best decision. She was the most mature in her class and graduated college at age 17. I would advise you not to hold her back if she seems as mature as kids a few months older. krav

Hi - I would suggest you visit the kindergartern class at the school you are planning to send your child to (pardon my grammar). I have an October birthday child who is starting k this fall. However, i have the benefit of having an older child who is currently at the same school. I've worked in the k class and had a lot of opportunity to observe the range of children in terms of maturity and academics. My younger child attended montessori which i think was a great preparation and can sit in circle, how to deal with different age classmates, etc. But i'm not going in blindly. first hand observations will help you understand if your child will fit in, be able to adjust etc. Also, talk to the K teacher/prinicipal and find out if there are many other 'young' kindergartners in your child's class. that will also help you know if your child is in the norm or not. Finally, observe how your child interacts with older birthday children at his/her preschool. Mine for example, gravitates towards the bigger kids. For the record, most of my school/college friends were late summer/fall birthdays and didn't seem to suffer from it, but that was many years ago now. Good luck

There is one other consideration that I haven't seen anyone else mention, and that has to do not when the child STARTS school but when she ends it.

What will the impact be-- socially, or on her self esteem-- when your child goes through puberty, perhaps earlier than others? Or do you want your freshman in high school driving? Do you want your 18 year old to be able to sign himself out of school when he's a junior or early in his senior year? Will being a bit older be an issue in the kinds of relationships she chooses in high school? I am a high school teacher and yes-- there is an enormous difference between the bodies and even the developmental abilities of 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 , 18 and even 19 year olds. I've seen kids all these ages experience high school, and I sometimes wonder if parents think about the consequences of this choice on their children as teens. They may want their child to be bigger or ''smarter'' when they are 5, but school goes on for a lot of years after that.

Having said all that, I do think that others are certainly correct in saying that the answer differs based on the individual child, and that you should probably listen to the advice of your child's preschool teacher... but I do think these choices should be made based on true ( and realistic) emotional and academic needs... not based on the desire to somehow get an advantage, because that is such a short term choice, and it may not play itself out the way you think it might in years to come. - Just my two cents

My daughter will turn 18 in June and will be graduating from high school. Kids she has known who turn 18 and still have many more months of high school often find that difficult.You have to look at how it will be for them then.I think many of them catch up and I would not have my child wait in most circumstances because of the issues they will face later. Ellen

I have a boy who has a summer birthday. A third of the boys in his kindergarten class were red-shirted and a whole year older. They were not more social adept, but were, and still are, totally obnoxious. They seemed to have spent the extra year in preschool picking on younger kids and doing weird sneaky things in the bushes. All the late birthday kids that I know that started on time do fine academically (our a.m. k program was only 3 hours), are sweeter, and aren't as prone to bullying. I don't see that as socially backward. It seems to me that when children are not fully engaged, they can turn to mischeif to assuage the boredom. One person's ''gift of time'' can mean a pain-in-the-butt to classmates, later on. Also, I think that you have to keep in mind that teachers have an incentive to advise you to keep the kids back: public school teachers are quite pressured to have the kids score well; and preschools have a finacial incentive to encourage families to stay on. Also, with the NCLB laws, skipping a grade is basically impossible. If your kid is bright, he will be stuck with the younger kids his entire academic life, and he will probably resent them and you. anon

I want to speak up as a late summer birthday kid who graduated as a 17 year old. It would have been a much better situation for me to have had another year of K or D-K. I felt younger and less self confident than others all through school. I was shy in 1st grade and had a hard time paying attention and pleasing teachers. Now, when elementary school is such high pressure; I can't imagine myself handling it. I was advanced academically, but my shyness forced me out of advanced academic groups and back in with the other kids because I didn't want to stand out. Many have spoken about problems w/ being 18 when graduating from high school, but this is the norm! Being 17 is a little odd. I felt young all along, and would have done better socially and academically with another year of maturity. I don't think late fall birthday kids who are 4-6 month older will feel so out of place. Puberty hits in middle school, so developing physically earlier I don't feel is an issue. My husband is a late September BD who is now tall & broad shouldered, but still sees himself as the skinny 110 lb. kid he was throughout most of High School. He would probably have a better self image had he waited.

I have two kids with late summer birthdays. One I can tell will go straight into Kindergarten with the other kids his age. The other one did a year of DK and it was the best decision ever. Her social skills skyrocketed with the extra year and now I feel great about her starting Kindergarten. If you put your kid in with fingers crossed, and a problem develops in 2nd or 3rd grade that would have been solved by entering kindergarten late, you're SOL. It's devastating to repeat those grades. I also want to address the assumption that this is happening because the parents want bigger, smarter kids. In our case, that's ridiculous. We know she is smart already and she is a tall girl. She just would have totally struggled.

There was a NY Times article on this subject in the last year that was excellent. There were many statistics cited and the kids who started later did better in almost all respects: grades, acceptance to college, etc. I know three other kids repeating kindergarten now because they should have waited and didn't.

In short - do the research, talk to others and then follow your instincts and ignore what others say. Either way you go is OK. happy with our decision

After reading all the replies to this posting, I wanted to add another perspective: my daughter has a fall birthday and we chose to have her start kindergarten instead of holding her back. I thought she was ready, and her pre-school teacher agreed, but my husband felt we should hold her back another year. Fast-forward to the present: although she did have to work harder in kindergarten and 1st/2nd grade and she initially struggled a bit, she did okay. There were clearly lots of kids in her class that were much more advanced - she was probably in the lower third of the class during that period. But we had always heard that by 3rd grade, the advantage the older kids had disappear, and that has turned out to be our experience. She has been doing great this year in 3rd grade! But I think part of the reason is that she had to work harder in K-2 to keep up and as a result, had to develop good study habits and work ethics. Some of the older kids in her class, for whom everything came easily in the beginning, are now struggling. They really didn't have to work as hard initially in K/1/2, and now that the rest of the kids in the class have 'caught up', they are having difficulty because they never had to develop good study habits. So just another perspective that I wanted to share. Holding your child back so that they will have an 'advantage' could end up short-changing them if they are ready to go. Glad We Didn't Hold Her Back


Dec 14 birthday - any way to start OUSD at 4>

April 2008


My son's birthday is December 14th. He is academically advanced (can spell, do basic math, and read some easy books) pretty social with other kids, and can sit still for long periods of time concentrating on whatever he is doing (drawing, playing games, reading books). He's not big or small, just average. I'm thinking he will be ready for Kindergarten when he is still 4. Granted, I need to check in with preschool teacher when the decision time has come, but everything I've read about parents who send their kids early and regret it, do so for reasons I don't think apply to him. Has anyone sent their child to to an Oakland public school with an after Dec 1 birthday before they were 5? If so, how did you do it (ie get approval) and how did it go? Thanks. -Oakland Mom

your child sounds like mine - birthday december 12, ready to start school at age 4. i did a district transfer through OUSD and he got accepted into joaquin miller elementary school, but when it came time to enroll, he got booted because he wasn't 5. we waited a year and did another transfer, but didn't get joaquin miller. i'm actually really pleased with how things turned out - he got a year of gaining more confidence and social skills and now is a born leader at school and extremely happy academically and socially. good luck, but don't expect to get your child in until s/he is 5 years old. anon

The OUSD is very strict about the cutoff date. Your kid could be reading and fluent in 6 languages, and they wouldn't care. They simply will not let you enroll your son.

Now, next year, when you enroll your kid in K, you can get letters, examples of his work, etc. and try to have him put directly into 1st grade. At this point, the OUSD has to take him, so they may listen to you about advancing a grade.

I did this but it was a huge struggle; everyone at the OUSD and the principal of the school fought it. I had an outstanding case for why my kid should go directly into 1st and it was still close to impossible to make it happen.

Now my kid is thriving, socially, emotionally, and academically (best reader in the class by a wide margin), so I am glad I went for it. But make sure it's not just your opinion of your kid - preschool teachers, other people who know him should also be on your side (100%!).

Also, just fyi, I keep hearing that OUSD is considering moving the cutoff date back to September 1, so that may influence your decision. BTDT

When I had to make the decision about sending my son or waiting I consulted with someone who had started her son early. When I consulted her, her son was currently in middle school. When she started her son he was reading and quite academically proficient. She told me she deeply regretted sending him and middle school is where it really shows up. He is over a year younger than all the other kids and he has been physically and emotionally more immature than his peers. Your child will be well over a year younger than most other kids. School is only partly about academic achievement. It is also about socialization; making friends, coping with bullies, dealing with frustration, how a child copes with challenges, etc. It is in this area that a younger child can be really harmed by being too young and this is especially true for boys. I look at my son's class and there is one kid very very bright but much younger and his peers reject him because he is so immature compared to them. Look at 12 year old boys and see how your child will feel being so far behind all the other kids. That is the age the girls are way taller anyway. As kids go through puberty and get taller, lower voices, physically change, the less physically mature kids feel self-conscious. The same will be true in high school. Physical and social maturity is a very big deal to kids. I would urge you to wait. Glad Everyday I Waited

Please do not make this decision based on people's anecdotal stories of the friend whose son went early. Please look at the research: http://www.geniusdenied.com/ please download the copy of genius denied. The majority of actual research shows that acceleration works for most gifted children.

Most schools strictly enforce the cut off. If you can swing it, you can find a private school that will admit him early and have him attend K at the private school. Then for first grade, even if he is young, the public school must admit him if he has completed Kindergarten.

Good luck! We are hoping to homeschool our 4 year-old through K, and then either continue homeschooling or have him enter with kids who are more nearly his intellectual peers rather then age-mates.

Can you homeschool? This is a great option for gifted children, especially if they have asynchronous development. Don't buy the delay line!

We have a friend who actually modified his son's birth certificate to sneak him into school early - I've always felt it was a big mistake, because the kid really was behind the other kids socially and maturationally (is that a word?).

Our own son was always one of the oldest kids in class, and that's helped him through some rough spots over the years. He was very much on-time or ahead-of-time through third grade, as far as his learning, socialization and physical development went. He was very confident, helpful to the other kids, which we simply loved. When attempts were made to bully him, they only happened once per bully, because he was able to verbally and physically stick up for himself.

When his ADD became very obvious in the 4th grade, we knew that something was wrong almost immediately. I wonder if we would have attributed his learning problems to being behind in age if we had pushed him into school too early.

Now he's graduating from Berkeley High, and he's been able to do pretty well there. The cigarette and weed thing didn't pull on him as hard as it did on me, when I was trying to show how grown up I was. He's experimented a little, but decided it's not for him. If he felt as young as I always did, he might have tried more to 'up' his maturity quotient artificially.

When a guy's voice changes before the other guys, and his face starts looking manly, if not bearded, earlier too, it puts them ahead of the game. He's always been proud of his body, even when he was a skinny little wretch, probably because it was a more grown-up body than a lot of his buddies.

Even if your child's a genius, and you think he'll be bored in school, I'd recommend keeping him in class with other kids his same social and physical age. You'll be surprised at how a classful of kids will keep him interested, and how he'll find one or two things a challenge anyway. If he truly is bored, a good teacher will find extra material for his advanced level.

We're a little sorry our son's already heading off to college, and he started school 11 months behind most of his peers. If you can hang on to him for another year, try to! What's the rush? Kate S


Sending young 5 to kindgergarten

March 2008


Is there anybody else out there who will be starting their son in kindergarten in the fall, despite a ''late'' birthday? My boy will not turn 5 until October, but my gut is that he is ready for kindergarten, although he is physically small (among the reasons often cited by acquaintances for delaying entry to kindergarten). At any rate, my big concern now is that given the fact that so many children are being held back a year, he will probably be a full year younger than some kids. Anybody else out there in my boat? anxious about bucking the trend

Honestly if he can sit still and follow lessons, he will be fine. I think the hardest things for young 5 year old BOYS is they are so ACTIVE (typically) and they not accustomed to being attentive and quiet in class room!! That seems to be the biggest challenge for all the boys in my son's K class....So I think it depends solely on his energy level and temperament.... mom of squirmy boy

We sent our son to kindergarten this year (just turned 5 in Sept), and we have now had to make the very difficult decision to do kindergarten again and change schools. Listen very carefully to what his preschool teachers have to say about him. Ask them directly what they think and why. If you want to contact me, I'd be happy to share more about our situation. dooble

Send him to kindergarten! When we moved here from the east coast we were appalled at how many parents here consider holding back their children, on terrible advice from, frankly, inexperienced educators. We were told to think about holding our Sept. birthday son back. Couldn't imagine having done it, he would have been so incredibly bored. Children that are cognitively ready for kindergarten should be sent, period. Ignore what people around you are doing. anon

If you feel he is ready, and he falls within the school's age requirement, I would say there is no harm in trying kindergarten and no reason to expect it to be anything other than great. My son has a September birthday and has been the youngest boy in his class for the past 3 years (he is now in 3rd grade). He, too, is small. But he is big on personality and smart as a whip. Yes, he has some ''issues'' at school, but quite frankly, most kids do at some point in time for some reason. He loves school, has a ton of friends and is thriving in all areas. If, for some reason, you try K and things don't work out, the past stigma of repeating is gone.... it happens with regularity nowadays (anyway, it seems like that to me) and I have yet to see or hear of teasing for that reason. Good luck to you. anonymous

Hi, My daughter (now in 3rd grade) has a November birthday. For her, she's absolutely in the right grade, despite being one of the youngest. That's true for most of the young kids in her grade, too - and there are a lot of them. Her (Berkeley public) K had 8 kids who turned 6 that fall, and 8 kids who turned 5 that fall, with only 4 kids with more middle-of-the-year birthdays. One of those 8 kids repeated K; the rest are still at grade level and seem to be doing fine. Go with your gut, I say, and if need be you can adjust after K with little to no social stigma that I can see. This is a hot-button issue, so be aware of that, but there's my 2 cents and my daughter's experience. There's no single right answer, and don't let anyone bully you into thinking there is. You are in the best position to judge this, and it's easier to ''do over'' than to challenge a kid who ends up in the grade below his ability level. Good luck Another fall birthday mom

In my experience as an elementary school teacher, I have found the degree of ''readiness'' for children with fall birthdays varies greatly. Some are absolutely ready to start kindergarten at age 4 or as a young 5. Others really aren't; and still others are ''on the edge.'' So, I'm a firm believer at looking at your individual child.

That being said, I know many, many people who have regretted starting their children too early (for several of them, those regrets did not come until their child was in middle school and their social development was out of step with their classmates'). I know none who have that same kind of regret for having waited a year to start their child in school. The primary concern, from my point of view is the child's social development. The reality is that in any given class, there will always be a wide range of academic skills and that even an academically advanced child who waits until they are six to start kindergarten is likely to have academic peers in their class. Also, if the school is doing it's job well (and I believe many in this area are), the students will be taught in a way where they can access the curriculum at a variety of levels. If you steer clear of classrooms where all children are expected to be on the same page at the same time, read at the same level, and solve math problems using the same 3 steps, then the notion of your child being ''bored'' should not be a concern.

In addition to talking to your child's preschool teachers,I would also look carefully at your child's social interactions and friendships to see which cohort of students it makes most sense to start kindergarten with. While it is true that a second year of kindergarten by no means carries the stigma it once did, and that kids at that age do have the ability to adjust well if the situation is presented to them well, not starting kindergarten is ALWAYS smoother and easier on all concerned than repeating it. So, if you have any serious concerns about your child's readiness, my advice is to wait a year. If, on the other hand, you feel confident that your son is ready for kindergarten socially and emotionally as well as academically, go for it. Currently A Kindergarten Teacher

Hi, I just read your post and we are exactly in the same boat as you. Our son has a late fall birthday and academically, he's completely ready for Kindergarten. I question a little bit more on the emotional side. He's a big guy and hangs out mostly with kids who are his age or a year older. I think you have to trust your gut instinct. It's not always clear, but you also have to remember that kids mature a lot in six months. We're going ahead and sending him to K, at the recommendation of our preschool teachers. And if he has to repeat Kindergarten, it's really not a big deal. I've heard from other parents who faced this same issue and tell me that it's easier to hold your child back than to try and have them skip ahead to the next grade if they are bored/not challenged. Good luck! anon


Age to enter kindergarten-Oakland

Feb 2008


I think I'm confused about how old a child needs to be to enter kindergarten in Oakland. I always though the cut off was Dec 1, meaning that a child has to turn 5 on or before Dec 1 in the year that enters kindergarten. A friend recently told me that she was told by an Oakland school that a child need only turn 5 by March meaning a child with a mid December birthday can enter when they are 4. I've checked the Oakland Unified website, but couldn't find it there. I've emailed/called without response. What's correct and where can I see it in writing? Confused mom.

Your friend is not correct. I believe the cut off is December 2 or 3. I know this because I have a Christmas daughter and she did not make the cut off. I believe, because of Open Court, all day kindergarten and a host of other issues the date is being changed to September 1. I don't know if it is for the 2008-2009 year or the following year. Look on the OUSD website - it should say. Joaquin Miller Elementary Mom

A child must be 5 years old by December 1 in order to enter kindergarten at an OUSD public school. I think there's a movement in the state of California to push that deadline to September 1, but I'm not sure when that will be enforced. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that most children aren't yet ready to sit and focus for a full day at age 4 (and it's tough on the ''older'' kindergartners who lose out on their learning when a few kids can't sit still for a lesson). With all the pressures there are for our children to grow up, it is nice to see that our schools are keeping sane about the age that children are ready to learn most productively. Kindergarten mama

Don't know about the actual requirements, but I think they have to be 5 before school starts in late August/September. However, I would highly recommend waiting until they are well gone 5 as the last five years have seen the teaching of reading pushed back into kindergarten. I don't know about you, but I didn't learn til I was in 1st grade, and it didn't keep me out of grad school. As a parent of a current kindergartener, I would counsel ''wait, wait, wait'' especially for a boy. ncaton


January birthday - private school?

Feb 2008


Hi. Alameda school district has a cut off date of 12/5 for public schools. So any child who wants to attend kindergarten in fall of 2008, for example, must turn 5 by 12/5 of 2007. Unfortunately, my daughter's birthday is in Jan. She's only 3 now but I'm looking ahead and thinking by the time she can attend a public kindergarten she'll be 5 year & 8 months old, almost 6 ! I would really love for her to attend in fall 2009 when she'll be 4 yr. & 8 months old, if her pre-school teacher thinks she'll be ready then. Is there any good private kindergarten in Alameda (or somewhere close, say in part of Oakland that's close to Alameda area) that'll take cases like hers - kids who is just a few days shy of making the cut-off date ? Please help. a worried mother

Relax. You asked if you could find a kindergarten that your January birthday daughter could attend when she is 4 years old. Be advised that almost all private schools have an even earlier cutoff birthday than the public schools -- most require that you turn 5 no later than September of your kindergarten year. The public schools have later, December cutoffs. So whether you go public or private, your daughter will be 5 when she starts kindergarten. And that's just fine. Anon


Starting BUSD with a fall birthday

April 2007


I'm looking for feedback on families with kids who started kindergarten (at a BUSD school, esp) at 4 yrs old (that is, with a fall bday who turned 5 before Dec. bday cutoff). I'm not looking for general pros and cons or why we should hold back, but rather real-life experiences from those whose children have *actually* started at that age or who intend to start this fall at that age. We're on the fence about whether or not to send our child and would love to hear more from others--the good and the bad--in the same boat. anon, please

My daughter has a November birthday, went to K at 4, and she's doing fine socially and academically at her Berkeley public school. In her Kindergarten class, by happenstance, there were 8 kids with Fall birthdays. I know other kids who are doing fine, a couple who might do it differently if they had it to do over, and one who repeated first grade. (I also know older kids who have repeated, and from what I see, in the early years, it seems to be pretty workable for them socially.) My daughter and her friends are in second grade now, so we haven't faced puberty or other points where people say there may be issues with the age thing.

I also know kids who waited, and so far that's working for most of them, too - although one has clearly been in the wrong grade, and is skipping a grade this year. I was a December kid, the oldest, and I can tell you that my experience was negative with that - I wasn't as challenged as I wish I had been academically, and by high school I was itching to get out in the world earlier than my friends were, and getting in trouble as a result. I also have friends who were a year younger than me in my grade growing up, and they had their own struggles and issues - we all did fine in the end, all went to good colleges and have made good lives for ourselves. I don't think there's a 'right' answer, although there are certainly plenty of people who will act as if there is. When your child is on the cusp, you will have pluses and minuses to either choice. FWIW, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has studies that have led them to say: send your turning-5-kid to K. You can google for their site and see what they have to say.

Follow your gut, talk to your son's preschool, and check out the culture of the school he'd be attending. And then make your decision and relax! Thriving November girl's mom

Our son has a mid-fall birthday, and he started Kindergarten this year at age 4. We regret the decision to start Kindergarten, and we are now planning on repeating it next year (if the district lets us). Academically, our son is doing fine and his teacher thinks he can move on to first grade. The issue for him is really social maturity. He's more than a year younger than some of the kids in the class, and he's at least six months younger than most of them. He mostly says he likes Kindergarten, and he behaves well in class (maybe because he's intimidated?), but he has started wetting the bed, acts out at home more than he used to, and complains of stomach pains a lot -- all possibly symptoms of anxiety. The kids in school understand concepts that are too mature for him, and they are much more physically coordinated. Our son comes home stressed out about things the kids have told him (about star wars villians, people being shot, etc) and feeling inferior because he can't climb as high on the monkey bars. I do think that it is possible for kids with fall birthdays to do well in Kindergarten at age 4-5, but it has not been a good situation for our little guy. I wish we had known this information a year ago -- we definitely would have waited. anonymous

Both of our children have fall birthdays. Our girl, now seven, has a birthday in November, and our boy, five, was born in December. They both entered on the early side (our boy had to apply specially) and we agonized about it greatly, even went to see Meg Zweiback to consult about it.

The short answer is that they are both doing great. They have always been advanced academically and are social and outgoing. What we discovered is that many people, especially professionals (k-teacher, pediatrician) will tell you to put your girl forward, keep your boy back. I can't speak for their middle school years, obviously, but right now with our girl there is no difference between her and her peers. With the boy, he occasionally wets his pants but I have seen this in kids of all ages in kindergarten, so I believe that this is normal. Otherwise, he is reading already, can add and subtract, and has lots of friends. Even plays soccer with the older boys at recess.

Bottom line is, follow your own instincts and know your child. Been there


Albany parents: when to start kindergarten?

Feb 2007


We're considering a move to Albany in time for my son to start kindergarten. He will turn 5 in mid-September 2008. For parents with current kindergarteners, what has been your experience with boys with Fall birthdays? If he starts in 2008, will he definitely be one of the youngest? If we wait a year, will he be way older than all his classmates? In general, when people are considering waiting a year for kindergarten, are they thinking about birthdays that fall later in the year than September? Any feedback would be most welcome. Holly

We moved to Albany mid-school year and waited to start our mid-Sept. daughter in Kindergarten, she turned 6 within a few weeks of beginning school. Back in the city, nearly all our friends with fall kids held them back, and her preschool advised it (she's whip-smart but shy and socially awkward). I think it's less common out here though, she's definitely one of the older children in her class (if not the oldest), and there are kids in 1st grade who are younger than her! I can't tell if it's my imagination, but I sense that other parents (especially of the very young) dissaprove, but we still feel like we're doing what's best for our daughter -- she just wasn't ready before now. She's having a wonderful kindergarten year now (not bored, etc.). Held Back and Happy

I have been going through the EXACT same thing this year. My son's birthday is Aug 31. Technically, the public school deadline is 5 years old by sometime in December. Every private school I have gone to has a 5 years old by Sept. 1 deadline. I have been told that, even though he's technically old enough, it is just too early. Most of the children in private schools are 6 or more than half way to 6. EVERYONE I have spoken to said that it is easier on the children (especially boys) to start at 5 1/2 or 6. I have asked his preschool teachers, my brother who's a teacher, the professors at the teaching credential program at St. Mary's college (where he's attending), my friend the child development specialist, etc. My 4 year old has a better attention span than most 10 year olds and can write and almost read and knows his numbers up to 50, but I am still going to wait until next year. Many studies have shown that trying to teach a child certain things before their brain is emotionally and developmentally ready gives them no advantage at all, just stress and social problems. One more piece of advice - if you are considering private school, I had NO IDEA they begin interviews and applications as early as 10 months before the school year begins! I was shocked. Especially since public schools don't start anything until May. I started visiting schools in mid January and I had already missed a couple application deadlines! I guess there's no easy way for a first-time-parent to learn these things... wishing it were easier

Decide, as best you can, on your son's readiness. Not his age. My son is in kindergarten this year in Albany. In the fall, he told me that everyone in his class was 5 -- but he has one friend in the other PM-K class who was still 4, and another who was already 6. Both have done just fine as far as I know. Your son is unlikely to feel out of place either way just because of age, if he is developmentally in the right place to start kindergarten. It's popular to hold fall-birthday kids back, but the Albany program -- which is only half day -- does not seem to me to be overly academic or unrealistic for the younger kids. Go to the Kindergarten Info Night (February 15th at the Cornell School Multipurpose Room, 7-8pm) for a better idea of what the ''readiness'' criteria are and a chance to talk to some of the teachers, if you like. Kindergarten Mom

I have a Kindergarten boy in Albany this year whose birthday is late September. He is doing well academically and socially and I feel good about our decision to start him this year. I think its a decision you have to make for your family based on your son's readiness. Good luck.

I have two boys, one in 3rd grade and one in kindergarten. The kids in their classes have varied. There are boys who waited (who have birthdays as early as May), and those who have begun with late birthdays (October). It really depends on the child. I notice that oldest or only children tend to wait and younger kids go in early. The true test is really your kid. Has he had nursery school? Is he verbal and fairly calm? Kids who are really active seem to have a harder time in school - so age might help. I would talk with parents/teachers who know him to get better opinions. In my son's classes some of the oldest are the most immature and younger boys do great. It all works out

Our verbal, gregarious, active son has an early October birthday. We were concerned that putting him in kindergarten before he turned 5 would be too demanding for him, especially if he were the youngest and smallest. On the other hand, would holding him back a year leave him the smartest, bossiest kid in his class, with no challenges? We consulted his preschool director, who basically said that holding boys back is usually good for the boy but bad for the class (because held-back students make it harder for the next year's youngest students-- however, I hear that curriculum is much more advanced now at K and elementary school levels than it used to be). Finally, my brother who was teaching K-5 classes said, ''He doesn't need another year in the sandbox. The things you're worried about are part of his personality, not things that will change with development.'' So he turned 5 in kindergarten. Our son is now in 11th grade, and it was clearly the right decision for him. He's always done well in school, had friends, been active. One of his high-achieving, ''cool'' male peers is actually younger, with a mid-November birthday. The main drawback our son found to his late birthday was that he felt self-conscious in middle school when he grew later than his friends, and again as a sophomore when his friends got to drive earlier. my two cents

In my experience, children with fall birthdays (September, October, November) sometimes wait a year, and sometimes don't. Thus, whichever your child does, there are likely to be others who are about the same age. More important than chronological age is your particular child's readiness. Do you think he's ready? What do his preschool teachers say? The Scholastic website (Scholastic.com) has a little questionaire for parents to take to help them decide if they feel their child is ready to start kindergarten. It might be worth taking a look at (though of course, like anything, take it with a grain of salt). The most important aspects of readiness tend to be the social-emotional ones. My advice is, if you have doubts about whether or not he is ready, then go ahead and wait a year. In talking with parents, there are far, far more who regret the decision to start than to wait. Good luck with whatever you decide. An Albany Teacher


Shy daughter's birthday in November

Jan 2007


My daughter (4 y. 2mo.) seems to be ''ready'' for Kindergarten, excellent attention span, obedient to teachers...etc... (note: she is quite small and shy (mude)with ''new'' people (both adults & kids) until she ''warms up'', she also gets tired (=tantrums) after ''long days''. I would prefer that she does not start Kindergarten this year for several reasons, some greatly discussed, and other more personal like the fact that she would be ''closer'' in school years to her almost 2 y.o. brother and also -hopefully- closer in their relationship as siblings by staying longer at home since she now goes to a 3-hour preschool program). I will be staying at home anyway and think will enjoy her a bit more before we ''all'' start the ''school years'' (with its pros and its stresses). But of course I want what it is best for her and we are not sure what to decide! She likes playing with older children (girls) but most preschoolers say so, right?. Some people say she will be bored with younger/more immature children if she waits. Will it be too easy/boring?? We will try the Spanish immersion program at Cragmon (with good chances they say, since she speaks Spanish, very little English). Any advice from families/educators with similar experiences? Thanks!

Most private kindergartens in the area would not accept your daughter unless she was 5 years old by September. Public schools have thought about changing this too, but most still use December 1. Your daughter is so close to a Dec 1 birthday that if you are on the fence, and you can wait, I'd say wait the extra year.

Give her the extra year. I speak from two perspectives, one as the Aunt of a November girl who was bright, loved preschool, played well, and so my sister entered her in kindergarten when she was still four. She ended up needing to do first grade twice -- because she wasn't ready developmentally to read. Now, as a 7th grader, and one of the older kids in the class, she's doing well academically. My other perspective is as a high school teacher. What I have noticed is that many 9th graders with fall birthdays have more difficulties than the ones with spring birthdays. My guess is that it is because they missed out on basics and developing good study habits in elementary school because they weren't ready when their classmates were ready. mother of a spring baby

We had the same decision to make 2 years ago with our daughter with an 11-24 birthday (now 6 and in kindergarten). There is no doubt that she was academically ready for kindergarten when she was 4 (turning 5), but we decided to hold her back and put her in a prekindergarten program. We still think that was the right choice for her. She needed some more maturity (we still have problems with bursting into tears when things don't go her way, and that would have been worse last year). and rather than being bored (she does already know a lot of the work that is being taught in kindergarten), we have found the extra prep has given her the chance to be very successful and excel at school, which seems to increase her desire to learn. One factor in our decision was that we knew she was a perfectionist, and we thought having her doing work that was too easy was better than doing work that was too hard. Overall, she is happy; we are happy; and I think it was the right decision for her.

In talking to others when we made the choice, the sentiment seemed to be unanimous that it was better to hold back than push forward. The only negative I have heard is that when these children reach middle school/high school, they can be self-conscious about maturing physically ahead of other kids. and there can be a down side to your child turning 18 before they graduate high school (if they decide to quit or do anything else you don't approve of, you have lost your legal parental rights to control what they do). Hope this helps. Mhel

Hold her back. She will be the youngest child, perhaps by as much as 18 months. My son has an 11/30 birthday and we held him back, even waiting a year he is by no means the oldest in his class. There were at least 4 children in his kindergarten class with birthdays between July and November. If you send your daughter to kindergarten when she is 4 years 8 mos she will be in the same class with children that are already 6. Kindergarten readiness is about physical and emotional readiness as much if not more than academic readiness. The things you have described, shy, tired, tantrums all indicate that she would be better served by waiting a year.

Even if she makes it through kindergarten, problems often emerge in first and second grade when the emotional maturity levels will be more pronounced and the academic challenges are greater. My son is now in second grade and in first grade and again this year in second grade children had to repeat - it is far more tramatic for the child when they have to go back and repeat first grade after already moving on to second. If it were me I would not give this a second thought -keep her at home for another year never looked back

You will have plenty of company if you don't send her to kindergarten for another year. She might be bored if she is in a preschool that is really a day-care or where all the kids are younger than her. But there are plenty of preschools with 5 year olds in the oldest group. anon

We have a boy with a December birthday. It is the fashion nowadays to ''red-shirt'' your children by holding them back, so we were pressured into waiting before starting kindergarten, even though our son was smart, had a long attention span, and appeared ready for K. Well, the problem is that now he is horribly bored in school. As a result, he is acting out and getting into trouble, and refusing to do his homework, claiming it's too easy. But when we asked his school to put him up a grade, they refused. (This is a private school, by the way, where I know of two cases where they allowed parents to hold their child back a year, once in 2nd grade and once in 4th.) I'm concerned he's getting completely turned off from academics. I'd recommend starting your daughter in K next year if you can. She sounds ready. K is usually only half-day or is shorter than the full school day. If she has problems, it's very easy to hold her back a year, but really hard to move ahead a grade. Wish we hadn't taken this one-way trip

I would strongly recommend waiting another year to put your daughter in kindergarten. I, my first grader, my 5 year old, and my 2 year old are all December or January birthdays, and all started (or will start) kindergarten at age 5 1/2. Even though your daughter is bright, obedient and has a good attention span, you mention several factors that tell me she should wait--her shyness, smallness, the fact that she mostly speaks Spanish, and the fact that she gets tired with ''long days''. Those things will affect her ANYWAY when she starts kindergarten, but will affect her MORE if she's only 4 3/4 years old. The maturity just isn't there until they're older. Just last week I attended a kindergarten open house at a public elementary school and the two teachers stressed how important it is to allow kids the time to mature in preschool or at home, and how hard it is for the youngest kids in the class, compared to the 5+ kids. The older ones tend to cope much better. A lot of pressure is put on kindergartners these days, and the older the kid is, the better they cope. Please keep her home an extra year! A Berkeley mom of 3

Our daughter's birthday is late December. She could easily have tested into 1st grade (the school made that an option after she started school.) She had no social issues, in fact was quite mature socially. Still we kept her in K. Her preschool teacher said, don't think about the girl now, think about the pre-teen or the girl going off to college; do you want her to have an 'extra' year of maturity under her belt? So we did and I'm glad. BTW in her first grade class at least 1/3 of the kids are plus or minus one month of her age. So she isn't the oldest at all. Keep in mind in any independent schools the cutoff is Sept. 1 anyway. My last thought is it would be very wise to give heavy weight to her social comfort, so my vote would be to delay K. for a year. Mom


2004 - 2006 Discussions



Should 6-year-old skip kindergarten?

Sept 2004


Hi Everyone - My big six year old boy just started kindergarten in the BUSD and I'm wondering if anyone has any advice about moving him up to first grade? He can write his name, knows how to add, subtract, understands fractions, is starting to sound out words, can focus and follow directions. Last year he seemed too young and tender for kindergarten, but now he seems a little out of place. All constructive advice is appreciated! cybermom

We also considered skipping my son to 1st grade when he entered school. He was way ahead of most kids his age in writing, reading, math, ability to sit still, etc. I am SO glad we did not skip him. The kindergarten year is so very important to getting acclimated to the elementary school environment. And I find that kids develop their concept of boredom based on their parents. If parents are worried that their kid is too far above all the kids, then the kids start modeling that behavior. My son had a blast in kindergarten. He went from being very shy to being much more outgoing. His teacher didn't believe me when I told her he was shy! I think his confidence in his abilities really helped him come out of his shell. Also, what are you really pushing him toward? What is the real difference going to be in the long run? Not much, really. It is better to continue to encourage his abilities and teach him that there is always something to be learned at school: making friends, fun projects, new books, and so on. As a teacher once told me in high school: only boring people get bored. anon

Your son can skip kindergarten because kindergarten is not mandatory. But he can not enter the first grade at 5, he has to be 6 by December 1 or 5th, something like that. So just keep him there for the socialization and after first grade, because of age - they will decide if he should skip grades but he can't until he's 7. ex-private school administrator

Please be warned about skipping: your child will always be the youngest. Our son went to kindergarten too soon (his b-day falls in November) and we've regretted it since he's always been the youngest in class. This may present problems because of too much pressure put on the kids (especially these days..). My son is very bright but could not handle it emotionally. There might also be a social problem, depending on the kid, of course.

I think the most important thing to consider is not your boy's skill level-- writiing, adding, etc.--but his degree of socialization. Kindergarten is about 20% learniing and 80% developing social skills. There are all kind of kids in kindergarten: dreamy, shy, bright, gregarious and inteligent, too. They are all there to learn how to work with each other and together, to learn limits, respect, and even a little discipline, and-- most importantly--from an authority figure who is not a parent. If your son is already developed in these areas then, of course, send him past K. But I doubt he is (really, none of them are) and anyway I think K is too valuable and beautiful a grade for anyone to skip. Best, Mark

It doesn't sound like your son would really be skipping kindergarten the way most people mean it, where he is younger than every other kid in the class. This is a case where you decided to wait an extra year for him to start kindergarten, and now, a year later, it seems like maybe you shouldn't have waited.

At 6 years old, your son is the same age that most kids start the first grade, so he's right on track. If it were me, I would start him in first grade. Sounds like he's ready. Mom of 3 boys


2003 & Earlier



Son with October birthday

Nov 2003


Our son will be 5 next October and we are trying to decide when to start him in kindergarden. He is average in size (and we expect he'll be on the short side), does well socially, is able to sit still, follow directions, etc. He has a great vocabulary, but isn't necessarily advanced in terms of learning letters or showing an interest in reading or writing. It seems like everyone I talk to who has a strong opinion thinks we should wait to start him, making him one of the oldest in his class. Does anyone have experiences to share about starting kids (boys, especially) before their 5th birthdays? I was the youngest in my class as a kid and that always made me feel smart. I would hate for him to get the opposite message if we held him back. Thanks!

Actually, a child turning six in October would not necessarily be the oldest child in his kindergarten class. My son turned six in September after starting kindergarten and there were tons of birthdays shortly after his and several before. The movement these days is to wait as kindergarten curriculum has become much more academic. What used to be taught in first grade is now taught in kindergarten. There are lots of things to take into account in deciding these things; preschool teacher recommendations, your child's maturity, whether his peers will be in preschool next year or moving on to kindergarten, etc. I am really happy we waited and my son is thriving in kindergarten. Don't let your son's age be the deciding factor, the other things I just listed are also really important. Best wishes

My son sounds a lot like yours and is also born in October. After many discussions with his pre-school teachers, other parents dealing with the same situation, and feedback from a private school evaluation, we sent him to kindergarten the year he turned 5 in October. He is now in second grade and doing great in school. He has many friends, and he seems happy and in the place he should be. He is one of the younger kids though I'm not sure you could walk into his class and have any one of the younger kids stand out as not being ready to be there. We've never made a big deal about him being younger so he thinks nothing of it. In fact, the handful of children that are on the older side, look much older than the others and seem to have more challenges with the work. I know this is a highly personal issue and I'm sure you'll get many responses in favor of waiting a year but we have felt very good about our decision for our son and don't have any regrets. One thing that definitely tipped our decision towards sending him without waiting was by looking at the kids in his preschool that were staying another year and the kids that were off to kindergarten. He seemed to us to be much more like the kids moving up (in social skills, maturity, interests, etc.) than the kids that were staying another year. I should also note that my son, like yours, was not an early reader or much interested in writing before kindergarten either. anon

Here are some data from my son's school. I'll stick to boys, but the data on girls at the school is not very different. Three out of the eight boys in my son's first grade class have September birthdays so they turned 5 shortly after starting K last year. One of the three is my son. There are also a few Sept-Nov birthday boys in the current kindergarten and second grade classes. All are doing fine. That doesn't mean that they're perfectly well-behaved, disciplined little angels. They can focus on their tasks and follow directions much of the time, but like all kids they have academic and social ups and downs. The teachers expect this and know how to work with them. Teachers at any decent school will surely do the same.

None of these boys is very big. Small to average, I'd say. None of them has needed any protection, because teasing and bullying are not part of the school's culture. That too should be the same at any decent school.

My son's class also has a couple of boys who were 6, or almost 6, when they started K. They're doing fine as well. All the kids in the class play well together despite a one-year age gap between some of them.

All the boys are bright and active but none of them is noticeably ''advanced.'' By the way, I don't think kids make connections like ''I'm younger so I'm smarter,'' unless they hear such things from others. A sensible school will make sure that kids realize that people develop in different ways and that a few months difference in age is no indicator of a difference in intelligence. If possible, take your son to a few schools and talk to the teachers there. That will help you decide what's right for him, not just what's right for a ''Generic Fall Birthday Boy.'' mother of boy with Sept b'day

We have 2 fall birthdays (boys), and we started the first early, and held the second one back. The first was very mature, smart, long attention span, curious, etc and it seemed like it would be a waste to keep him in preschool another year or to dotwo years of kindergarden and that he would be bored. Now he's in 4th grade and looking at middle school, I am wishing we held him, and searching for a way to maybe do that now. Middle school kids just seem huge and the whole place so intimidating that it seems he could really benefit from another year in his cozy elementary school evironment. We heard from everyone we asked that no one who holds their kid back regrets it (and I think you can see this on the archives as a fairly consistent trend), but some those that pushed ahead do regret it, sooner or later. People told us that another year could never hurt, and that's why we ended up giving our younger son an extra year (he'll start K next year, when he's almost 6). By the way, most private schools dont even accept kids unless they turn 5 by July or August. Good luck with whatever decision you make. anon

Put him in early. Everyone says it can be so tramic to be the youngest but the oldest can be hard too. Some kids might think your ''dumb'' and if you're really smart that you should be in the next grade. You son sounds like a great child, and very smart and capable for his age. And if it really doesn't work, you could take him and put him back in preschool until he's five and ready but really, just try! Children deserve the best chance. Emily

Our son began kindergarten at the end of August and turned 5 in early October. Though all his preschool teachers and parents of his classmates told us how ready they thought he was, I panicked slightly just before he was to begin, having heard a lot of buzz about holding back boys (especially those not 5 before the start of kindergarten). Frankly, it seems rather trendy these days to do just that, but you really must decide for yourself - you know your child best. Speak to his preschool teachers, and see if his prospective kindergarten does any sort of ''readiness'' evaluation in the spring (ours did). You can actually find some K readiness ''tests'' online, but it's really better to speak to the teacher's he's with now and those he might have in kindergarten. I think you would know if he weren't ready! By how you describe him (social, verbal, able to listen and sit still...) he sounds ready to me. Andrea

I have two boys, born in October and August. We sent both on rather than hold them, and have regretted the decision in both cases. The problem is not the academics. Rather, both are unusual gifted kids, with all the quirks that go with that decidedly mixed blessing, and have found the going tough socially. They are as much as 18 months younger than some kids, which means the other kids are bigger, better athletes, and often expert teasers. My young boys do not have the social deftness to deal with the teasing, physical inferiority, and other stuff that goes along with the rough-and-tumble boy world. The first year of middle school was a nightmare for the older one, who has difficulty with organization and suffered painfully with expectations normed to older kids (a! nd girls). In retrospect, I happily would trade some academic boredom (which my kids have even now) for being more socially right- sized. So trust your gut on this one. If your child is very socially secure and advanced, go ahead and start him. If not, think about holding him back. regretful

Note: you know your child best, so salt my ramblings with your own common sense. As a middle school teacher, I often see that the ''younger'' kids are struggling with organizational issues, as well as abstract thought, even though they are very smart and able to do the concrete stuff better than the others. This lack of organization KILLS the parents and the teachers, but the kids seem fine. And they eventually get it. This applies both to the question of fall birthdays, but even more so to the kids who are deemed smart enough to skip a grade. Those are the ones that I am really seeing suffer. So I guess my point is that they are young in K, but they are also young for the rest of their schooling, and it would be interesting to hear if others have found that it was a burden later, though it may have been a boon when they were 5. anon

Everything you described about your son sound like the checklist for kindergarten readiness. I don't think they HAVE to know all their letters, be interested in reading words on own, etc. before kindergarden; just know if you're doing a public school they will be expected to read by the end of kindergarten. Probably there will be children a full year older as well as some younger, up to the cut-off dates. I'd give it a try, even though the trend is to wait it should be based on the child. c.s

I was so glad to see responses to your post encouraging you to send your fall birthday boy to kindergarten. I have a boy born in October who will be going to high school next fall. He was ready to leave preschool and turned 5 in kindergarten. He's been fine socially and academically ever since. My experience has been that some issues that came up as my son (and other kids his age) got older were based on personality and temperment as much as birth date, meaning that these issues would probably come up even if the child had been held back. You often hear that it's ok in elementary school but in middle and high school, when they start physically maturing, that your child may feel left out. We haven't found this to be the case. For each child, puberty starts on its own schedule, not the calendar, i.e.! not everyone is at the same point even if they are the same age. Some of the kids in my son's class are into ''dating'' and some aren't, and believe me there are ''younger'' and ''older'' kids in both groups. What's important is that your son be able to find a group of kids going his speed, and I'm sure he will. It's always a little scary to look ahead. When my son was in K, the 5th graders looked huge and when we visited middle schools the 8th graders looked like grown men and women, and now that he's in 8th grade...well, you get the point. I encourage you to make the decision based on your child and the demands of school you want to send him to and not on trends. In the end you may decide holding him back is the right thing, but I believe a child who's really ready will be fine. Been There

We started my son before 5 (September baby) and we have no regrets. He has been able to shine academically and he has many friends from his class that are the same age or even younger. In our (public) school, there are so many variances among the children that age was never a detriment. Many of our friends did hold their children back and if they are any indication, I couldn't be happier with the results. They are not challenged by their work, and have experienced many more trips to the teacher/principal than I have. I can rack some of it up to tempermant, but some of it involves boredom. I am one parent who is happy with her fall baby starting before 5. anon


Daughter with November birthday

Sept 2003


At the risk of bringing this up yet again, my little girl will be turning 4 at the end of November and we are wondering if we should send her to kindergarten next year (we live in Berkeley). She is tall, verbal, and quite socialized, and people always think she is older than she is. Her preschool teacher believes she will be ready.

However, we have a son who has a December birthday and will not make the cutoff, and we wonder if there will be a potential problem having them 3 years apart rather than 2 (besides the fact that we will probably get less financial aid when they go to college - but that's still a long way off). Also, lately she has started saying ''I don't want to go to kindergarten'' for no apparent reason except that she hears us talking about it. She has said she's afraid it will be ''too hard'' and she has already shown perfectionist-first child tendencies.

I checked the website and there is a long discussion about boys, but not girls. Any new stories/experiences would be appreciated. Thanks. concerned mom

I have a precocious, tall, socially adept 10 year old who is now a middle-schooler. Yes, she is younger than everyone in her class, and you would never know it. Her teachers say a) they were shocked to find out how much younger she is, and b) they never remember that she is a December baby. Truth to be told, some of the kids who are 8-12 mos older than she act more immature than she does (at school, that is).

We deferred to my daughter's pre-school teachers who felt, strongly, that it was wrong for my daughter to ''stay back.'' Time has proven that they were right. And, if I plumb the deep recesses of my brain, I can remember a few moments around 3rd, 4th grade were my daughter stubbornly (immaturely?) insisted on parity and justice in every thing that was metted out. She is sort of the parity and even justice queen, so that might have been a function of her budding Supreme Court Justice personality not a function of her age.

Good luck to you Age not a problem in my doll

I, too, have a daughter with a late birthday. (Oct 31) Regardless of her readiness, we will be sending her to kindergarten when she is 5 going on 6 rather than 4 going on 5. First of all, I am a teacher and I've seen first hand how the older children benefit, especially in kindergarten where the developmental gap can be so large. Secondly, we feel that there is no reason to rush her into school. The pressures of schools have changed so much. Kindergarten used to be play based and now they're doing what first grades used to do. (generally speaking) Looking down the line, I don't want her leaving the nest a year early. In your case, you're considering your daughter's size, which is certainly a factor, as is her readiness. Those are valid points to consider. BUT, in determining her true readiness, listen to her. Children know much more about themselves than we often give them credit. If the thought of going to kindergarten is scary, there's a good chance that she's not ready. This is what I communicated to parents when I taught kindergarten and I was asked about readiness. Maybe you want to visit a few kindergarten classrooms, get to know the expectations and then decide if your daughter is truly ready. Good luck with your decision. Shoshana

The National Association on the Education of Young Children article on delaying school entry is now available online at http://www.naeyc.org/resources/journal/2003/09/DelayingKEntry.pdf. Susanna


Son with August birthday

July 2003


My son has a 8/31 birthdate. Right now he is the youngest member in his preschool class, which he is doing fairly well in. Developmentally, he plays/interacts/works well with the older 4- 5 yr olds in his class. But kindergarten could be a whole different thing. What is the best age to start a boy in kindergarten? Should I start him at the Sept just after he turns 5 yrs old or wait a year? I would love to here people's thoughts/experiences on this.

First of all, I'd like to note that as the demands of kindergarten get more and more ''academic'' with the rigorous state standards, I think they should just go ahead and change the cut-off for starting so kids start older. However, they haven't, so I took the attitude that if the state lets them start school, school should be suitable for their age! My son has a mid-October birthday and started kindergarten at 4. He has been the youngest or almost-youngest in every grade so far. So far (entering 5th grade this fall), it's been fine, both academically and socially, but I worry a little about middle school. Like many other parents, I think it has more to do with the particular child than the age, (some ''immature'' kids may still be relatively ''immature''- just bigger!), but since so many parents hold their children back now (especially boys), whatever you decide you won't be alone. My daughter is also born in October, and was always the youngest AND tallest in her class through elementary school. If we had waited with her, she would have been WAY taller than her classmates. She excelled in school (still does), though socially the first few years were not so smooth (she was fine with friends, and had lots of them, but teachers found her a little ''immature'').
mom of two October babies

You really need to assess where your child is maturity wise before making a decision. Your preschool can probably give you some in advice in assessing that. That said, I have never met a parent who regretted waiting another year but I have met a fair number of parents who wished they had. My son is a September birthday and we waited a year. Best thing we ever did. As it happens none of his friends went on and I really watched them all blossom that last year of preschool. Lots of parents worry their child will be bored with 3 years of preschool but actually I thought all the kids seemed to really enjoy it. They get the chance to be leaders, to really self-direct their activities and to develop their social relationships. I expect that it would make a difference what your preschool is like and if any other children of the same age would be there that year. One important thing to know is that the trend these days is to start kids a little older and if you didn't, your child could be quite a bit younger than his classmates. Kindergarten has gotten more academic in the public schools so more parents are waiting. Second children tend to be ready younger than firsts I notice. My cousin started her Sept. born son early and regrets it now as he enters 7th grade and is more immature than his friends - physically and emotionally. I hadn't thought beyond kindergarten. It really does come down to you looking at your own situation - the school, his friends and most importantly his readiness. Some kids really are ready younger and ultimately you're the best expert. Meg Zweibeck does a evening lecture usually once or twice a year on ''Kindergarten Readiness'' look for the notice in Parent's Press. She gives specifics on what to look for to determine if your child is ready. I think that would really help you. Good luck!
Kindergarten Mom

My son has an 8/21 birthday. He will be five this August and we were faced with this dilemma recently. He will be old enough for Kindergarten for Fall 2003 but we decided to keep him in preschool another year.

We asked for input from his teachers at his school, grandparents, other parents of boys... and the consensus we got for our kid was ''hold him back.'' Every child is unique so you need to really consider what is best for him.

The things that really influenced us to delay K another year:

1) his activity level and interests. He loves to play running games, be very active, and just wants to PLAY. He is only now starting to get into rule-based games and only now has the patience to sit/pay attention for 20 minutes or more at a time.

2) he has very poor motor skills. He has only just learned how to write his name but it is not legible (I only know what it is because I see him writing it). He can read very well, but he just does not have the fine motor skills to write or do small tasks.

3) he has poor impulse control. He still lashes out when he gets mad, instead of using vocabulary.

There is more, but these are the three things that influenced us to keep him in preschool another year. Hope this helps! Laurel

I have a boy who just finished kindergarten, and he is fairly mature for his age. After reading the advice on the website I entered him later rather than earlier, so he was the fourth oldest in his class. It was definitely the right move, and that was reinforced by the younger boys in the class, who were just not ready to be out of pre-school emotionally. I would wait again given the same choice. Kean

My son's birthday is 8/29, he is now 16 and if I had it to do over again, I would have waited to have him start Kindergarten until he was turning 6. At the time everyone felt he was more than ready, he was also in a small preschool and all but one child went into the same school for kindergarten and we felt it important that he start with all his buddies and not be the only one held back. What we didn't realize is that there would be many more repercussions than we had imagined, that even now occur. One example - When he began organized sports,it turns out all the age cut offs are July so every other year his friends moved up into the new age groups and he had to stay behind, so every other year he could not play soccer/little league with his friends. Last year this was critical and he refused to play fall soccer since he couldn't play with the players of his high school team who were all moving up to the next age group. Last year he couldn't get a job because most of the places would only take you if you were 16, he turned 16 the week he went back to school. All of his friends did work last summer. This year, there are so few jobs and no one will hire him because he has no experience,or they aren't hiring under 18, kind of a catch 22. And this of couse will be a problem again next summer as he again will still not be 18 but going away to school. And in general, he is generally less mature than some of his friends, and the maturity, dedication to school and organization we are now finally seeing would have served him much better when he was a sophmore rather than as a junior. So I would carefully consider your decision. Educationally and socially my son would have been better off as an older child, rather than the youngest. My son has wonderful supportive friends, but I really think school would have been less of a struggle for both him and us if he had been older. anonymous

hi, i recommend reading Raising Cain. the title threw me off ( i though it was just about really bad boys or boys who had extreme problems), but it is one of the best books i have read on boy development, especially on the emotional side (i have a twelve year old son).

the authors have worked with boys for over 25 years and talk about some of the things they have learned in working with them. but i recommend the book for helping you decide when to put your boy in school because it talks about how boys develop differently than girls.

of course you are their parent and will be the best judge but you may find this will ease your decision if you decide he can wait. good luck anon

I have two late boys -- one October, one August. Both are gifted kids, way ahead academically. In both cases, I sent them on to kindergarten rather than hold them back. In both cases, I have come to regret that decision. Many boys have been held a year, so there are kids 18 months (or more) older than my boys. They are much bigger, much better at sports, threatened by young boys who can compete academically, and terrific at bullying the young/vulnerable boys. Middle school has been a nightmare for the older one; he is immature as well as young and is not near ready for the organization or social accuity required to survive. We are considering changing schools and have him repeat 6th grade to belatedly right-size him. Given the chance again, I would gladly trade the risk of academic boredom (they are bored anyway) for the social benefits of not being the youngest boy. An added plus: you have them another year before they go on to their adult lives. anonymous

My 19 year old son was born on 9/14 so we faced the same question. We chose to send him ahead to public school (he also was doing fine in nursery school and his teachers thought he should go to kindergarten). Private schools that have older age requirements for starting school are a very different situation. I think there are pros and cons to both keeping them back and sending them on and that the best thing you can do is make your decision and then leave any possible regrets behind--knowing that whatever decision you make won't be perfect.

Here's what my son has to offer: ''the only time I wished I was a year older instead of younger was for sports. I got bigger slower than most other kids so I would have been better at water polo had I been older. Otherwise I did just fine. It would have been nice to be 18 in my senior year in high school and be a bit bigger for sports but thats it.''

I know what a tough decision it is! I was very grateful that my second child, a girl, was born in February. Sally

Our son will have the same situation (oct baby) ... and we are going to wait. every child is different. perhaps you can get some advice from his preschool teachers, and see how he is progressing? anon

My vote (thanks for asking) is to allow your 5 y.o. boy more time to explore his creativity and self as a young child before he starts school. Whether he can handle kindergarten isn't the issue. Children do what they must, and this isn't a decision for a child to make either. anon

Hi. I am a Kindergarten teacher in a public school, Title I, low- income neighborhood, 100% free lunch. I just finished teaching my fifth year of K. I understand your ambivalence regarding when to enroll your son. My son's birthday is early September and I enrolled him (not in my class) in K when he was just turning 5 because he already knew all of the alphabet and numbers to 10 and could write his name pretty well. He is turning 9 now and is the top reader in his class in an upper- middle class environment. He also scores above 95th percentile on the STAR tests even with a birthday that some would consider a disadvantage.

In my own classroom I have seen 4-yr-olds, born in November, do exceptionally well, bettering many other children 6 months older than they. A lot of these children have very little, if any, parental support. I think that sometimes you just have to put the child in the environment and see how he/she does. I would be interested to discuss this with you at length if you would like to talk more about it. Good luck with whatever you decide. Elaine

The issue of when to enter your child into kindergarten is a recurrent one \x85. In this regard, an informative article which reviews the research literature and provides advice for teachers in helping parents make this decision will be published in the September issue of Young Children, the journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The complete article, \x93Opportunity Deferred or Opportunity Taken An Updated Look at Delaying Kindergarten Entry\x94 by Hermine H. Marshall, will also appear online in September at www.naeyc.org/resources/journal/ and then click on Beyond the Journal.

The article differentiates between an outdated view of child development where children are viewed as maturing according to their own time line and a more current view where stimulation, guidance, and instruction are believed to be required for development and learning. Advocates of delaying kindergarten entry generally hold the former view, whereas those who see the benefits of appropriate kindergarten instruction and intervention encourage children to enter kindergarten when they are eligible.

After reviewing the best research available, the article concludes that in general, there are no academic or social advantages to delaying kindergarten entry. Any early differences found generally disappear by Grade 3, and most of the differences found are usually attributable to young age plus low ability or bias in ratings. In fact, there may be disadvantages to delaying kindergarten entry, such as lower self-concept and, by high school, increased drop-outs and behavior problems.

Among the factors to consider in making a decision are the nature of the kindergarten program and intervention services available for children who may need special help as well as what you would like your child to be like in 10-15 years. Susanna

I'm another mom who given another chance would have started her late October son a year later. He was and is academically strong and so we based our decision on the ''boredom'' factor, rather ignoring his relative immaturity. Well, he is oftentimes bored ANYWAY in school and his behavior was a serious problem until rather recently (he's now an 8th grader). Impulse control, being class clown to gain attention, etc, in other words immature behavior. He's now matured quite a bit in terms of his behavior (no more phone calls home!!) but he still is definitely younger than his classmates (some of whom are more than a year older than him). He's just starting puberty while others are well into their physical change and is still definitely a ''boy'', still liking even to play knights, etc. with his little brother. In some ways, I'm glad cause so many kids these days are growing up TOO fast, but its clear to me that he would be socially more comfortable if he was a year behind himself (he tends to gravitate toward younger kids). I agree with the other responder who said that she's never heard anyone say they wished they HADN'T waited a year, just those parents that say they wished they HAD. Our other child is an early Spring baby and WHAT A DIFFERENCE (of course being the second kid makes a big difference too). anonymous

We have two (very tall) sons born in Oct. and Nov., now 21 and 17. We did not hold them back, and it was a mistake for them both that I regret almost daily. Our older son is extremely bright but had difficulty learning to read, and he developed tremendous insecurity around school performance that still plagues him today. Our younger son is simply immature in many ways, and he is also not a conceptual thinker. Although he learned to read early, the challenge of academics in upper grades was too great, and he just gave up. Despite their height, both would have been far better off waiting a year.

You probably don't need a shred more input on this topic, but since we've just been through the process of making a similar decision I thought I'd pipe in anyhow! From reading all the posts on this topic, old and new, it seems the decicion must be made based on your child. And it will be interesting to read the report the NAEYC puts out in September. But from conversations with several early childhood/elementary school teachers in our extended family, and lots of other reading on the subject, it seems to me there is lots of information in support of boys being at least 5 1/2 for kindergarten. I think the current official age for public school kindergarten in California, particularly because of what kindergarten is in most schools these days, is a bit too young. We have relatives in other places in the U.S. where the public school age cut off is to be 5 before June 1, which seems about right. As much as our family wants to participate in public school education, we will probably go to private school simply because the curriculums and teaching approaches at the progressive private schools I've seen seem more appropriate for our kid's learning style, though we've got some time to wait and see. With the private school age cut- off our son would be the youngest if he went this year or the oldest next year. Though academically our son would probably be fine in kindergarten this fall, given that he is small, shy and still working on impulse control another year to play and develop social competence feels like the right decision. And with his make-up, in the long run, being the oldest will probably be better for him than being the youngest. By the way, it seems that a school with mixed ages may be a good solution for some kids, so they have a wide range of opportunity to meet their needs socially and academically. Good luck with your decision!!! -another parent of a late summer boy

When this topic comes up, I always wonder why no one mentions that when many children are held back from kindergarten for a year, it de facto shifts the age cut off. If parents of Novermber boys, and then October boys and maybe November girls, and then September boys ... hold their children back, we are simply moving the cut off. Is this what we as a community want? Should boys simply start at first grade, if academics aren't the issue (which most posters say)? I am interested in the entire picture, rather than one particular child. Wondering

After reading the mostly positive responses for later enrollment of boys in kindergarten, what does this do to the age and physical balance in the classroom they enter, especially for the girls. My ''Orwellian'' fear is that we have 5-year-old girls, smaller 5-year-old boys and larger 6 year-old boys. What does this do to the command of the classroom? I would love to hear from mothers of girls in these classrooms to hopefully asuage my possibly unwarranted fears. Anon

In response to the question about the effect of holding so many younger boys back on the age distribution in kindergarten a friend of mine looking into her neighborhood school in Lafayette was told that the youngest boy in their kindergarten class had an April birthday. Sounds like it's a de facto policy out here to start the younger boys later. Kathy

To the parent who asked what holding boys back does to the other kindergardeners in the classroom. I would like to share my disasterous experience with you. I started my delightful, normal, wonderful son at the appropriate time. He was the same age and size as the girls, but 40% of the boys were 12-18 months older than him. Other than one boy his size, the next smallest boy was a good foot taller than him. The interactions with these boys were often negative, as older kids take great pride in their ability to outperform the younger ones. He was even physically scrunched out of his space at the table. I could tell the teacher's expectations were affected by the presence of older, more mature children in her classroom. My son, who is giftedly perceptive, began having panic attacks, hyperventilating, and calling himself a bad boy. After over a month of intense negotiating, I got the school to allow him into a different kindergardener class that had age appropriate children. He had a great second half of the year. My older son has had the same experience. 40% of the boys in his second grade class were also much older. You know who they are in an instant, because there is no comparison size, maturity wise, or performance wise. I believe it unfairly skews classroom expectations and experience. My experience with both of my sons has let me see that this imbalance is a serious problem, and I have decided to devote time and energy attempting to get my school district to limit parent choice to circumstances where it can be shown that starting a child would lead to serious emotional distress or the like. I have also seen that being so much older leads to real disadvantages for these boys on the back end. Alot of my work involves representing delinquent children, and I have found that the older boys often become bored with school, which leads to acting out behaviors. Also, they are much harder to get to complete school as they generally don't want to be in high school at eighteen and beyond. anon


Fall birthdays from parents of teens perspective

To Parents of Teens newsletter:


I'm hoping some parents of teens will share their perspective on a decision made a number of years ago: If you have a child with a fall birthday -- October, November, even December -- in retrospect, how did your decision on when to begin school work out for your child -- whether it was to start your child in kindergarten before s/he turned five or to wait a year or even to repeat Kindergarten? My daughter, who turned five in late November, has been in a private kindergarten in a class of eight kids since September and is doing very well. Her teacher says she's ready to transfer to first grade (which will be in a public school) next fall. My concern focuses not on the next year or two but rather the middle and high school years, when peer pressure is strong, hormones are raging, and having as much maturity as possible to make good choices is so important. Obviously, every child is different, but in general, how do you (and your child) feel about the choice you made? And if you did choose to have your child repeat Kindergarten, how did you frame the decision in a positive way for your child? Lorraine

My daughter's birthday is Nov 3. She was a bright, socially adept 4 yr old and could have easily gone to kindergarten that year. I chose not to send her to until the next year when she was 5 - almost six. I did this hoping that in the middle and high school years I would have a more self-confident, responsible teenager making slightly more mature social decisions during this tough age then she would if she was a full year younger when faced with these issues. She is now in 9th grade and I am very happy with my decision. Every kid is different, but with our school system sending kids to middle school in sixth grade (as opposed to Jr. High in 7th) they are pushed very early into the teenage scene with its social pressures. The more maturity they have the better. Same goes for starting College, a child who starts kindergarten before their 5th birthday, will start college at 17. Is this an advantage? I think it is more of an advantage to participate in more dramatic play etc as a 5 yr old. Learning reading and math one year earlier will not determine whether you get into Harvard or not. I have talked to other parents and have never met anyone who regretted having their child wait to start kindergarten, only ones who regretted sending them earlier. California's Dec 1st cut-off is very late. My daughter wouldn't even have been eligible to go in most other states. Good luck with your decision. Lynn

I have a 16-year-old with a November birthday who is a sophomore. He did one year of a small private kindergarten, one year of public school kindergarten, and then started first grade when he was almost seven. I have a 13-year-old with an August birthday who started public school kindergarten when she was just five, after a year in a cooperative preschool where she did an afternoon pre-K program.

I'm not sure it was the right choice for either one, but if I had to pick the possibly bigger mistake, it was starting the 13-year-old early. AT 16, my son looks like a grown man, and he feels ready to run his own life. On the other hand, we held him back because of social issues, and he continues to be pretty immature in how he handles responsibilities-- although he is getting better. We would have blamed all his elementary school problems on starting him early had we done so, but he still had social issues when he started a year later. As he has gotten older, his size has actually helped him resist social pressure. No one messes with him, and he seems comfortable in setting his own goals, not following anyone elses (including ours, of course).

My daughter has never fit in socially. Would it have been better if she had started a year later? I don't know--she's just a very private person who doesn't like to share herself with very many people. Academically, in the early years of elementary school, it was clear that she felt she was being pushed too fast. She actually did very well in kindergarten, and seemed well prepared for first grade, but she fell apart when she got there. Everything from Wednesday folders to milk tickets was a tremendous challenge. We finally took her out of the public school for 2 years and put her in Mills primary school, where the 2/3/4 classroom was set up like a kindergarten, and she felt able to move at her own pace. She returned to public school in 5th grade and has been strugling ever since. On the other hand, she also seems completely able to resist social pressures. There were girls in 5th grade at her school who were dating and calling boys on the phone, but my daughter (in 8th grade) still has no interest in these things, and avoids school dances as boring although she's happy to take social dance classes. I think this is a very individual thing, and depends very much on the child's personality.

I don't know if this helps. My one suggestion is to think about your daughter's attitude towards school. You might also check the tendency of the public school. In my youngest child's year (he's a May birthday, what a relief), there are a lot of fall birthday girls. Some of them are strugling a bit with the demands of the school (not so much what they have to learn, but homework and classroom demands for seat work), but socially they seem to do fine, because there are several of them.

In reply to the mother with the November child. I have a girl, senior now, whose birthday falls in late August. We put her in school at her normal grade level, that is she was turning 6 at the very beginning of the September term. She has always been a very socially savvy kid-still is. And that is really her strong point. Who can tell about academics at that age. But now when all is said and done, I think academically, school would have been a whole lot easier for her if we had repeated kindergarten (although for us we were transitioning out of a Montessori school and it would have been less tricky for us to have done so). I've seen it over and over, my daughter is just getting a handle on concepts and they are moving to the next one. Particularly in math, a great deal of this is developmental, mental maturity in the hard wiring of the brain. Plus, there she was, trying to compete with other kids, particularly boys who are a full year ahead of her in this developmental stuff. Funny, the boys get held until they are older because they are not so socially developed, and the girls get pushed ahead because that is their strong suit. In high school, the difference became even more apparent not only in the math, but in my child's ability to really buckle down and do prolonged periods of serious work. The way she charged into her senior year made me wish once again that she had been this way entering her all -important and all-challenging junior year. I think it is a gift we can give these fall babies to keep them out and allow an extra year of development. I can't help you with how to do this well, but I don't think anyone who has done it has any regrets later.

A decade ago we faced the same issue with my daughter who has a mid-November birthday. She is now a freshman a BHS and from to tidbits that she shares with me about her social life - all is going well. Academically, all is going well too. Her peer group includes girls as much as 2 years older than her (it also includes girls a year younger and a grade lower). One of her middle school teachers characterized my daughters click as the nice smart girls. This group is very busy with a good focus on school and very engaged in one or more after school activities. They are not in the popular click (per my daughter's assessment) and do not seem to have taken off on the hormonal boy crazy circuit. Because my daughter gravitated toward a peer group that was a good fit for her personality, I just don't think her age mattered. Academically, my daughter has done well but has had to work hard. We did see some problems when she struggled with algebra in middle school. Even with hard work and all kinds of support, her ability to grasp it was uneven and I think developmentally she hit it about a year too soon.

I would also advise you to keep your options open every year. I know of several parents of late birthday children whose children did well in the early grades but benefited from repeating 3rd, 4th or 5th grade. The driver in these decisions was social fit not academic success.

My fall baby began kindergarten as a four year old. Academically and socially, it worked out fine, all the way through high school. I also had a baby born right after the cutoff date in early December, who started school as a five year old. That worked out fine too. Now that I have a little perspective, I would say start school at the regular time, unless there are unusual circumstances. The teachers have enough to deal with. They don't need a two spread of ages in the classroom.

My son had his 18th birthday on Nov 3. He's a HS senior. After an unbelievable amount of agonizing and discussion when he was 4, we decided to have him attend kindergarten at the private nursery school he was in then, and then repeat kindergarten at public school the following year. He was bright and sociable, but had poor motor skills. His NS teacher highly recommended letting boys wait a year, and we were very anxious to not make some grave unrepairable mistake, so we tilted in favor of the extra year. I feel kind of sorry for myself now, worrying so much about it back then, because it now seems like such an insignificant thing. In retrospect, I cannot honestly say there was any advantage in waiting. If anything, there was a slight disadvantage - he has always been very sensitive and introspective, and though he has never said so, I think he feels he is somehow inferior to the other kids who started kindergarten at the correct time. But if I were to ask him, I doubt he'd think it a big deal. In terms of hormones and so on, there is quite an amazing variation among kids, nothing to do with their precise age or grade as far as I can tell. The kids who were sensible in kindergarten are still sensible in high school, and the reckless ones pretty much continue with their recklessness. So I don't think waiting an extra year would give a kid any kind of boost in that area. Academically, I am not sure it makes any difference either. Since middle school my son has been a very mediocre student, though happy and sociable. Would he have been a better student if he'd started school at 4? More challenged perhaps, less bored? Who can say? Maybe he would have been exactly the same no matter what.

In your case, your daughter is doing well in kindergarten, and so I think there is no reason to have her repeat kindergarten. She will be well within the range of the other kids, age-wise and otherwise. I say go for first grade next year.

My daughter was born Oct. 31. She began Kindergarten at Cragmont School when she was still four. I thought she always held her own though sometimes (in K-3) she would learn things half a beat behind some of her friends. Even that though might have been who she was and not her age--all my children were slow to read. She graduated with her class and went on to Dartmouth College so she did all right in the long run. When she was at King and in high school I was really happy we had not held her back--socially she was right on target. I saw other girls who had been held back and they seemed --especially in eighth grade--out of place in middle school. I wouldn't recommend holding your child back at all--go for it! Janet

My daughter's birthday is Nov. 3, and she is now in 8th grade. There was no question that she was ready in every way to enter K when she did. She was one of the most mature in the class. I, too, was concerned that being the youngest in many of her activities would be a problem of some kind. It has turned out to be of no consequence at all socially, with one minor exception.

Sports programs form age groupings by birthday, not by grade level, and the birthday cutoffs do not correspond to grade level cutoffs. The rub comes when most of her classmates, born, say, before Sept. 1, are in the classification above the one she is in. So she is not with her classmates in rec. sports. This has happened in both soccer and softball. There is no getting around it. Obviously, there is a slight advantage to being one of the bigger players in your group, but kids don't really see it that way if it interferes with their social structure.

I think these kinds of issues may crop up again, i.e., when driver's licenses are being obtained by everyone but me. But basically, because she has friends in grade levels above and below hers, and because she does well academically and socially, Nov. 3 is still a lucky birthday for us.

You're asking the right people at the right time. Twelve years ago I made the decision to keep my son with an August birthday in preK an extra year.

I always worried that grade school was too easy for him academically, but I tried to supplement school with outside activities. (I've written here before that this might have been a mistake since he still had to spend 7 hours/day not being challenged and was able to slide through.) Maturity-wise, it worked out well.

During middle school I felt that it was a distinct advantage--his friends were younger and therefore he was not being pushed to grow up. He could keep up with the girls who were maturing faster. He was happy with his age/grade at this point and looking forward to driving before his friends.

However, now he's a 17- year-old junior in high school with senioritis. He's ready to move on with his life in a major way and resents wasting his time sitting in class. He never got used to working hard, but now sliding brings B's & C's instead of A's.

I don't know how much of his situation is related to his age/grade. . . . good luck with your decision. Barbara

My son was born in late October. During his early years he was very active and curious, to the point of being restless and demanding. But whenever he had a project or a complicated game to focus on, he calmed down and was very happy. We decided to enroll him in kindergarten before his 5th birthday, because we felt that he needed the structure and focus of school learning. His preschool teachers said that he was definitely ready. I think that if we had waited a year, he would have gotten more bored, restless, and ornery, and would have developed behavioral problems. Now he's in 11th grade at Berkeley High, and I've never regretted our decision. He selects the most rigorous, challenging courses every year, and has enrolled in Berkeley High and UCB summer classes for the past 3 summers. Socially, he seems content. I think that when making this decision for your 4-year-old, you should put greatest weight on what would be best for your child now, because her happiness now affects happiness later. What pressures your child might experience in middle and high school years is speculative. Kids in that age range vary so much, and so do the cultures of their different peer groups.

I've been part of this discussion for years from1983 when my first child was born (no problem because she's a girl born in February and always mature for her age), to 1991, when my second and last child was born (a boy in November, socially adept and quick to learn, but hardly mature--yet). I've gotten a perspective from two families who may have regrets about holding their children back (both boys, one born in September and one in November). My son goes to school and plays soccer with a good friend who is the right age for soccer but is in 3rd grade (he's born in September), while my son is in 4th grade. The parents of the 3rd grader have told me that their son bitterly complains about being in 3rd grade while his real friends and his soccer teammates are in 4th grade. A woman, whose son (born in November) was in high school a year older than most of his classmates, told me that she regretted holding him back because he was always bored, failed high school, and dropped out his senior year. She was told over and over again by teachers that her son was very smart, but chose not to work hard, and that he was a troublemaker. He took the GED and became an auto mechanic. She placed this blame all the way back to her decision to hold him back in kindergarten. He may well have ended up an auto mechanic in any event. Anyway, whatever choice you make, and if you can't undo it, years later you shouldn't beat yourself up for it. To me, parenthood has been an on-the-job experience from the very start, at the birth of my first child, and was I totally unprepared and inexperienced. If it had been a real job, I probably would've been fired after the first six months, and the first six months are the easiest part of raising a child, but those next 17 years . . . .

Sone with November birthday

From: Wendy

My son's birthday is at the very end of November and I understand that because of that he must wait to enter public school kindergarten until he is nearly 6 years old. Here is my question: If he were to attend a private school kindergarten the prior year; that is from nearly 5 until nearly 6 would he enter public school as a first grader or repeat kindergarten? Are there subjective or objective criteria? We live in Albany. Thanks.

From: Dianna

  On the issue of holding back a young boy from starting kindergarten: I was agonizing myself over this question a few years ago and was helped out by a long article on this very subject in Parents Press. This would have been a spring (April?) issue, 1994.  In the article not only were several parents interviewed, but also several adults who as children had been kept back due to emotional immaturity. All but one of the latter regretted having been held back for various reasons.  In my own case my son's birthday is late October, and I opted to let him start kindergarten at the tender age of 4.  My reasons were 1) he would have had to move from his preschool anyway as they couldn't    take a child who was legally of age to be in kindergarten. 2) he seemed about average size for boys born his year, though he was    born towards the end of the year.  He is also quite a strong child.    I felt this was important especially for boys given the way they    mix it up on the playground, try to top each other on the climbing    structures and so forth. 3) he was academically ready; a very smart kid who has never had any    problem with learning to read, do math, etc.   In general I am happy with my decision, although I can see that he is not quite as far along as many of the other kids in his class in terms of controlling his temper, acting in a composed and reasonable manner, etc.  I'm beginning to think that this is just his personality.  It's a tough call and you just have to judge your own kid and how ready you think he is.  As for private vs. public, I am strongly in favor of public schools; the ones in Berkeley range from  good to excellent .  Sure there are a few not-so-good teachers, but I feel life is full of not-so-good co-workers and bosses, who we all have to deal with occasionally, so best to learn to cope when one is young.  Good luck.  

From: anonymous mom

Re: holding him back I don't think it makes a great deal of difference either way - your child will either be one of the oldest in the class or one of the youngest. My son, now a teen, had a November birthday and we decided to wait the extra year. If I had it to do over, I would probably not do this now, especially since he has always attended public school. I would definitely do Berkeley public schools again, and have been very happy with them. But probably not the holding back part unless I thought my child was way below the level of other kids his age. There is such a range of skills in public school that the slight disadvantage in age & maturity, relative to other skills, is not that big a deal. And you may find that a child who is older than his classmates is understimulated academically.

On the other hand, a lot of parents, especially fathers, have told me that physical size is an issue for boys as they get older. So maybe if you have a kid who is on the small size already, this would be a reason for waiting the extra year.

From: Naomi

I think your decision should be based on the child. My birthday is late in August, and my parents chose to allow me to wait until I was 6 to start kindergarten. Apparently, this was at least partially due to the fact that I was afraid of the road I needed to walk down (about a quarter mile dirt road) to get to the school bus when I was 5. As far as growing up on the older edge of the class, I appreciated it until I was in high school, at which point I would have preferred to be done a year early! Being older (and hence more mature) gives you an advantage over the other kids, although this is probably most relevant in the early years. As far as being challenged by school work, starting your child a year earlier won't solve that- if s/he's smart, the next grade up won't be sufficient to keep busy- I think you need to supplement with other activities, whether at home or during school hours. One program I came across that was very useful was a tutoring program where I (as a 5th grader) was allowed to go help struggling 3rd graders in English and Math after my own work was done. Don't know if anything like that exists here.

From: Betty

When to start school-- I held my son back in the first grade because he was not able to read even simple words like the and and. In retrospect I wished that I would have kept him in Montessori pre-school one year longer and thus delayed kindergarten. He had a huge catch up time somewhere along the way, junior high, I think, graduated with a 4.0 and is now attending UC Berkeley! If he can read, send him on. There are lots of immature kids in even later grades.

From: Dianna

Re: starting kindergarten. My information is that the cut-off date in California is Dec. 1. So if your son's birthday is late November, he should be able to start K while still four years old. I have also been told that if a child attends a private K, they can then go on to 1st grade in public schools even if their birthday is after the cut off.

From: Susan

Regarding putting your son in a private school in order to get around the age requirements in the public schools. I strongly suggest that you wait. Even a very mature child would benefit from starting school later rather than earlier.

My daughter's birthday is in early January so she went into kindergarten at about age 5 1/2. My son's birthday is at the end of October so he started school at about age 4 1/2. Although my children are nearly 2 years apart chronologically, they are only one year apart in school. My daughter is now a Sophomore in high school, my son is a Freshman.

I really regret letting my son start school young. It has been so difficult for him academically and he is still smaller than most of his classmates. If I had the decision to make all over again, I would wait until he was nearly 6 to let him start kindergarten.

My daughter however is a little older than many of her friends who are in the same grade. She is so thrilled that she'll be able to get her driver's license sooner than many of her friends so, clearly, being older does not bother her at all. Her academic performance is much better than her brother's making his difficulties that much more salient.

You might want to talk to your pediatrician about this idea. Mine told me (after my son had already started school and was struggling), that he thought all boys should wait until they are 6 years of age and more mature before they begin school. He informed me that boys frequently develop more slowly than girls during the early stages, (both physically and emotionally). He also said that it isn't a good thing to try to teach kids to read when their visual abilities aren't developed enough to facilitate it.

I'm sorry if I sound too insistent about this but I hate the idea of any child having to go through the difficulties that my son has experienced if it can be prevented. Once you've put a child in school, retaining them can be equally traumatic (something we've been struggling with for 10 years now). I'll say it again, make this decision carefully.

From: Greg

Our daughter's birthday is also at the end of November (she just turned 5), and is now attending kindergarten in Albany. The cutoff date is December 2 in California; so your son could start kindergarten before he turns 5 if you want him to. And if you sent him to private school for kindergarten, he would be able to enter 1st grade at 5 3/4.

I believe it has been discussed here whether kids with October or November birthdays should be held back (and in fact one of Alia's classmates turned 6 before she turned 5), but we are very happy with our decision to start her in kindergarten this year.

From: Molly

My son, born 10-26-91, is in Kindergarten now. We waited a year, until he was almost 6, and are so glad we did. He was definately more ready in every way this year. Our daughter, born 9-4-93, will be almost 5 at the start of next school year. We are torn - should we wait a year with her too? Even though she is, by virtue of having an older brother, so much more interested than he was at this age? Any related experiences would be appreciated.

From: Trish

I agree whole heartedly with Susan. I put my son into school early because the preschool teachers said he was well-adjusted and smart. He continues to be well-adjusted and smart, but the one year of maturity that he lacks has kept him from attaining his full potential. Being able to sit, concentrate, and focus all comes with maturity. Boys tend to mature slower than girls anyway. It does make a difference and over the years I have regretted our choice.

From: Ganesha

I've been seeing a lot of people suggesting a younger child be held back from kindergarten; I was planning to send my son when he was four, almost five (he has a Nov. birthday) but now I'm wondering if that's a good idea. My son has been going to a Montessori preschool since age 2 1/2, and has done well there. His verbal skills are good, he is social and cooperative, and he pays attention to the activities at hand. He is a little on the small side, but well-proportioned and good-looking (not at all scrawny, just a bit small).

Has anyone had a good experience with enrolling a younger child, especially a boy? I don't want him to be ahead of all his classmates and bored, nor do I want to rush him if waiting would be better. Please help! This is my oldest child, I've never done this before.

From: John

We did it both ways: our daughter went to kindergarten when she was 4 years 11 months old (her birthday is September 27), but our son had to wait until he was 6. I think we made the right decision both times. Our girl at almost 5 was plainly ready in terms of emotional maturity, attention span, interest, etc. Our boy at 5 was plainly not ready; even at 6 he had plenty of challenges--it was a successful year for him, but he had to work for it--which I guess is what you aim for.

I would definitely base my decision on the child herself, not her date of birth. The differences between children continue to surprise me; it's amazing how little you can predict from chronological age.

From: Greg

Hi Jennifer,

It sounds like our situations our similar. Our daughter also has a November birthday, and she attended a Montessori preschool for 2 years, starting at 2 1/2. She is also quite verbal, has a long attention span and is generally eager to learn. Alia is now in kindergarten, and has just turned 5. So far we're very happy with our decision to start her at this age. Despite her age, she is still more than holding her own academically. I would expect this to be true for your son as well, given his Montessori background. I think the concern expressed about starting kindergarten before the age of 5, especially for boys, relate to inability of some to sit still and focus on the task at hand. From your description of your son, this doesn't seem to be a problem, and it sounds as if he would do fine starting kindergarten when he's 4.

The only concern we had going in was whether Alia mature enough socially. We have been pleasantly suprised in that regard; she seems reasonably popular, and has developed a nice little circle of friends. But she is intensely aware that she is the youngest in her class (one boy turned 6 before she turned 5), and she was thrilled when she finally turned 5 and could say she was the same age as the other kids. Now she gets to watch the others turn 6, one by one--I don't know how she'll react to that!

Having said all this, I would have to agree with an earlier poster that the decision on when to start kindergarten should be based on the individual child. As I said, we feel good about our choice. Although I expect Alia's immaturity will occasionally cause problems for her, these problems would be outweighed by the likelihood that she would have been bored if we had held her back a year.

From: Chris

Both our daughters either turned or will turn 6 in kindergarten (one has a November and one a February birthday), and for both of them I think it was the right decision. Both are pretty smart (I'm their mother, but I think that's true) and were capable of sitting still and paying attention at age 4, but I was worried about the social stresses of elementary school more than the academic. In both their cases, I think we made the right decision. They are both very confident and self-assured. They don't have to struggle to keep up, either socially or academically. They pretty much take school on their own terms.

In our case, both my daughters attended a Montessori pre-school, so there was academically enough available to them that I knew they wouldn't be bored. Especially our November daughter watched a lot of her friends go off to kindergarten while she stayed behind, but she did have other friends, and make other friends, and she definitely enjoyed a year as one of the oldest kids there.

Also, they went on to a Montessori elementary school where again, I knew they wouldn't be bored in years to come.

I'm quite sure we made the right decision, and I know of other kids who went a year early who I think would be a lot more comfortable if they had waited a year, but to be fair I know other kids who went a year early who seem perfectly fine.

September seems a particularly difficult decision, because they really are very close to being the right age.

Good luck!

from: Margo

I would like to make a comment regarding when to start boys in kindergarten. I am a mother of three boys, the last one is in 1st grade now, and feel my experience mirrored everyone else's out there who had boys and responded. I agreed with what they had to say because they spoke from experience. I can say unequivocally, that boys should not start kindergarten as early as 4 years old, or sometimes even 5 years old. Depending on the child's nature, some boys need more time to develop their own sense of themselves and how to deal with others. Being verbal and having a long attention span is a small part of it. I believe you have to deal with the ramifications to the child when he gets to those most emotionally unstable years...the teen years. My oldest son started kindergarten at the 'right' age of 5, but due to my own ignorance about how to deal with teachers and such I agreed to let him skip a grade. He went straight to third grade from first grade. The rest of his school career he was always the youngest in the class. Academically he did excellently, but always felt 'out of it' because all the other boys started getting interested in girls before he did, started driving before he could, and basically felt a bit insecure about all of his abilities. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have skipped that grade. Boys need an added chance to feel good about themselves. Needless to say, I've made sure my other two boys are emotionally secure and able to handle dealing with life situations first before I worry about them academically (Luckily, they've been good students too). Just my two cents worth.

My daughter was born in October. It became apparent to us over the first three years of her life that she has all of the wonderful traits of the classic spirited child, in spades. Coincidentally, she was named for my mother, twenty years deceased, who taught third grade all her life and let me know often throughout childhood/young adulthood that childhood was to be cherished, and that she didn't feel children should start school at the earliest possible moment. In fact, we all knew that she was sorry that she put my brother in school (a preemie, born in late Aug) when she did.

The long and short of it is that we placed our daughter in Step One's (terrific) bridge kindergarten program after her two years at parent coop nursery school, then she started kindergarten at Jefferson when she was turning six. I made this decision largely because I knew she would benefit from not being the youngest (she is the youngest at home, and doesn't like it much) and because she's so sensitive, stubborn, resistant to change, etc. She's also intellectually very bright, but this I think is so much less important in school starting age than social maturity, adaptability, etc. For us, waiting the extra year seems like the best decision we've ever made for her.

I talked to a lot of people about this, and while lots of my teacher friends said why wait? (knowing her brother, and us, and looking forward to her entrance into school), but a highly respected retiring principal friend and another retiring colleague both said they'd never met a child who waited who was sorry in the end.

From: Barbara

I asked my 14-year-old (who had just turned 6 when he started Kindergarten) if he thought it had been a good idea to have him wait. His response:

1. Look how skinny I am--could you imagine me in 9th grade now?
2. Other kids look up to me because I'll be able to drive before they do. [We'll see about that--Mom]

My ideas: He's certainly able to handle the 13-year-old girls better than his 13-yr-old boy friends can! I also think that he'll have another year to develop judgement before facing issues as they come up for his grade. He was asked by his teacher when he was in a 2-3 combination years ago if he wanted to start the year in 2nd grade and go with the 3rd graders for the second semester and he declined then. I figured that if he was smart when he was 5, he'd still be smart at 6. He has always needed to find academic challenges, but that's certainly easier than struggling to keep up.

From: Kim

My son's birthday is September 27th. He attended the three and the four year old programs at the UC Child Study Center and went into the Oakland public schools for kindergarten just before his fifth birthday. It worked well for him; he hasn't had any problems socially or academically that appear to be age/maturity related. His best friend is a week younger (and physically smaller) and started kindergarten at the same time at a private school in Oakland; his parents opted to hold him back for a second year of kindergarten which seems to be working best for him...