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Youngest in Kindergarten

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My son will turn 5 in September, and the deadline for kindergarten is October 1. He's bright, but also very young, both in age and maturity. He's been in preschool for 2 years now. Although his preschool teacher maintains he's immature, she recommends he go on to kindergarten -- mainly, because she thinks he will be too bored if he waits a year. We met with the kindergarten teacher for a readiness test, and she recognized his immaturity but said he was certainly smart enough for kindergarten and should possibly take advantage of the smaller class they are having this year -- only 16 students. Should we send him to kindergarten? If we don't, should he repeat preschool? He's already graduated from the 3-day, 4-year-olds' class. They do offer a 5-day, 4-year-olds' preschool.

A: You definitely have been doing a good job researching and talking to different people about this important decision. Once the decision has been made, there really is no turning back. So your final choice needs to be what you as his parents truly feel is best for your child.

Your son may or may not be the youngest in the kindergarten class, but he will definitely be one of the youngest. Just being young certainly doesn't mean he won't do well in school. Plus, the kindergarten teacher is right about the small-class offering an advantage. It will allow the teacher to give the children more individual attention.

Ask the kindergarten teacher about the expected age range of the 16 children. If almost all the other children will be a full-year older, they are likely to be more mature and larger than your son is. Also, the curriculum for these older children could be focused more on seatwork and other activities that are difficult for younger children to handle. While everyone believes that your son can do the work, keep in mind that being one of the youngest may have certain drawbacks as he gets older. He will not be ready as soon as his classmates for dating, driving, and other teen activities.

If you decide to keep your son out of kindergarten, you do need to keep him in a structured routine. Since he has already graduated from the 3-day, 4-year-olds' class, don't repeat it. You always want to keep him moving forward. The 5-day, 4-year-olds' class is a nice option.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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