Friday, May 6, 2011

The Great Kindergarten Debate

Photo by the lovely Cherise.

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile now but I've been distracted lately. Clark and I have a decision to make and we need advice. I'm begging for your advice. Please, please, please... tell us what to do!

Whether or not to start Booker in Kindergarten this year.

I'm so torn. I feel like this is the biggest decision I'll ever make. One that will affect him for the rest of his life. And I thought I had it figured it out, but now I'm not so sure.
You see, Booker will be turning five on August 9th. He meets the cut off to start Kindergarten this fall by just a few weeks. But does that mean he should?

Reasons to Start this Fall...
-He's dying to go to school and keeps talking about the day he turns five and can finally ride the school bus.
- He is aware that several of his friends will be starting Kindergarten and imagines he will be too.
- This year, he's done both preschool and Joy School. That means he's had some form of school every day except Fridays. This has worked out really well for us both. He needs the structure and the social interaction on a daily basis. I need the break from trying to keep him entertained. And l
et's be honest, I'm not prepared to offer him the same schedule of fun and educational activities on my own... I'm just not that kind of mother.
- I don't have anything else lined up for him school-wise next year. Does anyone have any recommendations or know of any openings at a local preschool?
- I was always young for my class (with a birthday at the end of October) and I did just fine.
- He's a tall kid and I'm not worried about him fitting in physically.
- Academically, I think he'll be alright. It's not like they learn much in Kindergarten anyways, right?
- Lastly, do I really want three kids at home with me for an entire year?

Reasons to hold him back...
- I wouldn't exactly call him an emotionally mature kid. I'm worried that he's not ready to hang with the other kids. Also, he still can't wipe his own bum but that might have more to do with my own neurotic cleanliness issues and less to do with his Kindergarten readiness.
- If we hold him back, he might fall at the top of his class next year (intellectually, socially, emotionally, etc) rather than the bottom. Is it better to be one of the older kids as opposed to the being the youngest?
- Once he starts school, that's it. There's no going back. I'm handing him over to someone else for the next 13 years. He'll have plenty of time to learn things at school, but how much time will he have to learn things here at home? Maybe I want this one year to keep him all to myself.
- It would be all day Kindergarten and the thought of being separated from Booker that long fills me with terrible anxiety. I wish there was a half day option.
- I'm not ready to let him go.

So there you have it. I realize that whatever we decide might not matter much in the long run anyways, but right now it feels so important. So please, friends and strangers alike- flood me with your advice, your own experiences, your thoughts. I'm especially interested to hear from those who have kids with August & September birthdays.

Also, I'm hoping to hear from moms and dads with kids currently at Estes Elementary. Am I right about the cut off dates and about full day Kindergarten? If we decide to enroll him this fall, what do we need to do? Obviously, we've never done this before and any guidance is appreciated.

Thank you, thank you!


the coltons said...

probably not the comment you are hoping for, but my birthday is at the end of september and i didn't go to a single day of preschool or joy school or any kind of school and i did just fine. i have started thinking about preschool for kate but i haven't done anything serious about it at all...

and i absolutely understand what you said about not wanting to let him go yet (13 years and such) AND i'm just not that kind of mom, either :) not even close!!!

Tiffany said...

ok, so I don't meet any of the criteria to comment besides being a friend and since i've never been in your situation, my advice probably isn't worth much but i'll give it to you anyways. First off, I can totally understand both sides. Right now, I can't imagine entertaining 3 kids at home for a whole year. I'd go insane and that alone would propel me to put him in kindergarten. Secondly, do you really think you'll ever be ready to send him off to school? Is a year really going to make a difference? I already fear ben walking home from school one day only to be snatched by some lunatic stranger. Or by someone who jumped the fence while he was outside during PE. Do people really do that or am I overly dramatic? I'm going to have some serious issues in 3 years. Lol. Good luck! I say hello kindergarten!

Anonymous said...

I was always the oldest in my class and I can say I did not love it. I always felt like I SHOULD be a year ahead if I was old enough to be a year ahead. Plus Booker is super smart and will definitely be the cool kid in class so I say kindergarten!!

Ps. Asher is BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations! I can't wait to meet him..


blaine and michelle said...

My Asher has an early September birthday and so will be turning 6 pretty much immediately upon starting kindergarten, and I'm really glad. He's not "behind" but he's definitely somewhere in the middle. I remember always feeling smart and I want the same for him. I think it makes school a much more positive experience if you're not always trying to catch up. So I figure if he's got a year on the rest of them, awesome. But I'm sure your Booker will do great no matter when he begins and you'll make the right decision for your family. Good luck!

Carly said...

Daniel and I have already started this debate for Sadie. Daniel wants to hold her back and I want to put her in Kindergarten. I loved being young- it made me feel smart that I was younger and did just as well or better than my classmates. It definitely affected me in sports when I was older and didn't go through puberty until I was a sophomore in high school.

Have you had him evaluated by any professionals (I'm not sure what exactly their title would be- school/occupational/speech therapists)? I know when my parents were trying to decide when I should start Kindergarten they brought me to this day of testing (physical, intellectual, and social tests) where they gave a recommendation.

Daniel's opinion- if you want him to be a professional athlete, you should wait to start school.

Michelle said...

This is an easy one.
Bryton's (now 17) birthday is August 13th. Being a boy, I wanted him to be the oldest - the leader - the more mature one - have the pysical advantage if he wanted to play sports.
I was a single mom when it was time to start Kindergarten. He made the cut off by 2 weeks. I held him back. Made sure he was in a preschool class that would keep his attention. It was the BEST decision I ever made for him. I talked to him about it the other day and he even "thanked" me for giving him the advantage!!
And now... He has 1 year before his mission... and I get him home for it. :) I'm so glad I'm not losing him this year.

Cherise said...

I have confidence that you will do whatever you feel inspired and whatever you feel is right for Booker :) I know logistically it should make sense -one way or another... (no matter what anyone says each child is different)

-but you are entitled to that inspiration for your child. If you feel strongly that he should go, do it! Or if you don't feel entirely good about it, Don't! :)

I admire that you take this decision so serioulsy, you are an amazing mom!

Carbonneau said...

I've been waiting to hear what you are going to decide! part of me REALLY REALLY wants you to put Booker in so he and Travis can be the same grade!! that is the selfish side of me. (yes it is full day) :/
But then the other selfish Mommy side had a hard time putting Wesly into school as well. :) One of the comments mentioned that though...are we ever ready??
Booker is welcome in Joy School again if you need to fill two days a week!
Prayers for you! I know you are probably saying enough for the right answer, but a few more couldn't hurt! good luck!

NewBini said...

Well...looks like I am in the minority. I say hold him back. For several reasons: when I received my degree in elementary education I remember so many of my professors of early childhood development made it apparent that girls & boys are different. As you pointed out boys just aren’t emotionally as mature as girls at this stage in life. There are those who do perfectly fine, but there are enough cases where we have to study them-of boys not being ready for kindergarten, I might even be able to pull some of the research out of my old school work. I heard it so much in fact that I made my decision, even before I had children, that if the question arose I would hold my son back. Even if that meant that he was ahead of his class, it is much easier to find options for a student that is excelling than to work with one who is struggling. I have heard Mom’s say “I wish I had held him back” but I have yet-in my small experience-heard a parent say “Dang, I should have sent him.”
As for a half day kindergarten option, I hear that there is a charter school opening up near us, which offers half day kindergarten. There is the argument that he won’t go to school with the kids he goes to church or lives by-but this is only 1 year of his life. He is young and if he switches to Estes in 1st, the friends he has as neighbors will still be there. But if I held my son back I would then send him to full day.
There are some preschool options, if you are serious I can give you the name of the one my son attended this year, they offer 2-3 & 5 day options.
As for having 3 at home. You will do it for only 1 year. It will probably be horribly hard at times, but as you said, then he will be gone. And there is SO much to teach & learn at home that has nothing to do with educational studies. I would worry more about the foundation that you are giving him, to send him off in life.

Bridget said...

Here are my thoughts from when we went through this same thing.

I'm an early October birthday and I loved being the youngest.

My first daughter is early September but we put her in Kindergarten a year early - she turned five right before the first day of school. So far so good (she's still in kindergarten).

My second daughter is early August, so she will also be the youngest in her class.

Our plan for both girls is to have them repeat kindergarten if we feel it's best. That makes this first decision you're making less monumental - you'll have a chance for a do-over. :)

Good luck!

Amelia said...

We went through this very thing with Evie this year. Deadlines are different in the UK, so she won't be five until December but she is still eligible to go. I am going to miss her terribly. WE debated long and hard, talked to her preschool teacher, prayed and eventually came to the conclusion that it was what was best for her to start school. It is true that there are differences in kids maturity levels, but every teacher I talk to tells me that by the time the reach third grade, it all kind of evens out. Hope this helps!

annie (the annilygreen one) said...

my tendency is to be wishy washy, but if you want definitive advice, i'd say hold him back! others have given really great reasons. and i think that even if a kid is academically ready for school, being emotionally ready (and having an emotionally ready mom) is going to have a bigger impact on his success in school and life. and maybe we should all stop calling it "holding him back." :) because, like you said, there's so much influence you can have during that year that will be super important....a real boost.

Kristy said...

I was in the same situation as a 5-year-old. My parents went for it and so I was a bit young, and actually, I liked it. It might be different between boys and girls, but I actually kinda liked the "young prodigy" thing going on. High school's too long anyway...

blaine and michelle said...

Also, side note, in most states kindergarten isn't even required by law so if you wanted to keep him home another year and then have him go straight into first grade next year, you could.

Cassie said...

Frankly, it probably doesn't matter what other people tell you- they're not Booker or Booker's mom. He is his own person, and he is his own situation.

That being said, you can change things in the future if need be. If you put him in kindergarten this year, and if you feel he's at the bottom of the class, have him take kindergarten over again. Not a big deal. If you wait a year, and you and the teacher feels he is far above the mark, have him skip 1st grade.

That's what people tell me about Lexi. She'll be the older one in class, and if she's soaring above everyone else, I can have her skip.

Good luck! I say go with your gut, and you CAN change it in the future.

Usandthings said...

My daughter is turning 5 in July, and I've decided to send her. She can't button her pants after going to the bathroom, she is awkward around other kids, and she is physically kind of a spaz. But, I can't afford to put her in a pay preschool, and I'm not going to have enough time/energy/patience to do a co-op and/or otherwise entertain her with educational activities.

My birthday is in August, and I went early and was one of the youngest. My husband's birthday is also in August, and his mom kept him home. He was fine with being older than everyone, and I was fine with being younger.

I think that this is one of those things where whatever you choose is the right answer.

Jennifer said...

We're going through a "kindergarten debate" of our own. Emily will be one of the older kids in kindergarten. There are a few things that I would point out that you may, or may not have considered. Boys mature slower than girls. What works for a girl the same age may not work for a boy the same age. Also, if you put Booker in kindergarten now, by the time he graduates he will only be 17. He will have 1 summer and 1 year before he can go on a mission. I've heard the the two different sides of the coin. Great he can get some college in or hold him back so as soon as he graduates he can turn in his mission papers and prepare for a mission.

Also, have you considered doing Kindergarten twice. My mother did that with my sister. She was really worried about her feeling like she was "held behind" but it worked out. Perhaps instead of taking him to a preschool you could take him to a different kindergarten than perhaps the one you want him to really be in. For example, I found a charter school that I love, so if I were in your shoes I may try one of the better public schools in this area and then send my child to the charter school next year. So, if you like your public school perhaps you can find a charter school that offers half day kindergarten. I know that mine does. It's 15 minutes your direction for me. But I don't know how long that would be for you.

I ended up doing something I didn't want to do, but I feel like the Lord has something different in mind. Frustrating, but he hasn't led me astray thus far. :)

Cherise said...

I am enjoying reading these opinions! I find it interesting that almost all opinions "for" are in regards to girls moving forward, and those "against" are in regards to boys... It's interesting that Renee mentioned that. However, as said before, only You know what's best for him!! Best of luck in this decision!! It's a fun one! :)

Emily said...

Oh Marg, I am in your same position right now with deciding what to do with Rachel in the fall. If we were still in AZ it wouldn't even be a dilemma because the cut-off is Sept 1st but here it's Sept 30th and her birthday is Sept 14th. SO, she qualifies to start this coming school year but I'm just torn. Really for the same exact reasons you are. I know academically she's totally ready. She hasn't had a day of preschool and honestly (and shamefully) she has learned mostly from computer games. I worry because I have a Sept birthday and my parents started me when I wasn't yet 5 and it was the WRONG choice. I struggled quite a bit through school and always hated that I was the youngest in my class. All my friends were older and started driving and dating before me. I also think I really could have benefited from another year at home.

With that said, I have no doubt that you will do what you feel is best for Booker and nobody should judge your decision. Booker is extremely smart and will do super well, I'm certain--no matter when you decide to start him. The key here is that EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. What is best for one child may not be good for another. It's totally you're personal decision as his mother because nobody knows your child like you do.

I enjoyed reading all these comments and found it very helpful with my own inner battle. I'll be anxious to hear what you decide. Keep us posted!

Ps. I wish our kiddo's were starting school together...:(

Toni said...

My youngest has a birthday on 9/15. Honestly, I don't think she would have done very well last year at school. I did start her on an on-line school, but she just clearly wasn't ready. My boys definitely don't do well being youngish in their grade level. I ended up holding one back later in his school career, and I should have done it earlier. If YOU aren't ready to have him gone all day, wait another year. If he goes this year and struggles, let him do kindergarten again.

Dan and Jan said...

According to Arizona law, your school district must provide a half day option if you want one (A.R.S. 15-703.B). Our district has half day kindergarten at certain schools and we can take our child to those schools for that program. Zanya is enrolled in a half day program at a different school from my other girls. I love the half day option. It is a nice step from preschool to all day school. Plus I like to have that one last little bit of influence before they are gone forever :)
I had a friend last year who had their child with a late birthday in the half day class then this year he went to full day kindergarten. So he had two years of kindergarten and now is the oldest in his class.

Danica went to Kindergarten (with a September birthday and turning 6) but her kindergarten teacher suggested she move to first grade. We moved her in the first quarter and now she is one of the youngest in her grade. I wouldn't say that it was a great move for Danica, but she isn't complaining. Generally, among my friends, girls are put ahead and boys are held back. It is thought that boys need the extra year for emotional maturity and size/strength if they play sports.

In the end, you are the only ones that can decide what is best for Booker. Pray over it.

Callie Proffitt Christiansen said...

Everyone who commented Is a woman and booker is a boy. I think you need a boys perspective
With that said, when I was in school I was young and liked it. One reason was that the boys were older and cooler. They could drive earlier and just seemed cool. I say hold him back. Boys older and girls younger just seems to work. For social equalness and all that. Him being younger in his grade means he doesn't start to date, drive or do any of the other cool stuff all the rest is his friends will be doing.