- My daughter was born in 2018, and I immediately started questioning when she should start school.
- I decided to delay her start and send her to kindergarten at age 6.
- As a former teacher, I know that maturity plays a big role in schooling.
Ever since I had my first baby in 2018, I agonized over the decision of whether I should send her to kindergarten at 5 or 6. As both a former teacher and former kid who started school at 6, I always leaned toward delaying the start of kindergarten but felt societal pressure to send her at 5. In a world where preschool is the new kindergarten and kindergarten is the new first grade, there is a push to get kids in school and start achieving as soon as possible.
Now that I have three kids and have been a parent for four years, I know better than to give in to societal pressure. After weighing my options, talking to my husband, and listening to my gut, I decided she’ll go to kindergarten at 6.
I want to savor those last bits of littleness
This is probably my most selfish reason for sending her at 6. Like many parents, I don’t want her to grow up just yet. The second she puts that backpack on and walks into her elementary-school classroom for the first time, I know she’ll seem to grow years older in a matter of moments.
For as long as I can, I want to savor her littleness and innocence. This doesn’t mean I’m sheltering her or keeping her from having fun with friends until she turns 6. And I know there is so much joy in store for her once she starts school. There’s just something about formal schooling that turns little kids into big kids.
As a former teacher, I know that maturity matters
Given the choice, I want my daughter to get that extra year of maturity before I send her off to school. I also want her to be 18, rather than 17, when she graduates high school.
As a former “old” student in the class, I enjoyed the maturity and edge it afforded me. I liked that I was one of the first to get my driver’s license, and I never felt like I was trying to play catch up.
And as a former teacher, I’ve also seen the edge that older students sometimes have over their younger peers. Of course everyone is different, but younger students in the class sometimes struggle socially because they are more immature than their peers, and they sometimes struggle academically as well.
I’m delaying being tied to the rigidity of the school calendar
Once my kids start school, we’ll need to plan our lives around the school calendar. Gone will be the lazy mornings, vacations in October, and days full of play and freedom. I have younger twin boys at home, too, so once my daughter starts school, we’re looking at 16 years where our lives will revolve around the school calendar. I’ll take that extra year of flexibility, please.
My husband and I both work from home, and while life will undoubtedly get easier once we can work sans interruption, we’ll never get these years at home together back. The kids wake up when their bodies are ready, we don’t have to pack lunches or check homework, and we can take an impromptu family day off without worrying about what our daughter will miss in school that day.
This is what works for our family
Delaying the start of kindergarten works for us. If delaying meant paying an extra year for childcare or delaying the start of special-education services, for example, I would likely rethink my decision. But for our family, I’m confident that starting at 6 is the right answer.
Don’t get me wrong, I know these days are coming. We’ll adjust to a new normal, and I’ll love watching my daughter blossom on her own and make friends at school. But given the choice that her summer birthday has afforded us, school can wait until she’s 6.