By Guest Blogger & Smarty Mom, Janelle Nash
I always assumed that when my child turned five, I would drop her off at kindergarten (nearest elementary school will do just fine) and immediately list the ways I could spend that extra grand a month.
Now that the time is nearing, my thoughts have matured a bit – is she smart enough? Is she emotionally and socially ready? Is our assigned elementary school good enough? Should I homeschool her? Okay, that last bit has never entered my mind since Nick Jr. probably isn’t recognized as an official curriculum.
My mother started me in school at age 5, and with an August birthday, I was one of the youngest in my class. The cool deal then was a new program called “Reading Readiness,” which was a grade between kindergarten and first grade. If your child wasn’t holding their own in kindergarten, you could choose to give them an extra year without the stigma of holding them back. My mother chose this path for me (I think I may have been the kid eating glue in the corner), which flipped me to being one of the oldest kids in my class – I was 19 when I started college. I turned out okay.
My daughter (July birthday) is dying to start kindergarten. Her testing scores were really good and her teachers say she’s ready. Our assigned school (Beverly Woods Elementary) has a fantastic reputation and friends have recommended it.
On the flip side, I can see that having another year under her belt could bring her more maturity and confidence – and in the middle school years, that could be huge. She might be better at sports, although that’s not a focal point for us. Selfishly, we get another year with her in our house.
We have not made an official ruling yet. Anyone want to weigh in?
Send her to K. TK should be an option only for children who are very far behind developmentally. Everyone seems to be holding their child back (especially with many of the private school requirements that a child be at least 5 1/2 before they start K). When my daughter (who has a May birthday and was very ready to go to school) was in a 1st/2nd grade combo class, she was 6 and in the class with almost 9 year old boys (the 2nd graders). K is supposed to be the “ease in” year. All we are doing is creating a society of 6-7 year old kindergarteners.
Thanks for your reply. That is one of my concerns living in Charlitte, actually. It seems like the norm is to hold the kids back a year – I think it’s tougher to picture my 5 year ild in class with 7 year olds!
My son had a September birthday and we decided to put him in TK at Calvary. I have NEVER heard of anyone who has regretted the decision to do TK. Only negative thing.. he is very advanced in his class. I volunteer in his Kindergarten class now and see that he may not be as challenged as the other children. But the ones who are struggling the most are those late spring or summer birthday kids who seem to be at the lower end of the class as far as education and maturity. I just feel that I would always prefer to have the kid ahead of the class as opposed to always struggling.
I haven’t heard of anyone who regretted holding their child back either. I do worry about her being bored but have heard wonderful things about Beverly Woods and their individual approach to each student’s ability level.
I have mixed feelings. I held my son back. Maturity wise it seemed like a good decision. Ultimately he lost a year of education. T-k just didn’t give him a good enough start. He was behind and I wish I could have given him a whole extra year of holding him back and getting real education.
We held my second back for TK – I wish there was like a half-year K because he was totally ready by like January. It’s like TK kids just need an extra 6 months – not a full school year. Always a tough decision!!
I love this idea!
If she tested well an her teachers say she is ready then GO! No reason to hold her back. Trust me if her preschool teachers say she is ready she is. Everyone is on this hold back band wagon; we are going to have a 7 year old in my sons class come March, no joke. 7 in kindergarten. That is a HUGE age gap that we are creating . I am a huge fan of TK for children who need it. Kids who are still super shy or developementally a bit behind can flourish having that extra year. But, it doesn’t sound as if your daughter does. Good luck!
I’m interested in seeing everyone’s responses. My daughter’s b-day is August 25th, but she is also the youngest. With that she has influence from her older sister. My husband, myself, and her pedi agree she is ready. I can’t help but wonder about the ‘what-ifs’ if she does.struggle or if she won’t be challenged enough?! With the reputation of TK here (we recently moved from Indiana) it would be nice if it was offered in the districts as oppossed to that extra grand a month. She goes to Carmel now, and I know at the conferences this week they are going to push her to be in their TK program, but they push it for everyone. Remember when choosing the type of bottle was the world’s hardest decision for your child?? Hahah!!!
I’m from Indiana too – this does seem to be a regional thing! My sister sent her son to kindergarten at a private school in Fort Wayne and then moved him back into TK (he has a March birthday). Luckily, they had a program at the same school so it wasn’t a big deal but I believe that once you are in the public school system, you can’t back out.
No way!! I am from Ft. Wayne…actually went to Dwenger 🙂 umm, small world! We moved here from Indy though, and had our oldest in a 4 star public school district, and she was struggling and had to be tutored. Once we moved here though she is almost advanced compared to the other kids. Our 4 year old is signed up for Kindergarten for this year. I am looking forward to seeing what the school and pre-k’s opinions are.
The choice needs to be about HER, not you. If her scores are strong and her current teacher is telling you she is ready, then she needs to go. It’s hard to let them go and to start the biggest part of their educated lives, but holding her back because you are not ready for her to go does not help her, either. A year of TK (which is just more preschool) would be a lot of repetition, and is just delaying the inevitable.
Financially, I’d love to send her to kindergarten. I totally agree that she could be bored with another year of preschool, especially since they already told me she wouldn’t be learning much more than she did this year.
Oh how this is my hot button issue! I will not get on my soapbox, though, I’ll simply give you my experience. My daughter has a June bday, and we, too, were concerned about her readiness for kindergarten. It was less about academics for her and more about her extreme shyness. Her preschool teacher said something very astute. She told us that L was going to be shy no matter when we sent her – it’s a personality trait – but she wasn’t “socially immature.” I think there is a fine but bold line between those 2 things. SO we sent her and have never questioned the choice. I did find that L was reading a little slower and later in kindergarten than the kids a FULL YEAR older than her in her class, but she was never behind. I so agree with the poster who mentioned that extra 6 months! Now, however, she is in second grade, and all those differences that were apparent 2 years have all but disappeared.
Interesting! My daughter has a few social things that give me pause but it’s not shyness, really. I can’t quite put my finger on it but in a school setting she acts much different than with other children she knows.
My daughter is a summer birthday (July) and we sent her on to Kindergarten. We based our decision on the professionals (preschool teachers and the opinion of the school that she is going into/her testers, etc), her personality and eagerness to learn and move forward, and our own gut feeling. It is not an easy decision and seems to be a very personal one/think should be based on the child and not the birthday, if that makes sense.
Wow. We struggled with this last year along with several of our friends. I swore that I would never do Tk, but in the end, that is what we picked for my son. He has a summer birthday and had we sent him he would have had kids up to a whole year and a half older than him in his Beverly Woods K class. While it would be great if there was a hard and fast rule that parents could rely on, the fact of the matter is that there isn’t. It’s up to each parent to decide. As long as the school system is allowing spring birthdays to wait a year to enter school, I will not regret my decision to hold my summer boy back. Our decision was not based on academics but rather on the maturity factor and the number of children already being held back. It did not seem fair to disadvantage him based on my belief that he should go to K simply because he was 5. You know know your child. Do what is best for her. I do, however, believe that boys are different than girls and had he been a girl I might not have made the same decision.
That is a big part of it – why should I make my child the youngest if no one else is doing it? Seems unfair to her (although I guess someone has to be the young one!)
This is such a personal decision, that I am reluctant to weigh in, but I will to offer a different perspective. Most of the commenters seem to have girls, and younger children. I have teenage daughters, and a second grade son. We held our summer birthday son back for a year of TK and have not regretted it a moment. Though he was academically ready to go at 5, we did not feel he was ready socially to be the youngest one in his class. He was shy and had a lot of anxiety that we felt would be exacerbated if he was the youngest. He is also small for his age, and even as the oldest is one of the shortest boys in 2nd grade (a mystery since my husband is 6’3″ and looks like a linebacker). What really made the decision for us was thinking about middle school. Our girls have thrived in middle school with confidence and high self esteem (they are both winter birthdays). Many of the kids we’ve seen struggle are on the younger end. The disparity in maturity between a 13 year old girl and a 12 year old boy can seem like light years. Given our son’s temperament, we thought he might struggle as the youngest, smallest boy in the teen years. I think if he were a girl we would have probably sent him, just based on what we have observed regarding the differences between middle school boys and girls. The good news is that Beverly Woods is amazing. The teachers we have had over the last 10 years have focused on meeting the needs of each child, and do not expect them all be at thenaame place academically or socially. your daughter will have a great kindergarten year no matter what you decide.
I have heard this about Becerly Woods too. Definitely a selling point no matter what decision we make.
Wow! I love the timing of this blog. I am a mother of 2 boys with summer birthdays so this is a big discussion in our household. My oldest will turn 5 on August 5 and so he would be the youngest going into kindergarten since he will have just turned 5. Academically he is ready but I worry about all the other contributors (fine motor skills, etc). I had him take the Gesell test which suggests a TK program. The test was given by a private school so I am sure most of them lean that way and the results actually showed most of his skills were above his chronological age. My husband says to send him to K. He says he was the youngest and did just fine:). The problem is that we live in Charlotte and he grew up in a small town in SC where TK was not an option and the majority stuck with the true cut off date. I am worried just like another blogger that my son will potentially be a year and a half younger than some children which will disadvantage him right at the start. Does anyone know the average age of boys entering CMS kindergarten? We are zoned for Elizabeth Lane so the education will be great but it is middle school where I really think the age differences will show in multiple ways. A year of full time TK will be costly but it appears no one ever regrets holding them back.
All three of my children have summer birthdays; we did TK for two but not for the third. SO much to consider when making the decision – much has been mentioned above. I’ll simply add, my experience has also made me think this might be a bit of a regional issue. When we lived in Charlotte we knew many people doing TK and there were an abundance of programs available for that in-between year. But when we moved to Pittsburgh PA two years ago, we found that “TK-ing” is definitely not the norm here. (In my opinion, I think it might not be an issue here because half-day kindergarten programs are standard.) Anyway, just something else to consider.
I didn’t even think about the half day vs full day component to this. My daughter is in a full day daycare program now, 3 days a week.
So I think she actually could handle the length of school day just fine but it would add two days to her academic week.
I think the net/net here is you will NEVER regret not sending. But you MIGHT regret sending too early, particularly for boys. The other obvious is there is no right or wrong answer and only you will know what’s best for your child and your family. Here’s what I did.
I have two girls with summer birthdays. I sent my first since she had three siblings under 3 in her house (2 of the 3 identical twin infants) at the time – I figured her educational stimulation would be better served in a kindergarten environment. I noticed over the years that she struggled with constantly comparing herself to others in her classes who were often a solid year, year and a half older than she was. As we all know well, confidence is money in a school environment. By 2nd grade she was on par with the rest of her classmates but she never gained confidence with her skills until 6th grade, this year. And the jury is still out with exactly how confident she is with herself:-)
Child #2 is also a girl with a summer birthday. She’s also a midget and super shy. Based on what I learned with my first guinea pig, I decided that TK was the way to go for her. Best decision ever. She is situated the best in my family – I expect her to move mountains based on all the good genes she received (her big sis is convinced that life will come easy to her simply b/c she’s so petite:-) and her personality.
Whatever you choose, it will be perfect for you:-) Good luck, Smarty Charlotte – this is always a tough decision!
Some of you have mentioned there are kids starting kindergarten who are 1.5 years older, and that is weighing into your decision. I understand the concern thinking that your child will be so young comparatively, but don’t think age – think readiness. Friends of ours started their March birthday son in kindergarten, and he was simply not ready, in maturity and academics. His confidence was affected. It was recommended by his teacher that he be held back, and the parents agreed. Our son has an August birthday and had issues with fine motor skills. We chose TK and never looked back. If we had, I feel his Kindergarten teacher would have recommended his being held back as well. You have to look at a number of factors for readiness. I pulled this from an article on Scholastic.com:
“What follows are the top readiness skills that kindergarten teachers look for:
• Enthusiasm Toward Learning
• Solid Oral-Language Skills
• The Ability to Listen
• The Desire to Be Independent
• The Ability to Play Well with Others
• Strong Fine-Motor Skills
• Basic Letter and Number Recognition”
Kids also need to be able to handle (in most cases) a very long day of Kindergarten. If your child still need a nap in the afternoon, consider that. In the end, it’s not what age they at which they start or at which they will graduate. Make the choice right individually for them, and don’t worry what anyone else is saying or doing!
My dtr has a mid august b day and we sent her to TK. She is now in first grade and her BFF has the exact SAME birthday ONE year earlier . There is no behavioral differences, no glaring maturity differences – they both do great in the classroom. However, still my dtr is exhausted at the end of the day and she has no desire to do homework after such a long day, Yes she could have been fine not going to TK , but there is more to life than a 35 hour school week for a 5 year old. So yes she is obviously older towering above her BFF, but I can’t imagine struggling with the unecessary fustration everyday had she been a year younger. Life is very fast paced for children today – there’s no reason to rush it. Also, It was nice to have extra time with her that TK year – no harm in that.
We are at BWE and love the school. Our first is a May b-day and we sent him at 5 for kindergarten, he was ready academically and socially from a standpoint of being able to make friends easily, but where I now see a difference is emotionally sometime I wonder if a little more time would have helped him not get so frustrated with things. Looking back now sometimes I wish we had done TK with him even thought it was only a May birthday. With this our second is a August birthday who was born a few weeks early and really should have a been a Sept baby who would have automatically then been held back, so we did TK with him and that was the right decision for him.
I also think the teachers at BWE are great in helping you decide after kindergarten if the kids need to do another year or not, there was one child in my son’s kindergarten class last year who is repeating kindergarten this year, she had a late birthday and just needed another year, so that is always an option.
What interesting posts:) I am writing to you as both a TK teacher, as well as a parent that had to make the SAME decision for both of my boys! I also have the perspective of having been a kindergarten and first grade teacher in CMS (for 12 years) prior to working at Calvary CDC as a TK teacher.
This is such an INDIVIDUAL decision for each child and their family, but I would like to comment on a few remarks, as I feel it may be helpful to you and the readers:
-Unfortunately, it is more of a regional trend that is DRIVEN by very high academic expectations in kindergarten compared to many other areas of the country:( Ideal, no, but unless the lawmakers change the objectives/standard course of study in K, there will be little change in this trend. My son (with a May birthday) just entered K this year after a year of TK. Yes, he will turn SEVEN at the end of kindergarten, but I absolutley have no regret! He goes to school at Hawk Ridge Elementary each day from 7:45-2:45. There is only 30 minutes of recess, and another 30 min break for lunch, and a 30 min special area class. The rest of the time is spent on task doing academics in the classroom, and that is why I chose TK last year as a BRIDGE between the shorter, less academic fours program and K.
-Some people have said that TK is just another year of preschool. Location-wise, yes, but if you choose to send your child to a TK program, the TK programs across the area vary substaintally. You need to find the program that will best meet the needs of your WHOLE child. At our center, there is a lot of emphasis on learning to be independent workers, making transitions, working in cooperative groups, hands-on-math, handwriting (we use the Handwriting Without Tears Program), and learning to LOVE beginning reading and writing in a natural, but intentional way. We assess the children and that helps to drive the instruction in our classroom. We also have SmartBoards and special-area classes much like the children will experience in elementary school. Our families have been super-thrilled with our TK curriculum:)
-Another comment that I’ve heard is it is “holding back” a child to not start them in K at five. I don’t view TK as “holding back,” I view TK as placing my child in an environment that exposes them to 5 year-old curriculum and gives them additional time to lay the STRONG foundation of reading, writing, and math skills. My youngest (an August birthday) is exceptionlly bright (even reading), but he went to TK this year to develop a confidence with his fine motor, working independently, and adjusting to a longer academic day. I agree with the comment made that our children’s lives our SO fast paced already! The BIG PICTURE of waiting a year for him lies in that he will be a more capable and confident kindergartener.
– If your child’s preschool teacher says she is ready, and you feel in your heart she is, then I would definitely send her:) I think the real issue is when a pre-school teacher recommends TK, and a parent doesn’t take the recommendation. I do NOT believe in my heart that every school recommends TK to fill up their program. I think that is entirely a misconception. A teacher has to make a very informed, intentional decision to recommend TK…and often, the teacher may see things you do not in the classroom.
-The last thing I want to emphasize is that YES, your child may be at a higher level than others starting in K if they have done an academic TK program…BUT that is to be expected. Teachers receive training in learning styles and differentiation to meet many levels today. When I taught K in South Charlotte, I had some children come in knowing 2 letters, and others reading on a 4th grade level! It was my job to make the learning happen at a variety of levels through differentiation. Gone are the days of teaching at the same level! (BTW…Beverly Woods IS a great school, and they do a great job of differentiation for all learning levels in their classrooms!)
This TK or K decision is so easy for some, and much more difficult for others, but in the end, the decision is what is best for your child. Investigate the curriculums in both TK and K. Be aware of the scheduling and standards for K at your child’s school. Take into account your child will have homework each night (100 sight words by the end of the year…wow!) in Kindergarten. Don’t feel pressured by what other parents are doing/not doing. Take a deep breath, pray about it, and you will have your answer 🙂
BTW…sorry about all my typos! Not great for a teacher…lol…but I was typing this so fast and hit send before I checked:)
Thank you for your response – I love your perspective!
No worries on the typos. I was responding to the other comments on my phone and had a ton of auto-correct errors. Oops! 🙂
You will never regret TK. Never.
I am trying to decide on TK for my son, and I came across this post. My son turns 5 at the end of august. He is in preschool 2 days a week now. I was thinking of TK when he is 5, or just keeping him home one more year and go straight to kindergarden when he is 6. I am not in a hurry to get him out of the house yet! I appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!
Hey Melissa! This is Cheryl here – I would definitely TK him! I TK’d my son who has an August birthday, and it was the best decision I ever made. He’s in 3rd grade now and things just come so much easier to him at this point. Plus, at his school, most of the summer birthday kids are TK’d so he’s not the youngest or the oldest in class, which I think helps. Just from my experience, I would definitely TK!! Hope that helps some!!
Hi Janelle, I’m not sure if this comment will be seen so many years later but came across this blog post as we are considering TK vs. K for our July birthday daughter. I’m curious what your final decision was and what you are experiencing now with her based on what you chose?