Should He Stay or Should He Go Now? The Kindergarten Question

Darling 1 with caterpillarThe Question

Many people have asked me why we decided to send Darling 1 to school this year rather than wait until next year. He has a July birthday, so it's fair game. Everyone knows that kids with birthdays between June and September are teetering on the cusp of being too young or immature to start kindergarten or waiting and being the oldest and most mature student in the kindergarten class.

This decision is momentous for parents. There is no turning back. Your child will forever more {well, at least for the next 13 pivotal years of his or her life} be either the youngest kid in the class or the oldest kid in the class. Which is better? Which is worse? And what is the fallout from the decision?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Every child is different. A child who turns 5 mid-August might be just as ready as a kid who turned 5 back in January. Or maybe not. It's ultimately up to the parents to decide.

It Starts with Preschool

Leading up to the age of enlightenment, that is to say, age 5, there is much discussion between parents during Mom's Night Out dinners, early childhood and family education classes, tee-ball games, birthday parties, pick-up and drop-off at preschool, play dates at the park, etc. etc. etc. I feel like I have been discussing the kindergarten question for an eternity, but in actuality it has probably been for the past 3 years.

I think as soon as we parents began talking about preschools, kindergarten started edging in too, claiming its place in our overwrought mommy brains. If you had asked me whether we were sending Darling 1 to kindergarten when he was 5 years old at this time last year, I probably would have answered with an ambivalent, leaving-the-options-open, "Probably Not."


So, what changed? Well, to begin with Darling 1's Pre-K class had a lot of bumps and hiccups in the first few months. Then, even after things evened out a bit, he never made a connection with his teachers; for Darling 1, making a connection is what makes all the difference.

When he really connects with a teacher, whether it's music, swim lessons or school, he changes from a dull gray of just going-through-the-motions to a shiny gold of magically picking up every word, lesson and tidbit as if he was covered in golden, sticky honey {which Darling 1 happens to love. He is infatuated with honey, honeybees, beekeeping, our friend, Scott, who is a beekeeper, and anything and everything about honey.} Connecting makes his world shine. Well, that never happened in his Pre-K class.

Kindergarten Prospects

In January, we received information about Kindergarten roundup. We found a fabulous school that will foster his interests and focus his passions. Darling 1 was ecstatic. He was ready to start right away. Our minds were changed. Then, and there, we decided the best place for Darling 1 next year was kindergarten at this particular school.

We began counting down the days until his Pre-K class ended. His spirits were uplifted knowing there was an end with a new, more positive and exciting beginning. In the interim, Darling 1 started nature camp two weeks ago and has been having a blast. Having made a connection with his teacher and the subject matter right away, he's been coming home spouting off information about how marshlands are formed, the stages of a mosquito's life and interesting tidbits about cattails. Well, that never happened in his Pre-K class.

The Answer

So, to answer why we have decided to send Darling 1 to kindergarten this year, just two months after he turns 5, is a complex answer. I could tell you that it's because he has always been ahead of the game developmentally, rolling from tummy to back at 1 month, saying his first words at 5 months and walking at 10.5 months {it's true}, or that he's tall for his age {also true} or that he is mature in many ways, easily carrying conversations with adults, showing empathy far beyond his years and using words and phrases of a child twice his age {again true}, but it wasn't just these things. In the end, it was seeing his excitement to begin something new; and our realization that we were ready too.

We are standing at the starting gate and about to begin the long and arduous trek through the school years. In the words, of Capt. Jack Sparrow, "We have our heading....Here, we goooooo!" Wish us luck!

The Scoop

So, where do you all stand on this subject? Are your sending or are you holding steady, you parents who have kiddos with summer birthdays? It's a very personal decision. Of the families I know, it seems that there is a 50/50 divide on the sending or waiting it out question.

With Darling 2, there are no choices; his birthday is in the fall. He will be one of the oldest kids in the class and probably the tallest too. Over and out....


You might also like:

The Changing Seasons: Types of Schools Available to American Children

Birds of a Feather: Tips for Choosing the Best Schools for Your Child

The Measure of an Education: A Look at U.S. Education System Statistics

Making the Grade: A Plea to MN Public Educators


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