Ready for kindergarten? Or does your child need “the gift of time”?
During the 1990s, there was an idea that it might be beneficial to delay the entry of some children into kindergarten. Usually the children affected might have been slow to develop self control, might show some social immaturity, or might not have the same skills with writing or letter recognition as their peers. An ability to listen, understand and follow directions, and function independently is also necessary in most public school kindergartens in the United States. When a child is clingy, immature, or not adjusted to separating from the parent, it is very difficult for such a child to receive the maximum benefit from a kindergarten classroom.
The cutoff age for entry into kindergarten is always a touchstone for contention – someone has a child whose birthday is one day beyond the cutoff but they are academically and socially gifted, someone has a child whose birth date is just before the cutoff, but is not ready to enter school. It is very important for school districts to have a policy regarding entry to kindergarten which is consistent with age appropriate expectations, and a firm procedure to evaluate potential exceptions to the rule. A child who has extensive daycare or preschool experience, is socially and verbally adept, bright, motivated, and eager to begin “real school”, may find waiting a year to be not in their best interest. Likewise, a child who is not yet ready must wait. There is no unified cut off date in the United States for entry into school, and in some states, the cut off date varies by each district. Many areas have a cut off of September 1, some October, some December 31.
The problem persists of parents deliberately delaying the entry of their boys with summer birthdays into school for questionable reasons. If he enters now, he would be small, and not the smartest. If he enters a year later, he would be the biggest and the smartest, and always be ahead of the game. Teachers find that in kindergartens across America their classes feature a span in age of 16 months or more. The difference in physical, emotional, and academic development makes it difficult to plan appropriately for a class with such disparity in age. The disparity becomes problematic in high school, particularly in sports and regarding students driving and dating. Imagine your 14 year old enters high school in September. Now imagine that in October, some of her classmates turn 16 – a legal age for driving in many states.
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, a charter school has adapted June 1 as their cut off date for entry into kindergarten. The Classical Academy, a K-12 charter school in Academy District #20, has set this date after observing that children are ready for their kindergarten when they are closer to age 6, rather than having just turned 5. Their well thought out policy for enrollment, and the rationale behind it, can be found here.
A June date makes sense – it does make for a generally older group entering kindergarten, but it also makes it difficult to delay entry, thus assuring a closer age span among classmates.
More information about The Classical Academy can be found here.
To learn more about Colorado Springs Academy District #20, visit http://www.d20.co.edu