Preschool or Kindergarten? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-09-2013, 05:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I could really use some advice. My youngest son turned 5 this week and we were planning to do a year of preschool but are wondering if we should start him in Kindergarten instead.

Let me back up a bit. His older brother will be 8 in April and is in first grade. When he was 4, my husband's job took our family out of state from Sept-Dec of that year, so we opted to start preschool the following year and start kindergarten when he was 6. It has actually worked out great with my oldest son. He does really well in school, is well adjusted with other kids, etc.

 

We assumed we would do the same thing with our youngest son, but now I'm really having second thoughts. I'm quite certain he would be ready for the academics of kindergarten and he is already big for his age so I don't want him to feel out of place if we wait and start when he's 6. On the other hand, when we do classes or library story hour he frequently speaks out of turn, doesn't want to sit still, etc. and I think a year of preschool could be helpful to work on listening, paying attention, social interaction, etc. Also, considering his brother went to a great Montessori preschool and started Kindy at age 6, I don't want to give my youngest son any disadvantage by skipping preschool. And they are 3 years apart, but if my youngest starts Kindergarten this year they will only be 2 years apart in school.

 

Thanks for listening. Any thoughts would be truly appreciated.


Betsy, mama to Zane 4/12/05 and Cade 3/5/08
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Old 03-09-2013, 09:09 AM
 
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I have to preface by saying I really dislike older kids starting kindergarten. It's very prevalent in our area... always at least 1 or 2 kids turning 7 during the kindergarten year. It causes a lot of problems in our local middle schools and started a rash of "grade correction" when it's realized how out-of-place these kids are emotionally and academically. It increases their risk of dropping out later when they are legal adults and still only in 11th grade. It's not fair to the kids who followed the rules and are ready for kindergarten curriculum to be at at school long disadvantage because they are competing with kids almost 2 years older than them.

 

So, for me, if a child is developmentally appropriate, they should absolutely start on schedule... which would mean kindergarten for your youngest. Speaking out of turn is developmentally appropriate and something kindergarten teachers do expect to teach. 

 

Now, if he was truly delayed, if there were health issues or he had been a major trauma this year, if he was days from a cut-off and didn't seem at all ready... sure. It sounds like he's healthy and age appropriate though. If it were me, I'd sign him up for a summer preschool camp or class and send him to kindergarten in the fall.


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Old 03-09-2013, 10:23 AM
 
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I think at his age (and where his birthday falls) you could go either way (preschool or kindy) without any detriment.  I think in his case, it is probably a matter of your preference.

 

Many 5 year old boys are 'squirelly' (unable to sit still, talking out of turn, etc) before they have had the experience of a school setting.  I wouldn't necessarily use that as an indicator of kindergarten readiness.

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Old 03-09-2013, 01:28 PM
 
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I tend to agree with whatsnextmom. Parents tend to focus on the beginning of school and can forget the age disparity in the older grades. There is a huge difference between 7th graders who are 13 and those that are 14 or 15.  Your son would be almost 7 starting kindergarten, and if he is big and reasonably smart, he is likely to be unhappy at the difference. Teachers might also expect MORE of him as an older child and then if he is wiggly they might have less tolerance, whereas if he is the same age as his peers it won't stand out. 

Many communities have a summer preschool camp through the Rec dept. This might be a good way to get him some experience with those skills. Also, this year is not over yet--is there a co-op, church preschool, or even a playgroup you could plug into to gain some social skills?


 
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:40 PM
 
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I agree with whatsnextmommy & Lauren....I am a bit worn out on so many kids starting kinder late. If they aren't delayed - it isn't fair to the kids starting on time and it causes weird issues in middle and high school. Mostly boys start late - so the net result of this in my neighborhood where everyone seems to feel boys with summer birthdays should wait a year is 19 year old men in school with 14 year old girls.

 

I sent my summer birthday boy (now a 4th grader) to school when he was scheduled to start and I honestly can't image him in 3rd grade.  He would be bored academically and socially. He belongs with the kids in his grade (with the exception of those who really should be a grade ahead and who now seem mostly seem too old for 4th grade - I  very much can tell grade by grade who started late)

 

My ds3 who was born in February and isn't on a cusp just got on a little league team with 12 kinders from our neighborhood. The two boys who were scheduled to start kinder last year and parents held them back look - well, a year older. The coach even asked them if they were in 1st grade during the intro meeting.

 

My vote, especially if you have big kids like I do, go with the grade unless there is a developmental delay. They say the difference between being the oldest/youngest kid in the grade is flushed out by 3rd grade.

 

Honestly, I have done a ton of research on this. PM  if you have any questions.

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Old 03-10-2013, 08:45 AM
 
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I was really worried about my daughter being "prepared" for kindergarten because she didn't go to preschool.  Personally, I think preschool is nice if that's what you want, but it's not necessary.  Part of kindergarten is learning to sit still for a little, raise your hand, take turns, etc.  My daughter, who can be somewhat immature, did FINE.  There will be kids who are still speaking out at the end of the year and kids who grasp all those kinds of things right away. 
 

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Old 03-10-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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I am also not a fan of holding kids back.a year before kindergarten. There were a couple kids who had been held back in dd's kindergarten class and tgey were bored, big, and mean. Kindergarten really isn't all that intense. A lot of kids are wiggly and speak out of turn in kindergarten so I would go with sending him. Many kids are wiggly even into the older grades and kindergarten is about learning how to behave at school. In our district about half the kids had preschool experience and half didn't and it tends to work out.
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Old 03-11-2013, 03:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your replies. My husband is feeling pretty strongly that he needs preschool. I really am torn, but your thoughts are giving us a lot to discuss and I appreciate it.

Betsy, mama to Zane 4/12/05 and Cade 3/5/08
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:10 PM
 
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Why do you or your husband feel the need for preschool? What do you think he'll get out of PS that kindergarten won't address? A lot of kindergarten in the early months is getting them used to the school culture and a lot of socialization.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:47 PM
 
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I would say it depends on what state you are in and how the kindergarten curriculum is implemented at the school.  

Here in California kindergarten used to be about learning how to sit and listen and contribute appropriately . . . letters, numbers and time to learn how to interact in a social situation.  Now the curriculum is basically 1st grade curriculum with teachers having very little time to teach mentor the basic skills necessary to be a student in public school.  My oldest was expected to be able to read and write proper sentences by the end of kindergarten.  I believe most kids are capable of that, but the pressure on the teachers to have their students perform well on tests creates an atmosphere very different than the kindergarten experience most of us had.  (oh, yes, I should preface by saying I assume you are talking about public school, not private school)

 

Having said all that, I do believe the social consequences of being that much older in middle school and high school (when being "different" can be a painful thing) is something to consider carefully.

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Old 03-11-2013, 11:10 PM
 
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He sounds like a K student to me. I can't imagine a situation locally where an 8 year old is in 1st grade and not being grossly teased as he ages and be totally out of place in his class. Contrary to media reports, our K class this year skewed quite young with many 4 year olds.

 

I really don't think kids are helped by delays in starting school unless they are receiving services for recognized delays. And regardless of what he preschool he had or didn't have or what his brother did, if he is ready...send him. 

 

Just wanted to add that I would take the size issue seriously. My nephews REALLY struggled by being big kids and old for their classes. 

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Old 03-11-2013, 11:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OrmEmbar View Post

I would say it depends on what state you are in and how the kindergarten curriculum is implemented at the school.  

Here in California kindergarten used to be about learning how to sit and listen and contribute appropriately . . . letters, numbers and time to learn how to interact in a social situation.  Now the curriculum is basically 1st grade curriculum with teachers having very little time to teach mentor the basic skills necessary to be a student in public school.  My oldest was expected to be able to read and write proper sentences by the end of kindergarten.  I believe most kids are capable of that, but the pressure on the teachers to have their students perform well on tests creates an atmosphere very different than the kindergarten experience most of us had.  (oh, yes, I should preface by saying I assume you are talking about public school, not private school)

 

Having said all that, I do believe the social consequences of being that much older in middle school and high school (when being "different" can be a painful thing) is something to consider carefully.

My son is in K this year in CA and yes, there is an emphasis on reading/writing all of the other components of K are intact. We just finished our trimester conference and personal space/interactions/paying attention are very much something everyone is working on. 

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Old 03-12-2013, 12:10 AM
 
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Generally, I agree that a child is better served by starting on schedule. I would be inclined to try the kindergarten rather than waiting a year unless there were compelling reasons to delay. 

 

To throw out another option for your consideration, I am wondering whether he could attend the preschool program and then enter 1st grade along with his same-age cohort? In my area, it is not mandatory to attend kindergarten. A child could enter directly into the 1st grade without first attending preschool or kindergarten. There are very few who do but it is possible in theory. 

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Old 03-12-2013, 12:12 PM
 
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To throw out another option for your consideration, I am wondering whether he could attend the preschool program and then enter 1st grade along with his same-age cohort? In my area, it is not mandatory to attend kindergarten. A child could enter directly into the 1st grade without first attending preschool or kindergarten. There are very few who do but it is possible in theory. 

 

This might be a route if dad insists on a full year of preschool. You might look for a Pre-K with a more academic focus and then move straight to 1st like PP suggested. As a former preschool teacher, I'm not generally a fan of academic preschools but if the alternative is a 7-year-old in kindergarten, I'd at least try this option. You could also try a private kindergarten program like Montessori and then decide from there if he should repeat K in the public school or go straight to 1st.

 

I'd seriously consider trying a summer preschool program before deciding too. He's already 5, it's not going to take him  a whole year to figure out what is expected of him in a classroom. 


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Old 03-12-2013, 08:50 PM
 
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I'm a former pre-k to third grade teacher and education specialist. I'm also the mom of a current kindergartner and a second grader who went to kindergarten for two years.

My personal, and professional opinion, is to send your son to kindergarten. A good kindergarten teacher is able to make the curriculum appropriate for different learning styles. Boys often take longer to settle into the routines of kindergarten. The first few months of kindergarten really are a blend of social skills and academics.

My son needed a second year of kindergarten. But, I'm not sorry he didn't do an extra year of Pre-K instead (even though I ADORED his program.) What he needed was kindergarten.

Your son sounds like many little boys his age. He's got lots of time before the new school year begins.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:21 PM
 
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I agree with the others who suggested a summer program and then kindergarten in the fall. Can he start in a Montessori preschool now? You can also check with a daycare center/ preschool since enrollment start day doesn't matter and most go through the summer and they may have a kindergarten readiness program. He will most likely feel out of place starting preschool at 5 1/2 when most kids are only 4.
In my experience, kids act much differently when a parent is around versus when they aren't there. Good luck with your decision.

Ryan 08-28-08  & Julianna 5-3-11
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would say it depends on what state you are in and how the kindergarten curriculum is implemented at the school.  

Here in California kindergarten used to be about learning how to sit and listen and contribute appropriately . . . letters, numbers and time to learn how to interact in a social situation.  Now the curriculum is basically 1st grade curriculum with teachers having very little time to teach mentor the basic skills necessary to be a student in public school.  My oldest was expected to be able to read and write proper sentences by the end of kindergarten.  I believe most kids are capable of that, but the pressure on the teachers to have their students perform well on tests creates an atmosphere very different than the kindergarten experience most of us had.  (oh, yes, I should preface by saying I assume you are talking about public school, not private school)

 

 

 

This is one of the reasons we decided to send our oldest to preschool for a year and start Kindergarten at 6 after we returned from my husband’s out-of-state job. Yes, the Kindergarteners were expected to be able to read and write by the end of the year and I felt that the homework was quite intense for kids that age. He was bringing home assignments at least every other day throughout the year. I agree that it is a different experience from what many of us had.

 

I sincerely appreciate all of your perspectives but after much discussion with my husband, I think we will continue with our plan for preschool and starting later. However, I do appreciate Ollyoxenfree’s suggestion to consider skipping Kindergarten and starting first grade if we feel that he is not fitting in, bored, etc. after he completes a year of preschool.

 

I will say that so far my oldest is doing really well being the oldest in his classroom (by just a couple months than several kids). From each of the teachers he’s had we’ve been given great reports on how well he gets along with the other kids, how he is a class leader, etc. His grades have been fantastic and we feel like he is really thriving. This is the biggest reason I feel that we owe it to our youngest to do the preschool. But they do have very different personalities so we will see how this goes and decide next year whether to move on to K or first. Thanks again for all of your thoughts!


Betsy, mama to Zane 4/12/05 and Cade 3/5/08
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Old 03-13-2013, 08:41 AM
 
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I would say it depends on what state you are in and how the kindergarten curriculum is implemented at the school.  

Here in California kindergarten used to be about learning how to sit and listen and contribute appropriately . . . letters, numbers and time to learn how to interact in a social situation.  Now the curriculum is basically 1st grade curriculum with teachers having very little time to teach mentor the basic skills necessary to be a student in public school. 

 

It's good to note though that while kindergarten can seem more like we remember 1st grade, the rest of the grades are pretty darn similar. 3rd grade is still the big multiplication year (even if principles are introduced earlier.) 4th is still division. 3rd grade is still when you start "reading to learn" as opposed to "learning to read." Some states have algebra as an 8th grade standard instead of a 9th but the highest math most kids can get to is still Calculus. 10th grade is still biology. 11th is still U.S. history. 1st grade readers look a whole lot like 1st grade readers looked when I was a kid... still mostly on picture books with a "high group" reading early readers and a kid or two who is reading really high. In general, there is more homework but the end standards haven't really changed.

 

Delaying for kindergarten in our area generally leaves a lot of unhappy families by 3rd grade complaining that their kids need more academically. Is it the school's fault their kid is ready for multiplication in 2nd grade and they are still working on multiple digit adding and subtracting? Not when the second grader is 9-years-old.


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Old 03-13-2013, 09:28 AM
 
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Delaying for kindergarten in our area generally leaves a lot of unhappy families by 3rd grade complaining that their kids need more academically. 

 

Just wanted to say great these forums are for allowing parents mired in early decisions to gain the perspective of families at various stages down the road who have experienced the big picture. I've benefitted from this a lot over the years.

 

My ds is in 11th grade and has a kid in his class has an early birthday and was also in effect red-shirted due to extended family travel when he was younger. So he's 18, and my ds is not yet 16.5. The 18-year-old is a nice kid, and he's coping okay in school, but he is so ready to be getting on with an adult life. Not that he's astronomically more mature or higher achieving than other 11th graders, but he's just wanting something more than school at this point, and that's a real change since I met him a year ago: he just feels ready. The graduating class is busy organizing their post-secondary plans of college, internships and work and C., who is older than most of them, is feeling frustrated that he's got yet another year of high school before "getting a real life."

 

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Old 03-13-2013, 12:48 PM
 
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I am going to agree with majority  here and say if your DS is 5 soon- I would start K. If needed, repeating K is an option.

 

 

In our area, I can not imagine a kiddo turning 8 in 1st grade. My kiddos are young-for-grade but still age placed and will not turn 8 until the 3rd month of 3rd grade.  I will say that due to moving- my DDs did two years of PreK and went into 1st grade due to age cut-off age differences in between states (we would not have intentionally ever have done it that way).

 

Yes, K kiddos read and write. But the Ks in our area also have center time, play time, show and tell, etc. There is a wide wide range of skills and a good K teacher works with that along with the developmental age appropriate behavior of a group of 5/6 yr olds.

 

Tour the local Ks. See what you think. As about expectations (homework, etc....we only had 20 min 3x a week in 1st and now 20- min 4 nights a week in 2nd). Tour preschools. See if they are academic or play based, see what they expect and the standard age ranges.

 

 

I also would not base one DC needs on another. They each are different. Even if waiting for your DS 1 was a right choice for him, it may not be the best choice for DS2.

 

If you want more information, I would see if the local schools can do a readiness screening. They are likely to be able to give you a good idea of your DS would benefit from PreK or K. They may also have a 'begindergarden' class for young 5s. Those kiddos can then either go on to 1st or do Kindergarten. It is not offered everywhere, but it is a good option for where it is offered. Some areas even have PreK/K split classes that have both PreK and K kiddos in a small classroom.

 

Maybe try to do a preschool this summer and then roll into K. Then he has some socialization & expectations of 'PreK' under his belt, but will be age peers.

 

Gather all your options and information and try to see what is the best solution, this year for that child.

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Old 04-17-2013, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know its been awhile, but I wanted to share that we did enroll our son in kindergarten after all. We truly had a hard time with the decision and all of your thoughts and shared experiences were really helpful.
We found an academic summer camp program that will give him some classroom practice and we'll continue working on skills so he's ready. Thanks again!

Betsy, mama to Zane 4/12/05 and Cade 3/5/08
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:06 PM
 
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Keep us posted on how things evolve!! Congrats on making a decision.
 


 
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:36 PM
 
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My son started kindergarten this year with no preschool experience. He received speech at home at the age of two, but was quite uncooperative when it came to "table work". He turned 5 a month after starting kindergarten. He was the only child in the room that didn't know how to write his numbers and letters. We really agonized about preschool but in the end he was better supported in kindergarten (he needs speech & OT). He has thrived and is closing the gap on his day care/preschool prepared classmates beautifully. He is the youngest by far~ all of the other kids turned 6 this year. Our school is outstanding BTW. Anyway this was our experience. Best wishes, it will be great.

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