BUSD Kindergarten for mid-September Birthday?

My bright, precocious kid will turn 5 years old 17 days after the September 1 kindergarten cut off.  He's currently in his 2nd year at a great preschool, in the oldest class at the school - which means all of his friends/classmates will be heading to kindergarten at this time next year.  Is there any option for him to go with them!?  Has anyone seen BUSD make an exception to the September 1 cut off for kids who are ready and have birthdays close to the cut off?  It seems so arbitrary that all the kids who have July and August birthdays (there are so many!!) would go to kindergarten, and my son would spend another year in TK/preschool.


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With a September birthday, your child will be eligible to attend BUSD's Transitional Kindergarten programs.  They will be grouped with other kiddos of the same age for a 2 year kindergarten experience.  https://www.berkeleyschools.net/admissions/enrollment/tk/

It is completely arbitrary and can feel 'unfair' to those of us w/kiddos close to the cut off date. The December 1st cutoff date was arbitrary too, but they do have to draw a line somewhere and I don't think they want to (or have the resources to) deal with each situation on a case by case basis. My oldest is similar - turns 7 this September 10th and just started first grade. She skipped TK because of zoom school/pandemic and stayed in a preschool. I had similar concerns about her being the oldest in class (esp since I was always the youngest), but think that in general it's been completely fine for her. I've heard the TK program at BUSD is pretty great and may be a great option for you given how challenging the transition to K can be (even for an older kiddo, btw). That way he'll be off to a new school with kiddos all similar in age. You can certainly appeal to the district but I have not personally seen them make an exception for K. Best of luck!

Here's what I did for my fall birthday child 7 years ago. I enrolled them in TK through the school district (at a different school site than our neighborhood school, that's just where the program was). They learned to read by May of the TK year, so spouse and I decided we wanted to accelerate them to skip K (from our older child, we knew that K was all about learning to read & stand in lines). We asked the TK teacher to recommend it and she said she was not allowed to (district rule) but otherwise implied she agreed with our assessment to accelerate our student. We emailed the TK school principal, no response. Right before the end of the school year, we got a meeting with our home school principal (where our older child was a student), who agreed to convene a meeting of the "Student Success Team (SST)" - ie., her and us - to discuss our student's needs and recommend acceleration right into 1st grade at our home school for the next school year. That's what we did and I am very happy we did it. Yes, my student is the youngest 7th grader at their school, but zero academic problems and they can't say they've been bored. This was a different school district than BUSD, but my strong recommendation would be to enroll in TK and see how your child does. You will have to advocate for acceleration if that's what you feel is appropriate, but there is ultimately a path.

Hi there is no exception. The best option is to consider a private school, if you get financial aid it will be less than another year of preschool and great for their education

We will be in the same situation next year except in OUSD (our son's birthday is on Sept 16). Very curious to hear if anyone knows whether exceptions have ever been made.

Is your kid eligible for TK? That’s what most fall birthday kids do. We decided with our December birthday kid to keep him in preschool another year because he would have been the youngest possible in TK, and all his friends are staying preschool another year because not fall birthdays. Plus he only started in year ago due to the pandemic. Being an older kid in the class has developmental benefits you might look into, for example it tends to build confidence. 

We had a similar situation where our child was born a 5 weeks past the cutoff (Oct birthday).  We met with BUSD, several board members and teachers to try to get her in with the class she knew.  Unfortunately, at that time (9 years ago) the district had a very strict rule to deny children whose birthday did meet BUSD cutoffs.  We met with the Deputy Superintendent of Education at the time and she clearly told us that we had to do transition kindergarten or something else.  Also, all the private schools we spoke to at the time had similar guidelines and wouldn’t start children early.

I would not dissuade you from trying to advocate for your child (especially since they are so close to the cut-off) and BUSD could have relaxed its policies since our experience, but you should have a back-up plan ready.

Good luck!

As far as I know, it's a hard cut-off. They have to make it somewhere. They are not in the business of ascertaining whether kids are "ready". When I was a kid, they let me start Kindergarten at 4 years old (with a late October bday!) but those days are long gone. They will suggest TK (Transitional Kindergarten) for your son. FWIW, lots of parents are in the opposite camp as you - they're trying to find ways to delay their son's entry into K for a year (even if their bday makes the cutoff) so their son can be physically bigger, more mature, socially sophisticated, better at sports for their grade, etc... In those cases, I think public schools are subverting this by admitting those kids directly into 1st grade. All this to say, it is what it is. 

I am going though the same situation at a different school district. I disagree with all Bay Area parents who voice their opinions about other people’s children being better off staying in TK vs the child’s parents advocating for K with birthdays so close to the state’s arbitrary cut off date, which, by the way grossly, varies between many states. If you feel your child belongs in K, the best option is private school. Many do not adhere to the strict September 1st cutoff.  However if that’s not financially prudent, there are a few public schools (in neighboring towns) with policies to “skip” a grade, in this case TK. It will require strong persistence and constant follow-up without guarantees, but schools do have the policy in their handbook. Good luck.

My kid just started TK and turns 5 in early Sept, as does 2 classmates. Your kid won't be alone and will make new friends. You'll probably end up at different schools anyway. TK is NOT preschool. It is what Kindergarten used to be before "No Child Left Behind" and the pushing of our kids to learn too much too early. Enjoy the fact that your kid gets another year of fun childhood before testing and homework start. Down the road, you'll appreciate that your kid is the oldest in the class as opposed to the youngest. I teach at the secondary level and can see the difference for the kids with fall birthdays versus summer. 

However, I think the cutoff should be July 1 instead of Sept 1 so we don't have 4 year olds starting K/17 year olds going off to college - let's email our state reps who are the ones who set the Sept 1 cut off. :)