In instances like this I find it impossible to believe that he will start preschool in the fall, and that technically he should start Kindergarten in a year and a few months. I mean certainly he needs to grasp the concept of time a little better before Kindergarten right? He is bright, inquisitive, energetic, and just wonderful to be around. Why is it that I am forced to look at his not so perfect qualities as I decide whether or not he will start kindergarten “on time?” I actually hate that it is even a question. As the parents of a boy with a June birthday, we have been told many times that we should really plan on him starting Kindergarten at six rather than at five. The rationale is based on the fact that they are shoving so much academic learning down into Kindergarten now, that young five year olds are at a huge disadvantage which will carry along with them for the rest of school. The cutoff in our state is September 1st, and it is a hard cutoff, no leeway to let a child with a September 2nd birthday start school early.
I’m not really opposed to starting The Boy later than his age dictates, but the whole idea drives T crazy. He will rail that if we are holding June birthdays back eventually it will be May, then April, etc., where do we draw the line? He will claim that unless there is a real reason to delay people should be forced to enroll their kids when they meet the age requirements, because frankly the schools are only getting around all of this No Child Left Behind garbage by forcing what used to be the first grade curriculum into kindergarten. Of course it is easier for teachers to teach a first grade curriculum to kids who are six at the beginning of the year (you know first graders!), kids who in many cases have had an extra year of preschool to prepare them for kindergarten. T says that we need to push back so schools can’t keep shoving more and more into kindergarten, but then who wants their June birthday boy to be a test case for how the school system failed them? In theory it is a good idea, but come on am I really going to play games with my child’s future?
I just read an article in the New York Times magazine titled: When Should a Kid Start Kindergarten?, where this topic was discussed in great detail. I am most struck by the quote from a mom who did start her child who just made the deadline:
“I kick myself every year now that we sent her ahead.”
Yes, this is what T and I will struggle with when we make the decision for our boy. Not, is he ready now, or is this the morally right thing to do, but will we watch our boy struggle through school and kick ourselves because we let him start Kindergarten on time. For now the decision remains on the back burner. We’ve decided to revisit the topic with his preschool teacher so we can make more of an informed decision. We still have lots of time to mull it over, and there is no point in agonizing about it now. I’m sure by the time he is five The Boy will know all too well what it means to delay his birthday party for an entire week so his grandparents can attend the party. How do I explain that to him now though?