Should I Start My Son Late to Kindergarten?


When my son was born in early August three years ago, there were many benefits -- we could immediately go outside (unlike with my daughter who was born in late January), we never had to take him out of a onesie for the first two months and generally people are just in better moods in the summer. But there was also one major drawback: Because he was born in August, he will turn five just days before the state Kindergarten cut off (September 1) which will make him almost one year younger than the older kids in the class.

Because of this, we are strongly considering two years of nursery school, one year of pre-K and placing him in Kindergarten the year he turns 6. This decision has not been popular among our friends. And then there are people on the other side, those who did "redshirt" their summer birthday sons and they all say: "If you don't do it, you will regret it."

So what is a mom to do?

This act of "redshirting" is a new phenomenon many attribute to competitive parents who want Junior to be smarter and more advanced than all of the other kids in class. Parents opposed to “redshirting” will say "Someone has to be the youngest and the least advanced," and they are right. But who wants it to be their kid?

As we mull this decision, we have taken enormous flak from our friends and family. Many feel it is just us wanting our son to feel superior while others have said we are nuts for even considering enrolling him at five. And then, of course, there are the economics. We are very lucky to be in a position to be able to afford an extra year of private preschool. Not everyone can. Because of this, the "redshirting" phenomenon puts upper middle class children -- who already had an advantage anyway -- even further ahead of their peers with less resources. Is that really fair? 

The answer: No. It's not. But he is also my son. The truth is, my son will be three this coming August. I have no idea if he is going to be ready for kindergarten in two years. Right now he loves trucks and firemen and dinosaurs and trains. He is not interested in letters (like his sister was at his age) or reading (which his sister was already doing) and that's OK.

Kindergarten is not what it used to be. Emily Glickman, the president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting, a service that helps parents navigate private school admissions in Manhattan, told the Daily Beast: "Kindergartens across the country are getting rid of play areas and becoming more about reading and math."

These children sit at desks for seven hours with only 15 minutes of recess here and there, which would make my antsy son go crazy. Of course, we would consider waiting a year for him to develop more self-control.

Next year, he will start on the track to Kindergarten, entering his first year of preschool. Then he will go on to pre-K and then? Who know? This is an evolving decision. With my daughter it would be a no-brainer. She has always been academically advanced. But my son -- my baby -- is another story.

Whatever we decide, it will be the decision for our family, not anyone else's.

Did you redshirt your child? Think about it?




a mom's life, nursery school


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3Happ... 3HappylKidds

My son was born on August started September on September 7th.. He turned 5, he went to school! he now has 3 more days of school left and I am VERY glad i did not wait at all. He is a very smart boy and he actually has done better than a lot of the 6/7 year olds in his class!!

cafemama cafemama

Have thought about it and thought about it. Here in NYC, my son will only be 4 when he starts kindergarten next fall. It's really young and I worry a lot about how he'll handle it. In the end, for many reasons, we decided to enroll him and see how he does. It's probably the decision I've felt the least secure about out of all the parenting decisions I've made so far. I wish I had a crystal ball!

carro... carrolmomof3boy

My middle boy is a June baby and I have just held him back in first grade so he can catch up and be able to breeze through school and not struggle like he has been.

I have an August baby, too. He is only two and I'm already wondering what to do about him.

Good luck and do what you believe is best for him.

ArmyGal ArmyGal

Do you think he would have problems learning? If not I would send him to Kindergradern. My daughter misses the cut off by 26 days. She's a smart girl and I wish they would wavier the age for kids who's birthday is THAT close to the cutoff.


I didn't like being the oldest in my class. Everyone always thought I was held back, but I also had to take alot of AP classes.

nonmember avatar Lisa

As a teacher, I can promise you that it will be best for your child, socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually, if you wait until he is six.

melis... melissabilliot

My sister didn't do it and my VERY well behaved godson was kicked out of school because he couldn't sit still long enough....(they kicked 10 students out after the first week..ALL BOYS)

Memph... MemphisSuzi

All kids are different. Holding your child back and/or moving them forward shouldn't be that tough a call.  Forget everyone else and look at your son.  Do YOU, his mother, who knows that kid better than anyone else in the world, think he can handle kindergarten?  Do YOU think he can sit and learn and benefit from being there?  Or do YOU think he is still not quite ready?  Who cares if he is the youngest (I was always the youngest and one of the "advanced")?  Or the oldest?  What matters is "Is he ready?"  and only you can tell that. 

rainm... rainmommy

my dd missed the cut off by a week the cut off her is september 1 and her b day is sept 8 i kept her out of school (i could of fought to get her in but decided not to) im glad i did shes a lot more mature and is able to handle being away from me a lot better

ARmom ARmom

I think you have to base your choice on if your son seems ready or not, not by his birthdate.
My son's birthday was August 16th.  His preschool teacher said he was ready for kindergarten, and the kindergarten assessment (given by kindergarten teachers) said he was ready.
He started when he turned 5, and he did great!  He's now in 1st grade and still doing well.  

I know many other parents who did hold their children back and they have no regrets either.  
You know your child.  Just do what's best for him/her.


kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Ultimately every child is different. And the choice is yours. My daughter turned 5 in the summer and started kindergarten that fall. Our cutoff I think is oct/nov. Her teacher told me she had no idea she was one of the youngest. All her classmates turned 6 or 7 during the year and my daughters birthday is in a couple weeks. Not every child benefits from holding them back. I was a november baby so was older than my classmates and it sucked. My youngest is also a june baby and the year she starts school the cutoff is changing to july. So she will def be one of the youngest. Academically she would do great, she's very smart. But we will have to see how she does after preschool and pre k to see if she's emotionally ready. Can't believe that's 2 years away already.

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