Most of you know I’ve been debating for months whether to send our first daughter, Laikyn, to Kindergarten this year. She recently turned 5 late in the summer, and I just always thought she would go to Kindergarten after turning 5. I started having some hesitations back in March or April, and the decision had been weighing on me so much these past couple of weeks!
Before having Laikyn, I taught Kindergarten for 4 years and was trained in Early Childhood Literacy for many years prior. I knew all of the signs to look for to make sure she was ready for Kindergarten, but actually making that decision as a parent is SO much harder than it seems. The teacher in me knew that she would succeed in Kindergarten and probably even the next years of schooling, but the mama in me was so hesitant to send my barely 5 year old!
A few weeks ago, I gave myself a deadline to decide if she would go or not. She was registered, supplies were bought, clothes and backpacks were ordered….but I still had this extreme feeling that I was doing the wrong thing. I felt so much hesitation when talking to her about it, when talking to others about it and exactly 3 weeks before sending her to Kindergarten, we decided to un-enroll her and wait another year.
Making the decision was the hardest part, because now I feel so much at peace with our decision. We prayed on this for months, and I kept feeling like the hesitation to send her was still there. I was never 100% positive in my decision, until I finally just prayed for peace either way. I woke up the morning after praying that feeling like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and that she would go to Kindergarten right after she turned 6, next year.
I know…this is probably a VERY unpopular decision. I will likely get so much backlash for this as a parent, and she might even have to deal with some comments as she gets older, BUT the pros of her waiting heavily outweighed the cons. I couldn’t have confidently sent her into her school years knowing that there was a possibility of me making the wrong decision and feeling like I shouldn’t have sent her after being 5 for only one month before school started.
Since I am now confident in the decision that we chose for our daughter, I wanted to share some of the reasons why we decided to wait on Kindergarten in case some of you may be going through the same thing. Like I said, it’s not a popular decision, so I fully expect to receive some backlash, but I’m confident in knowing that we made the right decision for our daughter. . What is right for our family may not be what’s right for your family and that’s just fine! I pray that if any of you mamas (or dads) are going through this or feel like you may go through this with your summer/late birthday, that you can make the decision that is right for YOU and not everyone else’s child. It takes prayer, confidence and stepping out of your comfort zone to do so, but I promise it feels so good to know that you’ve made a decision, weighed the pros/cons and know that you based your final answer on what you feel like is BEST for your child.
Here are some of the pieces of advice I was given that helped me make my decision:
- Read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – In this, there was insight on how children who are more developmentally mature succeed at a higher rate than those that aren’t as mature. After reading (or listening on audible…because what mom of 2 with one on the way has time to read??) I found this article and it shed even more light into our situation.
- We also knew that we either wanted to send her and stick with that grade or not send her and wait a year. We did NOT want to send her and repeat a grade if not ready. My hesitation wasn’t Kindergarten or really even elementary school, it’s the years of those hard tests, growing in maturity and even graduating at 9 months younger than most of the other students she’s being compared to.
- Do you want her to be 9 months younger or 3 months older than her peers?
- To me, this was eye-opening. There is a HUGE difference in 9 months and 3 months. I would rather her have the advantage of being 3 months older than her peers rather than 9 months younger. Although, typically, girls mature more quickly and are “fine” I still didn’t want her gender to have a play in this. I even told myself, “If she were a boy, I wouldn’t even question sending her. We would wait. So why am I questioning a girl? She should have the same time to develop as a boy would.”
- 2 Things: Entering high school after turning 14 a month prior (with 18 and 19 year olds) and graduating high school at 17.
- I didn’t know what in the world I was doing at age 17. I could barely make decisions on what to eat for lunch…did we really want to send her into the real world/college being 17? NO. YIKES! Also, she’d be 13 years old preparing for her freshman year of high school. I would feel SO much better if she was about to turn 15 rather than 14 with all of those hormones!
- Do we want all of her older friends driving her around or want her to be the one responsible for driving? I am a control freak (if you haven’t caught on to that yet…) and would rather her have the control and our rules rather than depending on other kids with different rules to drive her around. Even though we probably wouldn’t have allowed it 😉
- Did we want her being compared on benchmark tests to other students that were developmentally older than she is? I mean, she is SMART…but she’s not a genius and we want her to have a fair chance to succeed in school and life. Also, she would have to take the SAT at age 16 being compared to 17 and 18 year olds.
- One More Year at Home
- Ask me in a few months when the baby is here if I regret this one! 😉 I feel like why wouldn’t I want another year with her at home? Why wouldn’t I want to keep her under our roof for one more year at the end of high school? I felt like I was getting cheated by time!
- Don’t Rush
- Why not give her one more year to enjoy childhood? One more year to not deal with tests, homework and extensive school schedules. Why not give her one more year to play, learn and grow??
The best advice that I got: You might regret sending her to Kindergarten at 5, but you will never regret having her start at 6. 9/10 parents that had made the decision for their children with late summer birthdays agreed. I hope that I can say that I agree with this statement in a few years. We will likely do the same thing with Lennyn, who is also a late summer birthday and will be in the same situation.
Just a little insight into our decision and I hope it helps you if you’re making the same decision! We prayed on it A LOT, weighed the pros/cons, asked for advice, prayed MORE, and just really took a look at our OWN child to decide this. While I do think she is SO smart and SO ready in so many ways, I do know that she can only succeed more if given her more time to mature.
I have gotten comments like “don’t you think she’ll be bored” and “but she’s a girl…she’s fine” and while I do agree with those, I pray that she gets teachers that will differentiate instruction to keep her engaged in learning and that she finds great friends throughout her schooling years. I think (and continue to pray) that we’ve made the right decision, and we’re looking forward to all of the amazing things this year has to offer us! We’ll be welcoming our third baby in November while Laikyn will attend a 3-day Christian Pre-K program and Lennyn will go to a 2-day PDO for “school”.
I would love to hear thoughts from you if you have a child that’s a summer birthday. What did you do? What do you plan to do? Does gender play into your decision? As always, I hope for this space to be a place for uplifting, encouraging others and helping one another. I also hope to be a resource, whether it is in your wardrobe decisions or much harder parenting-decisions! Thank YOU for allowing me to be real and share not only the exciting and fun times, but the struggles and hard decisions we all have to make, too!