Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Transitional kindergarten

So there's a big deal down in Texas about holding your kids back a year before starting them in school. There are a couple of reasons for it. Say the school cut-off is August 31 and your child is born August 20, you might decide to hold him back a year so that they're among the older kids and not the youngest. The reasons being that your kid is more mature and ready when they start kindergarten and therefore more ready to learn, be away from home, etc. That also means that they are a year older and possibly more advanced than those younger kids. This would give the kid a leg up when it comes to academics (i.e. more mature kids in theory are more likely to do better in school).

It also means, wait for it, that they are bigger physically. In a place like Texas where sports is perhaps a slightly bigger deal than elsewhere (let's be real, it is a big deal everywhere else, just perhaps a bigger deal here), your kid will get physically bigger sooner, simply because he's 13 and hitting puberty when his classmates who are 12 aren't there yet.

This leads to some other questions though. So if everyone does it, does the advantage go away? I get August birthdays, but what about April birthdays? Or even September birthdays? So now instead of starting kindergarten at 5, they would be starting at 7. Now that's an even weirder disparity of having kids in the same class that are almost two years apart. That doesn't seem right for either set of kids -- the older ones who want to date at age 15 when they're in eighth grade or the younger ones who at 13 in eighth grade, are still playing with their Lego's and video games.

Everyone wants the best of their kids, but it seems that if there is an age for when kids can enter kindergarten, there should also generally be a cut off, too, to prevent 9 year olds from being in the first grade. Of course, some kids genuinely struggle in school and may need an extra year of kindergarten to overcome dyslexia or an autism spectrum, but where do you draw the line?

Both my kids have January birthdays so I never really thought about having to make a choice. They would both be 5 2/3rds when they started kindergarten, hopefully making them neither the oldest or the youngest in the bunch. It will be interesting if I find out their really among the youngest. I don't think it will change my decision to put them in school at that age, but it would be good to know.

What happened to the good old days when folks were thrilled when their kids were old enough to go off to school?


  1. I thought more would do it here in Austin, but the twins who were held back w/ Jan. birthdays? Turns out one has a disability. There is one kid who swam against G and he turned 7 back in June. I actually know another w/ a June who was held back. Both of those kids are taller, have been super mature and very, very athletic. They TOTALLY could be in second grade and be among the biggest, smartest there. One mom is awesome and she made the decision when he was two to start the process (held him back in the threes class in preschool, so then he would advance w/ the right group that she wanted). I don't see the sports connection there. The other mom? Yes, maybe. Probably. G had in his class last year, something like five or six kids w/ summer birthdays who were placed in kinder on schedule and that made them the youngest but it wasn't that big of a deal. Also, two of the summer, younger boys were a) the best readers in the whole class, and b)really co-ordinated and atheletic.

    I think its a toss up but maybe in Southlake, its different? You guys are football there... Big time!

  2. oh, and I can't spell. But you knew that already. Alas.