A friend wrote to ask my opinion about a situation she is facing with her oldest child regarding enrolling in young 5’s or kindergarten. I suggested I post her note here and solicit the insight and wisdom from other parents who have already walked this path. She writes:
We have applied for several charter schools for their young 5’s program (just in case we have not moved by the time school starts). R. will be 5 in mid-July and school will start in early September. young 5’s was recommended to us by a teacher friend who has taught early ed through high school. She says that, with very few exceptions, boys are better to start later rather than earlier. However, I also had a former teacher friend tell me that R. should not go into young 5’s but should go straight to kindergarten because he is very intelligent and will get bored in young 5’s and might end up being a problem child.
In talking to other moms, they all said sending their kids with summer/early fall b-days to young 5’s was the best decision they made.
What is your opinion about kindergarten vs. young 5’s for a child with a July b-day? R. is very bright (and believe me I am not tooting my own horn. There are days I wish he was not so smart. ) and he is very socially adjusted. But, he is still a boy, and a very active boy at that. He does not do well with change (which is why we are really hoping to sell our house and be in a new one before summer starts so he has the summer to adjust to a new home before school starts). I just really think young 5’s would be a good adjustment into school where he will be learning, but it will be geared more towards his need for activity and play. But, I would love your opinion as a former teacher.
I have a couple of thoughts, but I will be the first to admit this is not my greatest area of expertise as the lowest grade I taught was first grade. First, I am strongly biased toward not pushing children too soon. But I am also deeply concerned about children languishing in school, bored and not challenged. So I see both sides of this. I would personally lean toward the Young 5’s. My thought has generally been it is better for a child to be one of the older ones in his class and more capable than struggling to keep up with those around him.
What has been your experience, especially if you have a boy with a summer birthday? How would you counsel this mom?