start kindergarten or wait? (Fairfax: fit in, preschool, university)
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Anyone know the average age of kindergarteners in FCPS? Is redshirting for kindergarten (parents choosing to wait a year to send their child who barely makes the kindergarten cut-off) commonplace?
The reason I ask is because we may be returning back to the NOVA area in Spring/Summer '08. Our fairly bright daughter turns 5 September 7, 2008. We currently live in IL where the cut-off is Sept. 1st. We are debating about whether to send her to a private Kindergarten here so that she can be on course with entering the FCPS based on their Sept 30th cut-off. The other option would be for us to wait, have her do Pre-K this year here in IL and then just do Kindergarten the following year in FCPS. So should she be the oldest and risk boredom (she's already reading/writing, etc.), or be the youngest and risk social/maturity problems.
My son who is very mature socially and mentally did not make the cut-off of October in FCPS so he went to 5 morning a week pre-school and it went well. I think most of the children in FCPS are 5 when they start kindergarten - but there were several parents that were keeping their kids an extra year in pre-school.
While I don't know the average age of kids in K in FCPS, I can assure you that many moms are choosing to hold back their children when the cut off date makes them the youngest in the classroom. You know your child best to make the best decision for your family.
ETA: One other factor you may want to consider is that many elementary schools in Fairfax County have already transitioned to the full-day K.
We were in a similar situation when we moved from Maryland to Virginia back in 2003. The 2002-2003 academic year was the last year that December 31st was the cut-off date in Maryland, but we knew we were heading to Virginia for the 2003-2004 academic year. So I put my son in kindergarten (which was only a half-day program) while we were in Maryland, but then had him repeat the year once in Virginia, which had a full-day program in Spotsylvania.
What about putting your daughter in a five-day half-day preschool program and then she will be ready for full-day once you move to Virginia. I guess the thought on this is what if your planned move falls through? That way she is still with age-appropriate children if you stay. And I do think a lot of people hold their children when they are that close, granted mostly boys. But if she ever complains, you can tell her how lucky she will be once she hits high school... she'll be the first in her group to get her drivers license! :-)
My husband and I were faced with the decision many years ago to either enroll our daughter early in kindergarten or hold her back until the next year in Fairfax County. She missed the cutoff for entering kindergarten by 10 days. We could have requested that she be tested and that a waiver be granted to let her enter kindergarten early at that time. After talking with a few friends and a former teacher we made the decision to wait and let her enter the next school year. Looking back now, it was a huge mistake on our part. Our daughter was very smart, mature for her age (most girls are more mature than boys at any age) and could have done very well starting early. She could read and write too! I remember our first teacher/parent conference when her kindergarten teacher was amazed at how advanced she was in reading. All throughout her elementary, middle, and high school years she was always more mature, ahead academically and physically bigger than her peers. She suffered a lot because of this - she never felt like she fit in with her peers. She was pulled out of her regular classes, especially in elementary school, and placed in gifted reading classes because she was so advanced. Sometimes, it isolates kids because they are more mature and academically ahead - also other kids don't necessarily think smart is cool at times! I can't tell you how many times I felt my daughter's pain and isolation, especially in middle school, when she tried so hard to fit in. It was a difficult time for her. In high school, almost all of her friends were a year ahead of her and that was a problem too because she was often excluded from group activities because she was in a grade lower. My husband and I are so happy that she finally fits in now as a college student (rising junior) at George Mason University. She is happy, involved in many clubs/activities, has a lot of new friends, and doing very well academically.
My suggestion to you and your husband, think this decision over very carefully. In my opinion, if your daughter is mature for her age, I would not hold her back. It's possible that she may face the same struggles and suffer as my daughter to fit in both socially and academically. My husband and I have regrets to this day over our misguided decision in holding her back. Good luck with your important decision!
The kindergarten curriculum in FFX Co. is not very trying... I'm sure your daughter would be fine. The cut off date was not put in place because of the maturity of a child going into kindergarten. Studies have shown that children going into middle school are learning at a better rate if they are 12 going into 7th grade. My understanding is that the county has put into place the cutoff date based on the age of a child going into middle school. It's hard to say what or where your daughter will fit in at that point. My son is in the same situation. We have opted to send him to a 5 day (1/2 day) a week private kindergarten and then make the decision next year -- either fullday kindergarten in the county or into 1st grade -- nothing like putting off the decision ;-)
I'm toying with the idea of sending her to a 1/2 day private K here and seeing how it goes--delaying the decision a year sounds kind of nice. Not ideal to have her do a K again, though.
Those regretful stories are what worry me with either decision. LVMYDACH, and others, how do I measure maturity in an almost 5 year old? It seems so subjective. She is very fun-loving, very out-going and very social, but also can be quite dramatic, boisterous and silly at times. In the context of her "3-year old" pre-school class this past year (now the group entering pre-k per our state's sept 1st cut-off), she seemed about on par with everyone else in terms of behaviors--each child seemed to have their own little issues depending on the day. Not really sure how she compares to the crowd that's for sure starting K this year other than a few friends who she socializes with at playdates.
I don't want to push her into a situation that will challenge her too much socially. But I don't want to wait and have her be under-challenged academically. Part of me was thinking that if we waited she could just participate in a gifted program (assuming she'd qualify) and get her academic needs met that way. My mom tells me the story of my friend Meredith who was reading at a 2nd grade level at the beginning of kindergarten and how she'd just read to us. Not really sure how my daughter would handle that if that would end up being the case.
oh also, my daughter is right at the 50th percentile clip for height and weight, so I guess she'd be on the smaller side when comparing her to a class of 5-6 year olds with her being one of the youngest. My husband and I are both average height.
Just happened onto this post and I wanted to add my two cents. If we were talking about a boy, I would never consider sending him before age 5, but a girl is a 6 months ahead developmentally. I still think you should hold her back a year. I have taught 4th grade for 30+ years and see the disadvantage of children pushed to grow up. No matter how intelligent, often the maturity level is weak. It is better for a student to be at the top of the class, than in the middle. If she is athletic, being a little older is also an advantage.
A few years ago I had a girl who was so far ahead of the class, I knew something had to be done quickly. I also knew the fifth graders and that it would be a much better class for her. So within the first six weeks of school she was moved to fifth grade. She will be in ninth grade this year, I expect she will be valedictorian when she is a senior. I worried about her socially and I am sure she has had a few bumps along the way.
What I am saying is give her a chance to grow and develop, if she is exceptional in a few years that would be the time to make adjustments. This may sound harsh, but parents often think their child is brighter than they actually are. If they really are, a little extra time at the start won't hurt. Also many students who read early by 5th grade are on the same level with those who learned later.
thank you for your honesty/input, Deborah 53. I've heard that about kids levelling off at the older grades. I certainly don't want to be one of those parents who just gets caught up in believing their child is so smart. Trying to keep a level head with this. Seems like there really is a small risk of harm with waiting. Maybe I'll make a call to an alternate pre-k program. Seems to me that good teachers will make all the difference no matter what we decide! Sounds like you made an awesome call with that one girl.
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