How do you know if your child is ready for kindergarten? It’s a question that pops up on our theCityMoms members-only forum each year, so when Christi asked it this month, we were ready with responses.

And because so many parents face similar dilemmas each year, we’re sharing in hopes it helps others too.

child ready kindergarten - theCityMoms

Q: We’re having a hard time trying to figure out what to do: My son has an August 16th birthday for the August 1st kindergarten cutoff in Noblesville. Academically, we feel he is ready. But I think no matter what choice we make I’m going to second guess myself. His preschool offers a class but I want him to do public kindergarten at the elementary school. How do I know if my child is ready for kindergarten?

Many moms offered support for waiting to enroll a kiddo with a late birthday:

“My son is an August 31st birthday and I truly feel hanging onto him for an extra year was the best decision. He’s older than most of the kids in his class but he carries a sense of maturity none of them have, it’s allowed him to always be a little more ahead + advanced with his schoolwork and I definitely notice a difference. Giving him a bonus year has *never* been a decision we’ve second guessed.” ~Jeanine

“I have one of each: My August 7th son started early. He was intellectually advanced but in hindsight socially he was not. Held him back in 5th grade. Realize I should have done it sooner.  2nd kid…. June bday. He started kindergarten at 5. He just graduated at 17, then turned 18 2 weeks later. He was socially and intellectually advanced. However, he wasn’t mature in responsibilities required of kids in the grade. Hindsight, should have held him back. He didn’t struggle socially, but he didn’t excel academically like he could have.” ~Stacey

“My mother-in-law has this situation with four of her kids. The oldest {my husband} she started early instead of holding him back a year. The other three she held back until the following year. She says that in hindsight, she wishes she had held my husband back too… She says she sometimes regrets sending my husband early, but has never regretted keeping the other boys home an extra year.” ~Victoria

I have 2 girls who have Sept and Oct birthdays, so they miss the Sept 1 cutoff in our area. I am seeing the value of being older in their preschool classes now and feel they will benefit from this once they get to Kindergarten, etc. We are applying for kindergarten now and my oldest will turn 6 shortly after school starts.” ~Kristi

“My daughter is a July 19 birthday and we waited a year. I was very opposed to it at first, but I am SO GLAD we did it. She is already petite, so I think she would have always felt inferior physically, and I think that extra year of maturity was invaluable. Also, I don’t like the idea of her going to college as a brand new 18 year old.” ~Megan

“We’ll be holding our daughter back. She is academically there but we don’t want her to be there youngest socially.” ~Shelly

ADDITIONAL READING: The great Carmel, Indiana recess debate

Some CityMoms who are teachers and doctors supported the decision to wait:

“As a former kindergarten teacher, I never had a family regret holding a child back for an extra year before entering my classroom. I’ve heard of families who regretted not holding a child back, but they didn’t usually come to feel that way in kindergarten, but later in the school years.” ~Jamie

“The decision to start him should be based on if he’s socially ready as well. Even more so than academically. If he can’t sit still and stay on task for 20 minutes at a time I would wait. Kindergarten now is really like 1st grade was for us. With less recess. Expectations are much higher and there is less tolerance. It’s much easier to provide him with challenges down the road if he’s academically ahead. I haven’t met a parent who regretted waiting but I have met a lot {a lot!} who regretted sending early. This is coming from a primary care peds NP who sees 20+ school age kids for well child exams a day and a mother of a kindergartener.” ~Ashley

“From an educational standpoint {high school teacher here}, starting kids later tends to make them more successful in the long run {as opposed to holding them back once they start; that has the opposite effect}. If there is a choice, I’d allow him as much time as possible to be little. He’ll be academically, socially, and cognitively better suited if he goes later rather than sooner.” ~Mary

A couple moms offered an alternative solution:

“My middle has a 9/12 birthday. He did kindergarten twice {once at his preschool and then at public school: this allowed him not to really notice that we were holding him back, and get 2 different experiences}. There is no way now that he would be mature enough to be in the older class! Very glad we waited!” ~Desta

“We have a July birthday. Opted to do the preschool Kindergarten program and then did Kindergarten again when school started the following year. It was definitely the right decision for us. He didn’t notice because the programs were very different.” ~Michelle

Parents: what would YOU do? What was the right decision for your family? Tweet us at @theCityMoms and let us know.


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