We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
I wrote the Senator that is sponsoring this bill. The way it is written sounds like kids can skip kindergarten, but unfortunately that is not the case. It is a bill that prevents kids with fall birthdays from having to repeat kindergarten at a public school, if they have already completed it at a private school. It's ridiculous that they even need to legislate this! It just shows how rigid the schools in Illinois are about September 1st. There is another bill that has stalled in the Senate to allow kids with fall b-days early entrance to kindergarten in Chicago (HB 16), but it is on hold until session starts up again in January.
Personally, I am opposed to the trendy push to require children start school later and later. Children vary greatly and many young children are not only able to handle a kindergarten cirriculum but also crave intellectual stimulation. Often there is no performance gap at all; often the youngest in the class are also at the top of it! Denying these mature, often very bright, kids access to education is wrong on so many levels. Numerous studies have shown that when a bright child is understimulated they often get depressed, withdraw, and refuse to engage in activities or lessons that they deem too easy. I had this experience as a child and I have vivid memories of coming home crying and frustrated because the work was too easy and I didn't have anything in common with the other kids; I am so thankful that the educators in my school picked up on it and encouraged me to skip a grade. It's sad that in an age where competition is more important than ever schools are ignoring the needs of their brightest and pushing everyone to an average. Parents are part of the problem too; I have heard so many people talk about the "edge" that their child will have from being the oldest in a class. The reality is that when it comes to classroom performance, the competitive edge goes to the kids who are brighter and have more support, not to the ones who are simply older.
I am an Occupational Therapist and a trained teacher. I work in a K-5 public school in a unique program designed to assist children at academic risk. I am here to say that earlier is not better. Why? Because the task demands of today's kindergarten classroom are beyond a child's natural development. (Can your 4 year old sit still for 20 minutes on a rug while learning a phonics lesson?)Time after time I am asked to assess a child at risk and find nothing wrong with them except that they are being asked to complete tasks that they simply aren't ready for. Being, 4, 5 or even age 6 is NOT A LEARNING DISABILITY! The result of starting early is less play time which leads to decreased creativity for solving problems in later grades, the loss of social skills training and the ability to collaborate; those fights in the sandbox really do serve a purpose; and lost opportunities to develop the basic developmental skills every child needs to be successful in school including body scheme, space and direction, balance, hearing discrimination, visual tracking and crossing mid-line (try reading if you can't dissociate your eyes from your head, fine and gross motor skills, etc. I am sorry to report that children DO NOT develop these skills unless provided with the opportunities to do so and opportunities are limited in the academic classroom. Preschool and Kindergarten is the time to learn how to be students. Sure some kids develop faster than others but that does not mean they are any smarter nor are they necessarily ready for an academics program. Given the opportunity the late bloomer may very well far surpass the "early prodigy". Unfortunately the late bloomer will fall behind and will struggle to play catch up. Eventually the "early prodigy" will hit a wall when they discover their inability to collaborate or be creative is limited. All the tax payer dollars for special classes, special education, tutoring can be, in many cases, made unnecessary if only the child simply began academics when he or she was developmentally ready to do so. Finland is the number one country in the world academically and their children do not start school until age 7. By age 7 most children (if provided with the developmental opportunities) have reached their developmental milestones and can begin academics with their peers on an even footing. The current education system in the United States puts those children who are developing normally but not quite fast enough for their school system at a fantastic disadvantage. I for one would not want to start my child in an academic program any earlier then they were developmentally ready for and would want to ensure that their preschool and kindergarten experiences provided them with opportunities for play that would help them develop socially, physically and cognitively. Unfortunately today, in most public school classrooms these opportunities have gone missing. As for the strategy of holding your child back a year if they run into trouble. Besides possibly harming their self-esteem and confidence by challenging them in a situation they're not ready for, many schools, for social reasons, will not hold back a child who fails grades K thru 2 and by then most of the damage is already done so if you want to go this route make sure the option to hold back is available.
Sounds like she is the perfect candidate for homeschooling. She can go at her own pace:)
I am quite concerned about the age cut-off. My 4 year old misses the NJ age cut-off by only 15 days. How does the Board of Ed justify 15 days vs ONE entire year a child must endure in the same grade he has mastered?!
My son has the intelligence level of a 1st grader. He is the type of child who needs to be challenged or frustrations ensue and now he must spend ANOTHER year w/ 3 & 4 year olds who spend more time in free-play than anything else.
This is ridiculous! There are some kids who end up hating school, becoming disinterested in any learning b/c they have become bored w/ the conventional, run-of-the mill learning tools that are administered.
And yet we still wonder why NJ schools are considered down in the dumps! Please understand that I am a concerned parent and my thoughts above do not necessarily embody my dissatisfaction w/ public, charter, or private schools in my state as I was a student of a school competing nationwide w/ others... there is still some hope out there - I just can't find a person who is willing to listen to my son!
Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts!
My daughter misses the Kindergarten cut off by 7 days. She is already doing reading and math at a level equal to or surpassing her 1st grade brother. She has always been very bright and quick, with a very long attention span and a drive to learn. After talking with the school and realizing that they would not budge with their cutoff, we tried it "their way" and entered her into a 3 yr old pre school program, figuring she would atleast get something out of it socially. It was a total disaster. She hated it, the children, the teachers and the curriculum. She is very tall and called the other children in her class babies. (Don't know if she meant intellectually or physically) She became depressed and started having almost daily tantrums. She began to also hate to learn new things, and pretended she couln't do the things she knew how. When the school tested her they decided to bump her up into the pre kindergarten program. She still isn't being academically stimulated, but physically is now equal to her classmates, and is happier. My husband and I are quite poor, but have decided if we sell off a few things and save a lot we can send her to private kindergarten next year. Now the school says even if we do that, they will still only accept her as a kindergarten student the following year. I don't know what to do, and want to fight this, but don't know how. Any advise is helpful.
There is a new bill in the House of Representatives that could help you out. It is House Bill 0806 sponsored by Representatives Mike Fortner and Mary Flowers. Here is the synopsis.
Amends the School Code. Provides that children who have attended a State-certified, private preschool and continued their education at that school through kindergarten and who will attain the age of 6 years on or before December 31 of the year of the 2009-2010 school term and each school term thereafter may attend first grade upon commencement of such term. Makes related changes. Effective July 1, 2009.
Be sure to call your representative and let them know that you support this bill. I am in the same boat as you are with my son and trying to get the word out to try and get this passed.
I would have agreed with the "No, gaps disappear by third grade..." answer but for the child-care issue included in it. School should never be viewed as simply a babysitting service, as difficult as that issue can be for many families.
In the small town where I live (central MT) there is this ingrained belief that starting kids - especially boys - later, will help them academically, socially, and emotionally. For a very few kids this may be true, but there is almost no evidence anywhere, including here, that it is a universal good thing. Many studies show the opposite - that kids who started late without any pre-existing behavioral or learning problems still wind up later in youth with behavior issues.
Meanwhile, "red-shirting" to gain academic and athletic advantage is rampant and my son, who is right smack in the middle of the nominal age range (birthday in May, cutoff date in late August), winds up being the youngest kid in his class - by well over a year! He will be with several boys and a couple of girls all of whom will have provisional drivers licenses when they are 8th-graders. !!! They will be taller, bigger, and faster than him for much or all of his youth. Yet waiting a year would have been equally difficult - he would have been bored silly with another year of preschool, and saddled with the erroneous belief that he had not been ready for kindergarten - inadequate in some way. So either way, he gets stuck in a tough situation. Why is it fair for other parents to put my son in that position?
States need to do as some school districts in MN has done - set a standard age range and cutoff, and require that parents petition to vary from it. Parents know their children best in most ways, but trained educators are often a better judge of whether a child is ready to learn in school or not. The kids I see failing in my son's grade are those who were pampered and held home by parents fearful of letting go. The fear of letting go is understandable - I wept that first day I dropped my son at kindergarden, too, but letting it rule everything is NOT in the child's best interest. Now many of these kids have a very negative attitude about school - they were led to believe it was too hard for them, not a place they were ready for yet, right from the beginning.
Honestly I HATE school cutoffs. Where I live the school cutoff date is December 1st. My birthday is a few days later so I had to get held back one year before starting kindergarten. I had to go to pre-school for two years. Now I am an adolescent in high school. Ever since i was in Elementary school i have ALWAYS (and still do) complained about being one of the oldest. The thing is I was ready to start Kindergaten at the time and throughout elementary school I was even more physically, and academically mature than all of the other younger students. Some students even made fun of me because of this. To this day I even ask my mother why she had never fought to let me start school at the right time. It is very unfair...I hate being one of the oldest. I feel like I belong one grade ahead especially considering I'm even more mature than some of those students. I envy all those students that have a later december birthday but are still one year ahead of me because they were allowed to move on. It is really unfair!!! This constantly bothers me even though there is nothing I can do about it now. The school cutoff did not have a good impact on me. It certainly did NOT help me academically or emotionally at all.
But then again this is just me. All kids mature differently, some earlier than others. Most of the time it's better to allow kids to wait a year if they are considered too young. Being the youngest in their class can have a bad impact on a kid. And in some cases it's better to just allow them to start school. It just really depends on the child.
Regarding the issue of kindergarten readiness and the age a child enters the school system, I am curious about how things play out down the road a bit. I wonder what the effect of being on the older or younger end of the class has during adolescence and puberty. From what I've read, it seems like there isn't a real measurable difference in academic performance if they are ready when they enter school (regardless of their age). I believe many school systems do have readiness assessments to determine this on both the academic and social side at age 5. But I haven't seen anything that discusses the relationship of a child's age to the social developments that occur in adolescence and the potential outcomes of being "ahead" of or "behind" the social/physical maturation process. It may seem far off, but once a child is on that track of being on the older or younger end of their class, it seems like it would be difficult to change course. Our school system's cut off date is Sept. 1. Our daughter's birthday is mid-October. We are trying to decide if we should push to have her enter kindergarten at almost 5 yrs. old or go with the school's guidelines and she will enter at almost 6 yrs. old. We both feel she could handle school, but are of different opinions about what would be best for her.