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Should He Stay or Should He Go? The Kindergarten Dilemma

Erin- Smack. Hand on forehead. Every once in awhile we all just need one of those. 

Ellen- I find it keeps me from throttling other people.

Erin- Today was one of those days.  A few weeks ago, we had THE TALK. Not THAT ONE, the other one—the one where you meet with the preschool teacher about whether to send the baby to kindergarten.

All I can hear is Joe Strummer singing in my head, “Should he stay or should he go?” 

Ellen- Remember folks, she not only has a visa for Planet Teen, she is the Princess of Preschool Nation. She’s got five kids in her army.

Erin- Goodness, haven’t I been around this tree before? Am I still supposed to be wringing sweat from my hands about preschool and kindergarten? 

Ellen- Shouldn’t it be one of the perks of being a mother of five to get a reprieve from kindergarten being a colossal decision?

I mean, really, you’ve been there and done that 4 times already. Isn’t it the consolation prize that you get to have some things on autopilot? I mean why else would you triple or quadruple your food bill, your electric bill, and your college tuitions? Except for, of course, you also exponentially increase your joy. (For real, Erin’s family is a joy to be around.)

Erin- One of the supposed joys of mothering a brood is the notion that decisions become less fraught because your experience (times 4 or 5) makes you wiser.

So when can I stop and smell the roses? When am I allowed to stop sweating every decision??

Ellen- Apparently never.  No GET OUT OF THIS CONVERSATION FREE card for you.  Doomed to sit in the little chairs yet again.

ErinTo be perfectly honest, although I love Eddie’s teacher and think she loves him back, I was a little annoyed that I had to take an hour of my time AND schedule it so that Steve could be there too AND this was all ON A SCHOOL NIGHT. Which meant the teens were running the evening routine. Enough said, and GRRRRRR.

Ellen- Shudder.  But why is this decision so angst-inducing? He has done his year in preschool, and he makes the cut-off date for kindergarten, right?

Erin- The main arguments for holding Eddie back are that he is physically small, has a late birthday in the late summer, and the majority of his class cohort has much older birthdays.

These are fair arguments. They are just not compelling ones—at least to me. 

Ellen-  If we are talking about Eddie, specifically, and not in generalizations, they are not very compelling to me either.

Erin- And yet my husband had made me promise to muzzle it and let THE TEACHER talk: “We’ll learn a lot about what to do from what she tells us without our interpretation or input.

The teacher had no concerns about his academic readiness, his social skills, or his developmental readiness, so my main takeaway was that another year could be a gift to him—another year to play and be a little boy. Hmmmm. Who wouldn’t get on board with that?

The only thing I said during our hour was “Thank you, we would like some time to think this over.”

And that’s what I did, except when I said “think it over” what I meant was give myself time to read everything I could find and poll every person I know.

Ellen- I’m impressed you could tamp down that niggling voice whispering, “This is all a big waste of time.”

Erin- Oh, it was niggling me! More than that really, it was saying, “Put this baby to rest. Send THAT baby to kindergarten. We have bigger fish to fry.” But I put on my Good Girl hat and started doing my research.

Ellen- Good Girl hat? I’m thinking you lost those brownie points when you didn’t immediately accept holding him back. So what did the research say?

ErinAt this point, I want to be able to say that the research (the paper kind and the people kind) clarified everything, but what I found was. . . contradictory at best. 

There were some very good reasons for holding him back. One study found that the youngest students were much more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and  were three times as likely to repeat a grade. Umm, no thank you.

Another study found that the oldest students were most likely to become student leaders. Well, what parent DOESN’T want that? At this point, I started daydreaming about my sweet boy as class president circa Class of 2022! 

But by far the most compelling argument for another year of PreK was what my mother (former preschool teacher, current kindergarten teacher) said: “You cannot underestimate the power of feeling confident and capable in the classroom.” Maybe Momma IS always right.

I was all ready to give him another year, but, of course, I then kept reading.  The arguments against another year of Pre-K pushed me right back on my fence. There were negligible long-term academic benefits.  The differences between the oldest and the youngest are the largest on the first day of kindergarten, but the advantages decrease over time.  Younger students catch up with the oldest by third grade. Even studies that matched each child who delayed entrance with a child of like intelligence who had not delayed entrance did not find any solid proof that this practice made any difference at all.

At this point, my head was spinning. I heard Joe singing, “If I go, it could be trouble. If I stay, it could be double.” What’s a Momma to do?

Ellen, singing: “This indecision’s killing me.”

Erin: THIS Momma remembered her maxim to Have a Little Ellen in her life. I handed this mess over.

Ellen: Are you getting the gist? Erin read pages more of research and she sent them to me. Here is my take-away: despite research indicating there is no real benefit, it is becoming a common practice to “red-shirt” for kindergarten.

Erin: We did not make that up. It’s a term. Oy.

Ellen: There are no large studies with good statistical significance to show that it is beneficial to hold back. It is most often recommended to white males, and quite frankly, there are whiffs that it is recommended so that schools have better scores on their “No Child Left Behind” rankings.

Erin: Wake up! At this point, I’m cutting her off. She could analyze statistics for hours. The links are there if you want to read what I read.  My last call was to my dad, the fair-minded judge and father of 4.  It’s his daily work to evaluate two sides of an issue, balance interests, and come up with good solutions.

He just said, “What did your mother say? Do that.”

Ellen: At this point, I had heard this talk long enough. It was now time to call on The Sisterhood.

They were only too happy to share their thoughts:

SIL with two summer babies: “Was worried, but both kids are doing great.”

SIL with two fall babies who got that valuable extra year: “Kids are happy and doing great.”

Friend with a Summer Birthday Baby and a December birthday Baby: “Hold him back, because you are thinking ahead. If he moves on to kindergarten, he will turn 18 a month before he goes to college. He will be the last in his class to get his driver’s license.”

Ellen- Must interject here. I also have a summer baby, Coco (13), and a December baby, Jellybean (11).  And while it is true that the preschool teacher initiated a mortifying conference to discuss Coco using yips to answer questions instead of words, she is doing fine. Upper tail of the bell curve and all that.

Sisterhood Friend: “I wish I had thought to hold X back. He’s struggling socially in middle school, and he has a late summer birthday.”

Other Sisterhood Friend: “I don’t think you can make a wrong decision, but you will definitely know which one is better.”

Ellen: Eddie is ready for kindergarten. He is articulate. He is one of the few 5 year olds I can have a conversation with that I enjoy. His best buds are moving up. And besides, it will make it much easier to work on the blog.

Erin: Rest assured, no decisions were made based on this blog. You did catch that Ellen took the time to read my research.

Then my sister called to weigh in.  My mother and father had filled her in on our Big Dilemma.

My beloved sister: “Are we seriously even talking about this?”

Erin: OK, so, maybe my sister Karen is the voice in my head. Hmmm. 

So here is the thing I learned that I already knew: all of these kids, including mine, are going to be just fine. The decisions to start preschool or kindergarten and when are important decisions, but they are not deal-breakers. Kids grow where they are planted and nourished and cared for.

Hence, the forehead smack. I knew that. I needed to remember that. And not for nothing, the fifth time around this tree made it easier to see that. 

Eddie is going to kindergarten next year. He is curious, inquisitive, and ready to learn. He is still small, will still have a birthday in the late summer, and will still be the youngest in his class. He will still have time to play and be a little boy, but he will also learn to read and write and, if we’re lucky, eat some paste, because that’s what curious, inquisitive little boys do.

He is going not because of any one thing we read or brilliant insight someone shared. He is not going because of any readiness assessments we took (although they did make us feel better—really). He is going, because one night after we put him to bed, Steve and I looked at each other and at the same moment said, “He’s ready.” 

He’s going, because he’s ready, and we both feel that to be true.

I could break into song, but this time it’s not Joe in my head, but the Hallelujah Chorus. No more hand-wringing or sweating this decision. 

Ellen: Get Eddie a bigger backpack, because he’s goin’ to kindergarten!

Addendum: As we were working on this piece, 60 Minutes ran a segment about kindergarten redshirting.  Definitely worth a look if you are also in the midst of this decision.

Also, Steve and I found some great resources online to determine academic readiness from sources like Scholastic, BabyCenter, and FamilyEducation.com. We took two readiness assessments—one from School Sparks and one from Covenant Home.

 

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By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski

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64 Responses to “Should He Stay or Should He Go? The Kindergarten Dilemma”

  1. Jen West
    March 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    My 11 year old daughter has a late July birthday, started kindergarten when she should have at 5 years and 1 month, and did fine. She was speaking in paragraphs by age two, so we knew she would be ready!

    My 8 year old middle child has a late March birthday, so she falls somewhere in the middle. Ha ha!

    My 6 year old son has an August birthday, and we worried about him being young, small, and immature compared to his classmates. He is in first grade now and sure enough, he is struggling. In fact, this week was his first on a low dose of an ADHD medication. He has had three days of smiley faces on his daily behavior report, which I am ecstatic about!

    One of my main concerns about labeling him ADHD was still his age compared to the rest of his class. The youngest in the group tend to get labelled ADHD more frequently. But his inability to sit still and do independent work was affecting his grades and making him a slight behavioral issue as well.

    Whether his attention improves with age remains to be seen. But in the meantime I don’t want him to develop dislike for school or himself, which I have already seen in him.

    I don’t know if holding him back a year would have made any difference. At this point, I think it is too early to know. Ask me again in 5 years!

    Hey, there’s no math problem for me to solve before I submit this!

    • The Sisterhood
      March 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

      Oh, I hope things go well for your youngest. The research shows that differences even out by third grade. The decisions never end, though, do they? Ellen

  2. Ninja Mom
    March 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    My twins are four. They will be five in August 24. Our school cut-off is August 1. They will be four when school starts in mid-August. We are sending them, happily, to kindergarten. Because, well, they need a place to learn, grow, develop social skills, and have wonderful, challenging, academic and life experiences.

    I did not always feel this way. They are tiny people (only just starting on 4T clothes). They are “just right for their age” according to the ore-k teachers. Beans still has tantrums sometimes when she’s frustrated. They are both very interested in learning.

    I read Gladwell’s “Outliers.” I read a great piece in the NY Times. I asked around. Then, when I almost couldn’t think my way out of it, I gave up. I said to myself, “They make the cut-off, they go.

    What fueled the decision (one I made with my husband in full agreement), most recently, is the alarming number of upper middle class folks (a group I’m demographically a part if) who are holding their kids back because they perceive an advantage. Because, like any good parent, they don’t want to leave their own kid at a disadvantage. Other kids are starting older, why should their small child be left in the lurch?

    First it was the kids within a month of the cut-off. Then I’d meet July-baby parents. Then June, then, really?, May-baby parents. I started to wonder how much was necessary holding bakc, and how much was trying to give a kid a leg up.

    Meanwhile, I also started to wonder about the working class, and even more acutely, the poor families who didn’t have the option to buy another (or any) year of day care or pre-school. When would they get a chance to catch up?

    I have two very excited, soon-to-be kindergarteners, who are going to be smarter tomorrow than they are today, who will be relatively brilliant in three more months. In six? A year from now? Unrecognizable. And all that growth begins this August.

    Great post!
    Ninja Mom recently posted..Not misdirection, REdirection.My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

      What a thoughtful comment. Nice to know others are out there with the same decisions. When my oldest went to kindergarten (she is a July baby) it was not even a notion to hold her back. If we had, she might be ruling the world. :) Ellen

    • The Sisterhood
      March 15, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      I have been thinking about this response all day, because I wanted to give this thoughtful comment it’s due. I truly think that we would have had great conversations about the research I read. I too was disturbed by the implications of predominantly upperclass white parents changing the game for everyone. There could easily be an eighteen month age span in a K classroom and what that might mean for kids who had not had an enriching home environment—just one more disadvantage.

      I also read “Outliers”, but awhile ago, so I had forgotten all the good things that book had to say on this topic.

      I think one of the things that kept driving me crazy as I wrestled with this topic was watching him gain skills so rapidly since the start of the new year. I feel the same way—they are smarter every day—who am I to slow down the inevitable march of progress?? Thank you so much for your words. Erin

  3. Nicole
    March 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Well, you know, of course I’m thrilled that Eddie will be joining Grizzly Bear in the Kindergarten adventure! I’d also like to point out to your readership that that class’s age range is soooooo skewed. When Grizzly Bear, who turned 5 over a month ago, is one of the youngest in the class, you know that this is an unusual class. Geico Eyes’ 1st grade class has birthdays all over the map, and I don’t remember Pre-K teacher having talks with the summer birthday parents of that class, because there were a lot of summer birthdays! Of course I’m biased, but I think Eddie is fine, and he’ll rock that kindergarten building!

    • The Sisterhood
      March 15, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      Thanks, Nicole. Grizzly Bear and Eddie are pretty tight, so they can help each other out or take over the classroom. Erin

    • Mary
      March 15, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      And in Kangroo’s Kindergarten’s class (okay really getting into these names!) He is one of the oldest and his birthday is in Feb. 2/3 of the class turn 6 after March!

  4. Mary
    March 15, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Great aritcle – I think which ever way one chooses – especially when you are just dealing with a summer birthday as your main decision factor – you have to be at peace with your decision and ready to handle any factors or issues you may encounter – whether you decided to hold him back or not.

    Love the article and love how Eddie keeps you on your toes. He never got the memo that he is the 5th child and is supposed to follow in rank. Go Eddie… Love him!!

    • The Sisterhood
      March 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      I think that’s why I really try to think through my decisions, so that once I have made it I can move on and not second-guess myself. And you are totally right about my little man, he DID NOT get the memo. ; ) Erin

  5. Jennifer
    March 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    I figure with the economy being as it is, why not keep them in school an extra year? Better there then in my basement eating my potato chips?

    ;-)

    I do think it is such a kid by kid kind of decision. My middle guy (late August birthday) was academically ahead but so socially immature that we just didn’t feel like he would do well in K so we held him a year. My youngest (early Oct birthday) will have to wait because of the cut-off. But he is socially confident and could handle moving forward…

    In any case, it really doesn’t matter. Gut instinct! Best way to go.
    Jennifer recently posted..Signed, Sealed, DeliveredMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      Thanks, Jennifer. I love your sense of humor—-I forgot that one reason I was sending him on was to protect my snacks. I appreciate hearing your own family’s experience with this topic. Erin

  6. jen
    March 15, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    I think this is such an interesting topic With my sons I had two different experiences I decided to forgo preschool for my first born son altogether and work with him at home because of he just wasn’t ready for school.

    My younger one couldn’t wait to go to school at four very different children, they were Aug, and Oct babies.

    I think each child has to be looked at as an individual. I just always listened to what they said in school, but in the end it’s always my mothers gut that ruled my decisions.

    Think you did the right thing sending the little man to the next level, that’s what I would have done given the circumstances.
    jen recently posted..someone doesn’t love me, and i want to stop the stalkingMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

      Thanks, Jen. I have always felt that one gift that I CAN give my kids is an individual response to their educational and emotional needs—not all families have that luxury.

      I think this topic hits home with all of us, because we all wish we had a crystal ball that let us see how this all worked out. That would make every decision soooo much easier. Thanks for sharing your family’s experience. Erin

  7. Nikki
    March 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    You figured it out but you’re the one who knows your kid. There are days that I think that maybe I should have held my August 7th birthday boy back for another year. Then I think about how he was bored in Kindergarten, how he has ADHD regardless of when he started school and how he’s in 3rd grade just like another child who has an August 8th birthday. I do recall being frustrated at having to remind his Kindergarten teacher that there is a world of difference between a child who has just turned 5 and one who is almost 6. I think it’s a legitimate consideration but one that can be figured out by following your gut. Good luck!

    • The Sisterhood
      March 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      Thanks, Nikki. I have an older son, totally different personality who has an August 4 birthday in third grade. He was always mature for his age, so that was never the issue, but he just caught up this year in things like gym.

      Trusting the gut IS an important consideration and the reason you trust it is that you did your homework. Erin

  8. Stacey
    March 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I’ve recently been going through this whole debate in my mind. Our middle son turns 3 in June, and even though he’s not starting Kindergarten, we had to consider that for his preschool placement (or felt like we did). My sister and I were June babies and both did well in school, so my mom thinks this is ridiculous. I was an elementary teacher though, and there is a lot of talk about the younger (boy) students not being ready. The other part for me is that if he starts at 5, he and his older brother will be a year apart in school, and I worry that he won’t have enough “space” to be himself. But maybe he doesn’t need that space. I don’t know. At any rate, we decided to let him go ahead with preschool – he is a bright boy and I know he will enjoy it – and worry about the Kindergarten thing later.
    Stacey recently posted..FourMy Profile

  9. Louise Ducote
    March 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Whew! I’m exhausted from jumping over that fence with you! I bet your guy will do great, especially with such an on-the-ball mama. Love the music in this one!
    Louise Ducote recently posted..Throw the BallMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

      Thank you for fence-jumping with me. I don’t think I even fully conveyed just how much better I feel to have this monkey off my back. I love the music too, Erin

  10. Alyssa @NearNormalcy
    March 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    My oldest is a March baby, so she started K at 5.5 exactly. My baby is September, though, so he’ll be a big question mark. I do think it depends entirely on the kid. My daughter, at barely-5? Would have been ready. But my son is a different child, and may not be. So I hope when we get to that point that I’ll remember to follow my gut and remember that my husband and I are the only ones who really know this kid, and not get too bogged down in the research.

    Great post!

    • The Sisterhood
      March 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      I really do think good moms check everything out, but then look at the kid and listen to their heart. Thanks! Erin

    • The Sisterhood
      March 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      Well, the research links we found helpful will be here if you need them. :)

  11. heidi
    March 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    I was all about Kindergarten. I’ll admit I was one of those moms that couldn’t wait for my kids to go to school. All of us were just so ready, you know?

    You go with your heart, gut and you can’t go wrong.:)
    heidi recently posted..what to sayMy Profile

  12. Sarcasm Goddess
    March 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Yay for kindergarten! I think you made your decision for the most important reason: He is ready. Cheers to eating paste! Oh, and maybe squirting glue on your hand, letting it dry and peeling it off. That was the best! In fact, I think I’ll go do it now…
    Sarcasm Goddess recently posted..Ranting: It Does a Body Good.My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      Silly girl! Squirting glue, but it was darn fun!! Thanks! Erin

  13. Ado
    March 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Both of my daughters are late birthdays and I muddled over this question (they go to private school so we had some leeway) and in the end held them both until they were ready. The thing that closed it for me was knowing I’d have them for an extra year before sending them off to college – and they’d be a year older and more able to handle it. (-:

    • The Sisterhood
      March 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

      That’s a very powerful argument. Thanks for sharing, Erin

  14. Mayor Gia
    March 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Congrats on making a decision! “And that’s what I did, except when I said “think it over” what I meant was give myself time to read everything I could find and poll every person I know.” I do that too – or it usually means “I’ll be googling that.”
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  15. Andi Brown
    March 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    So if all my kids are born in March or April do I get to skip this whole rigamarole?
    Andi Brown recently posted..Learning When To RunMy Profile

  16. Andi Brown
    March 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    HEY….I thought you were going to make the math easier!!?? :)
    Andi Brown recently posted..Learning When To RunMy Profile

  17. Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy
    March 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Can I just say how glad I am I don’t have to make these decisions right now? The worst decision I’ve had to make over the last few days is whether or not to let the new cat mingle with the other cats unsupervised. Stressful (only a little) but not directly affecting anyone’s future. Whew.

    Bravo on being awesome moms. If I’m a mom some day, I’m coming to the sisterhood for advice.
    Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy recently posted..High NotesMy Profile

  18. Kerstin
    March 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    I am glad I did not have to make that decision. In Germany, where both my kids went to kindergarten/school first, kids start Kindergarten when they are three years old and they go for three years and then start grade 1. It’s a whole different structure with lots of play and leading up to simple math and reading in the last year.
    If I had to choose, I would always go with my gut. And I’m sure you did just the right thing for your little guy!
    Kerstin recently posted..A teacher, mentor and friendMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      That sounds like a great system, and I appreciate the cyber fist bump. I really do appreciate your feedback. Thanks! Erin

  19. Delilah
    March 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    I’ve been spared this dilemma so far. I have 2 with November birthdays, 2 with September birthdays and 1 with a January birthdday. The September’s missed the Kindergarten cutoff by 5 and 7 days respectively. My issue right now is whether to enroll Mase in pre-k through the school system so he can get speech therapy. I almost hate to send a 4 year old to school from 9:15-4:30 every single day. I’m in a quandry.
    Delilah recently posted..So What?My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      Oh, I recognize that tree you are climbing up. Deep breaths. Definitely time to ask the speech pathologist and his case manager what their recommendations are. Good luck, Erin

  20. Runnermom-jen
    March 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    This is SO interesting, because I have had to make this decision twice…once with my oldest boy (summer birthday sent to kindergarten when he was 5) and my third child (summer birthday, waiting to send him until he’s 6). I have to say, we didn’t base either of those decisions on research or what anyone else had to say…we just went with our gut. It sounds like (in the end) you went with your gut as well.
    Runnermom-jen recently posted..The Easy RunMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 7:23 am #

      It does boil down to the kid and the gut, but, for me, the research and the advice helps me to “put that baby to rest” once I make the decision—no back-peddling or second-guessing. Erin

  21. Emily
    March 21, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    Wow! I had no idea about any of this! For what it’s worth though, it sounds like you made a well-informed decision based on everything you knew about the research and everything you understand about your son. Not to mention, I was a little dizzied by your wonderful, sprawling support system! He really can’t go wrong in a community like yours!
    Emily recently posted..The Smallest Act of KindnessMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 7:25 am #

      We do have a pretty fabulous support system who are also incredibly patient. Thanks! Erin

  22. Michelle Longo
    March 21, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    I will have to read up on this redshirting, because I haven’t a clue what it is. My son turned 5 in January, so the school district made the decision for us. He will be nearly 6 when he enters Kindergarten. If his birthday was 3 months earlier, I’d have been in your shoes. He’s a small boy, but bright. He could have done the work last September. I was afraid he’d be bored in Pre-K again (not that I had a choice). But his confidence and social maturity caught up to where a Kindergarten should be and I’m so thankful that I didn’t have to decide on what to do with him last year! Glad you made your choice and I think your friend who said neither is right but you’ll know is pretty wise. Great post.
    Michelle Longo recently posted..Big Kid.My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      We were a little shocked about “redshirting” because we had never heard of it either. And yes, our dear Mary is, among her many other attributes, very wise. Thanks! Erin

  23. Kim@Mamamzungu
    March 21, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Oy – is every parenting decision going to be like this? Contradictory advise and research? And for every kid!? I’m scared. Truly scared.

    But I love that you just went with your gut after all of advise. And it sure doesn’t hurt that both you and your husband were on the same page. Didn’t sound to me like his teacher had too many compelling arguments (for what it’s worth).
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    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      No, not every decision is like this. I think that’s part of what threw me. Always trust your gut. Works for me, Erin

  24. Kim Pugliano @The G is Silent
    March 21, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Ready for my input? My aunt put Tony in a year ahead of me. He was a September baby and I was January. She regreted it. I too put my (then) step son in at just-turned 5 (September baby) and regreted it. Then my 5th grade teacher gave me words of wisdom: The best gift you can give a child is time. Noah turned 5 in August (only many years ago) and I waited. That was too soon and I knew it. Academically he was right on track but being a boy? Not mature enough. He started at age 6. There are currently two boys older than him in his middle school. One of the major pluses is he will have an edge over the other boys in sports when he hits his older years because he will be that much more developed.

    And that is MY experience.
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    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks, Kim. I appreciate this side of the story—there really are two ways this could go. I don’t think holding Eddie back would be a wrong decision, but moving forward feels more right. An unwritten part of our decision is that his cohort at school, though much older, is also a group of really nice kids that he gels with very well. You don’t always get that, and it was definitely part of the conversation. I am comfortable with what we are doing for next year, but I think my mom and Eddie’s teacher would have both nodded their heads when you talked about the gift of time. Thanks for sharing, Erin

  25. Lenore Diane
    March 21, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I immediately thought about the Red Shirting piece on 60 Minutes when I started reading your post. It wasn’t an issue for us – never a second thought, in fact. Joe turned 5 in January, and he began Kindergarten the same year. Charlie turned 5 in June and began Kindergarten that September. I don’t regret enrolling Charlie into Kindergarten – he is thriving. I believe he is where he needs to be.
    I don’t get the concept of holding back due to size ..

    But, I read comments like Kim’s comment, and I understand everyone has a different experience. So, I embrace the fact that the option exists – parents have a choice. Let’s hear it for freedom of choice, eh?
    Lenore Diane recently posted..Project 366: Day 81My Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      With any arbitrary line in the sand (which is what the September cutoff is), there will be times when you have to call on your best judgment. I love the freedom of choice—unfortunately, I don’t think all parents get the same level of choice and that’s a problem in itself. Thanks! Erin

  26. Tracy @ Scribblesaurus Me
    March 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    A) It’s wrong to use yips to answer questions instead of words?
    B) I, like you, tend to hit the research button when faced with any major parenting decision. And, inevitably, armed with all that research I still end up going with my initial gut feeling. Only I feel better about it ;)

    I’m sure your little man will excel at kindergarten because you know in your heart it’s the right move.
    Tracy @ Scribblesaurus Me recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – This Crust Tastes Like AssMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Ha, apparently yips are frowned upon—who knew?? The gut is master, but I worry myself to death if I don’t back that up with some solid research. Thanks! Erin

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      The “yips” meeting was excruciatingly sincere. As a new mom, I was mortified. If I could go back as the mom I am now (with the reassurance of how my kids are turning out) I do not think I would be able to control my laughter. Maybe this story needs to be shared in more detail. It is one of my favorites. :) Ellen

  27. Susan
    March 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    oh y’all, when i read this the first time it made me laugh and sniffle at the same time and i think that’s why i love this blog so much. i know i have a few years before i have to worry about dane but the time is going by so fast that i can’t help but think about him going off to school. i don’t have any advice to offer but i can at least tell you that you both are quickly becoming my motherly role models (not the least of which because i suspect there was a list or possibly a spreadsheet and white board involved in the decision-making process. everything makes more sense on a white board, doesn’t it?). thanks -susan
    Susan recently posted..GraceMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      That’s the sweetest thing to say. Thank you so much. Love reading about your little Dane too. Erin

    • The Sisterhood
      March 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

      This comment made my day. Thank you! Ellen (And I do love me a good spreadsheet.)

  28. Kimberly S. (Sperk*)
    March 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    “Kids grow where they are planted and nourished and cared for.” Great statement-especially ‘nourished and cared for’. And from what you described, this is true of your future kindergartener. My daughter has a late Oct. birthday and started school in California where the cut-off date is Dec. We moved to Ohio where the cut-off date is September. She is in 8th grade, and the same age as 7th graders. Although I sometimes wish she was in 7th grade so that I could postpone some of the BIG TALKS, she is doing just fine. I truly believe that children’s success in their educational careers start at home with parenting. We can’t keep them from the disappointments, but we can support them through……great post. Love the links to the research and its relevancy to what’s being explored in the media. Definitely sharing.
    Kimberly S. (Sperk*) recently posted..The Storybooks Got It WrongMy Profile

  29. Kristin
    March 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Absolutely wonderful discussion of the issue.

    I’m not a fan of redshirting for reasons other than lack of ability. For one thing, it puts parents who can (meaning CAN afford an extra year of preschool, or preschool at all) at an advantage. For another, as you mentioned, kids with traditional abilities will do just fine – with an adjustment period – within a short period of time.

    That said, every parent has to decide what is best (within allowable restrictions) for her own child. And parents usually know their own children best. I was the second youngest in my class, and I’m kind of sad that my daughter will be among the oldest in hers. Weird, right?
    Kristin recently posted..The TalkMy Profile

  30. Jessica@Team Rasler
    March 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Thank you for the clever way you wove the research into the emotional tale of a mom trying to figure out the best path for her son. I was an October baby and started kindergarten at age 4. I did fine, so it really never occurred to me that anyone would think I should hold back either of my July boys. Yet even though we’re a year away from the first K decision, I can feel it weighing on me as I hear more and more about redshirting. I think redshirting because your child isn’t socially or emotionally ready makes sense. Doing it so your child will be the biggest, best, etc. in his or her class does not. Ultimately I think it’s sad that our educational system is set up this way so that the kids are grouped by age with these cut-off dates (I love the idea of multiage classrooms), and that traditional classrooms are set up to make it hard for certain kids to be ready for them. Now, I am a public school teacher, so I sympathize with the K teachers: just feel bad that the system is ideal.

    As for me? I’m almost certainly going to let my son stay in his Montessori for the K year and then switch to public school for first grade. We’ll see.
    Jessica@Team Rasler recently posted..A little help from my friends?My Profile

  31. Jackie
    March 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Someone has to be the oldest, the youngest, the tallest, the smallest,…I could go on. Size, just as age, plays little in terms of long term success. Home life has a great impact on academic success, and from the discussions on this blog, I think your little guy is on the right path.
    For the most part, I generally am anti-red shirting, except in college when red shirting for athletics actually makes sense, somewhat.
    Good luck! (former K & 1 grade teacher here w/a degree in special ed too!)
    Jackie recently posted..Socially Acceptable NormsMy Profile

    • The Sisterhood
      March 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your first point was actually one I thought about a lot—well, someone DOES have to be the youngest and if Eddie can hang it might as well be him. Erin

  32. Cyndi
    April 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Thanks for your comment on my related post. Really appreciate that you spent time researching and tried to make an informed decision instead of just an emotional one — because goodness knows all of us moms (myself most definitely included) can make emotional decisions. Hope it continues to work out well for both of us. At least for now, I feel good about my decision — and it gives me another excuse to stand around on my soapbox.

    • The Sisterhood
      April 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      We love our soapbox too. Thank you for responding. Erin

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