I am the parent of a child who will start kindergarten next fall. She will be my second in school and this time around is a totally different experience. There has been a lot of change in the past 4 years since going through this process with my son. The public schools have changed and continue to change, private schools have grown and the economy is not great, limiting choice. One thing that has not changed is the popularity of Transitional Kindergarten/Junior Kindergarten.
I have found several descriptions of what TK/JK is and so the one that I am going to give is a combination of them. Transitional Kindergarten acts as a bridge between Preschool and Kindergarten programs. It is for children who may be eligible for kindergarten but can benefit from another year to grow and mature. It is also an ideal program for children who are young fives or might need another year to develop socially or academically before moving on to a kindergarten program. Children in transitional kindergarten will strive toward similar goals as to those of the kindergarten program, but will work at a modified pace, which provides more one on one and lower ratios.
We became well acquainted with TK when going through the kindergarten process with our son. He has an early May birthday and evidently for boys that is borderline with beginning Kindergarten in private school but ok for public. We had several schools tell us to TK him but others who said he was ready but would be among the youngest is his class. In the end my husband and I went with our “gut” and decided he was ready. Socially and emotionally, he was great and that was our deciding factor. We have not regretted our decision.
Our daughter with her February birthday is beginning Kindergarten and there is no decision making involved. I guess, my advice is to trust yourselves as parents if you are facing this decision. Get advice from other parents, knowing that each child is different. We had a difficult time because of what the private schools were telling us and then realized that they weren’t talking about our son as a whole learner, rather as an age and that we shouldn’t allow that to influence our decision and it opened our eyes to how many educational options we have in this city.
Many preschools offer TK programs. If this is the route you are going to take, check several out. Find the one that you think best matches your child and his needs. I know it is cliché but I think the saying is true that I haven’t heard a parent say that they regretted their decision to TK. If anyone of you Smarty Readers has also been through this process, please comment and share your experience. We would love to hear how you approached this issue.
When I was younger, my parents put me in a TK program. However, back then it was called pre-first. It is the same thing, basically for kids who weren’t quite ready to move on and had early birthdays. With my birthday being at the end of August, I was at the age cut-off. It was the best thing my parents could have done for me. A lot of my high school friends were kids who ended up being in my TK class. Plus, we ended up being one of the oldest in the class which was great developmentally and socially :)I think it is better to let them go to an extra year of school when they are younger then to have to hold them back when they are in elementary school becuase they just aren’t ready to go to the next grade.
I hope lots of parents will post to this topic because I would have loved the advice a year ago! My twins had early summer birthdays and the only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to keep them together (not class but grade). The best advice I received was to talk with their current preschool/day care teachers. Our teachers thought both of our children were clearly ready and my gut said the same thing. So far they are doing wonderfully in Kindergarten. I think the second step is to talk with the teachers at the school you hope your child will attend. We knew our children would go to our neighborhood public school and were able to speak with several Kindergarten teachers in CMS. Given the differences in public and private class make-ups (age demographics) might play into your decision as well. I know I did not want mine to be the oldest or the youngest.Hope that helps and good luck to all the 4 year old parents- I was in your boat last year and overwhelmed!
As a teacher who sees over 600 students in the school, it is so obvious to me when the child is a spring or summer birthday. I am whole-heartedly for holding the spring and summer kids back a year to give them time to grow academically, socially and emotionally. Your child may be ready for Kindergarten but the social and emotional and possibly academic aspects will catch up with them when they are in 5th grade or 8th or high school, etc. No one regrets holding their child back, they only regret sending them.
I’m also a teacher of primary-aged children and I agree that it is of greater benefit to hold the child back. Schools are under such pressure to perform academically that attention to social development is often put on the back burner. Giving your child the extra year to mature that much more and to have quality social experiences will help them greatly in all areas. Sending them significantly raises the probability that they will struggle with the academics that they are not developmentally ready for. Why not give your child the best chance for success? When we as educators identify a problem and look to find answers, one of the first questions we always ask is, “When is their birthday?”.
I don’t understand then what’s the point of a school having a cut off date. First it was Oct., now Aug. 31st and people are saying pretty much if a child has a spring or summer b-day they should wait another year??? I personally was sent to K a year late and always hated growing up a year older than all my peers. To me it was quite embarrassing to be older than all my friends and embarrassing to be older than all the boys in my grade when it came to dating. Going to K needs to be based on readiness, not it being an advantage since they will be “one up” on all the other kids b/c they had an extra year.
I agree with the previous post. When I was a child I just missed the cut off for kindergarten with my October birthday. When I started the following year, however, and was ahead of all the other kids in the class they moved me into first grade after Christmas break. These days, though, it appears to be the trend that the kids who are more average will be forced to keep up with all those children who are held back instead of going ahead into the proper grade level.
I never understood why CMS had the October cut off date, anyway … Aug 31st (or even August 1st) makes much more sense so that children are at least 5 when they start school. Kindergarten is so much more demanding than when we were little and a four year old or “new” five may not be ready physically, emotionally or academically to handle it.That being said, though, the TK decision isn’t just about how the kids can manage now; it’s important to keep in mind how your child might fair down the road … like only being 17 when they head off for college!I personally think we push kids into academics way too early and they get burned out. We completely underestimate the value of what kids learn in the early years just by playing in the park, hanging out and running errands, cooking, etc. with mom. I grow weary of this burning desire to “socialize” our children and force-feed rote learning …