Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Starting Kindergarten

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I can't decide whether to send my son to kindergarten this year. Our school will assess readiness but will not make a recommendation as to whether a child should be sent or not -- that's entirely up to the parent. My son makes the October 15 cut-off date by just over a week. I think he could handle kindergarten this fall, but I'm concerned about any long-term effects.

I'm expecting a baby in September, and the fact is that come afternoon, when he would be in kindergarten, I will be too tired to provide the stimulating environment he seems to demand. He's also been to preschool three mornings a week. They don't offer afternoon preschool programs where we live. Any suggestions?

A: You are right to be concerned about the long-term effects of this decision. Many children with late birthdays are able to hang in there with the others during kindergarten, but when the curriculum becomes more academic in later grades, the younger ones may suffer.

You could decide to let your son start kindergarten, knowing that you might let him repeat the grade for the next year. Research shows, however, that retention greatly increases the likelihood that a child will drop out when he reaches the legal age to do so.

Visit the school your son will attend and talk with the kindergarten teachers. Talk also with some of the first- and second-grade teachers, and find out what their experience has been with children whose birthdays fall just before the cut-off date. They will be able to tell you, in terms of the curriculum followed by that school, how successful younger children can be.

Your concern about your own physical ability to keep up with your son after your baby is born is a valid one. You mention that the preschool is three mornings per week and the kindergarten program is in the morning, so either way afternoons are going to be a problem. Is it possible for your son to go home with a friend or a classmate two or three afternoons a week during the fall? That way he could have fun and be stimulated while you could still get some rest.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks