My son is 4 years old and was born at the end of September. From the minute he was born and I found out he was a boy, I knew I would be holding him back a year and waiting until he was 6 to start Kindergarten. Our school district’s cut off date for Kindergarten is September 30th, my son makes it by 4 days. Despite this fact my husband and I feel that he may be ready academically, we do not think he is ready socially and feel that he would benefit from having the extra year.
My friend is in a similar boat with her daughter and called our local public school to see if holding our children back would be a problem. She was told that it was up to parental discretion and so we searched for a private kindergarten and planned to send our children to public kindergarten when they turned six. The search was long and tedious but we did find a school that was inexpensive, had room for them and seemed friendly enough. I emailed the principal of our local school to see if there were any forms we had to fill out so that the district would be aware that they were taking the extra year and she wrote back telling me that holding them back was not an option.
She told me that in our district, you must send children to kindergarten if they are turning 5 by September 30th. If they are turning 6 by September 30th, the must enter first grade. She told me my only option for holding him back was to “hide” him from the district for two years until he should be in second grade and then I would be able to enroll him in first grade because the school can’t push him forward without having had a year of first grade. She told my friend that she herself was a September birthday and that she did really well in school. She said we should not be concerned and that my son and my friend’s daughter would be just fine and if they weren’t academically ready for 1st grade they could go into the “Transition” program for a year and then continue onto first grade. We told her that we had been told it was parental discretion and asked if there was anyway around this. She responded with the fact that it had never been up to the parents to make this decision and that sometimes the superintendent makes exceptions but not often.
I was livid with this email (and phone conversation that my friend had)…..who was she to tell me when my son was ready for Kindergarten without ever having met him?? Why should he enter when I know he is not emotionally ready and then maybe move into a “Transition” year while his new friends move on to first grade?? Why would I put him in this situation when I have done extensive research on the benefits from having an extra year, especially for boys! As both a parent and an educator I was disgusted and this forced me to take a close look at the school system I would be fighting to send him to. Well my findings are enough to fill another blog post but I can tell you that I have decided not to fight. As an educator I was always told that decisions regarding students must have the parents approval. Besides the child, the parent was the most important member of any team meeting regarding a student. It seems ludicrous for this district to think that they know better than I, especially since he only makes the cut off by 4 days. Absolutely crazy!