Topics in Early Childhood Education

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ready for School?

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about her son starting school. He will be five on September 1st, which is the cut-off day for kindergarten in Utah. I happen to know a little background about this boy. His parents are divorced, his dad is non-functioning most of the time, he is small for his age and he is very emotionally vulnerable much of the time. I recommended that she not start him in kindergarten this year. I told her the key was her attitude and to just tell him he will begin next year. Don't even mention that he could start now. That is the key to failure. I know some critics would pitch a fit at my advice. I speak from experience. Not only did I teach kindergarten for 15 years, but I have two sons with late birthdays. One started school young and one (with an Aug. 28th birthday)waited and started school the next year. A few friends criticized my decision to let him wait. They told me he would be devastated. Not so. He didn't even know he could have started a year earlier until one day in 5th grade. He came home from school and said, "Do you know I am old enough to be in 6th grade? Why am I in 5th?" I responded, "Well, I wanted you to be the oldest and smartest in your classes. See, it worked!" He went away with a smile. In fact, when he graduated from high school, he thanked me for letting him have that maturity. His older brother struggled continually through school as the youngest. I wish I could give my older son another chance and let him have more maturity and preparation prior to school.


At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister! I have several friends who are starting their children later since they have summer birthdays. One boy is very small for his age, in another case the girl twin is ready, but the boy twin is not so they are having both wait.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your children an extra year of love and nurturing, especially considering what Kindergarteners are expected to learn these days.

A child who waits one more year BEFORE starting school will not notice it, but one who starts and then struggles or is even held back will hate school his whole life.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the absolute best advice you could give to your friend! I have three whose birthday's are in July, October & November (in CA where the cut off date is Dec. 2nd). They are now 21, 17 & 15. All graduated as Valedictorian's from junior high and we have never regretted holding them out and starting them when they were 6.

At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never thought about the fact that if a child waits to enter Kindergarten will not miss it, but the child who sturugles will never forget it! I was a struggler ... and I will never forget. However, I have succeeded in 54 years to be a site manager, lead teacher, family service advocate for 3-5 year old children and have been teaching 1972 in ECE ... and am now going back to college to further my degree! Thanks for the blog...


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