I am a married Mom of 3: Boy (4 yo), Boy (2 yo) and Girl (11 mo old). I founded MomsOutLoud.com in 2008, which is now DFWMama.com. (Basically, I decided I liked Rachael and her team so well I wanted to join it!) Now I'm here, writing about what I know and love - raising kids in North Texas.

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The Right Age for Kindergarten: Who Decides?

ameepearsonRecently, Moms Out Loud posted a poll to see what our readers thought of the debate over the kindergarten age cut-off issue.  Is it right for the school districts to decide the age your child is ready to start school?  Or should each parent be left to make that decision for their individual child?

A majority of those who participated in our poll, 60%, believe that the parents, not the school districts, should be the ones to decide when their child is ready to start school.  These parents site various reasons, including underdeveloped social skills and maturity levels as valid reasons for holding their child back a year. 

Another concern was brought up by the 29% of parents who believe that, yes, parents should be able to hold their child back a year but only if they are clearly not ready.  These respondents brought up the issue of parents “red-shirting” their 5 year olds and starting them a year later in school to ensure that they will always be one of the older, bigger, stronger, faster kids and, therefore, giving them an advantage over their classmates.  The idea of “red-shirting” a kindergartener to gain an advantage is a drastic measure that never even occurred to me but I will never again underestimate the competitive nature of some parents.  The only problem with I can see with only allowing those children who are “not ready” to wait a year before starting school would be the process of how to define if a child is ready or not…a series of tests, a psychological examination, or just relying on the word of the parents? 

The 12% who agree that the districts should be able to set a cut-off date for starting school and believe that all children should be held to the same standard were clearly the minority but support a valid argument.  In a public school system, decisions and guidelines are made to satisfy the vast majority of the students and cannot possibly be tailored to suit the needs of each individual child.  Some children may be lacking the maturity and social skills to start kindergarten because they have not been put into a situation that required them to develop these skills.  Possibly, starting school could be just what they need to catch up to the rest of their peer group.

If there is one thing all these parents agreed on, it’s that they all are just looking to make the best decision possible for their child and want to have a happy and successful student.  Parents may not always agree on the path to take but it’s always nice to see that we are all working towards the same destination.

ameepearsonAmee is a freelance writer who lives in Allen with her wonderful husband, 6 month old daughter and two ungrateful cats.

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