Monday, April 8, 2013

Ask a Teacher: Late Summer/Early Fall Birthdays and Starting School

I was asked recently about what to do with a child who has a late summer or early fall birthday. In my district, a child turning 5 before October 1st has the ability to start kindergarten. This creates a dilemma for parents like me. I gave birth in 2012 to a daughter who was born at the end of September. No matter what, she's going to be the odd child out. She'll either be the youngest in her class or the oldest. But what should you do if you find yourself in my shoes?

The answer is as aggravating as you think. It really just depends on the child. The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to the needs and wants of your child. There's more that goes into choosing when to start school than just academics. Is your child emotionally ready to handle all day school? Is your child socially ready for kindergarten? What was preschool like for your child?

Pay attention to signs that your child is ready for kindergarten. Scholastic has a great explanation of some signs of readiness for kindergarten.

Some parents are frustrated by the age cut off and feel that their children are ready for kindergarten, even if they are turning 5 after their district's cut off. Even if your child is advanced, it's important to remember that there will be other like-age children with your child and that teachers are trained to be adept at differentiation. Differentiation is a big teacher word that just means making a lesson approachable for students that show a variety of learning levels. If your child really is bored and needs more advanced work, there are ways to skip grades down the line. I'm always an advocate of children who are displaying advanced skills be evaluated to see if they are eligible for an IEP for giftedness.

If you're still unsure about when your child should start kindergarten, the best thing you can do is take your child into the school and see what type of assessments the school might offer to help you make your decision.

1 comment:

  1. My daughter was born 10 days after the cut off. We could have petitioned to send her early and academically, she was probably ready. Emotionally, she was not. Now we are struggling with keeping her busy and challenged in school, but in 1st grade, that can be a challenge in itself! We've talked to her teacher, but even she is at a loss with Maggie sometimes (we can tell those days as Maggie comes home covered in markers -- she draws on herself when bored). Ideas?

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