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My daughter just misses the kindergarten cutoff
Q: The age cutoff for kindergarten in our state is 5 on or before Sept. 1. My 3½-year-old daughter was born Sept. 2. She is verbal, bright and used to being with kids, but she is petite, relatively shy and often an observer. Still, somehow I feel my daughter will be left behind if we put her back a year. Putting her ahead would require testing and a psychological evaluation. I’m curious to learn your thoughts. My daughter is the smallest one in her daycare/preschool classroom. Also, we have a 6-month-old son born Sept. 3 (ugh!). Our daughter regressed after his birth.
A: Those arbitrary cutoffs have always bothered me, and I can empathize with you. My birthday is Dec. 24, and I got to start first grade (no kindergarten) in a small town in Texas where Sept. 1 was the cutoff date only because the superintendent’s daughter was born Dec. 31 and the school board decided to allow exceptions! I simply can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had been kept out of school that year, as I was definitely ready to learn. Like your daughter, I was always the smallest person in the class. Nobody ever chose me for volleyball, but I could run the bases in softball faster than anyone so there were compensations!

Seriously, I deplore these hard-and-fast enrollment rules. Just as there is wide variability in developmental progress in older children, so there is equal variability during the preschool years. Even so, as a former school administrator with some appreciation of the role of demographics in school financing, I can understand the reasons for the establishment of cutoff dates.

In your case, I would sit tight for a year. You don’t have to make a decision until a year from now. That will give you time to determine whether she recovers quickly from the regression associated with the birth of her new brother (she probably will) and to note progress in social play in her current classroom. When she is 4½ I would talk to the principal of the school she is slated to attend, explain how close to the cutoff she is and ask what procedure should be followed to make the enrollment decision.

You really created a problem for yourself with two September birthdays, didn’t you? But by the time your son reaches the decision point, you will have had enough experience with your daughter’s educational progress to make things easy the second time around.