Starting Kindergarten

My daughter could start kindergarten now but she could also wait another year. How old should she be before she starts kindergarten?

DARCY KIMMEL: I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a mom ask me this question.

TIM KIMMEL: I wish we had a hundred dollars for every time.

DARCY: Well, true.

TIM: That would be nice.

DARCY: You know, it’s important because we want the very best for our children.

TIM: We do. Conventional wisdom would say, “Put the child in early.” There are a lot of reasons why they say you need to do that: the child thinks he is ready; a lot of his friends are going in early; you don’t want to leave him behind.

I’ll tell you what. The conventional wisdom says that the need to get in there early because they need to have exposure to the information so that they don’t get left behind.

Now let me help you out on something here. There are so many advantages to let that child stay home one more year and go into kindergarten as the older child in the class rather than the youngest.

When it comes to all that academic stuff, where they say they’re going to be “left behind,” here’s what the studies show: whether they come in and learn how to read when they’re four or five or six, by fourth grade, everybody’s even. There is no advantage beyond that.

But I’ll tell you what. There is a huge disparity when they get on into the high school years, because it’s in those early years, those first five or six years, when so much of the emotional stability of the child is being developed, and a lot of that requires space time, lap time, mom time. You are much better off having that child stay at home with you.

Plus, think about this: one year of a five-year-old, what does that represent? That’s 20% of their life. Think of how much maturity is going to happen in that one year before they get up there.

And that really helps them out when they are teenagers and they start to date and everything.

DARCY: Oh, boy. The maturity when they are teenagers. If you can have an older child in a grade when they start to drive, when they start to date, it’s amazing how much more balanced, how much more mature they are to take on a lot of those challenges.

TIM: Now, listen. We did this for all four of our children, and we took grief for it. The school system didn’t like the fact. We even had one teacher tell us that she didn’t think it was fair, because our kids seemed to be doing so much better than the other kids. And I’m thinking, “Hmm. Hmm.” Well, we just ignored that.

And you know what? Our kids have been able to go through school, have very little problems with it, and do very well—and I think it was because we made this singular decision.

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