Should I delay kindergarten?

Real Mom Problem

“My son turns five at the beginning of June. I am not sure what to do. Do I go ahead and send him this year, or do I hold him back and wait another year? What would you do? I am torn.”

by khall83567 khall83567

Quick Tips

  • 1. Delaying kindergarten is often referred to as "red shirting"
  • 2. Speak to your school's administrators to ask what your area recommends
  • 3. Consider the age your child will be for future milestones such as puberty, driving, and heading to college when making your decision
  • 4. Think about both social and academic skills when choosing what's best for your child

Real Mom Solutions

If your child's birthday falls close to the kindergarten cutoff, you might be wondering if it's best to wait a year. Red shirting, as it's often called, is becoming more common but is it right for your child? See what the moms of CafeMom have to say before making your decision.

Some Moms Think Waiting Is Best

  • hfs1998

    I sent my older girls to kindergarten right after they turned five (they both have August birthdays and school starts in September here). If I had to do it all over again, I would have red shirted at least one of them, possibly both. It has nothing at all to do with intelligence - both of my girls are very smart and have the report cards/standardized test scores to prove it. Rather, the concern is maturity. My oldest girl in particular has struggled because she is less mature and even physically smaller than the other children. She is now in fourth grade and it is still an issue. I will absolutely hold my son back (also an August baby who is on the small side).

  • spunky946

    My son has a June birthday and we held him back. He started this year at six and it was the best thing for him. He has always been behind socially and he is so happy this year. You have to do what is best for your child. Don't worry about six being too old.

  • kelliewhitney

    Usually (unless you have a very socially adept child) later is the better call. I taught kindergarten, and the kids who were on the fence would have done better waiting. It has nothing to do with intellect.

  • Sonya-x

    I am a teacher, and I believe that if your child has a summer birthday with a September 1 cutoff, the parent needs to think carefully about starting them right when the "rules" say at age five. Too many parents are eager to push them on through, when one year can make a world of difference for the positive. Kindergarten today is not what it used to be, and being the youngest in the class can be hard.

  • 2girlsMom.MN

    My daughter turned five August 29, and our cut off was September 1, so she barely made the cutoff. I sent her and I sooooooo regret it. I ended up holding her back when she hit second grade because of emotional/maturity issues. I wish I would have just waited and could have given her more time to grow, mature etc. I urge all parents, the later the better.

Others Suggest Sending Kids on Time

  • JordansMama2003

    My son's birthday is July 31 and he is one of the youngest in his class. He is in second grade and doing great! Not sure what you have in your state, but I took my son to get evaluated through one of the programs here. They said, most definitely put him. I am so glad that I did! He is one of the top readers in his class.

  • gcstar42

    My youngest daughter's birthday is July 31. I plan on starting her when she is supposed to start. I don't really see the point of holding them back unless they are mentally or emotionally behind other kids their age. So many parents are starting to hold their kids back just because they don't want them to be the youngest, but somebody has to be the youngest. If all the July and August babies are held back, then soon everyone will start holding back the April, May, and June babies. Then eventually people who have March babies will hold them back and so on and so on.

  • mommatothree01

    All my kids have summer birthdays. I never even considered holding them back from kindergarten until they turned six. I wanted to give them a chance to show me what they could do. Worst case scenario, they would do kindergarten again. None of them have had any issues, in fact two of the three have been straight A students. The other is an A/B student.

  • corrinacs

    My son is a September baby, and I am definitely taking him to kindergarten. First of all, he's a big kid, so he's going to be within the size range, but mainly because he's developmentally, emotionally, and physically ready. Holding him back would cause more of a disservice to him more than anything. Just look at your child. Get the opinion of someone if you need to. But if they are ready, I see no reason to hold them back.

  • hotmomma7182006

    Personally I think holding a kid back that clearly makes the cutoff date is going to end up leaving the child feeling very out of place through school. Also if you don't give them the chance you will never know. And if you send them, and they don't do as great as you wanted, they can repeat.

  • Angelgirl25

    My daughter has adjusted very well, considering she is one of the youngest in her class.

  • LuvMyBabies07

    Six sounds a little old to start kindergarten to me. I don't think he will like being a year older than everyone in later grades. My brother was a year older because his birthday was a day after the cutoff and he always hated it. I think you should talk to your child and see what he wants to do. Most kids really want to go and I think it is good for them.

  • Proud-young-mom

    If anything, I'd start them and see how they do instead of purposely holding them back. Kids are smarter than we think. And if they don't do well, have them repeat kindergarten.

  • SarahlovesLiz

    I am in my last semester before student teaching, and I spent one morning a week teaching kindergarten all last semester. In my experience, it's not the age of the children that matters, it's their level of maturity and ability to change tasks and "go with the flow" so to speak. I would send him if he makes the cutoff, and if he's able to sit still through a story or follow simple directions, he should be just fine to start. They really do a lot of hands-on activities, and the longest he would be required to sit still is usually about a half hour at the most.

It Really Depends, Agree These Moms

  • steelcrazy

    I don't believe in starting kindergarten earlier or later. I believe in following the rules for your district and then seriously looking at your own child and seeing if they are actually ready to start school.

  • spunky946

    We held my son back and it was the best thing. He is now eight and starting second grade. My daughter has a July birthday and we are not sure what we are going to do. We will decide next year.

  • StephB060811

    It depends. My daughter turned five one month before she started kindergarten and she did very well, and still does. My son however turns five next November and I won't be starting him till the following year.

  • Nessasmomma

    It depends on the kid. My daughter's birthday is June 27 and she started kindergarten last year on August 16. She could not have been more ready. She loved every minute.

  • mom2the.rescue

    My June baby started kindergarten at five, and has struggled ever since. We moved when he was 10, and I had him repeat fourth grade. He's doing better now. I wish I would have known he was immature and unprepared for kindergarten, but with your first, it's hard. My other summer baby started kindergarten at five, and is nine now and has done totally awesome so far.

  • mamacalifornia

    It depends on the child in my opinion. For starters, my daughter was born late August, started reading at four, and needed the challenge of kindergarten after two years of preschool. My son was born late September, had two years of preschool, and went on to kindergarten. When first grade started we realized how immature he was, and he really struggled with reading. If I had known that I could have held him off a year from going to kindergarten, I would have. So I think it really depends on the child and how you feel about your child's readiness.

  • M4LG5

    It depends on your child. My oldest daughter's birthday is in July. By that time she had been in full-time preschool and was VERY ready for school. If I would have kept her back another year, I don't think she would have benefitted from preschool and it would have been a waste of money.

  • arthistmom

    This is dependent on the readiness of your child and what you believe is best for her. Our older son has an early August birthday and we sent him to kindergarten soon after he turned five. He was more than ready, academically and emotionally. His younger sibling, however, is a different story. He will begin kindergarten when he's nearly six (he has a December birthday), not only because of our state's cutoff date, but because the extra time he'll have in pre-K will benefit his emotional development.

  • momtoBrenna

    The studies that I have been reading all say that any "benefit" of holding them vs. sending them early typically evens out around second or third grade anyway. It should be done on a case-by-case basis.

Consider All These Factors Say Some

  • xtwistedxlovex

    Being older is an advantage. They're more mature, which generally means they'll do better in class. They're bigger, so they're less likely to get picked on AND have the upper hand in sports. Also important - being held back a year because they weren't ready can be damaging, where waiting a year to start would not.

  • Barabell

    It isn't always necessarily an advantage to be older. My son's birthday is right after the cutoff date, and so he's one of the older kids in his grade. He is often bored. He gets in trouble a lot because he finishes class work sooner than his peers, and so he socializes while other kids are trying to work. Also, despite being one of the oldest kids, his height is in the middle to low end of his peers. So just because they're older doesn't mean they're bigger.

  • matofour

    We have five kids; four with birthdays close to our school's cutoff. We chose to red shirt all four of them. Kindergarten wasn't my main concern. I didn't want to send a 17-year-old to college.? It's been a wonderful choice for all our kids. It's extremely common in our area to red shirt kids.

    We have yet to speak to anyone who regrets red shirting, but have spoken to many who regret sending. I would also ask the principal what they recommend (ours recommends holding a year when they are close to the cutoff). I speak extremely highly of waiting a year. My kids had many years of school awaiting them, no need to push them in. I like having them home that extra year too!

  • mom2three2012

    I have taught preschool and first grade. My first born son is highly advanced. He is now in third grade and very academically gifted; had the highest overall averages in math, and reading. We have known this since he was two. But as a teacher I chose to hold him back and "red shirt" him in kindergarten. Why? Because it has so many benefits and very little, if any, negative consequences. School is NOT just about how smart they are. Many things play into how well they will do: Social skills, emotional maturity, physical development, and overall behavior skills. Why not give them an extra year? To me, it's an advantage over a child who has not had that extra year to grow in ALL of those areas BEFORE bombarding them with true intellectual school work! As a teacher I have talked to MANY parents who regret sending their child on. Wishing they could turn back the hands of the clock. Thinking that maybe that year would have given their child time to grow and also to gain independence and support before moving on. But I have never met a parent who said "we shouldn't have held him back a year" because there are no real negatives. I recommend it to all parents who ask me!

  • STVUstudent

    My twins are starting kindergarten at five. No way would I hold them back a year. Only you know if your little one is ready for school, but I would say, all things being equal, get them started if the system says they are old enough. One year will probably not make her any more stable or mature, especially where hormones and peer pressure are concerned. Studies now are indicating that "children" really don't start to process thoughts and actions maturely until 23 or 24, so one year extra probably won't help. Plus, do you REALLY want your kid to be a year older than all her friends? I can tell you, that year in high school really does matter. If they must hang with their peers, you want them to be the same age; otherwise, as the "older" kid they will take the hit for every bad decision the collective makes!

  • DaphneSmith

    You can let him start and if you see he is not mature enough you can pull him out for a year (I have seen that done before). I know making the right choice about your child's school is hard and trying to do what is best makes you feel as if you will make or break them but they will do fine because you will just "know" what is right for your child. It is not easy choosing for our children's future, that is for sure!

  • OregonMom80

    I think you run a higher risk of a kid not finishing high school if they are 18 before they even start their senior year - your kid could move out on their own for the whole final year of high school. If your child is educationally and emotionally mature enough, I'd say starting at five is a good idea.

  • wvuchick430

    We just had a meeting about this. My son turns five in March and will be starting. They said don't think "but he will be six." They said think of it as always being the first or the last to do things. They said think about the future, do you want them hitting puberty first, or last?

  • caviva14

    I did a little research and decided to hold him back. The benefits were much greater. He is now in second grade and he is eight. He is doing so well. He is the tallest and he is always taking care of his friends. He feels like their older brother. Holding him back was a great decision. But everybody is different. You have to see if it is the best for your child. And don't just think about this year. Think about when she goes to high school. I didn't want my son to be the last to develop. High school is hard enough.

  • casah4

    I would go through some kindergarten checklists online to see how your son matches up with them and make the decision from there. My youngest started kindergarten the month after she turned five. She could do most of the things on the checklist and had good social skills. She has done very well in school.