I was convinced my kids would start Kindergarten when they were 5, just like I did. And, for a while, that's exactly what happened. My daughter started school at age 5, and my step-son actually started before his fifth birthday. But last fall my partner and I decided to hold our son back from Kindergarten, and I'm not at all sorry.
At first we planned to have him tested so he could start Kindergarten before he turned 5, just like we did with his older brother. His birthday is right after the cut off, and socially we knew he was ready. And to be completely honest, I wanted him to start early. Our step-son did great as the result of his little jump-start, and I had no doubt that my younger son would, too. But if there is one thing I’ve learned as a mom of multiple kids, it’s that different kids have different needs. Plus, Kindergarten completely different than it was when we I was a kid. Gone are the days of eating paste and taking lazy afternoon naps. Hell, our kids had homework in Kindergarten. Homework. After a beat, and after really analyzing where my son is in life and development, I realized my son didn’t seem ready to stop playing all day and start sitting at a desk. So we chose to let him do a year of preschool first.
I will admit that, at first, it was a difficult decision. As a textbook overachiever, I know my son can do the work. And since preschool is unbelievably expensive, it was going to be a financial burden to hold him back. But as I’ve seen him grow and thrive over the past few months, I honestly have no regrets. My family can afford it, and he’s doing so well, and I know from research that it's probably not going to make a difference in the long term. In other words, my partner and I are pretty happy with the choice we made. Which is good, because there’s no way to go back in time and change it anyway. So, no, I’m not sorry for holding my son back from Kindergarten for so many reasons, including the following:
Because Kindergarten Is Hard
When my daughter started Kindergarten I was shocked at the amount of homework she brought home. I'm not lying when I say it was at least 30 minutes to a solid hour's worth of work a night. Doing homework with an antsy 5-year-old is pretty much the worst experience on the damn plant. I hated it, and honestly, most of the time I chose to not make her do it.
It turns out, homework isn't beneficial. As reported by Time, a review of research shows that homework is completely unnecessary for young kids.
Because We Should Let Kids Be Kids While They Can
It's not just that Kindergarten seems harder than it was when I was a kid. It is harder. As reported by The Cut, research from University of Virginia shows that Kindergarten is more focused on academic outcomes than it was in the '90s, and things like art, music, and play take a back seat. It's not that I don't want my son to learn to read and do math. It's just that, personally, I would rather he have another year to be a kid, get messy, and play.
Because He Wouldn't Have Had Fun
Our son is a social butterfly, and thrives in a play-based environment. It's not that he's not smart, because he totally is. It's just that he's not ready to learn that particular way.
Because He Wasn't Ready
In watching our older kids, I've learned that there's a difference between being smart and being ready for Kindergarten. While my son is academically capable, I know he's so not ready to sit at a desk and listen to someone else all day long.
Because I Know He Will Do Great Next Year
Because our son is in preschool, he's miles ahead of where our older kids were when they started school, both socially and academically. I almost wish my partner and I had held them back prior to starting Kindergarten, too. Hindsight, friends, is so much clearer.
Because Our District Has A Great Pre-K Program
We are so lucky to live in a district with a pre-Kindergarten program. By the time my son starts Kindergarten he will be a pro at going to school. He will have already spent a year in the same building, probably with the same group of kids, so he will know what to expect.
Because He's Thriving
As reported by Parents, the research is mixed about whether it's best to start your child early or hold them back, and any benefits/challenges seem to fade away by the time your child starts middle school. So, perhaps, the best person to make the choice is the person who knows your kid best — you. The most important reason I am not sorry for delaying my son's kindergarten start is that he's totally thriving in preschool.
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