Not so long ago, a friend asked me whether I plan to send my youngest child, my third, to kindergarten on time, or if I would be choosing to hold her back. The question didn’t surprise me. “Redshirting,” or delaying entrance to kindergarten by a year, is not uncommon where I live, and my daughter would be making the cutoff in our district by a scant five days. That made it likely she’d be the very youngest in her grade, something I’ve come to see could actually be a positive thing academically.But the timing of my friend’s inquiry did throw me a bit: My daughter was just 2 ½ years old. Surely that should have bought us some time to decide whether she’ll be ready at almost-5 for kindergarten.
Still, you can’t blame parents of children on the younger side for their grade for worrying early and often, particularly when we have to suffer through anxiety-inducing commercials for websites and other wares peddled to get our kids prepared for kindergarten, which sounds increasingly like an intimidating, unforgiving place rather than the warm welcome to education that it used to be.
Here are a few things I’ve learned from interviewing moms who’ve already made the decision of when to start their child in kindergarten:
Know your state’s kindergarten age rules.
According to Superpages, an online source of local information from across the country, a total of 32 states in the United States require that a child be 5 years old on or before September 1 in the year he or she starts kindergarten, with 11 states having a cutoff date between September 1 and October 15. There are also 7 states that offer local schools the option set their own required dates for when children should start school.
You can start by finding your state’s rules here, but it’s still worth a call to your school district’s office as these rules can change. You can also find out if special exceptions can be granted by the school principal, as was the case for one of the moms Parents interviewed…
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