My oldest daughter, Emma, was born on June 11th. Back in my day, most kids with a June 11th birthday would enter Kindergarten at 5 years old, so in my head I had always assumed she would go to Kindergarten the Fall that she turned five. Am I right?
But then during her second year of preschool, I started to listen to chattering amongst preschool moms on the subject of Kindergarten, and I learned that many of them were opting to delay starting their kids with summer birthdays in Kindergarten until they had turned 6, a choice known as “redshirting.”
I thought this was typically something only parents of fall birthday babies were doing, but it seemed like summer was the new fall as far as opting to delay.
And seeing that Emma would fall into the “summer birthday” category, it seemed as if I had a decision to make, one that I sort of thought would be a no brainer. In my gut I thought Emma was ready, actually knew she was ready, but I started to hear comments from other moms like:
“I want to give my child that extra year to gain more confidence.”
“I want my child to have the advantage of an extra year of maturity.”
“I want my child to have an easier time in school because Kindergarten is so much harder now.”
“I don’t want my child to be one of the youngest ones in the class.”
Hearing their comments, I started to doubt myself, and it made me feel like sending her to Kindergarten as a (younger) 5-year-old would automatically be putting her at a disadvantage.What mom would ever want to feel like they were intentionally putting their kids into a situation at a disadvantage? Was I making the right choice?
I mentioned my fears to my husband who was a little surprised to even be having the conversation. He knew our daughter, and knew she was ready. He also had the advantage of not overhearing all the comments. He knew what I always knew, without the self-doubt.
But I still did my due diligence. After all, it was a decision that would affect her for many years, and was not something I took lightly. I talked to her preschool teacher and I did the Chancy and Bruce Kindergarten Readiness Test, both of which indicated that she was ready. But in the end, I trusted my gut and my five-year-old started Kindergarten last Fall.
Looking back it was the best decision we could have made for her. She thrived in Kindergarten. She learned, grew, matured and most importantly, she loved it. Knowing what I know now, I believe that waiting a year for her would have been doing her a disservice.
So my advice to any parent looking at this same question with a summer or fall baby would be: do your due diligence, but in the end you have to trust your gut instinct because no one knows your child like you do. It’s easier said than done, but try not to get caught up in everyone else’s opinion about what they are doing with their children ~ their child is not yours.
And once you make a decision, whether it is to start your summer baby at five or six, just know you are making the decision that is the best one for your family. Then I highly suggest staying out of the conversations lest you start to second guess yourself again! I stopped asking moms what they were doing with their kids, because I realized it had nothing to do with us or our decision.
Lucky me, I will have to make the same decision for little sister, a July 2nd birthday. And by the time she goes to Kindergarten, the age deadline will be September 1st, so she really will be one of the youngest. But we will cross that bridge, and at that time, I will have to do the same and trust my gut.
Have you gone through this dilemma? What did you do? What is your advice for other moms?