An Interesting Dilemma

The Mackerdoodle’s birthday is August 7th. The cut off for school in Missouri is August 1st. This means she is the oldest in her Sunday school class, and her VBS group, and if we were wanting to enroll her in K4 she wouldn’t qualify until next year, when she’s almost 5.

All school systems have cut offs. They have to, and some kid is always just before or just after it. There’s really no other way to work it. At some point you have to say, “No. We don’t consider you old enough for this. Try again next year.” I understand that.

My dilemma comes with this: if we moved back to Georgia, the cut off is September 1, meaning she would be considered just going into 1st grade in Missouri, but expected to have completed 1st grade in Georgia. She’d be behind, but only by a month. Other than being a full grade behind her friend Abigail, whose birthday is only a month ahead, she would probably never notice that she was the oldest in her class.  However, if we moved back to Canada, the cutoff is December 31st. Any child turning 5 within a given calendar year is eligible to enter Kindergarten in that September. In that system she would be a full six months older than her closest classmates and almost 18 months older than the youngest members of the class.

I don’t want to enroll her in a K4 program. In fact, I’m pretty firmly set against sending my baby to school at 4. I want four full years with her before I ask someone else to assist me in her education. However, we will be in St. Louis until the mackerdoodle is just about seven. This puts first grade into play.

Our choices are: (in order of my preference)

  1. Ask for an exception to the cut off date, in order to enroll her in Kindergarten next school year (August of 2012), and 1st grade the year after.
  2. Abide by the cutoff date here. Enroll her in Kindergarten Jonathan’s last year of school and trust the Lord to work out the details after that. As my friend Becky points out all the time, we might not end up leaving Missouri.
  3. Home school her for Kindergarten and 1st Grade, after which the cutoff date becomes irrelevant – she’d be admitted to the 2nd grade in any state, providing she can perform at 2nd grade level.

Ironically, I’d be okay with the cheesedoodle (or generally any boy) being the oldest in his class, but with a June birthday, in either Missouri or Georgia he’d be the youngest. I suspect when the time comes to decide about Kindergarten for him, we’ll be having a completely different discussion.

These are the things I never thought I’d worry about.

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About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

12 responses to “An Interesting Dilemma

  • AJU5's Mom

    My daughter has a December birthday, and is just a little younger than your daughter. We decided last year to push her ahead. We knew we wanted to homeschool (because public schools near us are terrible in so many ways), but it was something we had to think about for programs like Awana. Her best friend (since birth) is 9 months older, so we decided to put them together in the 3 year old class last year, and I think we made the right decision. Academically she can handle it – it was socially that took some time.

    I would probably try homeschooling. If it fails (for some reason it just doesn’t work for you), you can still send her to kindergarten when she is eligible where you are. My husband’s mom did that with him, and although he was definitely the oldest in his class, it worked for them (homeschooling didn’t work due to other things coming up in their lives and my husband strong will mixed in).

  • suzanne

    We are having the same dilemma with Nathan. He’s on track to start Kindergarten in August, we’re just wondering if we’ll have him repeat K when we move next year. I’d love to talk to you more about it. It’s not the academics I’m worried about–it’s the social aspect. And not so much now, but more like 10 years from now when he’s just barely turning 15 and many of his friends are already driving. I’d much rather *my* child be the oldest, the leader, the driver than be the youngest, the follower, and the rider! Plus, I have a friend who has written a lot of homeschool curriculum and is a professor at my alma mater and she said she can tell a ton of difference between the freshmen who are 19 when they start and those who are 18. She suggests a gap year, which we’ll probably strongly advocate with our children.

  • suzanne

    P.S. Two more things. One: Most (well, in my experience so I could be totally wrong) have a later cut-off date than Missouri, not just Georgia, so if you go elsewhere this will likely be a moot point. Two: All of my children were going to be born in November so this wouldn’t be an issue. They’d just naturally be the oldest in the class, which I wanted, without having to do any weird holding back or questioning. You see how well that worked out for me.

  • Roberta

    For a bright kid, being older than the majority of the group will be the least desirable outcome, as a kid like that is more likely to cause trouble due to boredom than any actual struggle with the content. As well, studies have shown that the average student has lost their natural curiosity in a school environment by grade 4. Given the current US focus on teaching to the test (the remains of NCLB, test-based bonuses for schools and teachers etc…) I would urge you to seriously consider HS until at least middle school for all your kids, but especially the Mac. I can also direct you to some great ed blogs if you wish- working in educational IT integration for 5 years after homeschooling for over a decade gave me a lot of reference for some of these questions, and if it helps I’d be happy to share. Or feel free to email and set up a skype chat- I’d love to talk:)

  • Tera Montgomery

    I think that it wouldn’t hurt to ask for the exception. With girls it does seem to be more of a social issue than an intelligence issue. As I advocate for schools in Wisconsin (dude, you know I have to!), we have a September 1st date, so you’d be good to go here 🙂
    We aren’t doing the 4K thing with Lillian because the childcare center she goes to on campus is just too awesome and I barely like the idea of Ankica on the bus at 5 let alone Lillian at 4!
    I feel like Ankica is set to start Kindergarten in September, both socially and academically, but Lillian will turn 5 next year just a few days before the cut-off date. Academically, I think she’ll be ready, but I am not sure about socially. What a tough decision!

  • Corinna Groom

    I don’t know if this means anything but you can take it for what it’s worth.Our youngest daughter who was born in Dec. (making her the absolute youngest among her peers.) goes to an all day program once a week and is noticably young in her class. Her teeny tiny stature doesn’t help. She can now read, just completing gr.1 but not at the level of any of my other children at that age and that has been stated to me by her classroom teacher several times this year. I, having home schooled all of our kids see that she following the natural pattern of learning to read but is about 6months behind where my other kids were and am not worried about her. Her school teacher on the other hand keeps bringing it to my attention. I have wondered if it would have been easier for her to always be a little ahead rather than a lttle behind her peers and second quess whether or not we should have started her a year later. But, we forge ahead.
    My oldest daughter however, (just finished gr.8) being a grade ahead of most other kids her age has struggled with not being with her peers. She is ready to be with older kids and is socially mature but is very small and is percieved as younger and has quite a few times said that she wished that she never went ahead in school. Mostly due to the fact that she can’t be with her friends in school. Acedemically she has done very well and likely would have found her own grade too easy.
    Ha! That’s probably no help at all! I just made an argument for going ahead and staying back. What do I know? God has entrusted our children to us to make these crazy decisions. My best advice….pray and go with what you think is best. 🙂

  • mary beth

    Wow, that’s a lot to think about – it almost makes my brain hurt 🙂 My birthday is August 6 and I went into kindergarten as the youngest and then my parents held me back a year to do K5 again. I ended up being the oldest in my grade (sometimes even older than people the grade ahead of me) but i LOVED it! Just fyi

  • Jawan

    Wow, lots of comments…..wish I could help. I feel as if I can’t say much on the matter since my kids are already set at a school for the first six years of their “education” and have birthdays that don’t fall borderline (thank goodness for that in regard to my boys!). Someone asked me the other day why I wasn’t homeschooling my kids……now that’s for another blog post.

    • suzanne

      Jawan, my answer to that question would be, “Because I’d like to stay out of jail. But feel free to homeschool them *for* me if you’d like!” 🙂

  • Wendy Robinson

    I’ve been reading your comments and have some different perspectives than those who commented. Firstly as a parent I knew that my daughter was extremely shy so we enrolled her in a school that I had taught at, so she would be with a teacher who visited at our house. The result:she was self mute for two months. All went well for the first couple of years then I noticed she was having issues with math and she was reading by memory and didn’t want to sound anything out. In Grade 3 she was assessed and they found she had an expressive learning disability. She put her heart into her studies-many hours of homework with me by her side. Also worked with a speech/language pathologist which was run the 1/2 hour before school started and I ran the programme during school breaks and summer vacations. I learned that parents have to trust their instincts and really watch their children, communicate with the teacher to be sure they are in the right situation. The end she graduated on a regular school graduation programme and has been the supervisor of a fish department, has purchased a house, with her sister and is doing very well at the age of 35.

    The second perspective is that of being a teacher who taught kindergarted for 6years and worked with kindergarten children as a learning assistant , support teacher for special needs children, and as a music teacher. I found that girls who are 4 tend to fit in easier than the 4 year old boys. Our schools start up in September but by January something has gone on in their self confidence, and brain development. I remember saying to one mother “What did you do to him over Christmer holidays” Her reply ” Nothing, I wondered what you had done to him.”

    When I taught kindergarted was held every day but for only 1/2 a day. Even at seeing their fellow pupils everyday I had to watch that they knew everyone’s name. I’ve walked around packing a crying child on my hip until they felt happy enough to join the other students. Good kindergarten teachers can tell who is struggling and who is having problems listening and those who have social skills issues. There are some countries who have their students start school at 7 years of age. Other philosophies say keep them at home until their are 9 and when they go to school they will catch up to their peers in 3 months to a year.

    Remember what your child has learned already-to walk, to feed themselves, to talk, to be toilet trained etc. School is new for everyone it”s like a rite of passage, whether it is home schooling or going to a public school. It is a matter of helping them adjust and when they have a social problem helping them develop strategies to cope.

    In my day, the cut off for starting school (grade 1) was October 31st. as my birthday was October 15th, I was the youngest girl not only in my class but the whole school. I can remember not knowing how to get around my school, standing at the washroom door watching all of students streaming by going somewhere, I didn’t know where, and can’t remember what happened. I can also remember the school was divided in girls side and boy side in the playground and never the twain to meet. I had never seen hopscotch, nor bouncing ball games, nor skipping rope as I had played mostly with boys. There were only a couple of girls that lived on my street and the street behind us. I got over all of it and have done ok. I remember another occasion in grade 1. We were supposed to be writing a test. We were told to write our name backwards. The whole test time, I kept trying to print ydnew deer. They must have thought -here’s a winner. I have never forgotten this so always instructed students in a different way.

    I don’t know if any of this has helped but parents you do know your child/children best, trust your instincts and good luck with all your decisions.
    they

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  • Becky

    My turn 🙂
    Another option would be to do Junior Kindergarten next year and then go straight to 1st grade. Kindergarten is not required and she would be old enough (and super smart enough) to do JuniorK instead.

    Just a thought 🙂
    B

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