My kids have a fall birthday – late September to be exact. If you adjust for the fact that they were 5 weeks premature, they are technically late October babies. This means that by the time they are eligible to enter Kindergarten in the State of Connecticut,* they will actually be 4 years old; younger than many of their potential classmates.
Until recently, it had never really been a question as to whether I should enroll my kids in public school as soon as they become eligible. As an October baby myself, I was in the same boat as they may ultimately find themselves. I was one of the youngest in my class and while it sucked to: be the smallest, get my period later than most, get my drivers license later than most, enter college as a minor, I never really thought that it was a detriment to my social or academic development. My children have been in daycare since I returned to work, and have thrived more than they would have had they been at home either with a nanny or with me. By the time they complete their second year of preschool, I KNOW they will be bored and ready for a change of scenery.
I wouldn’t even be writing this except that I have recently come to the realization that I am in the minority in my intentions to push my kids through when they’re still 4. Moms that I have run into have casually said things like, “I don’t want my kids to be the smallest in class…” or “I feel like if I push him/her through, s/he will trail his/her classmates socially.” Some moms have even used competitive sports as a reason for wanting to hold their kids back (“…he won’t be developed enough by the time we want to put him into soccer/lacrosse/whatever sport…”).
Childhood is tough. Any little thing can be cause for teasing or may trigger esteem issues – already my kids are small (after all, we do not have genetics running in our favor) and if I push them through, they will be T-I-N-Y compared with their classmates. Raising a child in this era of cyber bullying and free access to information just terrifies me, and I just worry that by letting them go too early simply because I feel like they’re ready at this point in time, I could be making one of the worst decisions I would ever have to make as a mom. Add that to the fact that for the first time in their lives, my kids will be separated (our school district separates twins in kindergarten), and I’m a freaking basket case, totally second guessing my initial intentions.
The good news is that I still have a year to decide, but time is running out. My husband thinks it’s ridiculous to pay for another year of preschool when they are, in fact, socially and academically advanced relative to some of their peers. I can’t help but wonder if I would be making a drastic mistake by doing the “practical” thing.
So, I am asking for the advice of many wise and experienced moms out there to help guide me in my decision of what to do. I’m hoping that someone will comment and provide some insight that will resonate with me and make my decision clear.
* Connecticut allows children to enter Kindergarten if they will be 5 years old by January of that academic year. Incidentally, CT is the state with the latest cutoff date, with the exception with states that allow local districts to decide. Cutoff month (day of cutoff may vary) by state – date by which your child must be 5:
- JANUARY (1st) – Connecticut
- JULY – Hawaii (effective 2014/15), Nebraska,
- AUGUST – Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Delaware, Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee (effective 2014/15), Washington,
- SEPTEMBER – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California (effective 2014-15), District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana (excl Orleans Parish), Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin,Wyoming
- OCTOBER – Colorado, Kentucky (note: various sources indicate August as cutoff), Maine, Michigan (effective 2014/15)
- DECEMBER – Orleans Parish (LA)
- Local districts decide – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont
ADDENDUM: After writing this post, I saw the following article that printed in this Sunday’s local paper. Connecticut is looking to move their cutoff date to October 1st to be more in line with other states. A plan is anticipated to be in place by fall of 2015 and while it does not change my dilemma of whether to send my kids or not, it is interesting to note that they are moving in this direction: