DEAR?TEACHER: My son is a summer baby who will be 5 this July. I've been told to meet with a kindergarten teacher to find out if he's ready to start school. But I'm also looking down the line to middle and high school, when he may face another set of maturity issues - something no one can predict, obviously.
I'd like to know what the experts think. Do most children with summer birthdays begin kindergarten as 5-year-olds? When is it a good idea to send a child to kindergarten as a 6-year-old? - Decision Time
Answer: The experts are all over the place on this one. The highly regarded National Association for the Education of Young Children says to send children to kindergarten when they meet the age requirement. On the other side, there are books and articles galore about the wisdom of holding children, especially boys, back if they have summer birthdays. And over the years, we have received countless letters endorsing one view or the other because parents have sent or redshirted their children.
Because no one has a crystal ball, we advise considering: opinions of preschool teachers; children's relationships with their peers; interest in academic areas, especially reading and math; the age of most of the children in the local kindergarten; and the appropriateness of the kindergarten curriculum for young children.
It also can be helpful to visit the kindergarten that your son will attend and see if it might be appropriate for your child. And do use the school's readiness checklist or the one on our Dear Teacher website (dearteacher.com) to get more information on your child's readiness. Finally, remember, you are the one who knows your child best and will make the best decision for him.
Here are some statistics for you: The National Center for Education Statistics reports that academic redshirting occurs at the rate of about 9 percent nationwide among kindergarten-age children. Boys are more likely than girls to be redshirted, and in affluent communities the rate of redshirting can be as high as 20 percent of the students.