12 April 2012

What Fours Can Do

Four year olds.  So big and yet

So little.

At just four, V can't tie her shoes, spell her name nor outsmart her older sister.
But she speaks clearly, likes learning about letters and numbers and plays a mean violin.

I don't know when they started letting four year olds into kindergarten, but they do.  And Mr. Dork thinks V should go this fall when she's four and a half.  My gut instinct is to let her enjoy childhood longer.  I think fours are too little to be navigating a large building full of older children and I'd love to keep her out of school for longer.  I believe there are social advantages to be more mature amongst your peer group, and I think this really shows when girls hit the "mean girl" stage that inevitably rears its ugly head.  But that's a long way off and Mr. Dork doesn't see it. 

On the other hand (there's always another hand) she'll be almost too old to start kindergarten when she's 5 and a half.  Technically it isn't too old, but she'll turn 6 in kindergarten and I wonder if she'll be bored by then?  And there's the blatant fact that we're paying over $13,000 a year for daycare.  For one child (I know)!  That's a huge burden on us right now, but I need to earn an income.

Preschool would have provided a wonderful bridge between daycare and big-kid school because we both work full time and we have no relatives to take her to preschool for us.  Ditto a nanny - they cost way more than what we are paying for daycare now.  *sigh*

How has your family come to the decision about when to start school?  I'd love to hear.


Rachel said...

First off, my kids are older (much older, like pushing 20 and 18) I think it depends on the kid and the situation. My older one (girl) was still 4 when she started K. She was READY, oh, so ready. No doubts (other than normal motherly fears). Academically, socially, the girl needed to go. Then came the boy. Even younger then the girl. We were split. He was not even close to as ready as the girl was. We decided to try it. If (at any point) it wasn't working we would pull him and wait. Had we just decided to wait (with no try factor)I am afraid I would have a lot of trouble on this end of the age spectrum. He is SO ready to be moving on. While K had it's ups and downs, I can't even begin to imagine how another year would be at the end of his schooling. His maturity and academics were fine (all through the years). With that said, the school that my babies went to had a completely segregated area for Kinder. Their own classrooms, bathrooms, playground, lunch time/place, etc. They did not interact with the older kids until acclimation started at the end of the year. Also, when they registered for K, there was an evaluation with the teachers. We were pretty open about our doubts about the boy. The "try it" situation was approved by the school administration. Such a hard decision. I wish you luck!

Dree said...

We kept both of our fall birthday boys out--though actually, we found a charter school with a 2-year K for late birthdays.

I STRONGLY recommend visiting the school(s) you are looking at--that is the best way to make an informed decision. Public school K is completely different than it was 34 years ago when I went. NCLB has created an environment that pushes more and more busywork onto younger and younger kids. Today's public-school K is what 1st grade was when I was a kid. It's full day, with homework packets, spelling tests on sight words, math worksheets, reading worksheets, sitting at a desk. Gone are the half-days of outside time, dress up time, story time, painting time, nap time, and snack time.

Many/most states no longer let fall birthday kids into K:

My state is in the process of rolling back the cutoff to Sept 1. Private schools nearly all are Sept 1 already.

Liz Slater said...

In Illinois the cutoff is Sept 1 so all my spring babies were 5 1/2 when the started Kindergarten. Having said that I can tell you that you should also think about where she'll be years from now ( not just Kindergarten). My husband skipped 3rd grade and from then on was always the youngest in his class. The ramifications may have been worse for a boy, but he was the shortest in his class all through high school ( didn't have his growth spurt til college), was the last of his friends to drive - growing up in LA this was an especially big deal.

I'm not trying to make you worry about this even more, but I generally think the cutoff's are based on what works for most kids, so unless your child is exceptionally gifted or needs more time to develop mentally/socially to handle Kindergarten the teachers at a good school will be able to support her needs.

If you're still unsure, talk to the preschool director or principal of your school and let them help you decide.

KJ@letsgoflyakite said...

I think you know that I am a working mum as well. I have no relatives to care for my kids and my girls have been in daycare and then preschool since 12 months (the cost of this actually exceeds the cost of a nanny / live in caregiver - But the fit worked well. ) My youngest turned 4 in March and now will be starting full day junior kindergarten in Ontario, all I can say is that I hope for the best...I know no help:)

Laura said...

I've never heard of 4 year-olds going to kindergarten... My daughter is going to be 5.5 when she starts kinder and I figured that was completely normal.

Around here it seems that they are trying to make children master all sorts of age inappropriate skills in kindergarten, (ie sitting for long periods of time, little free play, homework, no recess, worksheets). There is some evidence that such behaviors are causing psychological problems among the children who aren't ready for them. (

Sabrina said...

In TN, they have to be 5 by Sept 1, I think. So our daughter will be 5 1/2 when she starts. However, she isn't ready now. We do have her registered for a preschool program at the place she goes to Mother's Day Out. I have heard great things about their program and so far even the two days she goes now has helped. I would check to see when they have to be 5 and also decide what kind of school you will be sending her to, public, private, etc. We have talked about a private school only because we know our little one does better in a smaller, more personal environment. But we will see how she does with Preschool and her therapy and go from there next year. Best of luck to you!

Christine said...

Little Dude is supposed to start kindy in September. He is a December baby so would be 4.
We have decided not to send him and to wait until he is 5. So when he starts kindergarten he will turn 6 that December.
He is smart.
He can write his name and has been able to since he was 3 1/2. He knows most of his letters as well as the sounds they make.
He went to preschool this year but was the only one of our children to do so. His preschool teacher has told me she thinks he will be bored if we DON'T send him in September.
I'm not worried about kindergarten and him being on the younger side. I know he will do great.
I'm worried about him being 11 and going into junior high. I'm worried about him being younger than most of his peers and being influenced by things earlier.

Some have said to send him and if I change my mind to hold him back later. I would never do that, because at that point his friends would wonder why he is being held back. We have always said if we were going to wait we would do it in the very beginning.

Both of my girls have had the same kindy teacher and I very much respect his opinion. He said if he had a choice he would change the cut off and every child with a late birthday would stay home until the following year.
He also told me something else. He said in his years of teaching that he has had many parents later regret sending their children at 4. On the flip he has never seen a parent that has held their child back regret it.

Amy said...

My daughter turned 5 in October and is in a pre-K program that is at the elementary school. It is specifically for kids born between June 1 - December 1. We live in CA and the age for admittance into Kindergarten was Dec 1st, which she obviously met, but I could not imagine sending my little girl off to college when she was still 17 years old. (Yes, that was ultimately what made my decision) She is basically in a 1/2 day kindergarten and next year, she'll go right into full day kindergarten. I stay home so we didn't have the issue of expense, but I didn't want to have to pay for preschool when I could have her in public school. There was a chance that she wasn't going to be able to get into the pre-K program because not every school offers it, in which case I planned on having her go through 2 years of kindergarten. Her teacher assured me that she could have easily gone to Kindergarten this year, and I knew that, but my concern wasn't for this year, but closer to the junior high and high school years.

just jayma said...

I advocate letting them be kids for a little longer--my son was in special needs preschool for 2 years before kindergarten, and I wish I had not sent him. I wish I had just let him be little. They're only that way for a while.

Here, you have to be 5 before you can go to school. My daughter turned 5 a month after school started, and therefore couldn't start until she was nearly 6. It was a good thing for her!

Each child is different...and only you can decide what is best for your little one...but my advice is to let your baby be a baby a little longer! =) good luck.

Melissa said...

The beauty of JK is that it is voluntary. I at any time you feel that V is not getting what she needs out o school, or maybe that she is getting too much (rigidness, exposure to bigger kids etc.) You can withdraw her.
That being said, Wednesday went to a nursery school or six months (two-two and half hour sessions a week) to help socialize her. V is already in daycare, and a good quality daycare is a lot like pre-school. You being an involved parent (helping her discover letters, number and enjoy learning) she should do great in kindergarten.
That being said, Wednesday only goes to school every other day. And when she is in senior kindergarten she will only go every other day as well. With the little bit of exposure to school she can now write her name from memory, she has begun reading by word recognition, and even started simple math (addition). Those are things I wouldn't trade for the world for her and for I.
I think bright and vivacious children need stimulus like school. But I also think children need to eat when they're hungry, rest when they're tired and play when they want to play. WHich is why it is very important ta talk to the school(s) you are considering sending V to. (You usually have up to three: catholic, public and French)
\lastly, i you think it is too soon or big kid school, you could take the day care money and enroll her in a montessori school in lieu of JK.
I hope that helped a little bit. I know it is a huge decision. I waivered until the week before school started!

TracyKM said...

Here in Ontario, they start JK the year they turn 4. So, both my girls are November babies, and started school when they were THREE. My oldest was totally ready, my youngest....I was ready, LOL. Both of them got 1/2 day, every day programs though most schools are all day, every other day. Oh, and they've been bringing out full day, every day JK/SK here, but I understand it's still only 1/2 day academic, 1/2 day social and the gov't was talking about scrapping it already.
Check out the school. None of my kids have had to navigate a big school, the biggest was 360students. Most schools build the kindergarten facilities so that the kids are self-contained. They use the rest of the school for library and gym, which are usually close by. Even now, they go to a much bigger school, and the kindergartens have their own door, fenced yard, bathrooms, etc, just up the hall from the gym. They don't even venture into the rest of the school until grade 7.