My oldest DD, 4, has an August birthday. The kindergarten "cut-off" around here is 5 years old by Sept 1, so she would be eligible to start kindergarten this fall. She would probably be about one week short of 5 when she starts because we start in early August around here and her birthday is the 18th. DH and I have decided to keep her at her current preschool next year where she would be with "older fours and young fives." This program is not a kindergarten or PreK and is very play-based and, to a certain extent, child-led.
My main reason for wanting to do this is that I want her to have one more year to play, grow, and create. She is in a Reggio preschool and loves it there. It's a half day program; kindergarten would of course be a full day program. She'll be going to public school. Even though I believe PS is the best choice for our family, I'm not exactly eager to start sending her there. I have a lot of fears, and I am not in a hurry to get her focused on "academics." I know there is a big focus on testing in schools and have been told that kindergarten is not the fun and nurturing place that it used to be. Further, I have a late August birthday myself and I feel like I was always a little emotionally behind the other kids. Many of DD's friends at school and church are her age but younger by a few weeks or a month, and they would all start the following year. She also has a close friend who is 10 months older. They would be in the same grade if she started on time, although not at the same school.
I mentioned this to my parents a while back and they didn't seem very supportive. It's the first of my parenting decisions that they have seriously questioned. They just can't fathom why someone wouldn't send their child to school at the earliest possible time. They're not the only ones who think that way. I have friends who are despairing that they can't send their children before 5 because they are so anxious to get them in a formal learning environment. I have also discussed this with my best friend, who has a summer (July) baby that is a year younger and will be sending her daughter "on time" right after her 5th birthday. I really value her opinion even though we don't always see eye to eye. My friend is supportive but says that she worries that my DD might be bored when she does start because she is bright. My DH could probably be convinced to go either way but for now seems okay with one more year of preschool.
I do think with much certainty that most people, including most professionals, would say that she is "ready." She is bright; she reads a little (I taught her using DISTAR last summer) and has good comprehension skills. She is extremely outgoing and I would say she has a high need for interaction. She has really thrived in preschool. Also, it bears mentioning that she is one of the bigger kids in her class. She doesn't appear chubby, but she's very tall for her age and she's one of the heavier kids, too, even though she doesn't have a lot of visible fat.
I go from feeling really certain and convicted about keeping her out of kindy next year to feeling really conflicted and wondering if I am doing the right thing. I have been accused of putting my issues of being the youngest in my class and not fitting in on my child. I have to admit this may well be the case. But what would the great harm of be of waiting one more year? The boredom thing keeps coming up. Would that really be a huge issue? I feel like the first few years of school the teacher will be dealing with kids on all different levels and having to meet them there, anyway, and after a while it won't matter as much. I mean, by the time you get to middle and high school kids are grouped more by aptitude, anyway, so if she is some kind of math genius in high school I'm sure she would have a chance to get on the Calculus track or whatever. I do worry that giving her one more year to play could backfire and make traditional schooling feel oppressive by contrast.
Thoughts? I especially want to hear opinions about the prospect of boredom since that's the topic that keeps coming up and I am sort of unsure about.
I wanted to add that a lot of people have said, "Go ahead and send her to kindy and if she's not ready to move on, she can repeat!" First, I'd rather her do another year of preschool than two years of kindy. Second, teachers/advisors would probably be part of the decision of whether to promote her or keep her back, and as long as she is academically/socially on par, I doubt they would want to keep her back. I have no reason to think she wouldn't be. I am thinking more about the long term of emotional maturity than the short term. Short term I do think she would be okay.