Starting School Later: Weighing the Pros and Cons for Kids Who Wait for Kindergarten

One of my close friends finally pulled the trigger on a decision she and her husband had been weighing for a long time–whether to hold back her youngest, whose birthday fell just a few days before the cut-off for kindergarten. In their case, they decided to wait–to make him the oldest in his class rather than the youngest. It’s a trend followed by many parents across the country. In an effort to give our kids an advantage in both maturity and academics, many parents are electing to let their child repeat a few years of preschool rather than start kindergarten as one of the youngest in the class.

It’s a thought that’s crossed my mind as well. My first, a boy, has a birthday in March; while he’s not the absolute youngest, there’s definitely still an age gap between him and his friends who have early fall birthdays. It might not matter when they’re 12, but six months makes a huge difference when you’re 4.

An article recently in the New York Times touched on this subject and pointed to a proposal in Connecticut to mandate that children be 5 before they’re able to enter kindergarten. Right now, Connecticut is one of last states to allow 4-year-olds to start school. Proponents of both sides have spoken up in the debate. Many worry that the change will only exacerbate the disadvantage of poor students who’d be in a holding pattern for another year. Middle-class and wealthier parents who have access to expensive preschools would simply be able to send kids an extra year. But those who can’t afford such options would be stuck.

I was surprised to learn that some research shows kids who start later have a disadvantage after middle school. Studies show a link to higher dropout rates and lower lifetime earnings as they begin their careers later.

What do you think? Will you or did you hold your kids back for kindergarten?

This entry was posted in Parenting on by .
Shannon McRae

About Shannon McRae

Shannon McRae is a work-at-home mom of three young children whose days are spent wiping mouths, playing Candyland, planning dinners and stealing time in between at the computer for her freelance writing. She's a stickler for healthy eating, with a slight exception for Oreos. She lives in Alabama with her precious children, loving husband and 13-year-old Australian Shepherd named Ricky Martin.

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