Younger Child May Fare Well in Kindergarten

Q: I hope my input can help parents debating whether or not to send young children to kindergarten. I see the results of letting young kids enter early every day. By sixth grade, they really stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. They are usually at least one year below grade level in reading (and sometimes math), disorganized, immaturely behaved and socially out of place. On top of all of that, they often are much smaller than most of the other kids. These traits result in very low self-esteem and, usually, poor performance. Many times the boys don’t catch up with their peers until they’re at least 15, if at all, before graduation from high school. Of course, this impacts their plans for their futures, as well.

I remember telling my own son that, because he was a big kid, much would be expected of him because people would think he was older than he was. By waiting the extra year, he would become of the biggest and most mature in his class, able to meet those expectations. This would potentially help him to be better at sports, get his driver’s license earlier than most of his classmates, and even have the girls liking him sooner. He did well academically in spite of minor learning disabilities, played sports and, overall, had a very enjoyable school experience.

I also have had a couple of experiences with sixth-grade boys who, after struggling through sixth grade with C’s and D’s, repeated that grade so that they wouldn’t struggle for the rest of their school careers. It was a good decision for them, as both went on to have very successful high school and college experiences.
– Sixth Grade Teacher

A: Most decisions about whether or not to send a young child to kindergarten seem to be based on personal stories like yours. The only problem with this is that such experiences are limited to one or just a few young children.
Parents need to remember that there are many younger children within every kindergarten class and every other class in school who are doing well academically, socially, and emotionally. We just don’t hear as much about these success stories. As far as retention goes, research does not show any benefits for most children.

<>Q: What do you think of a teacher who assigns the making of a pop-up book for a fifth-grade book report? My all-thumbs son required so much help that it was my report. The month before he had to complete a report based on a board game.
– Tired of Doing Book Reports

A: You can’t say the assignments were not creative. The idea behind such assignments is to give children who are not writers the opportunity to shine. You can tell the teacher why you were unhappy about these assignments and ask that a few more choices be offered, so the students — not their parents, can feasibly complete the book reports.

A note to parents:
It definitely makes life easier for your children, yourself and the school if you take the time now to tie up all the loose ends required to end this school year successfully. In this way, the next school year can begin without having to do anything related to the past year. The following tasks need to be completed before the last day of school:

• Make sure you have talked with your children’s teachers about any special needs that need to be addressed over the summer. For example, not working at the current grade level in any subject requires some type of intervention during the summer.
• Find out the dates of any special programs the school will be offering during the summer. Some elementary schools have weekly library programs, as well as sports programs.
• Plans must be in place for special needs students with IEPs for the next school year.
• Documents need to be secured if children are going to be transferring to another school.
• Finalize enrollment details of any special classes your children will be in during the next school year, such as gifted and talented classes.
• All projects students want to keep from the school year need to be taken home.
• The phone numbers and e-mail addresses of friends your children wish to see over the summer should be obtained if they don’t already have them.
• Find out the dates when next year’s extracurricular activities begin, as well as their tryout dates, if applicable. Many activities start before school is in session.

Parents should send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of Charlotte Parent, P.O. Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395 or