I’ve always felt that the September 1 cut off for starting kindergarten was somewhat arbitrary. I get that there has to be an age requirement, but I think it should be a little more flexible, such as a couple months on either side of September 1.
All kids are different. Some kids who turn five September 1 are ready and others are not. Some kids who turn five September 2 are just as ready, or just as not. It depends on the individual child.
Our son was born in October and therefore missed the kindergarten cut off last year, but he was SO ready to start school. He was positively longing for a more structured learning environment with peers. I was breaking myself trying to keep him engaged day in and out, throwing as many books and learning activities at him as I could muster with a second child toddling around. It wasn’t enough. As had been the case since he was a very young baby, he wanted more more more!
We decided to put him in a Montessori program when he was 4, almost 5. He started in the 3-5 year old class but was moved up to the 5-7 year old class at the semester. By the end of the school year he was working on division and multiplication, complex word problems, money, and time.
Reading came to him naturally at a really young age and he had been reading chapter books the entire school year. His comprehension is accurate and sometimes eerily insightful. He is curious, questioning, and converses in a style more like an adult than a child. He is wise beyond his years and has been this way always.
My husband and I both went to public school for the entirety of our education and we have always planned to give our boys the same. Not only does it make sound economic sense (Private school tuition at $20k a year?! Not gonna do it!) but more than that, we want them to receive their education surrounded by a diversity of people that we don’t think will be found in a typical private school.
We did some research in our district (Richardson ISD) and learned that they have a very robust advanced academic studies program that starts in elementary school. We were seriously impressed. If he qualified for the program, we felt that he would be getting all the support and enrichment he needed at our neighborhood school. We also learned that he could test out of any grade level along the way, including kindergarten. That got us thinking.
I’ve often heard of parents holding a child back a year because the child wasn’t ready or there was a perceived gain to them being older than their classmates down the road. I’ve also known people that chose to homeschool for kindergarten then send their child to public school in first grade. Is it not feasible that for other children, especially those on the border of the age cut off, that a benefit may be realized from accelerating up a grade? Also, why not jump him ahead now when he would just be another new 1st grader on campus instead of the kid that skipped a grade?
We decided to set up the testing, get the results, and go from there. He passed both portions above the minimum qualifier so we had proof that he was academically ready. But the district wanted to make sure that we as parents had considered other ways this may have an impact.
We had some things to consider. Any older siblings that would put them in the same grade? Nope. Any problem going to a different campus if there isn’t a spot in 1st grade at your assigned school? Nope. Might he want to go out for football in middle school and be too small to play? Um, no. He has many gifts but so far, athletics isn’t one of them.
Sure, he’s gonna be the smallest kid in class. He would have been the smallest in the kinder class, too. Size isn’t everything. We will be there to support him and give him the social tools he needs as he encounters challenges related to his size, smarts, sense of humor, wit, speed, style, strength and the other innumerable ways in which he will compare himself to his classmates, and vice versa throughout this and every other year of his educational life.
The bottom line for us is this. The sooner we can get him to higher level learning, the better. And skipping kindergarten gets us there sooner.
But I sure am gonna miss seeing him in that adorable kindergarten graduation gown.