Starting Kindergarten Early

Cassie - posted on 02/23/2010 ( 43 moms have responded )

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I'm not sure if this has been discussed before or not...

How do you feel about your children starting kindergarten early? Typically in the US (I'm not sure of kindergarten ages for other countries), children begin kindergarten when they are five or six years old. What is your opinion on children starting kindergarten when they are only four years old if they will be turning five within the first few months of school?

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[deleted account]

W/out yet reading any replies....

I think it depends on the child. Our 'cutoff' date is August 1, but any child that turns 5 between August 2 and December 31 can start and be called a Jr Kindergartener. Which is the exact same thing, in the same class, except it is more 'acceptable' if they need 2 years of K. If they don't, they go straight to First....

My girls were Jr K (December 13 bday) and then went to First the next year. We debated a bit on whether or not to send them, but it was the right decision for us and them. Academically they were BEYOND ready and they've always been very sociable. Now... if they had MY personality it would've been a harder decision to make since I am beyond antisocial. I do still wonder how it will effect them when they are in Jr High and High School, but as 3rd graders who just recently turned 8... they are still doing quite well. :)

[deleted account]

I HATE hearing that your kindgergarteners have so much homework! When I was teaching the "rule" was 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Meaning 1st grade - 10 minutes. 2nd grade - 20 minutes and so on. When I taught fourth grade it was almost a challenge to think of enough stuff to assign for 40 minutes of homework...lol. My students usually got off easy. I don't believe in homework unless it helps the parents see what is going on in the classroom (ex. short worksheet with math exercises) or it is helping the students learn to study (ex. making vocabulary flashcards).

I think assigning so much homework for these 5 & 6 year olds is the perfect way to ensure they hate school and learning. That is exactly what our society needs (rolls eyes).

Cassie - posted on 02/23/2010

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See, at the different schools I've worked in, the kindergartners have no free time throughout the day other than "free choice" reading period where they are allowed to look at some books quietly for some time at their seats. They also have homework every night and if it is not completed, they stay inside during their lunch recess the next day to finish it. Even as an educator, I find it highly inappropriate what is expected of our children at such a young age!

Cassie - posted on 02/23/2010

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I don't think a child should start kindergarten at age 4. Even if they will be turning 5 a few weeks or months after school starts, I think it is best to wait one more year until they are actually 5 closer to 6.



I believe that in today's society, children need to go to preschool for at least one year before they begin kindergarten but I don't think children should be pushed into kindergarten too early. Today, kindergarten is entirely different than it was when we were in school.



Here are my reasons for why a four year old should not be placed in kindergarten:

-Kindergartners are often only given a lunch recess, maybe one more short recess.

-There is not a free-play time in most kindergarten classrooms anymore.

-Children are pushed very hard to read and write all day (even if they are not developmentally ready).

-The kindergarten curriculum has become very demanding on young children and can add a lot of undue stress and pressure to a four year old or a newly five year old.





I think children can really benefit from waiting an extra year until they are close to or already are 6 years old to begin kindergarten. I think physically and emotionally, they are much more ready for the rigors of kindergarten in today's classrooms.

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Mary - posted on 02/26/2010

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I really think it depends on the child. Where I live, I think the cut-off is now 5 by Sept 30th. My daughter is a November baby, which means she will be turning 6 shortly after she starts. One big difference now is that kindergarten is now all day, as opposed to only being a half day when I was a child. I was 4 when I started, and turned 5 after the first month. I do have vague memories of being smaller than a lot of the kids, and not posessing the manul dexterity to perform some tasks, such as tying my shoes. My mother said I would cry in frustration because I knew what an "S" was supposed to look like, but I simply couldn't make it right. Again, it was only a half day, and my issues were about physical development, not intellectual. By first grade, most of these were sorted out, so I had no long-term issues with self-esteem.



I do think this is a bigger factor with boys, as they tend to develop a bit more slowly than girls. I believe that the schools here moved the cut-off age back because they found that many parents were having to hold a child back in those early years, not beacuse they weren't "bright", but because they weren't developmentally ready.

Jocelyn - posted on 02/25/2010

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I think it depends entirely on if the child is ready or not. My son is a January baby, so he will be starting kindergarten when he is 5.5 years old (turning 6) instead of sending him at 4.5 (turning 5) I am choosing to put him in later because he is a boy (and they generally mature slower than girls) and I want him to be fully ready. He is also the first born and quite clingy lmao. But omg I cannot wait until he is in school!!! I am going to send him to preschool next september (he will be 3.5) and if in one year he is excelling in everything, then I may change my mind and put him in school early. It depends. My daughter on the other hand (october baby) will be 4 (turning 5) when I put her in school (due to maturity level, being the second child etc).

[deleted account]

Yes everyone has to do what's best for their family, but that's my opinion. In the UK it's very easy to live with only one parent working and lots of single parent families have to do that too. Of course the benefits available in different countries vary but at the end of the day I wanted to look after my own child. My husband and I created our son so one of us should care for him. We're lucky that he gets a decent wage so that I don't have to work. Yes some people don't have the choice but that doesn't mean everyone agrees with it. Just the same as if I had a pet I wouldn't put it in a pet daycare centre, children are the parents responsibility. I suppose to sum it all up I couldn't imagine not being a stay-at-home mam and I'm so happy it can be that way.

Krista - posted on 02/25/2010

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I'm really not sure what school is like here in Nova Scotia. I know that to start Primary (which is basically Kindergarten), they have to be age 5 on or before December 31st of that year. Sam was born in August, so I'll have to see at that time if I think he's ready. I have no qualms about delaying it if I don't think he's ready yet. Depending on where I wind up working (I'm jobseeking right now), I might wind up putting him in a preschool program at our local Y when the time comes.

And Jennifer?

I think going to nursery at this age is vital for social skill development but I don't agree with babies/toddlers being put in a creche all day whilst parents work. My friend works in a creche and there's babies as young as 6 weeks old there.


That's an entirely other subject for debate, but some parents just don't have the choice. My husband and I make equal, but extremely modest, salaries. There is just no way that we could make ends meet on one income. And I'm not talking about luxuries like cable or designer clothes. I'm talking about food, mortgage, power bill -- the bare necessities. If I get this new job for which I've applied, my little guy will wind up in daycare at 7 months old. It breaks my heart, but you do what you have to do.

Amy - posted on 02/25/2010

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do they still have tests for school level entry? When i moved we had to test to see where our abilities/levels were at to know what grade to put us in. neither my sister or i went to kindergarten because we were home with our mom. not sure if it qualified as "home schooling" or not. she taught us 123,abcs, colors, how to read, etc. If the child is ready, get a jump start on education. i don't think it will hurt anything if the child is eager for it and ready.

Charlene - posted on 02/25/2010

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Joy, I am absolutely astounded by how much homework that is! Here in Calgary a lot of kindergarten, elementary and middle schools banned homework altogether.

I remember when I was in kindergarten we went for half days at 5 years old. We started in September and the cut off date age wise was January 31st of the following year.

We had homework every night too, but it was REALLY simple homework. One night we had to ask our parents who the first person to walk on the moon was because there was a shuttle launch that night. Another night was to draw a picture of a bridge because the Confederation Bridge was being built that year. There were nights when homework was just to practice tying our shoes or practice writing our names.



PEI is changing their kindergartens around now. They used to be in the private sector but now they are moving them into public schools so it will br full days now but I'm not sure what will happen homework wise. I think it's crazy to push kids so hard right from the get go. I don't know about everywhere else, but preschool is not mandatory on PEI. Until this year, kindergarten wasn't either.

Lady - posted on 02/25/2010

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Deffinatley agree - if it's what you're used to then it's what you're prepared to happen so it's just normal.

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Its been the norm for so long in my area that it doesnt feel so young. I started school at three too. Mind when my youngest started in september he had only just had his third birthday and i wished i could ve kept him home for a few more months but i think that was my insecurities because he was ready for school he'd had enough of hanging round with me all day lol.

Lady - posted on 02/25/2010

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Three is so young - I had no idea they started so early in Wales. I'm not sure I could cope with having my children away from me for so long at such a young age. Isn't it funny than in a country as small as Britain we have completley different ways of doing things. I already knew Scotland and England were different - I wonder how Ireland do it lol!

[deleted account]

I live in Wales and my sons all started school when they were three years old they were in playgroup for a year before that. We dont have pre school they just go straight into proper school at three from 9 in the morning til half three in the afternoon. My youngest started in september and he wasnt very happy so i moved him to another school and he loves it now.

Alison - posted on 02/24/2010

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I gotta say that if my kindergartner brought homework home, I would totally boycott. Who comes up with these ideas?

Here in Quebec, a child needs to go through testing by a psychologist in order to get in early (I think the cut-off is October 1st). I think that makes sense. Some kids really are ready, and those who are not should not be pushed.

I think that Junior-K thing with an option of repeating is perfect! Test the waters and see how they do.

Personally, I was always bored in school, so I am always concerned about my child being sufficiently challenged and stimulated. At the same time, I probably was not socially mature enough to start early.

[deleted account]

In the UK children can go to nursery paid for by the government at the age of 3-4 years old. Usually it's 5 half days per week - most nurserys have a morning one 9:30am-12pm and an afternoon one 1pm-3:30pm. I think going to nursery at this age is vital for social skill development but I don't agree with babies/toddlers being put in a creche all day whilst parents work. My friend works in a creche and there's babies as young as 6 weeks old there.

JL - posted on 02/24/2010

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Here Pre-K and Kindergarten are full time. It is 5 days of week and goes from 8:00 to 3:15. They have one recess that is after lunch. Tuesdays and Thursdays they go to a 30 minute PE class, Wenesdays they go to a 30 minute Art class and Fridays they have music. The rest of the time they are in class working on language arts, spelling, math, science, and social studies.



In Kindergarten here they are graded on a numerical grading scale. They do not grade based on E's, U's, or S's. They get number grades like older kids. They get weekly graded progress reports and they also get report cards with numerical grades. On my daughters last report card her lowest grade was a 95.



My daughter is in First Grade this year and the homework as not got any lighter.In fact she has the addition of numeous class projects. I have purchased so much poster board this year it is ridiculous.



In our school system the kids start doing county, state and federal assesment exams in the 2nd grade. A week of school is dedicated to testing and funding for schools is based off of testing results so teachers are pressured to get kids prepared and ready for the testing. Schools have adopted curriculums for Kindergartners that are basically preparing kids for assesment exams. THe No Child Left Behind Act has been and is a joke.



I have taught kids before and as most teachers know testing is not an exact accurate way to asses every child's ability or level of knowledge because some kids are just not good at testing and testing does not measure their learning ability or the way kids process information.



Learning should be fun and interesting not so test based oriented

Christine - posted on 02/24/2010

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In MI, kids can start at 4 if they turn 5 on or before December 1st. I have a son with a December 10th birth date and I thought this is so unfair all his friends will be in school and he will be one year behind. But after talking to my daughters kindergarten teacher she says if I was able to get him into school sooner I wouldn't be doing him any favors that a lot of kids especially boys do better waiting until they are 5 going on 6. A close friend held her August birthday daughter back and started her in kindergarten at 6, she felt emotionally her daughter just wasn't ready.
Me personally I would rather wait a year and know my son or daughter is emotionally ready than push them at this young of an age. But sometimes one kid might not be ready but another is, as a parent I think you know what is good/right for your child more so than anyone else. I love the full time kindergarten program in our district, there is learning time, play time and breaks so the kids don't get over whelmed. My daughter loves school and says she has fun everyday.

Jodi - posted on 02/24/2010

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Oh, if I could add, I am talking Kindergarten, not Pre-school. She attended pre-school last year.



In Australia, where I live anyway, kids do kindergarten, then they do 6 years at primary school, and six years at high schol, so kindergarten is the 7th year in primary school??? Does that make sense?

Jodi - posted on 02/24/2010

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Wow.....I am going to go off and think about this one and get back tomorrow. Because my daughter is only turning 5 in March, and she started school 3 weeks ago.......and I am actually perfectly comfortable with that. But it is so late at night here, I don't have the energy to try to explain WHY I am ok with it right now ;) But unless you have been there with your own children at that age (because they are the ONLY children you know best), then really, you don't know what you would decide to do. Just remember, some people choose to PUSH their children into school because it is a fantastic, and generally free, daycare facility, and these children don't necessarily do that well.

But there are also a lot who are sent beause they are ready. Believe me, my daughter was ready. I have a step-son who wasn't, so he was closer to 6 when he started, and that was a very serious and considered discussion between my husband and myself. I think our gut tells us when our children are ready.

It really is a very individual thing. I'm sorry, I am pissed that my sister-in-law judged me for sending my daughter to school before she was 5, because she has a March birthday (our school year in Australian starts in February), but as her mother, I KNOW she is ready.

Cassie - posted on 02/24/2010

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Gillian, at our school, the PreK goes to school everyday just as the rest of the school, from 9-3:30. The PreK gets a quiet/nap time after lunch but attends school for the entire day.

The kindergarten is also 9-3:30 with no naps/quiet time, and 1 recess after lunch which is taken away if the homework isn't done the night before. There is no free activity time in kindergarten, just math, reading, social studies, science, and then the specials occur once a week such as art, gym, and music.

This is how PreK and kindergarten are at all schools in my area and the other schools in the state that I have worked in.

Lady - posted on 02/24/2010

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Joy I can hardley believe the amount of homework your child gets - that's so much more than my 9 year old gets - it's almost more than my 11 year old gets and he's now in high school - how on earth does she cope?
Just out of curiosity how long do children have in preK - my four year old goes to a pre school three days a week - from 9-3.30 on tues and 9-12 wed thurs. Other children go more often but it's up to parents to decide. The government pay for all 3 and 4 year olds to get 15 hours of free pre school - if you want more than that you have to pay for it yourself. How does this compare to other countries?

Sarah - posted on 02/24/2010

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My daughter started school at 4yrs. She is one of the very youngest in her class. She turned 4 in July and started school in September.
There was no question in my mind really that i would send her. She had been going to nursery, was getting on very well with her letters and numbers and etc. She was TOTALLY ready to go to school.

The first week they just had morning sessions, the second week afternoons. (some schools do this for up to 6 weeks) she was absolutely fine, no tears (except a few from me! lol)

I think it's entirely dependent on the child. You know whether your child will cope or not, if you think they're not ready, you can wait until they're 5. :)

Meghan - posted on 02/23/2010

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hi there, im from good ol' New Zealand :)

over here we have nursery/preschool, kindy, then school. my son started pre school, at 16 months. he is now 3 and at kindy 15 hours a week (6 hours monday and tuesday, 3 hours on friday) - he started kindy at 2.5 yrs. kindy is about getting ready for school when you hit 5 yrs old. there is no homework, its just some where for them to play, socialise, learn new things along side there peers and teachers saftly. Xavier loves it there. typically they go to kindy all 5 days a week at 4 yrs old, in prep for school. school generally starts at 5yrs, but you can choose to leave them out till they are 6.

Lise - posted on 02/23/2010

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I am for it if the child is ready. My parents didn't do so with me, and I was BORED in school. They can always redo Kinder if need be.

[deleted account]

This is slightly off topic, but I'm still amazed that some places only have K for 2.5 hours a day. We don't even have preschools that are that short... or not every day.

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Jenny, I think we are in agreement. Your daughter just happened to have a wonderful kindergarten experience, unlike some others who posted. :)

Jenny - posted on 02/23/2010

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That is why it is good to have a variety of ideas brought to the kids so they don't bored and repeated to help them retain the information. At least that's how it was at my daughter's school. They did lots of crafts and had gym every day to burn off steam. Most kids can handle 2.5 hours in a day of these sorts of activities just fine. It helps set the foundation for later learning.



This year they introduced full day kindergarten in my area. My son will experience that in three years. He is a January baby though so it will be hard to equate his experience to my daughter's.

[deleted account]

I don't think anyone here is underestimating their children's potential. We have to recognize that children are not developmentally ready for certain things and not try to push them and stress them out. I'm not suggesting that we make the school day all fun and play. But young kids have short attention spans and 15 minues of doing repetitive math problems won't make them learn math. Understanding of certain concepts is very developmental and should be taught when kids can grasp that concept, not when they can just memorize the steps. That is a recipe for disaster as kids can become very frustrated and give up and learn to hate school.

Jenny - posted on 02/23/2010

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I think we need to stop coddling our children in the education department. Some children can handle it, some cannot. I did not send my daughter to preschool as I don't deem it neccessary unless there is no other outlet for social interaction for the child. My daughter's birthday is Dec. 26th and we started her in school at 4 years.



She has excelled. She was reading off the charts by the time the year was over and was thrilled to be there. The students did have homework but only once in awhile and pretty basic stuff. The field trips were definately one of her favourite parts and she loved just getting to ride in a school bus.



I don't think it's fair to children to underestimate their potential but I do understand they all have different needs.

Cassie - posted on 02/23/2010

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Sharon, what you described "2 recesses, lunch recess, & rest/nap time for kindergartners." is exactly how a kindergarten should be!!! With learning through play incorporated in the lessons throughout the day!

Carly - posted on 02/23/2010

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Wow, I can't believe what these poor little kids have to put up with in the schools you guys are talking about!! 5 nights of homework??!! If it was like that here I would just say screw it and homeschool her!!!

Sharon - posted on 02/23/2010

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Some kids are more than ready @ 4. Some aren't ready even @ 6.



My oldest would probably have been ready when he was 7. As it was we shoved him out the door when he was 5 because he was driving me nuts at home. Its sad I know. But he was SUCH a handful and with the new baby, new house, new problems, I just wanted his hyperactivity to be someone elses issue.



But that was us. I was ready @4. Maturity wise, educational wise. In Kindergarten I was devouring books for 3rd graders and math for 2nd graders. My oldest is the same but maturity wise - nuh uh. no way.



My younger son did great @5. 4 would have been to early. 6 would have been to late.



My daughter started @6 because of the cut off date. She was ready @4. Reading books, doing math, vocabulary skills, maturity wise.. she was more than ready 6 and her teachers had a hard time keeping her occupied because she got bored so quickly.



Our school is very rural with rural values. 2 recesses, lunch recess, & rest/nap time for kindergartners.



I think the parents need to be the judge of what is best for their kids. Lucky for my oldest - the kindergarten teacher was my SIL - one reason why we pushed him into Kindergarten when we did was because we knew he'd get a little extra understanding from her.



Any place else, any other teacher - we would have kept him back.

Cassie - posted on 02/23/2010

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That sounds exactly like the kindergartens in the schools I've worked in. This is the reason we will wait until our children are closer to 6 to start them in kindergarten.

The kindergartens in the US seem to be geared more towards preparing our children to test successfully once they reach 3rd grade than towards adjusting them to be lifelong learners.

JL - posted on 02/23/2010

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My experience with kindergarten is similiar to Cassie's.

Here Kindergarten is very educationally structured as well as Pre-K and there is hardly any free time at all in class besides recess, that is unless you did not do your homework or got in trouble then you have no recess.

Even lunch time is short and structured. My daughter had a load of homework in Kindergarten last year and she was 5 when she started Kindergarten. The load of homework stressed her out at first and brought her to tears on some days and I had to go to her teacher to ask to scale back some of it so my kid would not have a breakdown.

Her Kindergarten homework consisted of..Mondays: writing telling sentences for her 8 spelling words, reading for 15 minutes, and doing 10 math problems. Tuesday: doing 8 fill in the blank language questions, 2 graphing problems and 15 minutes of computer work. Wednesday: she had to read a book and write a book report. She had to write 3 to 5 sentences explaining the beginning, middle and end of the book and then illustrate her favorite part and she had a 5 question math worksheet. Thursday: she had to write her spelling words 3 times each and study for her spelling test on Friday and then do 15minutes of computer work. By Friday my 5 year old was ready to scream and say screw school.

So you many want to check out the curriculum structure for the Kindergarten program your kids will be enrolled in because in many US schools they are now advanced and operating on what used to be a 1st grade curriculum level.

Cassie - posted on 02/23/2010

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I definitely agree that a child really benefits from starting preschool or Pre-kindergarten around age 3. I just worry, at least with the schools that I've worked in, that a child who is still 4 or has just turned 5 would really struggle in the long run starting kindergarten with all that is expected of our kindergartners today.

[deleted account]

We have preschool for 4 year old's in KS...our district also offers a 3 year old preschool for only 25 bucks for the whole year...so needless to say Carleigh will be in that and then the 4 year old preschool then kindergarten...I think the earlier they can start the better...

Carly - posted on 02/23/2010

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My daughters birthday is near the end of September so when she began Junior Kindergarten she was actually 3 years old. I was a bit nervous at first with her being so young but it turned out to be a really great thing for her. She is incredibly sociable so being amongst all the kids and teachers was really exciting. She also loves to learn and every day would be talking my ear off about all the fun things she did that day.
However from reading previous posts I think our kindergartens here in Canada may be different from others. While there is structure (gym, library, circle time, outside time) there is also alot of time for free play. Homework is a rarity, though we do independent learning at home to further her knowledge of the subjects taught at school (it thrills her!!) Also reading and writing is not pushed but is made to be fun through circle and crafts.
In sum, I think our version of kindergarten is perfect for young kids, it helps them to blossom and grow, become more social and also more knowledgeable of the world around them.

Lady - posted on 02/23/2010

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In Scotland (where I,m origanally from) children start school at around 5 - as long as their fifth birthday is before march the following year - so a lot of kids are still four but quite a lot will be 5 or nearly five. In England though - (where I live now) the cut off date is different and it's as long as they turn 5 before the next september. So a huge number of children start school at age 4. I feel this is far to young an age to start and as my first son is a July baby he had just turned 4 when he was due to start school. Holding them back a year is not an option as they will be put straight into year one and completly skip reseption - the first year of school. Luckily I managed to find a school where they had two intakes and he didn't start until after christmas (4 1/2) but I still felt he was too young. My two daughters are october babies so thankfully are almost 5 when starting school - my youngest daughter starts this september - and they are so much more ready for it by that age although I'm not sure if I am. I hate to think what I'll be like when in four years time my little baby will be heading off to school too!

Lindsay - posted on 02/23/2010

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My son falls into this category. Or he will as he has an August birthday. He started PreK this school year 2 days after his 3rd birthday. So when he's eligible for kindergarten, he'll be starting right around the time he turns 5. Unless his PreK teacher advises us differently when the time comes, he will go ahead and start Kindergarten. He will have 2 years of PreK under his belt and will move up in the school. If he goes through one year of kindy and we don't feel he's ready for 1st, we will repeat or put him in a K-1 split class. Some kids thrive in Kindergarten and some struggle but it's hard to know how they will handle it until they are actually in that setting. Mine is thriving with a structured PreK and I have a feeling he will once he gets to full-day classes as well.

[deleted account]

It's not about age or intelligence. It's about maturity. It can mess a kid up to start school early if they are not mature enough for it. And it's not a bad thing to hold a kid back a year in pre-k or kindergarten if they need another year to mature. It's much better than falling behind when they are in 1st or 2nd and being held back then.

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