Agonizing over school decision

Kristina - posted on 01/29/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

24

2

2

We decided to send my 4 year old to KG next year. We live in CA, which has a very late cut-off date (Dec 2) and her birthday falls in late November. Technically, I can send her to school, but there are so many reasons not to (and so many reasons to send). I feel like this is the first major decision I am making in her life, and I don't want to screw it up. What do you think? Any words of reassurance (or if you think I am screwing up, tell me so).

Reasons to send her to school:
- Academically, she is ready. I don't know what her level of giftedness is, but we, her parents are no slouches academically (both hubby and I have PhDs in physics), and she is pretty smart.
- It would be so convenient to have her and her older sister at the same school
- Her peers are graduating from preschool this year, and conversely, neighborhood girls are starting KG this year
- At preschool, teachers report she is cooperative, friendly, manages frustration well

Reasons not to send her to school:
- She is very young
- She has sensory issues (diagnosed by OT) and perhaps anxiety issues as well. She has a difficult time separating from me and adjusting to new situations
- At home, she throws frequent tantrums and seems unable to deal with frustration

I don't know if one year will make a difference for her emotionally. I know structure helps her emotionally - her behavior completely deteriorated over the holiday break, but got much better when she went back to school.

Ironically, her older sister is late Oct birthday, so she was also young when we sent her to school. She is still young, and I wonder if an extra year would have given her more confidence (she is very shy), but she makes friends easily, and is thriving now in 2nd grade. Part of the decision to send her to school early is that I wanted the girls to be 3 grades apart (they are 3 years apart in age), and when we were making that decision 3 years ago, we thought that we will definitely send the younger one to school early, b/c she was so precocious as a baby/toddler. I just did not count on all the emotional baggage that went with it!

So, any thoughts, one way or another?

Kristina

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

21 Comments

View replies by

Sue - posted on 03/13/2009

3

1

0

My daughter was a late birthday for kindergarten.  While she easily could have handled the work and social ramifications, she would have been the youngest in the class.  Factoring in that she probably will double up at the high school level and graduate early, that put her at college at 16.  We left her to start when she was scheduled, and being the oldest in the class has worked out well for her confidence and academic successes.  She's now in 5th grade, in the GT and advanced classes, and at the top of her class.  We look for outside stimulus like Toshiba Exploravision, and Duke TIPS to keep her challenged.  And we have an extra year to save for college!

Tammy - posted on 03/13/2009

157

5

18

Stephanie it  sounds like your son might have had selective mutism (not talking in school).  My son has seelctive mutism and it is a socail anxiety disorder.  He is in third grade and just now started talking at school but won't talk to his friends away from school but chatters non stop at home.  If he feels insecure or threatened or afraid of sounding stupid he just won't talk.  Look into it and see if it fit with your son.

Stephanie - posted on 03/13/2009

2

0

0

Most responses seem to be for girls. I have 2 boys. My younger son is very animated, very social and the youngest (8/29 Bday with the cutoff at 9/1). He knows he is and just shrugs it off. There was much deliberation in sending him to KG last year. Problem was in PreK he wouldn't speak all day during class...it was like it was a battle to win with the teacher or something (a game?). I've yet to figure it out to this day. So here it is a kid that can go to KG, but isn't speaking. What do I do? Follow my gut, I put him in. I knew he was bright enough, well behaved enough and plenty ready to go for it. Turns out he was top of the class, a creative thinker, most well liked, & most social. He was tested for PFG along with many other kids in his class at the end of the year.. He turned out to be the only one to make it in. (there was a total of only 8 kids from 5 KG classes...and he was one of them.) Now we are on to 1st grade....he's flourishing and top of the class, Mr. Social the whole nine. I don't regret it a single bit.



My older son is very quiet, keeps to himself....dare I say his best friends are books!? LOL He is a younger one in class, but not THE youngest. One of the brightest in class yet has troubles with his own "inner demons"...basically a worry wart. He fears doing things wrong and getting laughed at. He has to be perfect at everything. He also is in the PFG program. (God help me...there's 2 of them! lol)



Current status....Both boys have "won" a lottery spot at the only Gifted Center School in our county. Our plan is to have them start there next year for 2nd & 3rd grade. (they are 15 months apart.) This is a huge change and I am nervous, but I have to go with my gut again....I just know they will LOVE the challenging environment amongst their gifted peers. Transition time is going to suck, but I feel this is best....even if the school is 40 minutes away. eeek. And good news...they are starting a Middle School for Gifted only next year. So we are on our way to challenging some brains! (I noticed that they get lazy in their regular classes, so this is very exciting!)



Sorry my thoughts are kinda of random. lol I have found being a mom of gifted boys can do that from time to time. ♥Steph

Kristina - posted on 03/11/2009

24

2

2

Thank you all for sharing your experiences.



My daughter is on a small side, but she is feisty and strong willed. friends don't seem to be as important to her as to her older sister, but we'll see how that changes in KG. Looks like the KG class size will grow next year, due to budget cuts, so we will have a bigger pool of kids to get along with.

[deleted account]

I didn't insist my daughter who is a Dec. baby and missed the cutoff date by 20 days be put into school early Although she is tiny for her age and was pretty shy at 5 yrs., She is one of the oldest and smallest in her class,,,also the most bored!



I totally regret it now. But, hopefully this (age thing) will help when she's dealing with teenage boys and she is a little older and wiser than they are. She is only 10 now, and thankfully she still thinks boys are gross!

Zoe - posted on 03/11/2009

39

6

0

I have an early Nov birthday and never call having a problem being the youngest.  It could have helped that I was the tallest, or the best reader.  Or that I am an extrovert?



As my daughter's preschool wanted her to skip "4 year old" preschool and go directly to preKinder, I was confident to start her in kinder with her late Sept birthday.  There was one child younger than her by 3 weeks (in first grade we have now met a couple of others).  My daughter has made some comments about being irritated that her best friend  is 9 months older than her, but turned down my offer to go back to kindergarten.  Her friend struggles with being bossy, which she will have to just work out.  The crazy thing is this friend with the late December birthday?  In kindergarten she was terrorized by a girl with a late Sept birthday.  Being the oldest and the largest didn't give her an edge.  She is high achieving academically, but this bully found all of her buttons.  The very youngest in kindergarten was BFFs with the oldest girl in class.  And that youngest girl was so critical of my daughter's art that my daughter stopped drawing for a while.  The bunch was out to break all the stereotypes!



In first grade she is still one of the top students, but I will admit that in the fall she found the rigors of first grade TOUGH.  Lunch and the long day..... stricter discipline... no free play.... wore her out.  She was really stressed out.  I homeschool across the summer, so I was pretty mad that she was too burnt to homeschool, but since they were reviewing for all the kids who summer backslide..... she did a fall backslide!  I felt like the first 2 months were a waste academically!  She is back on track now.



 



So in closing, working in the classroom I have seen that if social issues don't always get solved with time.  At least for girls, age is no predictor of success.  My experience is that the gifted kids need the academic challenge.

[deleted account]

Sounds like you have made the best choice for your family and for her!



I was also always the youngest in my class - but I still "matured" first - yeah mother nature can be nasty that way ;) but yes i got to drive last etc. I really did not care much at the time. maybe because here we cannot drive till 18 - and that was the final year of school anyway.



I was also so bored in pre-school and the school wanted to hold me back. my mom insisted I be allowed into 1st grade and even then I was top of the grade. Of course, I have never been shy - my mom tells me she insisted from the day I was born that I would be preococious and forward - she wanted me bold and sassy (she got her wish alright) and I am the same with Aiden - I want him to be self assured and all that. this is part of the reason why I am no longer down playing his abilities to other parents. If I want him to be proud of his own abilities, he needs to see that I am too.



(sorry for derailing the thread - went on a tangent there I suspect :D)

Rebekah - posted on 03/10/2009

163

12

26



As far as your questions go... I am not so concerned with the academic rigor of schools, but more with the fact that she will be the youngest in her classes from now til she graduates with whatever degree she receives. How will that affect her? How will it affect her self-confidence, self-image, given the other issues she has?





Kristina,



I wouldn't worry about her always being the youngest for it's own sake. If she's ready, she's ready. Being the youngest may not be a terrible thing in her situation, and I, for one, find it to be a silly criterion (along with physical size) to base such decisions upon.



I was nearly the youngest in my class all through elementary and high school. I believe the cut-off when I started was August 15 (My birthday is end of July) and at the entrance exam the school recommended my parents keep me back because I was shy and they were concerned about my social skills. My preschool teacher told them they would be crazy not to send me as I was already so far beyond the other kids in my preschool class (who were all going on to K). Even as one of the younger students I was bored through much of school and certainly didn't have a perfect experience. And, yeah, sometimes it was a drag being youngest. (getting your driver's license last is the most major) but I tended to have much older friends anyway, so it became less important. By the time I got to college there were kids younger than me in my class and it really didn't matter at all by that point anyway.



As to the social and other aspects you mentioned: guess what, 30 years later I'm still kind of shy! I don't think that's something that would have been affected AT ALL by starting school later. However, shyness (for me anyway) is not the same as a lack of self-confidence (other than confidence in introducing myself, LOL) or self-worth. I think since you know her anxiety could be an issue, you deal with that separately and put her in the class that will do work that's appropriate for her ability. Sounds like you have come to this conclusion, but I wanted to give you some reassurance that she probably won't be blaming this particular decision as the root of all her problems later in life!

Morag - posted on 03/10/2009

304

14

23

Jen, you story sounds so sad... I don't think there is anything "wrong" with him, but the schooling system loves to label. People forget that although gifted children can do intellectual work of children twice their age, they are still children of a particular age and mentally/emotionally aren't as advanced. A lot of emotional education/maturity is totally experienced based and that comes with time.

Most really gifted people have terrible trouble fitting in. I was nearly expelled quite a few times and mainly due to me taking some sort of offense to being treated like an idiot child and playing up. I hope you get things sorted with your son, sounds like he's just exceptionally bright and terribly misunderstood.

Deborah - posted on 03/10/2009

385

7

35

Wow Jen ... what a story and I have to wonder what happened that he was kicked out. Was it just that he wouldn't sit still or was there something more? You would think if it was his inability to sit still they would have allowed him to at least go back to the preschool to finish out the year and re-evaluate him for the next school year.

Through all the testing are you doing an IQ test? In the test you will have the IQ scores but also a maturity level. A lot of gifted children show knowledge beyond their years but have a maturity below their age. This might be what you are experiencing with your son.

Jennifer - posted on 03/10/2009

2

21

0

I am a CA mom and I experienced the same issues with my boy (in private school with a Sept 1 cutoff).  His birthday is in early August.  He is the youngest kid in the class and there are children MORE than a year older than him because parents choose to hold their kids back.



His teachers all HIGHLY recommended him for Kindergarten.  The pre-school was in the same private school and they each had 25 years of experience at that same school.  What could go wrong... right?



5 months later, he was asked to leave the school.  Not just hold the contract or repeat a year but simply put... he is no longer welcome in our community.  (His older sister is welcome and doing just fine)



We are doing a battery of tests (as requested by the same school) to find out what is "WRONG" with him... and if mother's instincts (and friends observations) have anything to do with it... thousands of dollars later... they are going to say "congratulations, its a boy" (nothing wrong but just smart as smart can be... he does his sister's math and he is bored but socially immature.)



I don't know if this story helps at all... I don't have an end, nor do I have advice.  The pre-school director is kicking herself for not holding him back for one more year to mature... but who knows.



You can't put a square peg in a round hole no matter the age of the peg.



In otherwords, it is impossible to figure out what is the "right" solution... I thought I did the right  thing but I was wrong.



Good luck.



Jen

Kristina - posted on 03/09/2009

24

2

2

Homeschooling? I always say that parenting (and educating) is much too important a job to be left up to amateurs. ;) I have such peace of mind knowing that certified professionals (not just certified, like me) are raising my children. LOL



 



Although.... I am currently teaching a graduate course in Computer Science, without ever having taken a CS course in my life, not to mention, ever having taken a *teaching* course in my life. Maybe I could teach kids?? Never mind, when I came in to my dd's 1st grade classroom to teach them about computer networking, I think I utterly failed.

[deleted account]

Sounds like the perfect candidate for homeschooling! There is no reason why you need to send her off to be raised by others when she wants and needs you (they always do!) and you can open up the world to her! Buy an annual pass and go to every discovery museum in the country if you like; go to the library and read, read, read; keep the girls together and teach them using a unit study approach...simply ask them what they want to learn about and then get books on the subject. You can pick up a math curriculum to guide this process easily at home. Our children are getting short changed when you can take care of that by teaching them at home.

Kira - posted on 02/02/2009

7

5

0

It sounds like you've decided to go for it.  Good for you!  And good for your daughter.  The best of luck

Kristina - posted on 02/02/2009

24

2

2

Thank you all for your feedback.



 



I have come to terms with my decision. What helped me was Hoagies web site. They have an entire page full of links to studies and position papers by every educational and child development organization in the US. ALL of the papers uniformly supported sending children to school when they become eligible. ALL of the studies were uniformly critical of 'redshirting' or holding children back as a matter of course. It went surprisingly against conventional wisdom, and calmed me down significantly.



http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/kindergarte...

Kylie - posted on 02/01/2009

148

1

16

It appears a bit different here in Aus, as most children commence Kindergarten at 5 turning 6, my two both turned 5 the year they started Kindy, so were two of the youngest in their year. Also here Kindergarten is not like pre-school at all, there is little play time, they actually start working from the first week at the school mine are in and honestly both seem to have coped fine both academically and socially.



My son does have a few issues with inattentiveness but I truly don't think that will change - I always had easily distracted on my report cards and only as an adult found issues interesting enough to hold my focus. Only you know your child but I did find the pre-school teacher's assessment the most helpful in making my final decision.



Good luck!

Kira - posted on 02/01/2009

7

5

0

We went through this same thing a few years ago.  My daughter's birthday is late October and the school's cutoff is the end of August.  I just couldn't see putting her through another year of preschool (where she was one of the older students) when the other kids weren' doing math, writing their names or recognizing them for that matter.  We had to go through petitioning and testing to get her in.  The psychologist really wanted us to think about what it would mean later on in school for her to be younger than the rest of the students, ie: driving later than her classmates, getting her period well after them, as well as other milestones.  Obviously, in the end we decided to send her, but we are trying to stay on top of any age issues that may come up.  A few of her classmates "baby" her a little bit or use her age to leave her out of activities.  Overall, I think it was a good decision socially and academically.



   If your school's cut off age is in December, there should be a fair number of students near your daughter's age or not too much older.  You have to consider whether another year of preschool is going to keep her moving or not.



  Hope this helps :)



 

Deborah - posted on 01/29/2009

385

7

35

"As far as your questions go... I am not so concerned with the academic rigor of schools, but more with the fact that she will be the youngest in her classes from now til she graduates with whatever degree she receives. How will that affect her? How will it affect her self-confidence, self-image, given the other issues she has?'

I wasn't really suggestion rigor as the problem but usually at 1st grade you have a different approach to the learning process. They are required to do more sit down work and not as much play time.

But as for your additional questions I do have to smile. I have had those same questions brought to my attention about my own daughter. Depending on the level of gifted the being the youngest can really not be the issue b/c a lot of these students in the highly gifted need to be accelerated. Of course this is up to the parent's and their comfort zone. So maybe you consider that with the decision. But as far as answering the questions ... I couldn't say. Some children find age not really the problem but fitting in has more to do with finding equal peers and that really has nothing to do with age. It really is an individual child situation and you know your child better than anyone.

I know I haven't been much of a help LOL ... but maybe someone else can give you something more. I will say this ... in line with knowing your child the best and the fact that you are asking these questions makes me think you kind of know the answer and you think she would benefit from not starting early.

Kristina - posted on 01/29/2009

24

2

2

Deborah, thank you for your reply. I appreciate your insights.



As far as your questions go... I am not so concerned with the academic rigor of schools, but more with the fact that she will be the youngest in her classes from now til she graduates with whatever degree she receives. How will that affect her? How will it affect her self-confidence, self-image, given the other issues she has?



Our KG is full day (8-2:30pm), but she is not in a full day preschool (8:30-5:30pm), and high on my priority list is getting a nanny to pick the girls up from school. My oldest has the longest day - 8am-6pm - but we cannot hire the nanny until they are both at the same school (the preschool is just too far from our elem school). That is also heavily playing into the decision to send her to school.



 

Deborah - posted on 01/29/2009

385

7

35

It really is a hard decision but the key flags for me in your post is that she got much better when she went back to school. So maybe she needs school more than not. Also consider that kindergarten is still more like preschool than regular school. It is the adjustment time for them. So as far as kindergarten is concerned I think it is not such a big jump for her ... the big question: Is it a half day or full day program? If half day than you might be fine but full day might be too much for her. Just some thoughts ....

Also, in my opinion, the issue isn't so much Kindergarten but more bring 1st grade a year sooner because this is now getting into the academic realm of school. If that makes sense? What a difference a year can make and by next year she might be perfectly fine in 1st grade, but if she does show signs of problems adjusting it can be an issue.

So it really is a hard decision. My child's b-day is in August and our State's cutoff is September so we are in the same boat. I could push to start her earlier but I doubt I would b/c she already would be one of the youngest in her class. But I do know at this point, anyway, that I plan to start her at age 5.

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms