4 Year Olds Yea or Nay?

I see them every year as a Kindergarten teacher, I can peg them on day one walking through the door....the dreaded 4 year old! There is nothing bad inherently about a 4 year old, it is a great age, it's just that they are typically not ready for Kindergarten (maturity wise) as the expectations become more demanding in our educational system.

When I was pregnant with my first child, my due date was in the beginning of December. I prayed and prayed that he would not come before December 1st (NYS cut off for school) because I did not want to have to make the decision to send him as a four year old or hold him out. Well, my little man decided to come early and that was my first lesson as a mom (you are not in control anymore) and I knew it would be my first major decision as a parent (send him or hold him out?).

As my son grew up he was shy, a little nervous/anxious at times and just not ready to go to Kindergarten as a four year old. I held him out and it was the absolute best decision we could have made for him! He is thriving as a now First Grader. He feels confident in school, he has become less shy and he truly is a leader in the classroom. Academically, I would say he is average but I am not one of those teacher/parents that expects my child to be at the top of the class, I just want him to be his best. I think sending him early would have killed his confidence and would not have made him the child he has become today.

Then I went and did it again....I had another Fall baby! I had to make the decision, yet again, of whether or not to put her in or hold her out? My daughter was born in September so the decision was a little harder as she isn't as close to the cut off date. I don't know how it happened, coming from the same parents, but my daughter could not be more opposite from my son! She is outgoing, sassy, free-spirited, independent and confident.....boy, she has confidence to spare! She walks in to a room and everyone knows her name within five minutes! Academically, she is not a shining star and I think she believes school is more of a social setting. Her teacher and I have had to work a lot with her in order to help her know her letters and sounds (she has very little interest in learning them). It terrifies me to send her to Kindergarten knowing the expectations and demands that are placed on these children yet how can I hold her back with her personality? She would literally run circles around children that are younger than her. My husband and I have made the decision to send her to K next year so we will be keeping a very close eye on how it goes and if she is keeping up with the demands?

As I said previously, this is the first major decision you may have to make for your child....it is probably almost as important as which college they will go to? This decision will set the tone of their academic career. My biggest piece of advice for you is to take everything in to consideration. What is their personality like? What does their Pre-K teacher think is best for them? Please listen to their teacher as they are with your child every day and comparing them to their peers. How are their social skills? How do they perform academically? Are they independent enough to leave you for the entire school day? There are a lot of things to consider but in the end you just have to do what is best for your child.