Friday, April 04, 2014

Ready for kindergarten?

Different districts have extremely different cut-offs for kindergarten. If we still lived in New York City, my 4-year-old would be starting kindergarten next fall, and he wouldn’t even be among the youngest in his class. He’s got a late September birthday, and the NYC cut-off is December 31. But out here in my suburban PA district, the cut-off is September 1.

Of course, kindergarten here isn’t exactly a huge step from nursery school. It’s only a half-day program. Because of that, most of the preschools in the area also offer kindergarten options. The school he’s been attending has a full-day kindergarten program that accepts slightly younger students. So he’ll be doing that this coming year, and then we’ll see what we do.

It’s hard to know how children will develop. But I’m not sure that repeating kindergarten will seem like a particularly great idea in another year. Which means I may have to find a private 1st grade that will accept him, or create a case that he is ready for 1st grade work in the public school. I have some hope -- one of the children in my older son’s first grade class turns out to have a September birthday. But it probably won’t be easy.

What makes this all interesting for me is that many parents have told me how fortunate we are that his birthday is in September -- because he’ll always be one of the oldest kids in the class. I guess for sports that might be good but for gifted kids being the oldest can just make you feel even more bored. It’s also interesting to me that if he’d been born a few weeks earlier (before September 1st which, given how much past his due date he arrived, totally could have happened), and I elected to keep him back, that would have been OK. Parents are given much latitude to hold their children back. They aren’t given as much latitude to accelerate their children.

What age were your children when they started kindergarten? Does your district allow early enrollment? What has convinced your school that it would be OK?


nicoleandmaggie said...

I think you know our story, but we went private with our Christmas baby so he could start at 4. Then he did K and 1st together, so now he is skipped two grades. Public school won't talk until 2nd grade and won't accelerate as a standard policy until middle school.

jlp said...

Oh, we have this problem too. My 3.5 year old (who has been reading for a year and a half) was born the first week of September.

We live in a state that has explicit, specific requirements for early entrance, namely: send your kid to private school for pre-K and K, and if at the end the private school says they are ready for 1st, you can enroll them in 1st. (This is for kids with birthdays in September through December.)

It's relatively straightforward, which I appreciate. Unfortunately, for us it's complicated by the fact our public gifted program - which requires testing into - starts in Kindergarten for the majority of schools. We're not entirely sure what we're going to do.

Unknown said...

Because we thought there was no way our son could grow in a public school kindergarten, we chose a private Montessori. Now, he's going into a public self contained 1st grade class next year after never been in public school. It's going to be quite a transition!

sarah said...

Similar to JLP (are we in the sane state?), if child is in a private prek and kindergarten, and is born before December 31, they can head straight into first grade. The public gifted programs have a strict start in kindergarten and absolutely no skipping of any grades. The "gifted program" curriculum is 1-2 years ahead, depending on school/program.

We are trying to decide what is the best course of option: the public gifted program, skipping kindergarten in our neighborhood school, or staying in our private school.

Surprisingly, the administration in our neighborhood public school has been the most receptive to our concerns and suggestions. We shall see...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see other parents sending their boys to kindergarten early! My son misses the Ohio cutoff by 2 days - he's born October 2nd. I'm in process of early entrance with the school district now. I've been surprised that despite testing gifted, they are still extremely hesitant to allow him through and are choosing to largely ignore the research on the topic. I've researched private school options, including the Montessori he is currently in for Pre-K, and I haven't found a school that will take him. They all strictly follow the School District decision. It is very frustrating that a school district has complete control to make such an important decision largely based on their subjective opinions on the topic (and not objective measures).

Anonymous said...

Ready for kindergarten?

Academically: about age 3.
Behaviorally: age 7 maybe.

What would be the point of sending our kids to B&M kindergarten to learn nothing and be labelled a problem?

We saw the writing on the wall, and chose homeschooling.

Anonymous said...

Our district has Early Access so Little One started 1st grade as a 5 year old. Thank goodness for that option. It was still not enough of a challenge though, and I think it caused some regression academically.*sigh*

Most of the private schools around here teach about 1 grade level higher, but beyond that are not flexible and have a smaller social circle. And the cost is out of our reach anyway.

Mostly what I've heard is to continually provide extracurricular enrichment. Public schools can't do much with kids who more than 1 grade advanced. The extremely broad range of readiness is beyond a teacher's ability to differentiate, especially with large class sizes, unless the teacher is just amazing.

Kristi Lea said...

My daughter has an August birthday, but our state has a July 31st cutoff date. The state also has a cutoff date for 1st grade, so we knew from the start we were stuck with a private school for a minimum of 2 years. Our city has a lot of Catholic parish schools, but they follow the state guidelines. So we ended up with a much more expensive private school for several years.

The biggest frustration with her situation wasn't that she is spectactularly gifted--she may not be actually gifted at all, but was certainly above average and was definitely ready for Kindergarten the year she was 5. But most schools wouldn't even evaluate her.

Her younger brother is, I believe, definitely gifted. He has a March birthday (i.e. nowhere near July cut-off) and the same school that accepted his sister post-cutoff-date tried to suggest holding him back a year because of behavior (even though academically, he was excelling). That was unacceptable to us--especially since his acting out is worse when he's bored. His brain is always "on", and when his classmates are stuck learning something, he finds ways to entertain himself, much to the frustration of his teachers.

We're now at a different private (parish-run, so less expensive than true private, but still not public) school. We are still debating whether to have the public school evaluate the younger one for their gifted program. The older one is the youngest in her class (she transferred in 3rd grade, so the school didn't worry about her birthday), but is generally doing very well.

jlp said...

sarah -
We may well be in the same state, though if so, I hesitate to call it the sane state. =)

And yes, I forgot to mention: no skipping of grades! Ever! Under any circumstances! Because we have Gifted Programs which magically meet the needs of any child. Not sure if that's a state policy or just citywide, but the rigidity (on that, and the cut-off date, and all other issues) is crazy-making.

The good news is, I have heard from parents that kids in both neighborhood and gifted schools sometimes "walk" to math, so even if there isn't grade skipping per se, there is definitely some subject acceleration for some kids - until you max out of the school you're in, of course.

Our older (who is very similar to his brother) will be starting K in the fall, so we'll see how it goes. I am, sadly, not optimistic, but hoping to be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

No early enrollment allowed! My son turned 6, 3 weeks after starting Kindergarten because refused to let him start previous year. Then public school was terrible with police being called due to violence (they re-districted our school and my child got sent to a different school then his older brother had gone too; the original school was not closed just moved zones of who went where). Anyway, pulled him out for a constructivist private school that started up and he was in a classroom with several 4 year olds! Out of 12 kids in the class 6 kids didn't turn 5 until after December. Not sure would qualify these children, the 4 year olds, as gifted and my son had huge mismatch in social skills. They moved my son to 3rd grade but school just was not a fit and now he is in a charter school.