3 Reasons We Held Our Daughter Back From Kindergarten

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My daughter is an August 27 baby. That means she could go to kindergarten in August if she wanted.

There is NOTHING more I would love than giving myself a $640 a month pay raise by ditching daycare in May but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I look at my daughter and instinctively know she is just NOT ready. No matter how much my checkbook is ready to put her on that bus.

We made the decision, we are delaying kindergarten for a year.

The decision is not cut and dried, and there is no “magic date” that determines a child’s success or failure in kindergarten. If this issue is a source of confusion for you — you may want to consider these factors in your decision making process.

Kindergarten Is Not What It Used to Be

The curriculum, demands and competencies required for kindergarten have changed dramatically since we were in school. I have fond memories of playing outside, writing my name, learning my letters and mastering the art of butchering paper with too-dull-to-cut-air scissors, especially for my disadvantaged left-handed classmates. Now, kids are reading sight words, adding and subtracting and immersing themselves in all aspects of literacy.

In no way am I implying that immersing yourself in books and learning is a bad thing, but I think my daughter would not handle the demands of spelling tests, sight word assessments and Lexia requirements at the age of four. I think she will be much more emotionally ready to handle those pressures (and yes, it is pressure and the kids feel it) with another year of preschool under her belt.

My Daughter Comes From a “Hard Place”

My daughter is adopted from South Korea and has experienced the loss of her birth family and two foster families before joining our family at the age of two. She was already talking Korean babble (which is VERY different than traditional Korean as I learned the hard way) and it took her awhile to recover from the shock and trauma to her system, leaving her unsure in new settings.

I am hoping that the additional year in her pre-school will allow her to build her confidence, resiliency and social skills needed to be successful in kindergarten. If your child comes from a “hard place” as well (this could include medical issues, parental illness, prematurity or a child of neglect, abuse or trauma) you may want to consider waiting as well.

It’s Not Going to Hurt Her

Delaying kindergarten one year will have no negative effects on her. In fact, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development has published various studies and have pointed to the fact that delayed entry is preferred over retention and that younger students have less knowledge in math and reading than their older counterparts. We do run the risk that she may be bored after doing preschool twice, but I think when the risk outweighs the benefits we are more comfortable with her being “bored” than “overwhelmed.”

All children are different, and some young students with summer birthdays may be ready to spread their wings and fly. You know your child best. Trust your mother’s intuition.

I shared several factors that were important to us when making the decision, but every family is different. Weigh the pros and cons that matter the most in your situation and make the best decision for your child.

Did you send your summer baby or have them sit out a year? Would you do anything differently?

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Kristen is a wife, mother and full-time special education teacher. Born in Connecticut, she has lived in Washington, DC, North Carolina and now happily calls Columbia home. Her children, the tortoise and the hare, were adopted from South Korea and are now 7 and 4. This “Dawson’s Creek” enthusiast was convinced if she scored a spot as an extra on the show, a famous actor would fall in love with her and whisk her away to pursue a life of parties and Prada. She scored the spot, but not the actor. With a chronic case of Wanderlust, she can be found day-tripping throughout the Carolinas and planning excursions to visit family across the US. She could be a contestant on "World's Worst Cook" as she has ruined instant pudding not once...but twice.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Good for you for doing what you feel is best for her 🙂 Paige is much less ready than her brother was , even though I think our program is good. She’s a June birthday. I’m hoping she’ll catch up some in Kindergarten

  2. I wish I would have held my daughter back. She has a July birthday. We adopted her when she was 3 weeks old. She was born with drugs in her system but did not show signs of addiction. Her vocabulary skills are very high but she is socially immature and was recently diagnosed ADHD. We are not doing medication at this time. She has no interest in learning to read or write. It is going to be a fight to hold her back in Kindergarten!

  3. Agree totally with kindergarten being very high-pressure. :/
    It’s funny, there is a number of internationally-adopted kids at our school whose parents chose to be more “fluid” with the grades– repeating preschool or kinder as necessary. Sometimes they are even not quite 100% sure of the child’s true age. Anyway, just a comment that this seems common (for the reasons detailed above) in the international-adoption community. Would you agree? 🙂

    • I know your post is a few years old. I’m
      An sC mom (Aiken) and we are delaying Kindergarten for my 5 year old (July birthday). He’s ready in some
      Areas but not in others.
      Question is…. did you have to let the dept of education know in SC know since school is mandatory for 5 year olds??

  4. Hi Mary! Yes, I totally agree! Adoptive parents have to take into consideration early trauma and loss in their child’s life and I think the natural inclination is to minimize big changes and err on the side of safety and predictability. Especially in the early years. With so many unknowns about past medical and developmental history it would not surprise me if most parents of children who have been adopted internationally err on the side of holding their child back when there is uncertainty. Thanks so much for your observations, I think you are spot on!

  5. I did it with 2 out of 3 of my kids (both with summer birthdays) and I have no regrets. The benefits have outweighed the cons in every way.

  6. My first august baby was defintely ready, but my third who is a September baby will not be. We’re going to delay her start too, especially after seeing what the new high rtacademic pressure kindergarten is like.

  7. So happy we delayed until this year. Preschool teacher said fine motor was there and so was her knowledge of the sight words, but we watched her with the rest of her class. She wasn’t socially engaged with the other girls. Pediatrician that said if we don’t hold her, we may not notice anything big at first but would see quite a difference at about 5th grade. She continued saying she’s never met anyone who regretted it. Now, more than half way through the kindergarten year, we see that she is confident and connected to her peers. And academics are strong too. 😉

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