Does it seem like more and more parents are keeping their autumn-born children home from school for an extra year before they enroll them in kindergarten? It’s not in your head. Statistics show that more kids than ever are 6 instead of 5 when entering school these days.

The rationale makes sense. Parents generally want to give their kids the best chance, right? Why not start them a year later when they’re in that questionable, when-do-I-start-them time frame?

I had to confront this issue when my eldest started school. Her birthday is September 26. Her school’s cutoff date was September 1, but they allowed potential students to test in early, so long as his or her birthday was before December 1. We tested, she got in, and she started kindergarten a few weeks before her fifth birthday.

She is now the third youngest in her fifth grade class, and there are kids that are a full year or more older than her. And you know what? She’s doing just fine. I won’t lie ... some things have been more difficult throughout the years than if she’d had that extra year ... but nothing major. She gets good grades, she has great friends, and overall she is a spectacular kid.

But still there’s that worry that runs in the back of my brain (because I’m a mom and that’s what we do -- duh) that I have somehow done her wrong by starting her in school earlier rather than later.

So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that several long-term studies have recently come to light that show that younger students typically fare better later in life than older students do.

Think about it ... there is an almost un-doubtable advantage for a 6-year-old over a 5-year-old in the same kindergarten classroom. But what’s the difference between a 25-year-old and a 26-year-old in the workplace? Who do you think is likelier to fare better at that point ... the 26-year-old that was always ‘advanced’ in school, or the 25-year-old that always had to work a bit harder to keep up?

I’m sure it’s not a hard and fast rule, but I’m glad to know that some of the more difficult aspects of being among the youngest in class might actually be to my daughter's benefit someday.

Do you have an older or younger student in their grade? What made you decide to enroll them in school when you did?

 

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