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Staying Home An Extra Year?

In the state of Maryland you can no longer start kindergarten if you do not turn 5 years old before September 1st. That means any child born in September, October, November or December will not start kindergarten until they are nearly six years old.

I understand the need to ensure that children are capable of attending and succeeding in school, but the September 1st date seems as arbitrary as any other. By that rule a child born September 1st is ready for kindergarten but a child born September 2nd has to wait a whole extra year before attending.

There are procedures for early admittance to kindergarten, but a child must be born between September 1st and October 15th to take advantage of that option. Our son falls just shy of that date range, so early admittance wouldn’t even be an option for us. The state makes it very clear that any child falling outside of that date range will not be permitted to take the test.

I had no idea that the school system had changed the rules. (I guess I was living under a rock.) I am blessed to have my son and it is not the end of the world that he has to wait another year to start school, but it does mean I will have to stay home for an extra year with him or place him into daycare. Who knows what will happen five years from now, so I’m not going to project that far into the future, but a whole extra year of daycare costs or time out of the workforce amounts to quite a lot. (Of course, if we have another child I may well stay out of the workforce for an extra year anyway.)

I was surprised to learn that a lot of other states have created similar rules. The belief is that all day kindergarten is much harder on children. The rigors of learning to sit at a desk all day require an older, more mature student. When I started school kindergarten was only half day and we had students in our class who were born anywhere from January to December.

I wonder why the new rule was created. Did they really find that children born after September 1st were falling that much father behind their peers? Did that four month difference for a child born in December make him or her incapable of keeping up? If all day kindergarten is so rigorous does it not make you think that we should return to a half-day schedule?

I’m interested to hear from anyone who has a child born in the last quarter of the year. Does your state have similar rules and if so what was the impact on your child?

My son is only nine months old right now so school is quite a ways off for him. Who knows what the rules will be in five or six years. The good news is that he won’t be the only one held back from starting school. There will be lots of other children born in September, October, November and December waiting out an extra year alongside him.

» Will I Ever Need to Work Again? One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 9th of April 2013

[...] son was born in October and in our state he can’t start kindergarten until after he turns five. If I wait until he’s school age I’ll be out of the workforce [...]


Monday 30th of July 2012

Redshirting..i.e holding abck kids a grade... There's been a lot of discussion on this on the internet.. Take a look at it.

These happen much much more than what we think and these are what prompted the school districts to advance the age of kindergarteners.. if you look up redshirting in wiki, it will tell you that kids born on later part of year are more often redshirted..

It's got nothing to do with your kid, but they do what's better for most kids!


Sunday 29th of July 2012

Hi, We had a big rule change for schoosl in Queensland Australia that is very similar. The government in it's "wisdom" decided to add an extra year of school called Prep. Not a bad thing but then they adjusted the age. June 30th was the cut off. My daughter was born July 12th. She was 6 in Prep when, before the rule change, she would have gone straight to year 1. Now she is the oldest in her class having just turned 10 in year 4 with a couple of kids that just turned 9 in mid June. Prep was a total waste of time for her as it is, as the name suggests, preparing for school with play based activities. Emma was reading chapter books and writing before she got to prep! Now she is bored at school and as we are at a state school we can't advance her and private school is out of the question. Not only is she acedemically ahead she is also physically more advanced than all the girls in her class. This is what worries me the most actually.

One Frugal Girl

Monday 30th of July 2012

This was my fear for my son. Although at 9 months it's certainly too soon to say, but at this age is already in the 95th percentile and with my height I'm sure he'll remain at the top of the growth charts. I've also read a lot about this subject in the past few days and found that many older children get bored as the years pass. I wish your daughter the best. As another commenter said I wish the school system was based on abilities not age, but I realize it would take a lot more time and care from teachers and administrators to figure out exactly what our children were capable of. Good luck to you.

Another Reader

Saturday 28th of July 2012

Back in the late 1950's, the cut-off date was December 1. I was born near the end of December. Kindergarten was not as widespread in public schools, so the issue was first grade. I remember my mother arguing with the school district that I was already reading at an advanced level and would not benefit by staying home another year. They would not give in. So, my parents enrolled me in private school for first grade. Once you passed first grade, the school district would admit you into second grade, no matter how old you were. Problem solved.

One Frugal Girl

Saturday 28th of July 2012

I actually looked into this. In MD though it looks like most private schools are now adhering to the new calendar as well. As my son gets older we can always investigate this solution if it seems that he is ready to start school early. At 9 months it is definitely too early to tell :)


Friday 27th of July 2012

I have two sons who are late summer babies. We live in Texas which also makes Sept. 1 the cut-off date. I waited for both to turn 6 before starting Kinder and now that the oldest is in fourth grade, I see it has turned out well. As I tell others who are pondering this question, I was in K in 1976. What I did in first grade back then is what K is like these days. You can only help your little one by giving him the gift of time to develop more before starting K.

That said, I have also seen that little girls in similar date situations usually do just fine. They develop at a different rate and often ready to start even if they are a young five. For my boys who work to sit still, practice fine motor skills and listening skills, that extra year really helped.

As for daycare, I am a SAHM so didn't do full-time daycare but I did start them gradually in preschool: one day a week at age 2, twice a week at 3 and so on. Other friends did longer programs but that worked for us. Your miles may vary but I'm sure this will give you food for thought. :)

One Frugal Girl

Saturday 28th of July 2012

Thanks for the comment Betsy. I will probably do a gradual transition to preschool too. I like the idea of getting my son accustomed to it over time. I have also heard that little girls do a lot better than boys at starting school early.