I loved being super pregnant in the summer. Having central air conditioning and living in an area that never gets too raging hot were definitely factors that helped, I’m sure. I also loved wearing flowing sun dresses and not having to worry about ever buying things like a maternity winter coat or trying to put my swollen feet into knee high boots.
Despite the perks I found with having summer babies, there is one big dilemma I had not anticipated.
Do you send a newly five-year-old to kindergarten, or give them another year?
My son, my first born, was born after 8pm on August 31. This means that technically he makes the school cut-off by less than 4 hours. When he was four years old, my husband and I had to figure out what path we wanted to take. Would we send him off to kindergarten where he would be likely always be the youngest kid in his class? Would we be hindering him if we put him through another year of Pre-K? My son was born four weeks early and I recall just joking (ok I was probably a little serious) that if he had just waited until his due date this wouldn’t even be a question.
We decided to give our son one more year so that he would be six when he started kindergarten instead of the minute he turned five.
It turned out to be the right decision.
Well, I guess we will never really know. Maybe if he had gone a year earlier, we would have seen the same results. But I am pretty certain that the extra year helped in his confidence, his ability and willingness to learn and his maturity. Even with the extra year, we experienced what I hope are normal, behavioral issues. But every time an issue arose, I would think to myself how glad I was that we waited one more year because I think the issues could have been worse had we not.
However, here is where it comes down to each child being unique:
My daughter has a July birthday. She just turned five so there we were again trying to figure out what path we would take. We made the decision that we would put our newly five-year-old into kindergarten.
Yes, we made the complete opposite decision than we had for our son. The results are not in yet since she won’t start until September but I can only hope we are making the right choice for her as we did for my son three years ago.
Here are some resources/things to consider when making the kindergarten decision for your summer birthday baby:
Seek advice from pre-school staff – If your child is in preschool, ask the staff what their thoughts are. They see a variety of kids and can be a good resource to you regarding how ready they think your child is for kindergarten. If your child is not in preschool, consider working on their separation skills as that is a huge part of kindergarten for those kids who have stay at home parents and have not been enrolled in a full time program.
Take a kindergarten readiness test – Our school has a test that was helpful in our decision. It is administered by the kindergarten teachers who then give feedback based on how the child did. My husband was advocating to “give her another year” until this test then gave us the confidence that our daughter was ready to start kindergarten at newly five. Most states and districts have a readiness assessment. Here is one example – it’s pretty standard. But you can always check with your particular school about whether they have their own assessment.
Maturity – This is a blanket statement that is not true in every situation. But a lot of times, girls are more mature than boys at an earlier age. This is very true in our family when we compare our daughter to our son who is three years older. This could also be due to her being the second child. Giving them an extra year could give them better social/emotional skills.
My daughter is extremely verbal and social and has been that way basically since birth. We believe her social skills are going to equip her to be successful as a younger kindergartner whereas our son wasn’t quite there when he was her age. Our son has been a breeze when it comes to academics (when he learned to read, with spelling, etc.) and I credit a lot of that to us giving him that extra year.
Motor Skills – My son has been in speech therapy since age five. If you have a child who needs a bit of assistance with things like speech and fine motor skills like holding a pencil, giving them one more year might be of benefit. However, on the flip side of that– depending on your district, it may help to enroll them so they can start taking advantage of those services like speech/occupational therapy. We were able to start my son in speech therapy through our public school at age five even though he wasn’t enrolled as a kindergartner, as most districts have services available for preschool kids that qualify for special services. Definitely something to look into if you need it.
They’ll be old/young – There is no way around this. Those summer birthdays will either be a bit older or a bit younger. Surprisingly, my son isn’t the very oldest in his class because many parents are choosing to give that extra year. Initially, I didn’t want my son to be one of the oldest. However, now, as he enters second grade, it truly is the best thing we could have done for him. Since my daughter will be on the younger side, more to come on those pros/cons.
Size – We are not a “sports family” but I know some people chose to give their kids another year before starting kindergarten so they are a bit bigger for certain sports like football.
Like many things in parenting, there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to when your child starts kindergarten. Be as confident as you can in your decision. Base it on your kid and not on some hold-up in your own head (such as not wanting them to be older/younger). There are pros and cons to both but you know best when it comes to your child thriving and what is best for them.
Do your kids have summer birthdays and are you in this dilemma that I had to go through twice? We’d love to hear!