5 Reasons Starting Kindergarten Early Was Right for Us
Most state laws mandate that to start kindergarten, most children should be 5 years old by mid-September of the school year they are starting.
At this age, most are reading or are ready to read. They do small math problems, both on paper and in their head, they can count to 100, and are working on their writing skills (although often their motor skills for writing don’t catch up to their brains until 1st grade).
But what happens if your child meets those “kindergarten milestones” early?
Should you try and get your child into kindergarten early?
This is kind of the situation we are/were in during 2018.
Our daughter’s birthday is October 13th, but in daycare and pre-k she has always been moved up early.
When she was 3, they moved her up into the 4’s class 6 months before she was supposed to move because she was VERY ready.
And then they moved her into the pre-k class only 3 months after she turned 4 because she was also VERY ready.
It’s currently late April, at the time of writing, and she is reading small words, adding and subtracting, writing, etc, and wants to read SO bad.
Because of this, over the last few months the hubs and I have been talking, and talking, and talking over our options – trying to get her into school early, trying private school, keeping her in pre-k an additional year, or homeschooling.
And – spoiler – we decided starting kindergarten early by homeschooling was right for our entire family.
Our 5 Reasons for starting kindergarten early were:
- Her learning level
- Very interested in learning
- Upset about not reading
- Not thrilled with public school curriculum & standards
- Because we can/have nothing to lose
However, even though we’re at peace with our decision, we do still have a few concerns:
- Mom/Teacher/Child relationship
- Emotional Maturity
If you’re considering starting kindergarten early for your child, here’s how we came to our decision, and what questions you should ask yourself.
To make this decision, we asked ourselves the following questions from Care.com:
“Follows simple directions. Maybe you’re lucky and your little angel does whatever she’s told. But in reality, most children don’t behave all the time. It’s important, however, that your child can listen to a teacher and completes instructions.
- Sits still. Your child shouldn’t be expected to sit for a three hour opera, but should remain in one spot long enough to listen to a story and participate in class activities.
- Uses the restroom. Your child should be able to know when they have to go to the bathroom, and be able to manage it by themselves.
- Recognizes some letters. Believe it or not, it’s OK if your child isn’t reading when they start school. But they should recognize some of letters of the alphabet.
- Works on fine and gross motor skills. Your child should have some practice jumping and running, throwing a ball, and holding a pencil and scissors.
- Gets along with peers. Ideally, your child knows how to share and take turns, but those are skills that can take a lifetime to master.
- Handles emotions. It’s normal for a five year old to break down in tears when she’s upset. But, it’s important that she knows her feelings, and has coping strategies.
- Shows an interest in learning. He doesn’t have to be a little Einstein, but it helps if your child listening to stories, music, and books and seems stimulated by the information.”
We asked ourselves these questions, as well as our daughter’s teachers, and even her grandparents and aunts and uncles, just to make sure that we were thinking correctly about starting kindergarten early.
After all, we think Little Miss is the best thing ever, and super smart, but we wanted to be realistic about this.
Here’s why we did it:
Her Learning Level:
Jessica meets or exceeds all of the necessary requirements for kindergarten and desperately wants to start reading.
Also, she has always been moved up very fast by her teachers at preschool, and they said she is an eager and enthusiastic learner. She learns fast and remembers, so they actually encouraged us to start kindergarten early for her.
Very Interested In Learning
See Her Learning Level above, but also her teachers told us how eager she was to learn, and how she was actually bored in class because she learned so fast.
She comes by this honestly, as I had this problem in nearly every class in school, even through high school.
She Wants To Read SO Bad
She wants to read so bad (and we’re working on it) that one night we didn’t have time to read her a story and she broke down in tears in her bed, holding a book, because she couldn’t read the words herself besides a few.
Of course, we took the time and read her the book, even though it was WAY past bedtime.
And then stepped up the learning phonics/reading the next day.
She’s almost impatient, but I’m ok with that as long as she maintains her enthusiasm for learning.
No Early Admittance To Kindergarten
A year and a half ago, we moved from an inexpensive area with not-so-great schools into a more expensive area with great schools.
Starting kindergarten early wasn’t even on our radar.
But as we realized we may need to start early, we contacted both the public school and private schools near us, and they wouldn’t budge with regard to early admittance.
They wouldn’t even screen to her to see if she was ready.
From their perspective, I get it, but they also have to realize that some kids are ready earlier.
And, no early admittance definitely makes it less worth paying huge taxes for those good school districts.
Disagreements with Public School Curriculum
We are Evangelical Christians, which you can imagine means disagreements with many aspects of public school curriculum.
Some of them we were willing to overlook, since they weren’t introduced into the curriculum until at least middle school, and we would be able to talk to her more about where our disagreements lie.
However, within the last year (maybe two) even bigger changes have happened with curriculum starting as early as kindergarten that we absolutely will not allow our daughter to be exposed to.
So public school was out in general.
Because we can/Have nothing to lose
At the risk of delving way deep into our finances (I don’t mind, but it makes some people uncomfortable) my husband works outside the home and makes a very comfortable income, enough that we can easily pay all of our monthly bills.
I am self employed, work 10 hours a week, and make about $100k a year. ( I delve into exactly how right here)
Basically, we have worked, and worked, and worked, to be in a very blessed position right now.
And because of this, we have the ability to homeschool and not take a income or lifestyle hit.
We realize we are so blessed to be able to homeschool while I work from home (yes, my websites are our main source of income), and know that for many people, that is just not an option.
However, I do want to encourage you, because if you feel like kindergarten for your child would be best started early, like it is in our situation, you do have options:
- Private schools may be more flexible. You are, after all, paying tuition. And usually, kindergarten tuition isn’t as expensive as the upper grades.
- Or, Pre-k tuition at private schools usually isn’t much more expensive than daycare (usually it’s cheaper) and the curriculum can be tailored to your child’s needs more than at daycare.
- Finally, lifestyle changes or income changes could occur (you could start a blog like me!) to make homeschooling possible.
Even though we’re very excited about homeschooling, as the primary spouse in charge of homeschooling, there are a few things I am nervous about:
The Mom/Teacher/Child Relationship
The way our daughter interacts with her teachers vs. myself and my husband is very different. We’re mom & dad, and the teachers are teachers.
Honestly, she listens better to her teachers than she does to us.
So for me personally, the concern is switching modes from mom to teacher for me, and switching modes from child to student for her.
We’re creating a super cute, learning-centric homeschool room to kind of “leave school at school” and to be able to switch into school mode when we enter the homeschool room, but still I’m nervous about defining each of our roles in our homeschool.
As with any homeschool, I still want my daughter to build friendships, to learn to get along with others, and do activities outside the home.
She is an only child, and as long as God’s will is, she will be an only child per our plans.
So we’re setting up a plan to join a homeschool co-op, do some music lessons, as well as group sports.
I am very introverted, and honestly socially awkward, but I want her to learn how to operate socially, even if she is an introvert (which is doesn’t look like she will be!)
This was our – and her teacher’s – one concern: emotional maturity.
There’s not a ton we can do about this except teaching her how to handle her emotions.
Like I said, I know we’re very lucky to be in this situation, and to be honest it may not work out, but we’re going to try.
I’m curious though, did any of you decide to start your little ones in kindergarten early – homeschool, public, or private – and how did it work out for you and them?
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