Friday, April 12, 2013

Kindergarten Debate

I know no one is interested in this, but I'll share anyway and get people's thoughts! Yesterday Christopher was screened for kindergarten. We have been debating since he was born when to start him. His birthday is August 31st. He will turn 5 a week before school starts or we could wait till next fall when he would be turning 6 to start school.

How did he do? They score with colors: green=good, yellow=concern and red=needs follow up. They test in 3 categories: motor, cognitive and language. He got a perfect score (every single thing right) in motor and cognitive. Language he got yellow, but a high yellow. Overall he got a green score. They said he got green (ready for kindergarten) because he scored perfect on two sections and high yellow on the last.

What did they ask? I was surprised to see how things changed from when I was tested. I assumed colors, alphabet, numbers, shapes would be asked as well as writing. That's what I prepped him for. Instead, they asked him to step through a rope, hop one foot, draw lines for the motor section. For cognitive they showed pictures and asked him to identify them (animals and objects mostly). To solve problems like creating a bridge using sticks to help an elephant cross a river. For language they asked him to repeat complex sentences (he missed a few words) and to repeat number sequences (like: 4, 7, 8, 1 and 9) that was difficult for him. They also asked him rhyming words which I hadn't worked on. He was confused, and instead was giving letter sounds for the words they gave. Good skill, but not what they asked.

What did they recommend? I was hoping they would give me more direction, but instead they left it very open. They said it was up to me on when to place him. The counselor did say, "I would really look at the research." I did and I know what it says: to wait.

What are we going to do? I was put into kindergarten at 4 1/2, so very young. I did well academically, but socially I struggled a lot. I was always the smallest and I was picked on constantly. I can remember up till 2nd grade not having a single friend. It also wasn't ideal to be 17 and a freshman in college ;)

I'd like Christopher and Andrew to be close grade wise, so waiting would make that possible. It may make bus riding, parent meetings, events, easier. But, there's so many neighbor friends whose kids are starting this year.

I know he would excel academically, but socially I'm worried especially since we skipped pre-school.

The youngest child there for testing had an early June birthday.

Right now, we are planning on attending all the events and handing in the paperwork. They said they only need to know the day before school what I decide. They weren't pushy and very friendly. I'm leaning on waiting till next fall. I will say I'm confident with our decision for public school for elementary. I was pleased with the school and teachers from what I've seen so far.

Were you an older or younger student? When did you decide to start school with your child(ren)? What has your experience been like? 

26 comments:

  1. Do you think you will put him in a pre-k program if you don't put him in the kindergarten program? Does he show interest in attending school? If you feel hesitant putting him in this year, where he will be one of the youngest, then it might be worth putting him into a part-time pre-k program (like a 3-day program or something).

    I was one of the oldest kids in my class (November birthday) and honestly, I hated it. I always felt like I didn't belong, that I should be with the older kids. Of course, as I got older, into college and onwards, this no longer mattered. However, because of this mentality, I constantly think about my kids and their future with school and cut-off dates. I do have to say though, I think a lot of parents now are leaning on the side of waiting to start their kids in school if they are a cut-off age. It can sometimes be a lot of pressure on children to keep up with the kids that are maturing quicker. A lot people also say that boys tend to have a harder time keeping up than girls.

    It is good there is no pressure and you have time to figure it out. He may surprise you in the upcoming summer months and show you he is ready or you'll see that he's just not there yet.

    Good luck!

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    1. He does show interest and loves school and doing "school work" at home. Very interesting that you disliked being older! He would be the oldest in the class.

      I have heard that boys tend to be developmentally behind girls in the early years.

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  2. well I was young for my grade but my mom put all 4 of my brothers in a year later than "usual" because she really read a lot and thought boys were more delayed than girls. Who knows if it's true but that is what she thought and so far Julia talked WAY more than Bash is at his age but that could be an oldest thing -- who knows. Keep us posted! He sounds so smart already!!!

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  3. ollie is being evaluated next wednesday.

    he's also being extensively evaluated by his speech teacher to see if he gets to have those services provided. so we shall see how he does.

    we have held all our boys back a year based on the fact that they are immature and small:) good decision for us.

    i was younger in school but really enjoyed it and had a good time both socially and academically. everyone is so different! good luck with your decision. the thing i have learned is to go with your gut feeling!

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    1. Plan on thinking about it over the summer. It would be clear cut if he was a girl. I would start early. I worry more with him being a boy.

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    2. yes, i understand. that is partly why i held all my boys back!

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  4. See if they have any pre-k classes around you and see if you can get him in there. I honestly think it's best to be the oldest and not youngest in classes, and I have also heard that boys tend to be a little socially slower than girls. My son will be almost 5 1/2 when he starts kindergarten, which I think is a perfect age for him to be going in.

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    1. Yes, being 5 1/2 is perfect to start! :)

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  5. My husband and I are both July birthdays and started school right after we turned 5. I didn't mind be younger, but my husband did. He felt that he was smaller and teased because of it. I think it is definitely different for boys vs girls. We will have the same issue with Carter, as his birthday is Aug 15. My husband is adamant on holding him back until he is 6. We'll see....!

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  6. I would say go with your instincts. You're a teacher and know best what he can handle too. I was one of the youngest in my grade but never really affected me, but then again I was homeschooled from 7th grade on. Is there the option to hold him back if he seems like you put him in too soon?

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    1. Yes, I could hold him back later but I worry about the stigma that can sometimes come from that.

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  7. I think it depends on your child...Asher is 3 and in PreK and he'll turn 5 the week before Kindergarten starts, and I'm not really worried about it - He LOVES school...begs to go! Ian, too, started at age 3 in PreK and school suits him SO well...he was bouncing off the walls at home, and really loves & craves that structure. I can totally see how some kids might not be ready though...but plenty of them are - so I would just do what works best for him, and best for your family!

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  8. Freakin' A, I didn't even know there was such as kindergarten screening. Maybe it's b/c the public schools where I live aren't the greatest, but I don't think my nieces/nephews did anything like this when beginning school. Wow, I feel a lot more pressure on myself to teach Natalie a whole array of different things, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I just think some of the things they asked him to do are a little advance, but I don't have a 5 year old, so I really don't know! Anyway, good luck, I think he will be a okay with whatever you chose, but I see no harm in waiting a little. He's clearly a smart boy with a good mama and will be just fine!

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  9. Christopher looks so mature though! I honestly thought he was already in kindergarten/school of some kind! I think it can't hurt to hold him back, esp since he'd have his brother closer to him! but I have a hard time picturing that confident-looking boy having ANY social issues!

    So many of these kids are used to being total zombies in front of the TV/iPad all day, anyways! I bet Christopher would be ahead socially, given the way it seems a lot of kids are being raised (just going off of what I see in things like the Toddler class at the library and classes at the Y - not that I have any kind of experience! lol)

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  10. I am a November birthday and was one of the oldest jb my class. I never went to preschool or pre-k, but my mom did "homeschool" me for kindergarten before starting. I only went half day and then started Fulltime in 1st grade. I've always been thankful my parents waited because I was innocent. My entire experience was

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  11. Sorry that posted prematurely. My experience was all Catholic school. My brothers have fall birthdays like me and we were all the oldest and did well. My little sister is the youngest in her class and has struggled with friends at times. She's smart, but struggles with math (which isn't typical in our family.) Being the youngest is something she is very aware of. Personally, I'd wait especially because he is a boy, but I'm sure he will do amazing either way because he has the support of you and Chris.

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  12. I think he's ready, but I guess it doesn't hurt to wait either

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  13. I have two boys ages 13 and 8. My oldest sons birthday is June 29th and the Kindergarten cutoff was in August (AZ schools) We did hold our son back. Now in 7th grade and in middle school, I couldn't be happier. Not only socially, but his maturity is much better then if we would have put him in early. It not just academics that needs to be considered with school, many things can affect a persons academics if they are not ready. He has done really well with being the older and bigger kid in school. Good Luck! I enjoy your blog.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

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  14. A lot of my colleagues study development in children (I don't, I study adults and aging), and my understanding is that new evidence shows that starting a kid late can have worse effect than starting early because when they hit puberty it is much more awkward to be further along developmentally. This can have a bigger impact for girls, because they are sexually more mature than their peers, and can be seen by boys as "more ready" than they are, but with boys you find something similar where they are more likely to fall into bad peer groups, because they are emotionally and physically mature, but are not there socially because they are in younger classes. I think the key is emotional maturity---if a boy can handle being the youngest in his class, it's probably ok to let him be there. If he's not, waiting might help him out.

    That being said, no matter what research you read, he's probably going to get some teasing for either being too small or too big for kindergarten (I think a LOT of kids do, it's kind of the plight of being a summer baby---I was one, too!). So you almost have to just mentally prepare yourself and do your best to guide him through whatever comes his way, since you won't be able to control that. I think if he's prepared for kindergarten though, as he seems to be, it won't hurt him to start at 5. It's totally your call as to what you think he's ready for.

    Also remember that having a sibling in class is not always as fun as it seems, especially if they're not the same age. He could be compared to his brother and teased for that as well, and when they get older, they may want to start differentiating themselves in peer groups. My sister and I were close in age, but we were a little luckier in that we had extremely different interests and went to huge public schools, so we never crossed paths.

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    1. As a mother of 3 adult boys. As far as puberty is concerned male or female, every person enters & reaches puberty as different ages. For my 3 sons it was between 12-14 years of age. So I'm not sure how much that would take into effect with holding back 1 year. Everyone enters puberty and emotional maturity at different ages.

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    2. Just to clarify my boys would NOT be in the same grade even if I wait a year. I would never want that for them. They would just be closer in grades. Christopher would be in 1st grade when Andrew would be kindergarten, etc.

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  15. PS...I was a younger kid! I was the runt of my group :) I got teased, but honestly while it was awful at the time, I worked through it eventually. My fiance, oddly enough, was born in September and was the oldest in his group and always got teased for being big and awkward. He hated it, I think more than I even did, but turned out ok, too :) Our families were just really supportive, and that helped us both a lot in childhood.

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    1. Interesting points! I guess either way it's the parent supporting the child in their situation.

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  16. First of all, thank you for giving a run down of the kindergarten screening! I would have had absolutely no idea what to expect!

    Secondly, I haven't read the other comments, so I don't know if someone posted a similar situation - but I started kindergarten when I was 4, almost 5. The cut-off in Iowa was September 15th at the time and my birthday is September 13th. My parents didn't really think about it at all, they just registered me because I was old enough (and I think that's just what people did back then). I did just fine academically and had no problems keeping up but every year the teachers would tell my parents they were worried about me socially and how my maturity level was lower and that I could have the option to repeat the grade if they wanted me to. By 2nd grade, the teacher said that was the last year they would suggest/allow me to stay back (solely for my social development) and I'm glad my parents made the decision to hold me back. From that point on I was always the oldest or nearly the oldest in all my classes and it made a huge difference in my confidence levels and social maturity.

    I'm interested to see what you ultimately decide to do since we'll be in a similar situation in a few years.

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