Is the Nibbit Ready for Kindergarten?

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WARNING: The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and mine alone; they do not reflect the overall views and beliefs of the management of Who Needs A Nap? Me. Oh wait, yes they do. Because I AM the management of Who Needs A Nap? Me. Yay! I can say whatever the hell I want here! You can disagree, but you can’t sue me! In addition, content provided on this site is for entertainment or informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or safety advice. That part is TOTALLY true. Although anyone that takes anything I say as safety advice is crazy in the head and sort of deserves to be laughed at by an ER doctor.

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The reason for the above disclaimer is because I’m about to add my two cents (well, more like $1.39 since I have a difficult time editing myself or using fewer words when I can use more or saying things succinctly or using brevity) to a VERY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE. (Granted, nothing I say here is THAT controversial because I stay clear of controversy, the same way I avoid roller coasters, talking on the phone and cilantro. Conflict is not my thing.)

But this issue has reared its moderately unattractive head one time too many for me to ignore.

Yup, I’m talking about the RED-SHIRTING YOUR KINDERGARTENER issue.

DU DU DUH. (<– that was supposed to be that scary music theme that often follows some big dramatic announcement… did you get it? It’s kind of hard to know how to spell… go ahead and say it out loud, you’ll see what I mean. I’m open to suggestions if you think you have a better way to spell it. I mean, I don’t want to FIGHT about it, but if you can be gentle in your feedback, I’m willing to hear it.)

 

So, my introduction to this issue was when I was first pregnant with the Nibbit and a stranger asked me when I was due and if I knew what I was having. When I answered, “I’m having a boy, in December,” her response was, “Oh, a December boy? You’ll have to hold him back for school.”

CRAZYTOWN, right? I was pregnant – as in HE HADN’T BEEN BORN YET – and random stranger ladies were already telling me that my kid needed to be held back in school. Insane, I know!

I didn’t really have any idea what she was talking about at the time (I was too busy trying to get the Loud One to sleep through the night before the new kid came along and screwed us all up again), but I soon found out.

These are the facts:

  • Connecticut is one very few states to have a cut-off date of December 31st for Kindergarten. This means that if your kid was born on December 15th (like the Nibbit), then he is legally able to start Kindergarten at 4.8 years old.
  • There is research to support the conclusion that sending your 4-year old to school is: the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do, a good parenting decision, a terrible parenting decision, a potentially life-altering decision, a good idea and just plain stupid.

Everything else is up for debate.

As this issue became more and more relevant for us over the past year, I’ve read many articles and have had many conversations (with both teachers and parents) about it. And here’s what I’ve learned:

Opinions vary. Woah! Someone write a press release!

Many professionals believe sending kids as soon as they are eligible to go is the right way to go. I understand this and on principle, I agree.

BUT.

My principles aren’t worth a damn when the reality of the situation is that many parents are ignoring the research and giving their fall-born (and sometimes summer-born) kids that extra year of preschool. Which means that my 4.8 year old son could be in class with kids that are 6.1/6.2/6.3 year olds.

And I’ve decided that, knowing my kid and his social maturity (or extreme lack thereof), I’m not OK with that.

I have said the following statement so many times that I’m fairly certain most of you reading this have heard me say it. Twice.

I have no problem with my kid being the youngest in his class. SOMEBODY has to be the youngest. I DO have a problem with him being younger than the oldest kid by almost a year-and-a-half.

I have to believe that THAT big of an age different does put my kid at a firm disadvantage – socially and emotionally – possibly into his high school years.

I just don't want the Nibbit to be in the same class as this guy.

I just don’t want the Nibbit to be in the same class as this guy.

Let me be clear:

This is NOT about academics. Of course, I want my kids to do well in school and go to college. I am fairly confident that will happen regardless of my decision… or not. Point is, this will probably not be the deal-breaker.

This is NOT about athletics. I have no idea if any of my kids are going to play or excel at sports. (Early indicators say probably not, but there’s still time.)

This is about a social and emotional maturity that I don’t believe MY son will have achieved by September. And my fear is that this “lag” in maturity will follow him throughout his school career.

Have I mentioned that this is about MY kid?

I make no grand statements about what ALL parents should do. Every child is different and every parent is different as well. Some parents believe the research 100% and are willing to give it a shot. Some parents believe their child will thrive regardless of age. Some parents can’t justify paying for another year of preschool, when FREE school is available. And some parents are just ready for their kid to be out of the house for most of the day. (Believe me, that last argument resonates with me. A LOT.)

So what’s the answer? It’s the same answer that applies to most parenting questions (How do I get them to sleep through the night? What discipline method works best? What TV shows make for the best babysitters?): It just depends on the kid.

We stressed about this decision for a long time before enrolling the Nibbit in a pre-K class next year. I wavered on a daily basis. But ultimately, I watch the Nibbit saying, “Blah blah blah blah blah” (literally “Blah blah blah blah blah” – that’s not code for anything) all day long and honestly think this is the best call for him.

I didn’t feel great about this idea of holding him back until a friend yelled at me one day, “STOP thinking of it as ‘holding him back’ and START thinking of it as ‘sending him when he’s ready.”

AH. Isn’t that a much better way to think about it?

Because ultimately, nobody wants to hold their kid back.

PS. Google “Redshirting Kindergartener” and you’ll see approximately a bazillion articles. Here’s just ONE that I like.

PPS. There are a lot of “I” statements in this post. Rest assured, KJ is allowed to have opinions on these issues (they count for approximately 20% of the vote) but this blog is all about my perspective, so I only like to speak for myself.

10 responses »

  1. KMac, very important-on the sound effect try the dramatic hamster gif link. On the early or not decision, I got nothing but hope for the best!

  2. Only you and Kevin can make the decision thats best for Nibbit. Kids are so very different in their own way. Jayden was a social butterfly and took off in school when we started her in a 3 year old program ( 3 days a week for 2 hours). She did a wonderful job and goes now in 3rd grade without problems, turns waves good bye and off she goes. Vanessa, on the other hand, is the total opposite. She has been in school since she was 3 too, and I have daily problems with her letting go, and yet in September she is going on a bus by herself everyday for kindergarten, and I think that will be challenging. Well see how that goes.

  3. Think of it as you live in another part of the country and he is going to start school when the rest of them would… EB is only a few months older and I don’t think she would be ready for Kindergarten next year – Good Decision Mac!

    Sound effect = Duh Neh (PAUSE) Duh Neh (Pause) Duh Neh Duh Neh Duh Neh Duh Neh Duh Neh (getting faster and faster) . Ok it’s JAWS if you haven’t figured it out – but that is scary music 🙂

  4. “Red-shirting” is an essential fundamental policy in college athletics ( high school athletics in Kentucky ….grammar school in Alabama) and so who would know more about modern educational thought? Holding a kid back has many advantages ….e.g. they can drive themselves to their own JHS graduation! Most kids don’t get a serious job until they’re in their late 20’s, so why not just after they graduate? Just sayin’…

  5. Even though I have a few years before I face this, I’ve thought about it. Our cut-off in IL is September 1st, and my daughter’s b-day is July 1st, so will only be a couple of months older than the class below her. She’s actually too far froom the cut off date to do anything about it, but I too worry about her not being ready when the time comes. I see nothing wrong with waiting until the Nibbit is ready, even it it means “red-shirting.” No one knows better than you and/or your husband what is best for him. Best of luck…

    Side note: He’ll be driving earlier than anyone else in his class, so will probably be chauffering all his friends around who aren’t old enough to get their licenses yet. That’s the sort of crap that I think of, not how well adjusted they’ll be in kindergarten. Shame on me!

    • Alison, thanks for you comment… I totally think about that crap too! When they’ll be driving, leaving for college, turning 21, etc. Although, even if I “hold” him the extra year, he still won’t be the oldest in the class. He’ll have all the July/August/Sept/Oct/Nov kids that have already turned 6! So he’ll have a few months of being chauffeured himself. 🙂

  6. I think that one of the pieces of the debate that you can’t really ignore (although I think that some of the redshirting articles talk about this) is the economic effect of redshirting. Not only do the parents of the redshirters have to fork up tuition for another year of preschool (assuming that they eventually are going to a public kindergarten), but they are also delaying the child down the road from getting kicked out of the nest and being gainfully employed. That said, it is potentially ‘fuzzy math’ since you would have to offset that with any incremental wages that he/she would get as a result of his/her greater success in academic/athletics/shaving-in-4th-grade.

    Glad to hear that my vote counts 20%. I wish that I had such a luxury for all of the other voting decisions around the house.

    KJ out. Mic drop.

  7. Great topic, KMAC. I agree it’s a decision between the parents about what’s best for the child. That said, these parents are TOTALLY fans of red-shirting. Jake misses the cut off by 2 weeks so he will be the oldest in his grade, but we have the option to move him up and have been encouraged by many to do it, but we are not going to. He is already in a full day private kindergarten program and our public school is only half day, so we have lots of concerns about how bored he’ll be next year given that he’s already reading and doing basic math. That said, we’d rather supplement him for a year and let him be at the top of his game for the rest of his life than to constantly be playing catch up. I also feel that the period of childhood in America has already become so compressed. Kids are growing up faster than ever and the pressures they have on them in their middle and high school years is obscene, in my opinion. Let a kid be a kid as long as possible. Besides, who wants to wait until their senior year to get a driver’s license!

    On a side note, many studies actually state that the older children in a grade end up more successful later in life.

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