Why My Five-Year-Old Isn’t Starting Kindergarten: Mid-Year Update!

Preschool AgainLast year, I blogged about my just-turned-five-in-June daughter, who was old enough to enter Kindergarten in Duval county but did not. We decided to have her wait a year and attend preschool one more year. I am thrilled to report that we are very happy with our decision. See my original post HERE.

Our once shy, four-year-old VPK Lily has blossomed into an outgoing, confident five-year-old. She is now one of the oldest in her class (instead of one of the youngest). An additional year of the fundamentals is absolutely what she needed. Since I’ve been through this dilemma and feel like I have come out of it wiser, I’ve put together a list of things I believe you should do if you find yourself in the same predicament we were in last year:

1. Talk to your child’s teacher- NOW. Yes, I know it’s not even Spring Break yet, but this is the time when parents need to start thinking about next year (check out Kathy’s post about all things VPK, Preschool & Kindergarten HERE). Share your concerns with them and listen to their professional opinion.

2. Visit the Kindergarten they would attend. This was huge for us. I met with the Principal, Mrs. Susan Phillips at Chets Creek Elementary. This very busy Principal listened to my concerns and allowed my daughter to “shadow” a Kindergarten class for a few hours. I then had the opportunity to speak with the teacher of that class who spoke frankly and honestly with me.

3. Visit possible “re-PreK” Schools. My daughter did not have the option of attending her VPK preschool again, which I was very sad about (at first). I realize now it was a blessing. It was much easier for all involved to be at a new and different school. It just made it easier for her to transition to a different teacher and new friends, rather than the same preschool but without her classmates. Until I walked into her current preschool (Wilma’s Little People at Jacksonville University), I was 100% confident with my decision to have her repeat. The staff at Wilma’s have been wonderful for our family (my younger son also attends preschool there) and it has been a positive experience for all.

4. Listen to your Mommy Voice! I know I said it before, but my gut knew she wasn’t ready for Duval’s 39 kids in a class Kindergarten. I’m glad I listened to me. Like I said last year, I met lots of Moms who all told me the same thing, they didn’t regret starting their child later if they had the opportunity. And I’m not going to lie, I really enjoy her school day ending by 12:30 and a family nap with her and my three-year-old around 2pm. I know those days are numbered!

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Are you not sure about whether your child is ready for Kindergarten? Or, did your child repeat preschool? Please share your story below!

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8 Responses to Why My Five-Year-Old Isn’t Starting Kindergarten: Mid-Year Update!

  1. Lacey Stephens Jan 29, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Well my situation is opposite of yours. My daughter’s birthday is September 10th so she missed the cut off by 9 days. Since she had been in the class ahead since she was 2 (she started the 2 year old class when she was still 1, was 2 starting the 3 year old class, etc), we prayed out it and decided to allow her to start school early. She was 4 when she started Kindergarten at a private school. She was in private school for 1st grade as well. We moved to South Florida in the summer before 2nd grade and discovered that private school in South Florida was double the cost it was here in Orange Park therefore we put her in public school. She struggled in 2nd grade, but we are pretty sure most of it was due to have a bad teacher. At the end of the school year, we heard that her teacher had a reputation of being a “wasted year” and anyone who knew about her reputation would request to be removed from the class (ouch). I left a few teacher conferences with that teacher being completely confused; which was understandable that my 2nd grader didn’t understand the instruction if I didn’t understand her in a conference. We put her through Sylvan Learning Center after school for 3 months to get her caught up to 3rd grade level. We moved back to the Orange Park area for the 3rd Quarter of 3rd grade and have been here since then. My daughter has been on the A/B Honor roll every other year except for 2nd grade. Now that she is in 6th grade, we are seeing a huge difference in her physical and emotional growth. She is very insecure. She’s tiny (I’m only 5’1″ so we don’t expect her to be tall), but since she’s usually 10 months or so younger than the rest of the girls in her class, she is over a head shorter than most of the other girls. At 11 years old, she is still not into boys yet and hasn’t gone through puberty whereas some girls in her class are already in that phase. We tried to hold her back to retain her for 5th grade, but we were told that her grades were too high and her teachers thought it would hurt her self esteem so they would not allow it. We didn’t think she was ready for our neighborhood Middle School that has 1400 students for 6, 7, and 8th grade. Therefore, we put her in a private Christian school that only has 200 students for Pre-K – 8th grade). She is doing well with All A honor roll for the 1st quarter and A/B honor roll for the 2nd quarter (with only 1 B in a core course). However, we can still see that she struggles to maintain her grades. She’s still insecure. If we could have a do-over, we would have chosen to hold her back and start Kindergarten with her appropriate grade. But we prayed about it when we made the choice and it was the right choice at that time. And we prayed about it this past year and we were not able to retain her for 5th grade. She is back in a loving Christian environment and we feel this is where she is supposed to be at this time.
    However, I would advise parents who are going through the decision of Kindergarten for younger children to think about all aspects and understand that the decision will affect their child for the entire 13 years of school. In addition, my husband jokes that we stole a year from us since she will be going into college a year early. 🙁

    • Jessica Jan 29, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Lacey, thanks for sharing. You’re right- what fits one doesn’t fit all. My 3 year old’s birthday is 9/10 and will be the oldest in his class. I was a twin with a October birthday and had a sister with an August birthday and all 3 of us ended up in the same grade all 12 years of school. So I personally felt what it was like to be the oldest, and knew what my sister went through as the youngest. I want to reiterate what you said about your daughter being in a smaller school. I think small schools definitely can be the answer in alot of our cases. Good luck & thanks again for commenting.

  2. C.Joseph Jan 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    I taught Kindergarten for 38 years in Duval County and have experienced all kinds of theories. For what it’s worth….here’s mine. Let your children go to Kdg. , don’t hold back. If they aren’t ready the teacher will hold them back for academics. They can use that year for social maturity and growth. I tried so hard not to retain any of my students. To me it was like a year snatched out of their lives. The most difficult thing was watching parents deal with separation. July and August birthday students really stood out. But, you could really tell which parents were preparing their kids at home or pre-K . Those students may need that extra year later on. Who wants to be a 19 yr. old freshmen?. Good luck to all! It’s Kindergarten, not rocket science , kids adjust better than adults.

  3. Denise @ Kinder-Touch Jan 30, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    My son isn’t in preschool yet but I think I have to scout good schools around our area as soon as now and see if it fits us. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  4. sarah Feb 6, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Hi, It is a strong possibility that we will be relocating to Jacksonville for my husband’s job, he has options at both Boeing and Lockeed. I came across your blog while searching for school information in the Avondale, Riverside area. I have a two year old and want to make sure if we buy a house we have good options for schools in a few years. I love the character, walkability and charm that the Avondale/riverside communities seem to offer. Can you give me your opinion on the public schools in the area? Private schools could be an option, but would require me to go back to work to afford tuition, and I have fallen in love with being a stay at home mom the last few years. Any information/advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  5. Tammy Jun 28, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    I wasn’t going to comment, but after reading C. Joseph’s response, I would like to respectfully disagree. I am a prek teacher in a public school in Duval County and while I haven’t been teaching for 38 years, I do have a few years under my belt and would like to share that Kindergarten is absolutely not what it used to be when we were young and if parents and teachers think a child is not ready, they probably aren’t. For all the reasons you’ve already mentioned, it is my professional opinion that the benefits of an extra year of prek far outweigh the possible negative consequences of finding out later that your child really wasn’t ready (whether it’s in Kindergarten, 3rd grade when standardized testing becomes an issue, 6th and/or 9th grade when they aren’t developmentally ready for middle school or high school, or if you have to think about retention in any grade).

    With that being said, it is my opinion as a parent to let our little ones stay little for as long as they can! With my oldest child, I pushed him to do everything so quickly. He just graduated from college and while I’m extremely proud of him, there are times that I wish I had let him be more of a kid while he was a kid. With my youngest child who will be starting Kindergarten in August, I am trying to allow us both to slow down and enjoy where he is, rather than pushing full force toward every “next” milestone.

    Jessica, I applaud you for going with your gut and making the right decision for your family (and not just because I read the update…I was happy you made the choice to give her that extra year before I knew the outcome!!!)

    One last thing…Chets Creek is an amazing school, but almost 40 kids in a Kindergarten class is CRAZY!!!!!!!!

    • Jessica Jun 28, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      Thanks Tammy! My just-turned 7 year old in this blog post will be entering first grade in August and I am still stand by my decision. She is right on par with the children in her class, both in terms of academics and maturity. I do agree that each child is different and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. I just wanted to throw it out there for other parents that were struggling with the decision and let them know they are not alone!

  6. C Thornton Apr 3, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    Such a great article! The more this is discussed, the less horrifying it will sound. My 1 year old son has a late birthday so he won’t be able to be held back a year if needed, but my husband and I have already agreed to run him through VPK twice to ensure he’s super prepared. Btw, we’re Creekers too – go Chets Creek!!

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