Summer birthday. When to start school?

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. 

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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.

Like others have said, it depends a lot on the kid - I know kids with late summer birthdays (including all 3 of mine, one of whom is about to graduate from high school) who started school at 4 or barely 5 and have excelled; I know kids who were held back a year and excelled; I know kids who started early and had to repeat a year; and I know kids who started late and were bored out of their minds and acted out. You'll get a better sense of your own kid's personality, maturity and learning readiness as she progresses through preschool, and your preschool teachers will also be able to provide good input a little closer to school time about whether they think she's ready to move on to kindergarten. If you feel she's not quite ready, TK is a good option.

My daughter has an early August birthday and we opted to send her to Kindergarten on the younger side.  I am glad we did because she hit puberty right around 12 and I think it would have been very hard for her to be tall and more developed than all the boys and most of the girls in her class entering 6th grade.  I don’t think she’s been impacted negatively in terms of academics but I do think she’s potentially a bit more immature socially than some of her peers.  But that disadvantage is not always a negative in my opinion.  In short, we’re glad we made the call but of course every kid is different!  

I feel like this is a very individual decision.  My now seventh grade son has an August birthday, and started on time. He was sadder about leaving both preschool and elementary school than many of his friends, as well as his spring-birthday sister, probably because he felt less ready. But overall, I think I made the right call. Several factors went into my decision not to delay. First of all, from his verbal and quantitative skills, I could tell he was going to be advanced academically even starting at five, and I worried that if I waited, he’d be too far ahead and be more bored by the curriculum. Also, he had a good attention span and self-control for his age, so I thought he could manage. And he has. He never gets in trouble and the academics have come easily to him, as I expected. He has plenty of close friends and gets along with his classmates and teachers. But he is slightly young-seeming in some ways. I think he’ll be later than many of his friends to hit puberty and leave childhood behind. He’s also not great at sports, and being older might have helped a bit there, though I think it’s mostly just my athletically unfortunate genes. I’d look at where your daughter is developmentally —reading readiness, ability to listen and follow directions, ability to sit still, impulsivity, etc— and decide from there whether the extra year would help her.  

I have two kids with late summer birthdays, one girl and one boy, and both have been very happy in elementary school, both socially and academically.  It really depends on the kid. Some kids would be much worse off waiting a whole year and being the oldest kid in school. Others would benefit. Sometimes it's hard to know until your kid is closer to kindergarten. Preschool teachers can be very helpful in thinking about this too. You could pick a 3 year school so you have the option, and then decide closer to the time. 

I agree with others who say you are worrying about this too early.  If you like the preschool then go ahead and take her there. Things change fast in kids, so what you think of your kid now will change as she's changing and her personality becomes more defined. My daughter's bday is in September, so she was the youngest in her kindergarten class at a private school (Oakland public schools don't allow 4 year olds in kindergarten even if they'd turn 5 a day after school started!). She is very tall, and is second tallest kid in her class even though she's the youngest. And, she started showing signs of puberty at a tender age of 7.5 - apparently, this isn't out of the ordinary these days (her primary doctor told us this is the lower boundary for the start of puberty for girls in the US).  

If your kid is academically inclined and tall, consider starting them in kinder sooner than later. It also depends which school you'd take her to: if it's a very academic kind of school then an older child would have a better chance to do well there, but a more balanced/laid back environment would be great for a slightly younger kid.  Honestly, you'll never know until you really do it.  But, there'd no terrible harm that would be done by choosing either. :) 

Once upon a time, the K cutoff wasn't until December, so my late October daughter started K when she was 4, a few months shy of turning 5. K was a bit hard for her, especially in terms of fine motor skills: she had difficulty learning to write neatly. But by 1st grade was mostly caught up and now, as a sophomore in high school, has a 4.0 and excels in her classes and clubs, despite being one of the youngest in her class. It obviously depends a bit on the child but, all things being equal, if often all comes out in the wash. I wouldn't say she had any particular trouble by the time she was well into elementary school and certainly not in middle school or high school. So don't worry too much - just do what feels right for you child and family. 

Thanks so much for all the guidance here. The information about pre-K and the experiences so many of had with their summer birthday kids is helpful. I'll wait until our daughter is older before deciding, but it seems like most summer birthdays just start kindergarten at 5 and do well.